“The fact that PS4 and Xbox One have had a combative summer is good,” says EA Labels president Frank Gibeau in the new issue of Edge magazine, on sale October 24.
Gibeau offers us his thoughts on the face off between the two new consoles, EA’s potentially disc-free future and how the publishing giant will implement subscriptions and microstransactions in our wide-ranging interview. His assessment of the battle between Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles suggests that he is well aware of the problems Xbox One has faced to date.
“I think the Sony team has executed exceptionally well – and they did not execute particularly well on PS3, whereas last time around Microsoft executed perfectly,” he tells us. “This time, Microsoft has run into some challenges, some leadership changes, but they’re a very resilient organisation, and if you look at their counter punches on any setbacks, they’ve done a pretty good job of getting back on track.”
When asked if the FIFA/Xbox One bundle, first announced as a pre-order incentive for European players at Gamescom, could be a sign that EA is currently leaning more towards Microsoft, he responds: “We’re not tilting Microsoft’s way; we are firm longterm supporters of Sony. I’m sure you’ll see tactical programmes between us and Sony in the future that we haven’t announced, but will make things much more balanced.”
With persistent online play comes new ways of looking at business models on PS4 and Xbox One, and Gibeau says that EA will embrace the new opportunities that presents. “It won’t be about DLC any more, but rather subscriptions or F2P mechanics,” he says. “Fortunately, we’ve already gone down that path with FIFA Ultimate Team, Battlefield Premium and some of the things we’ve done with Mass Effect. It’s not just DLC – we think of these as live services, so we give you microtransactions, free content, episodic stuff.”
On the subject of ditching discs and going digital-only, he adds: “A lot of the friction has been removed from the player experience in relation to downloads, but there is still friction. If that gets smoothed out during this cycle, [the end of physical discs] is conceivable, but I don’t forecast it. A digital-only future is possible, not probable.”
The EA labels boss also touches upon the “trials and tribulations” involved in setting up the deal with Respawn to release Titanfall, and seems to dismiss the idea that EA could move into the toy/game crossover market, one in which its rival Activision has found great success with Skylanders. “It is a very high bar for us to get involved with,” Gibeau tells us. “Plastic is expensive, there’s a lot of risk, and it’s very faddish.”
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