The next generation “gen-four” consoles from Sony and Microsoft are “unlikely” to feature backwards compatibility according to a senior Electronic Arts executive. Electronic Arts' chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen was talking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco yesterday, where he offered up lots of games industry insider information. Gamasutra was at the conference and put together an interesting series of quotes from Jorgensen’s talk.
EA’s core of ten-to-fifteen titles
EA CFO Jorgensen suggested that EA had too many titles on its hands for previous generational shifts. He said this was a major reason for the bumpy transitions between consoles in the past. “We had way too many titles in the last transition, and the more titles you have, the more expensive it is to convert them from one generation to the next,” commented the EA financial boss.
Backwards compatibility and the upgrade lag
The management at EA expect that 2014 game sales will still largely be dominated by third generation console games. Jorgensen explained that sports calendars don’t tally very closely to traditional peak console sales calendars. People will want to play EA’s latest sports franchises when they are new, rather than waiting for a next gen console to come out.
“An important thing to remember is that next-gen consoles will most likely not be backwards compatible...” said Jorgensen while discussing the FIFA soccer game series. He seems to suggest that if friends buy a new FIFA game in August, at the start of the football season, they will probably not upgrade to a next gen console until the end of the season. This is assuming the next gen consoles aren’t around before that date...
What is new about the next gen consoles?
EA has seen “gen-four” and Jorgensen thinks that “people are going to be pretty excited”. He went on to talk about some further non-specific aspects of the as yet unrevealed new gaming consoles; “I do think once again without describing the new consoles, you've got to assume they're going to be highly integrated into the living room and the house, and there will be a lot of capability for interaction. I think the console makers have seen what the typical gameplay is today. It's very different than five years ago, or ten years ago. It was typically single gameplay, not dual gameplay or multi game players. So there's going to be some connectivity potential around that to make the game much more exciting”.
Jorgensen also said he could see a lot more interaction and integration between tablets, smartphones and consoles. “You're going to see people playing on glass at the same time they're playing on the console. And there's going to be some exciting innovations around that.”
There has been a lot of chitter-chatter about both Sony and Microsoft barring the playing of used games on their next gen systems. EA’s Jorgensen had an interesting opinion on the subject. “Would we like to sell everything at full price and not have a used game market? Sure. But I think the used game market's a little like any other kind of market where it creates liquidity. The fact is, that liquidity benefits us in some fashion. So if someone goes in and trades in a game, there's a good chance they're going to buy another one of our games.” He surmised that the used games market is currently “not a bad thing at all” for EA.
The first “gen-four” console we are likely to see is Sony’s effort on 20th February. There’s just one week until we “see the future”.