Will it take a shift in console generations to spark new innovation among the major publishers in the game industry? This is a notion that has been championed by Ubisoft executives lately, most recently Ubisoft UK boss Rob Cooper.
The question was put to EA CEO John Riccitiello in an interview with IndustryGamers. He took a different stance, feeling that great things are happening as we speak: “What I don’t agree with is the implication that we’re waiting for the hardware guys to transition to help us realize the innovation. I think the greatest innovation in the history of gaming is occurring right now. It is happening in the cross-platform arena — where publishers are linking the best IP from console to PC to mobile to social. This is hard to do, but it will change the way gamers interact with our IP.”
It is this idea of being connected to a game at all times across multiple platforms, with each platform offering a different experience but all linking to the same community, that Riccitiello sees as the future of gaming: “The experience begins when players download a full copy of their game directly from a service like Origin. […] From that point forward, players will have access to new content and full levels on a regular cadence that takes the traditional 2-3 week game experience and stretches it out months if not years,” he states.
“Best of all, you join a community. Your profile follows you from PC, to mobile, to your tablet and to Facebook. Each platform offers a different experience for the game – but tracks your scores and your friends across the gaming universe.”
EA certainly seems to have a strategy to pursue this vision, recently claiming they are seeking to lead the Facebook market and acquiring companies with know-how in the social gaming and mobile spaces.
The question remains whether there actually is a big overlap between the users of retail games and mobile/social game versions of the same IP. Is the player of Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age: Legends necessarily the same? And has any mobile take on a retail IP actually reached a level of success that supports this vision? There could be a hint of wishful thinking here, from a big publisher who dreams of connecting customers to their IP 24/7.
Nevertheless, EA certainly aren’t the only company to commit to this idea of interconnectivity between console and portable gaming. The proposed linking between Sony’s PS3 and the upcoming handheld Vita seems to have similar thinking behind it.