The PS4 NEO and the Xbox One Scorpio represent a very dramatic departure from the standard discrete hardware generations model of progression the console gaming industry has followed since time immemorial- and EA, for their part, seem to believe that the industry will be better off for it.
“We’re continuing to be excited about the growth of the overall console business,” Blake Jorgensen, EA chief financial officer, said during EA’s Q1 earnings call. “And I think the plans that were announced at E3 around both Xbox and PlayStation were viewed in the industry as very positive. I think moving beyond the notion of – or jumping into the compatibility issue head-on and trying to stop the notion of having consoles that are not compatible will help the software side of the equation dramatically over time, and I think that’s a big plus.”
“At a macro level, we’re excited about what Sony and Microsoft have announced,” CEO Andrew Wilson added. “The reality for us is, again, in a networked world, liquidity of players is really, really important. And what we’ve seen over the last decade or more with respect to PC gamers is that community has continued to grow and it has grown a world where the hardware refresh cycle has been disconnected from the software refresh cycle. And what that’s meant is that irrespective of what kind of device you have within kind of a seven to 10-year timeframe, you’re able to play with a much, much bigger global community.
“What we see now with the things that have been talked about with the mid-cycle refresh is only going to enhance the size and engagement levels inside the communities.”
Wilson also added that he believes that EA is uniquely well positioned to thrive in this new paradigm.
“For us as a publisher, we’re in a very strong place,” he said. “We’ve been building across platform and across console and for scalable architectures like PC for some time. So the notion that we would build once an experience that can scale up and down across an entire spectrum of consoles, whether the first phase, the second phase or the third phase over time is not something that’s foreign to us and something that we’re very energized about because, again, I think we have strength in a networked world and we have strength where there is a requirement to build these scaled experiences that keep players connected.
“So on balance, we think this is great for the industry. It will almost certainly extend the console cycle almost to an infinite level if we get to a point where there’s just constant hardware upgrades and constant software upgrades but we are able through the scaling of our games to keep the community always together.”
I agree with the larger arguments that he makes, and it is good to see a major company within the industry embrace the change and have some larger, longer term vision, and not just be resistant to things changing, as is so often the norm. The Xbox One Scorpio is slated to launch some time in Holiday 2017, while the PS4 NEO has to be officially revealed first (though Sony have confirmed its existence).