Electronic Arts is sealed in a bubble. The company can’t talk specifics about the next generation of video games because it is under a nondisclosure agreement, but the pressure is building — expect it to pop at the Electronic Entertainment Expo gaming trade show in June.
For having to stay so quiet about its upcoming games, EA executives provided a lot of specifics about the next generation on a conference call with investors.
“We’re planning a full reveal at E3, including more next-generation titles in development for fiscal-year 14,” said Gibeau. ” This will include breakthroughs in graphics and gameplay for some of our biggest franchises including Battlefield, FIFA, Madden, NBA Live, and Need for Speed.”
The company also plans to introduce new titles from EA Sports, BioWare, and DICE.
“I also want to call out a big accomplishment by the teams that built the development engines for our next-generation games,” said Gibeau. “Frostbite 3, engineered at DICE, and a brand-new engine from EA Sports. This isn’t a vision — these engines are fully functional right now and powering the games you’ll see at E3 in June.”
All of EA’s next-gen games are running on those two engines. Bringing all development under these two universal engines is obviously a big part of EA’s cost-saving strategy.
“[The engines] provide enduring common technology that saves cost, fosters efficiency, and provides spectacular physics and graphics for our games,” said Gibeau.
In addition to those specifics, executive chairman Larry Probst spoke about the difficulties of a console transition. Probst, who was EA’s chief executive officer from 1991 to 2007, joked that he has been through a lot of these and that he believes they are finally going to do it right.
“I’m pleased to say we have locked a plan that delivers higher revenue while keeping our operating costs essentially flat,” said Probst. “Doing that in the middle of a hardware transition will be a challenge – something we’ve never done in the 31-year history of this company — but we are committed to making it work.”
As executive chairman, Probst has the responsibilities of CEO since John Riccitiello dropped out of that role in March. He is guiding the board in its efforts to find a new chief executive, but he also said he wants to ensure that “EA is well positioned to deliver the best games and services on the next generation consoles.
“Over the years we’ve learned how great games, delivered early in the cycle of a new platform, can build strong and enduring relationships with our audience,” said Probst. “This transition will determine market leadership for the rest of the decade and we intend to win over consumers with – entertainment experiences.”
While games are important to EA, Probst made it clear that the company want to cut costs. That was part of the reason for cutting 10 percent of their staff earlier this year.
“We cut operating costs, sharpened our product focus, and made strategic investments in next-generation consoles, mobile, and PCs,” said Probst. “Our goal is to capitalize on this opportunity by delivering high-quality games and services to our consumers on their platform of choice.”
The console transition is a volatile time, and EA was already reeling from some big bets that didn’t pay off, like Star Wars: The Old Republic. But the transition also is a chance for companies to reset. EA is seizing that.
“We have a saying at EA,” said Probst. “Transition is our friend.”
If the company can grow and capture a dedicated audience on next-gen consoles while maintaining costs, then they will probably consider this transition a good friend indeed.