As a studio, EA Sports is responsible for the majority of top-selling sports franchises in the industry. While there are many diehards who swear by the 2k Sports brand, and more than a handful of Pro Evolution Soccer fans in the world, it’s hard to argue that the likes of Madden, FIFA, and NHL absolutely dominate their respective fields. But, while EA Sports has managed to find success on current consoles, they haven’t been able to move too many units on Nintendo’s Wii U, and their Facebook appeal is all but nonexistent. Headed into next-gen with the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One looming just on the horizon, the company is equally wary of rekindling the fire they’ve worked to rebuild over the past few years. To discuss all of these topics and more, EA Sports boss Andrew Wilson spoke to MCV at length about where the company’s focus lies as we prepare to jump into a whole new console generation.
On the subject of next-gen consoles, Wilson explains that the company is in a far better position now then they were when the PS3 and Xbox 360 first launched. “One of the things that hurt us at the start over this last generation is that we didn’t have strong tech. And a lot of games suffered for a very long time because of that,” Wilson admitted. “NBA suffered for literally the entire cycle. On FIFA, we re-wrote the game right away. Madden we re-wrote half-way through the cycle. So we knew we had to anticipate further out and be solid on technology.” That technology he’s discussing is the recently unveiled EA Sports Ignite Engine. While we’ve yet to see any real-time gameplay footage running in-engine, Wilson assures that this new initiative of one single engine for which all future EA Sports titles are based will pay dividends for gamers in the long run.
Switching gears, Wilson touched on the fact that EA Sports currently has no Wii U games in development. In a rather candid response, Wilson said that, “We had a strong offering on Wii U at launch. The platform hasn’t had the take-up. Our games hasn’t[sic] had the take-up we’d have liked. So at this moment we are not focused there.” Citing the struggling platform’s lack of a large enough user-install base, he added that, “for us it’s less about building for a platform, and more about building for a group of gamers on a platform where they are. And sports gamers weren’t there.”
Turning the discussion to Facebook, Wilson spoke on the company’s lack of a desire to pursue projects targeting the social network much further. “Social, as it relates to Facebook, is not a focus for us anymore. We didn’t do great there. I am not sure if that was because we built the wrong game or if because Facebook gamers were looking for a different kind of experience, or some combination of those things,” he stated. “Either way, that space has been in fairly stark decline, and we’ve decided not to focus on that.” Wilson does reaffirm their strong support of mobile platforms, however, citing the success of the FIFA brand as reason enough to consider the mobile space a worthwhile endeavor.
There’s plenty more to read for those interested, so be sure to check out the full interview on MCV. Suffice it to say, EA Sports feels confident they’re ready to hit the ground running come next-gen, and hope to provide the premier sports experiences for the foreseeable future. Time will tell if the Ignite Engine is worthy of such confidence.
Which EA Sports titles do you folks play? Are you looking forward to seeing the Ignite Engine in action? What other professional sports should EA branch out into for next-gen? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and don’t forget to like IGXPro on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or give us the ‘ol +1 on Google+. And if you can’t get enough of my shenanigans, (who could blame you?) you can check me out @GamingsNirvana, or add +VinnyParisi to your circles.