EA: Withholding The Next Great Videogame Franchise For The Next Console Is Good Business

from the so-you-get-GTA42-instead,-jerks dept

I'll admit that video game producer Electronic Arts confuses me quite often. Any company their size is going to suffer from some internal conflicting opinions, but as an organization EA sometimes comes off as suffering from multiple personality disorder. One personality says that sales pricing on games is horrific, while the other embraces free games. They've shown that they can use trademark law well, but then manage to swallow a crazy pill when it comes to recognizing how an endless stream of sequels hurts their business. That last link is from 2007, when the boss of EA at the time admitted that pumping out sequels instead of original titles was having a negative effect on the bottom line. It seems that in five short years, the new brass at EA forgot that admission.

Speaking with Games Industry, current President of EA's labels, Frank Gibeau, discusses the chaos of the marketplace and the golden era of gaming he believes is going to come out of it. I'll admit, there's some very encouraging stuff in the piece, between once again acknowledging the emerging success of new business models, free to play games, and the power of the internet to massively expand the marketplace for gaming as a whole. That's all good thinking. But then we get to where he discusses EA's intellectual property strategy.
"The time to launch an IP is at the front-end of the hardware cycle, and if you look historically the majority of new IPS are introduced within the first 24 months of each cycle of hardware platforms," Gibeau says. "Right now, we're working on 3 to 5 new IPs for the next gen, and in this cycle we've been directing our innovation into existing franchises.

"As much as there's a desire for new IP, the market doesn't reward new IP this late in the cycle; they end up doing okay, but not really breaking through."
In case you don't want to parse through the exec speak, let me break this down for you. EA is actively working on new, original franchises, but they won't release them until the next generation of consoles comes out. This is under the notion that new franchises released in the middle or late stages of a console's life are doomed to failure or mediocrity. There are examples of why that outlook shouldn't be taken as gospel: Pokemon (released 7 years into the original Game Boy's life), Grand Theft Auto (released roughly 4 years into the original Playstation's life cycle), Gran Turismo (released roughly 3 years into the original Plastation's life cycle), or Guitar Hero (released roughly 5 years into the PS2's life cycle). All of those titles, by the way, are among the best selling franchises of all time. The point is that if you match the desire for new titles that Gibeau acknowledges with great game franchises, you build huge sales.

But even if Gibeau's supposition was true, there is a problem: the console life cycle this go around is longer than previous generations. While rumors about the next generation of gaming consoles surfaced way back in 2010, everyone's best guess for the soonest release is sometime in 2013 (and by "sometime", they mean Christmas at best). The XBOX 360 and PS3 came out in 2005 and 2006 respectively, which puts us somewhere in the neighborhood of a seven or eight year gap between console releases, depending on who gets to market first. Wii consoles are in roughly the same boat.

For the sake of comparison, here are some other timelines for console generations:
  1. Console generartion jump between the NES to Sega Genesis: 4 years
  2. Console generation jump between the Genesis/SNES to Playstation/N64: 5 years
  3. Console generation jump between the Playstation to PS2/Xbox: 5 years
  4. Console generation jump between the PS2/XBOX to PS3/XBox 360: 4 years for Xbox, 5 years for Playstation

The point is that the strategy is going to have to change with what is looking like something between 1.5 and 2 times the life cycle of the console. Customers simply aren't going to buy sequels for longer periods of time and if EA doesn't want to fill their need for new titles, someone else will. And, despite his earlier words, even Gibeau hints that he recognizes this.

"This is the longest cycle that any of us have ever seen, and we're at the point where a little bit of fatigue has set in, and people are wondering what they can possibly do next. I've seen the machines that we're building games for, and they're spectacular."
But then he goes right back to discussing how balls-droppingly great the next generation of hardware is going to be and how that's where they'll focus.
"Gen 4 hardware is a huge opportunity, and it's going to lead to a huge growth spurt for the industry."
Once again, it seems like they have multiple personality disorder. In the meantime, perhaps actually developing new material for the consoles your fans will have to deal with for the next couple of years yet might do wonders to turn around that sliding stock price.

 



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    Alana (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 3:10am

    >EA

    >Good business


    Yeah, no.

     

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      The eejit (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 3:47am

      Re:

      As a number of ex-employees of EA have said to me, the corporate structure is akin to a masochistic version of Cthulhu, only without the outright evil of Cthulhu, and with the comedic timing of George Carlin on fire.

       

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        Whisk33, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:22am

        Re: Re:

        I severely doubt EA is even an ounce less evil that Cthulhu...

         

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          The eejit (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 7:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's more corporate incompetence. My understanding is that they have a cleanup[ crew whose sole purpose is to stomp out their asshat Executives every time they open their mouth. They're sort of like Mi-go workers, only for foot-in-mouth syndrome.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 3:49am

    I think perhaps the difference here is in the size and breadth of their view of the marketplace and their business. They aren't looking at a short term boost or some bottom line padding in the short run, they are looking longer.

    I happen to agree with them that right now, it would be a pretty horrible time to bring out a new franchise, and there are plenty of reasons. I think the most important is that the next gen technology is going to be so much better than the current stuff, there is going to be so many more possiblities, that it's hard to imagine a star product for that technology even being workable on today's hardware.

    It's particularly important when you look at the graphics engines. The new cycle video cards will be at least double the clock speed, with tons more memory, processes, and so on. They will also be native to driving HDMI / HD screens, which were still a major ass luxury when most of the current units were developed.

    There is also the question of networking and network integration. With more overall horsepower, much more can be done to integrate remote gaming. I actually wouldn't be shocked to see 1 or more of the new consoles offer multiple screen output, to allow a two player (or even 4 player) back to back gaming situation.

    For EA to develop new franchises that don't use this power would be to perhaps waste a good franchise by bringing it out half assed.

    I think perhaps Mike this is one of those cases where your tendencies towards short term gains and short term thinking hurts. I think EA is exactly on track here, They can see the existing consoles are dated and the market perhaps run down, it's time to gear up for the next generation, which will be great - and they can perhaps be again a dominant force.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 4:03am

      Re:

      you can replace "Mike" with "Tim" here, it's very hard to tell their writing style apart anymore, Tim has certainly acheived a sort of arrogant know more than the rest tone that is very close to Mike. They really do sound a lot alike now.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 4:45am

        Re: Re:

        I don't get arrogance from Mike or Tim's posts. Or at least not any more than anyone else who comments on industry trends and such.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:03am

          Re: Re: Re:

          For "arrogance" read "someone who believes differently to me and won't accept my opinion as fact". It helps understand his mindset.

          What he actually meant from the above was "I screwed up didn't bother checking the name of the author before attacking him yet again, but I'll try to deflect blame before anyone notices".

           

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          • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
             
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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:24am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Oh Paul, FUCK OFF ALREADY, will you? You might want to apply to write for Techdirt, you have the same superior tone and all.

            Seriously, Tim use to have his own voice and it was easier to pick him out. Now, it's not so obvious, his stuff is really right on tone and message with Mike.

             

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              PaulT (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:33am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Abuse, rejection of my opinion, pretending your own opinion is truth without accepting other opinions, all wrapped up in a sweary toddler tantrum.

              At least I can always tell which AC is posting...

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:47am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Hey paul, really, just fuck off already. You don't add anything to the discussions. You are more worried about who I addressed rather than the rest of my comment. If that is all you add, the you are a waste of time and a thread killer.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:16am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Nope. He's right. You're wrong. All of the substance of your comment ceased to be relevant when you started insulting the authors and telling people to fuck off. It doesn't even matter if you had a point, no one's going to read it now.

                  Try again some other day when you have a different anon icon.

                   

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                  PaulT (profile), Sep 8th, 2012 @ 3:31am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  LOL, I can't help but notice that you've ignored every other point I've raised in this thread and all the other discussions I'm taking part in. You only take the time to whine about the part where I call you the whiny toddler with Tourette's that you seem to be, even though you were the one starting with the personal attacks instead of real discussion. Telling.

                   

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              Kaden (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Temper temper. Sparky.

              Been a long week, has it? Maybe doing double shifts as a republican for a nickel a post over on the Huffington Post? I know times are tough and you've gotta make ends meet, but this pace is gonna kill you.

              Your quality is slipping too.

               

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              Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:57am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Seriously, Tim use to have his own voice and it was easier to pick him out. Now, it's not so obvious, his stuff is really right on tone and message with Mike."

              You're welcome to your opinion, but all I'll tell you is if you can't tell the difference between Mike's writing and mine, you may be a chimp....

               

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      Richard (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 4:06am

      Re:

      I happen to agree with them that right now, it would be a pretty horrible time to bring out a new franchise, and there are plenty of reasons. I think the most important is that the next gen technology is going to be so much better than the current stuff, there is going to be so many more possiblities, that it's hard to imagine a star product for that technology even being workable on today's hardware.


      I have to disagree here - the point is that advanced in technology are pretty much played out - it is difficult to think of hardware improvements that will have any real impact on what you can and can't do in a game. The proof that I am right is in the fact that these new platforms have been so delayed. They don't exist yet because the motivation for making a new platform has subsided. Rendering has reached a kind of saturation level where improvements are purely cosmetic in their effect. Advances in modelling and physics have yet to be exploited by gameplay that actually makes use of them. In the meantime the big switch has been back to casual games for small devices.

      What EA is doing is trying to find an excuse for their own lack of ideas.

      Having said that I have to admit that new ideas in the console space are hard to come by so the lack thereof is not surprising.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 4:33am

        Re: Re:

        My suggestion: try taking the current top PC video game, and go try to play it on a dual core with a small video card. If it will even start, it won't run worth crap. They are working the current console hardware to it's very limits to do what they do now... and they can do much, much better.

         

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          Richard (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 4:50am

          Re: Re: Re:

          My suggestion: try taking the current top PC video game, and go try to play it on a dual core with a small video card. If it will even start, it won't run worth crap.

          True -they use what is available - and the way the numbers work it kills less powerful hardware. But the key is this: -

          Just looking at the visuals can you tell the difference?

          Often increases in hardware power simply result in less efficent programming and modelling so the end result isn't much better.

          Even if you can then does the actual gameplay show any benefit from that difference?

          The key is that - as has been well known in the graphics community since just about forever- once you are immersed in a task the quality of the visuals becomes unimportant except insofar as they provide direct cues that affect the task.

          and they can do much, much better.

          In pure visual terms "much much better" doesn't exist. In the areas where "much much better" does exist - the problems are conceptual ones relating to software. Only when those problems are solved will hardware again enter into the equation.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            i kind off side with this ac because more power not only mean better graphics but also more people in the screen aswell as better ai the gaming sites i visit also have the same discusion about new consoles and new ip in this late cycle and i kind of agree with EA because tim also said it only a few new ips can make it to the top this late in the console cycle, everybody seem to think that if there where more new ip ther would be more sales but the same poeple that as for new ip always ask for the sequel or the old ip and i kind of asure you that they will prefer an old ip over a new one, coming with what can be done in terms of power as i noticed theres a 2 gen cycle before a big jump in graphic power can be noticed at a large scale nes and snes where bareli noticed if you compare it to the jump in n64 and pson e or if you compare it de jum of the ps2 - gcn to the upscale hd, and wont forget that each console most of the time comes with new ways to play videogames like the gamepad in the wii u, so yeah new consoles means new way to play if the developers arent laizy

             

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          Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You can get a respectable gaming PC for $500 - prebuilt from a major OEM - which is likely less than what the next gen consoles will cost - and which will run the most recent titles at medium to high settings quite nicely.

          If they can do so much better on the PC, why don't they release their titles there?

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:40am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "If they can do so much better on the PC, why don't they release their titles there?"

            Because there's nothing but piracy on PCs.

            That's not my answer, but that's the standard answer that they've given before. With no supporting evidence whatsoever, beyond hand waving and "take our word for it".

             

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              The eejit (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 7:59am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              HAHAHAHAHAHA.

              Oh, wait. you're serious. Let me laugh even harder.



              HAHAHAHAHAHA!

              PC infringement has far more to do with certain games companies being complete asshats when it comes to customer satisfaction. EA is one of these (see also, early SecuROM), as is Ubisoft (see also: UPlay, Ubi Game Launcher).

              Valve have no issues - nor do other companies such as Insomniac and Naughty Dog.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:43am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                The eejit, no, I wasn't being serious. Actually, I'm in complete agreement with you. I hate to say I'm on your side, but I am.

                I was merely pointing out that that's what a majority of game publishers say about PCs. That piracy is running rampant on them and as such they release specific titles only to the console market.

                I for one have had to download cracks and "pirate" fixes to make games I've legitimately purchased actually be playable. The last game I had to do that for was Starcraft II, at which point I swore I'd avoid doing business with most of the big companies again.

                And I'm a huge fan of Steam. I love the deals they have their and their "DRM" is actually beneficial and not harmful to myself or my computer. (The fact that my Humble Bundle Android purchases can also get Steam unlock codes just makes me that much more glad I use Steam.)

                 

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                  The eejit (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 9:52am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Ah, my mistake. Poe's Law and all that jazz.

                  But yes, the fundamental issue is that of the digital sales market, there are around six major players, and two of those have serious rep issues (uPlay store and Origin). Of the remaining four, two are barely available outside the US, and the other two are hugely succcessful (but not without their downsides).

                  If you purchase a game, it should be fully, or very nearly, working out of the box. Paradox are notorious for releasing buggy horribad messes that generally are cleaned up by the second patch - howeverm the games are generally of very good quality for the genre once these issues are sorted.

                   

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            Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:22am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            i would disagree because wii u wich is a next gen console comes at extimated cost of 250-400 and also comes with and this is anf if the developers are not laizy with a new ideas of playing videogames and in beffore you tellme a tablet controles is not inovation or somthing es like is not as powerfull as pc i would tell you that valve is also considering using new peripherals to enance the gemplay in pc which shows a lack an laiziness in the gamplay department

             

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        ChrisB (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:13am

        Re: Re:

        I agree. When each new console comes out, the designers just max out graphics and then the scraps go to gameplay. Most FPS are just long hallways, exactly like they were in Doom. Sure, they are pretty hallways, but there has been no advances in gameplay, just graphics.

        A new console will be the death of consoles.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:17am

          Re: Re: Re:

          >Most FPS are just long hallways, exactly like they were in Doom


          Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Doom a lot about exploring complex maps and finding all the keys and pathways and secrets?

          I do agree that modern FPSs are long hallways punctuated with cutscenes . . .

           

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            varagix, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yeah, that's the thing: early on, complexity and graphics were limited by hardware and then-current software. As things developed, conditions allowed more complex layouts. Doom 2 and Duke Nukem 3D had far more complex and larger maps than their predecessors, as an example.

            Then things plateaued. You could do just about anything design wise, given enough time. But graphical fidelity continued to increase and became and obvious benchmark for hardware and software development. Game makers started to pull resources away from level and gameplay design and put more emphasis on art and graphic development.

            End result? We started with ugly and simple corridor shooters, went to reasonable looking complex levels, and now we're getting to the point of extremely pretty and shallow corridor shooters.

            Of course that's just in the FPS market. Other genres of game have their own problems.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              i would say they have the same issue, case in point final fantasy 13 wich is considered a videogame movie because you only have to press x to play the game and yeah you can beat it as far as i know,but i think is more the laiziness of the developers that only focus in pretty graphics and leave aside the gameplay or story

               

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:18am

          Re: Re: Re:

          100% agreement, I've been bored with all the CoD/MoH/BF titles. They are interchangeable at this point. I got lucky to have gotten turned onto the ARMA series. They are more my style now-a-days.

          I don't know why console game designers won't expand out of the cubby holes they build around themselves and produce decent games that aren't cookie cutter copies. To this day Sony thinks the strategy genre begins and ends with tower defense games.

           

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            The eejit (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 9:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            See, I would love for more games like LBP and less CallofgearsBattlefield #96201. But apprently, shooting things until they fall voer sells games.

             

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          Atkray (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "A new console will be the death of consoles."

          I'm hoping Ouya fulfills that prophecy.

           

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        AndyD273 (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 7:01am

        Re: Re:

        Hardware improvements can have a huge effect on what you can and can't do with a game.

        Don't believe me? I would like you to take the games that were released in 1992 and compare them with the games that were released in 2012. Computers are still computers, pushing 1's and 0's around. The only real difference is that hardware has gotten much much more advanced. Faster, more powerful, more parallel.

        And where that really matters a lot is math and physics. Take Half-Life 2. The game play relied heavily on simulating real world physics. Using the gravity gun to throw something across the field to hit an enemy for instance. The math involved for that would have taken several computers a long time back in 1992 running at 66MHz.
        (http://www.computerhope.com/history/1992.htm - Intel 486DX2 66MHz was the screaming fast top of the line chip)

        Since we don't know much about the next series of consoles, it's hard to say what specifically they are designing the games to do. But there are, right now, modern computer games that will not run on the current consoles.
        (http://www.gamespot.com/news/skyrim-dawnguard-dlc-may-never-come-to-ps3-6394066)

        It's a bit like going to IKEA on a whim and then trying to fit an entertainment center in to the backseat of your sedan because for some reason you decided not to drive your minivan that day. (personal experience)

        It becomes a case of "What am I willing to give up in order to get an entertainment center today. I can fit a box that is 60 inches, and that one is 80 inches long. So I need to go back upstairs and find an entertainment center that is 60 inches or less."

        The decision makers at EA looked at their grand vision, looked at the next set of hardware, and then looked at the current hardware, and had to make a decision. "Do we start cutting pieces off until it will run, and make it look and play less than it's best, or do we sit on it for a little while, improve it, and wait till we have something that can do what we really want."

        They could, however, start building a following for the console by releasing a PC version that makes use of modern technology. That may be to strategic for them to handle though.

        tl;dr: designing games on the console RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT is a little bit like trying to get your feet into your baby shoes. Something is going to get removed to make it work. Wanting to wait for the better hardware so you can release something really impressive is not a bad idea.

        tl;dr2: Release a PC version to start building the brand!

         

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        Mason Wheeler, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 7:40am

        Re: Re:

        Agreed. We hit the point of diminishing returns already. The graphical quality difference between PS2 and PS3, or XBox and XBox 360, isn't anywhere near as great as the difference between PS1 and PS2 or N64 and Gamecube. And even today's high-end PC games don't look that much better than what the years-old PS3 can do.

         

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          BigKeithO, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 7:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Battlefield 3 @ 1080i at 80 FPS sure seems to look a hell of a lot better than my friends PS3 version to me... Just saying.

           

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            PaulT (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            How much more did the screen & hardware setup you're running it on cost compared to your friend's TV & PS3? Yeah, you can get better results, but you have to pay for it...

             

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I dunno man. It sounds like you haven't played a game that was designed for PC (i.e. not just a console port) on a high-end machine lately.

          It's way, way ahead graphically. Higher res, better effects, better FPS everything.

          Try playing the Witcher 2 on Xbox 360, then on a good PC. The PC's gameplay looks better than the Xbox 360's prerendered cutscenes.

          The 7-year-old specs on the ps3/xbox360 were great back when they released, and the upcoming refresh of the consoles will be a pretty good dollar to performance value assuming the spec leaks are true, but right now PC gaming blows console gaming out of the water graphically.

           

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:00am

      Re:

      "there is going to be so many more possiblities"

      Such as? I'm always suspicious when someone says that better graphics/sound/whatever will somehow make things possible in terms of gameplay that aren't possible now. If you have ideas in that area, I've be interested in what you have to say. Maybe other capabilities of the consoles with introduce new benefits, but what is not possible now, exactly?

      "It's particularly important when you look at the graphics engines."

      Apart from making games look prettier and more realistic, is there anything that the current graphics engines is really holding back?

      "I actually wouldn't be shocked to see 1 or more of the new consoles offer multiple screen output, to allow a two player (or even 4 player) back to back gaming situation."

      There's a possibility, but is that really at the core of any game?

      "I think perhaps Mike this is one of those cases where your tendencies towards short term gains and short term thinking hurts."

      Except, that's usually not what he does. In fact, many of the things suggested refer to the long tail and the end to the "opening weekend" obsession most in the major entertainment industries have.

      The fact is this: EA is currently suffering in the minds of many gamers not just because of its anti-gamer stance on things like DRM and second hand purchases, but it's stale franchises as well. Even at the best estimates, it will be well into 2014 before the install base of any new console comes close to being truly significant, possibly 2015. It might be longer depending on the teething problems the new technology has - remember, both Microsoft and Sony suffer extremely expensive issues with their hardware early in their lifecycles. It might be a smooth release with huge numbers of purchases this time round, but it's too early to tell.

      Also, I remember people trashing the PS2 when the PS3 was on the horizon. God Of War came out at that time. I don't remember that being a poor decision with regard to release strategy. In fact, PS2 sales experienced a bump in its later lifecycle as GoW2 and FF12 on top of other franchises and price drops increased its attractiveness to non-early adopters. Unless there's a reason why important gameplay elements cannot be handled by current gen hardware, it seems rather short-sighted to put all eggs in that basket.

      That doesn't mean it's not a good long-term strategy to look toward next gen improvements or capability, but I do question the idea of solely releasing on that platform. Your typical "this is my opinion and it's the only truth" stance doesn't convince me.

       

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        Jeremy Lyman (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:21am

        Re: Re:

        "Maybe other capabilities of the consoles with introduce new benefits, but what is not possible now, exactly?"
        Hmmm... maybe HD refresh rates 4 times faster than human perception? Then with those stupid 3d glasses you could have 4 players on one screen without splitting. That might be cool... though you might be able to do it now and that alone is not a reason for me to upgrade a console, and certainly not a reason to sit on an awesome new money making franchise for 2-4 years.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:57am

        Re: Re:

        "Such as? I'm always suspicious when someone says that better graphics/sound/whatever will somehow make things possible in terms of gameplay that aren't possible now. If you have ideas in that area, I've be interested in what you have to say. Maybe other capabilities of the consoles with introduce new benefits, but what is not possible now, exactly?"
        duno if you are a gamer but the sites i visit about gaming says that with more power there are bether graphics thats a given but you also have more complex ai, more units, npc, character displayed on a map, gemplay could flow more smother at a tru 1080p at 60fps which current consoles at best give 720p most of the games are upscaled version so graphicaly we will se a jump but not as big as ps2 to ps3, also with the beter ai i was trying to say you also get more complex worlds, bigger and more players on fields, if we compare compures can have 100+ players but consoles only 16-32 that can be also a plus
        "Apart from making games look prettier and more realistic, is there anything that the current graphics engines is really holding back?"
        i dont know much about engines but i think they are incharge of the ai and how complex the world and levels can by also i have read the current engines unreal 3 is only at 20% on the ps3/360 which are the strongest consoles in the market, so i think they are holding back a bit xd

        "There's a possibility, but is that really at the core of any game?"
        this is an easy one have you looked at nintendo DS or 3DS or maybe the wii U i think those are multiscreen output devices :D

        the last question i will refrain cause i think mike didnt wrote this article
        i only will say that i kind off side with EA because i have seen that it need to be a really good idea to get a new ip to work this late in the cycle, case in point tim wrote some of the most successfull :D

         

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      fogbugzd (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:20am

      Re:

      Frank Gibeau? Is that you? I had assumed that most of the shill trolls on TD worked for the movie industry. I never thought about the gaming industry running AC accounts.

      On second though, perhaps I am wrong about you being Frank Gibeau because your comments seem even further from reality than the original Gibeau article.

      For one thing you say that advances in networking will greatly enhance the gameplay experience. Most console game play is done from homes. Have you checked the situation in the US home broadband market? The US is far behind the rest of the world, and at least one recent study has shown us getting even further behind. In fact, we might start going backwards. Big ISP's are playing with the idea of bandwidth caps in an attempt to thwart cable cutting, and this would throw a massive wet blanket on internet gaming.

      An even bigger issue in your comment, and apparently in the original Gibeau article, is a failure to consider mobile gaming. Perhaps the next gen consoles will have much more spectacular hardware. However, the next gen of phones and tablets will still be far behind the current gen of consoles. So if the success of the next gen of video games is going to rely on incredible hardware to make them spectacular they probably will not be even playable on what is becoming a major platform of choice.

      Sometimes I wonder if there will even be a next gen of consoles. Or, perhaps there will be a next gen but it will fall flat.

       

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        BigKeithO, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:03am

        Re: Re:

        I currently use Splashtop on my Transformer Prime to stream games from my PC to the tablet. It is actually very cool to be able to have a game of Civ5 or Diablo 3 in all its glory while on the go.

        I wonder if Sony and MS would actually allow this to happen? That MS Glass demo at E3 was pretty cool and could be used in this way I would imagine.

         

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      Anonymous Cowherd, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:37am

      Re:

      "I actually wouldn't be shocked to see 1 or more of the new consoles offer multiple screen output, to allow a two player (or even 4 player) back to back gaming situation."

      I would. That would mean they just gave up the chance to sell you 2-4 consoles, 2-4 copies of the same game and if it's Microsoft, 2-4 user accounts with pay-to-play multiplayer. Split-screen multiplayer hasn't been almost universally dumped because of lack of "horsepower" much less a lack of multple screen output, but as a revenue enhancing device.

       

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        ChrisB (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:17am

        Re: Re:

        > Split-screen multiplayer hasn't been almost universally dumped

        This is so tragic. The reason is girlfriend gamers. Borderlands 2 has realized this and has a girlfriend mode. My wife plays games with me now, after years of watching me play. It is near impossible to find games to play together (she's no good at FTS, yet). I'm not buying two laptops so we can play Diablo 3 together, but if consoles don't fix this, we just might.

        If a new console came out (OUYA, maybe) which realized this, it would kill in this market.

         

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          PRMan, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I play games with my daughters and because of that, we love the Lego series, because you can play cooperatively. Too bad Lego Pirates on Wii crashes in coop mode about every 30 minutes. They don't test coop at all.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:44am

      Re:

      I happen to agree with them that right now, it would be a pretty horrible time to bring out a new franchise, and there are plenty of reasons. I think the most important is that the next gen technology is going to be so much better than the current stuff, there is going to be so many more possiblities, that it's hard to imagine a star product for that technology even being workable on today's hardware.


      I think their blanket statement that it's a bad idea to introduce new IP this late isn't true, although I agree with the general premise.

      If you release early in the hardware cycle, you have that much longer to potentially sell the game. You also have the hype engine working (people get jazzed up about a new system) and much less overall competition on the platform. A new platform is only going to have a handful of really good games in the first months/year. Introducing to an old platform means there is many other options (including low price ones that can snipe customers).

       

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        PaulT (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:25am

        Re: Re:

        "A new platform is only going to have a handful of really good games in the first months/year. Introducing to an old platform means there is many other options (including low price ones that can snipe customers)."

        That's certainly one point of view, especially if the new platform lacks backward compatibility so there's truly very few options for gamers on that platform. On the other hand, the install base on the new platform will be far lower as well, so a best seller on that platform may sell fewer copies than even a moderate seller on the old one.

        There's definitely merit to both arguments. I think that the most notable thing here is that EA - a company heavily criticised for simply rehashing its old franchises - are bypassing the existing install base completely to gamble on the new. It could work. It could be a disaster. We shall see.

         

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        BigKeithO, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:06am

        Re: Re:

        I think they are just hurting themselves by not releasing anything new on the current consoles. Pretty much all of my friends own either an Xbox or a PS3. No one ever turns them on anymore except to maybe stream video to the TV. Everyone has either quit gaming or moved over to the PC. What is the reason to come back to the "next next gen" when it comes? My PC is already better than the new consoles will be.

         

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      Jeremy Lyman (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:02am

      Re:

      So maybe they should wait till the next-next-generation systems come out before unveiling the genius of their new franchise?

      I wish they hadn't tainted great franchises like Halo, GTA, Assassin's Creed and Metal Gear by exposing the story-lines to hardware long out dated by modern standards.
      /sarc

      No, I'm not of the opinion that waiting on a franchise for a new platform is good for anything except driving user adoption (spending). In fact many end-of platform games are BETTER than concurrent release versions on next gen consoles. Just because the processors go twice as fast doesn't make the game better.

       

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        Jeremy Lyman (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:13am

        Re: Re:

        Whoops, the first Assassin's Creed was on current gen hardware. I'll own up to the mistake on that, but you'll forgive me if you go back and play it again, since it looks a generation leap compared to what they can do now on the same hardware.

        I think my point still stands.

         

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          PaulT (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:29am

          Re: Re: Re:

          IMHO, Assassin's Creed is an interesting example. I don't think there's any doubt that its graphics were one of the major selling points originally. The overall gameplay proved lacking and repetitive, but it was the graphics that sold and its writing that encouraged people to want to buy a second instalment.

          So, in that example the new hardware was what helped sell the game whereas the game may have been overlooked if it had been developed for hardware that didn't deliver the "wow" factor even if the story and gameplay were the same.

          On the other hand, I'm sure we can all think of games that underperformed because the pretty, pretty next gen graphics weren't supported by anything else of interest.

           

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            PRMan, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:35am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            The game industry seems to have lost it's way. The point is: games are supposed to be FUN!

            Great graphics don't make a game fun any more than poor graphics make it less fun.

            I can play Robotron or Defender or Tempest arcade right now and it's an adrenaline rush. Or River Raid for Atari 2600. (My kids still fire up Adventure with you as a square and the duck-billed dragons and the sword that looks like an arrow.) You still see Galaga/Ms PacMan machines in arcades and everyone loves Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move. None of these games have great graphics. All of them are fun, even 25-30 years later.

            I am reminded of Bill Budge (of Pinball Construction Set fame). He made the first PC pinball where the physics were nearly perfect. It "felt" like a real pinball, but the graphics were lines and boxes and circles. He showed it to some marketing execs and they didn't even want to touch it. He finally convinced them and they started playing and they were having a blast. Then he hit a key combination and showed them the actual graphics.

            He said, "I know a game is fun when it's fun even without good graphics. Chess is a great game with crappy graphics."

            I feel like from Doom and Civ until Portal and Lego people have forgotten that games are supposed to be fun. Now they are long FPS hallways (that look really cool) and grinding to raise crops, armies, etc., that are so boring that people invent bots to play the game for them.

            I agree that games are FINALLY getting to the point where great graphics and great gameplay are finally getting together (Arkham City was the most amazing game I ever played. I WAS Batman.)

             

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 7:05am

      Re:

      "I think perhaps Mike this is one of those cases where your tendencies towards short term gains and short term thinking hurts. "
      Unless Mike changed his name to Tim, he didn't write it.

      As for your main point though, how does it make sense to convince people to buy new hardware with untested franchises? There's been no evidence of this, ever; the Vita sold terribly, and it had new and mediocre franchises to launch. The 3DS lacked big brand titles (read as: Mario) and didn't really pick up steam until the first Mario game released.

      But even without looking at contradictory examples in history, how is spending $400 on a new console supposed to be easier if the only games I can buy are complete shots in the dark? Would you have adopted Blu-ray if they refused to release the popular movies for a couple years? "It's ok, I know we aren't releasing Avatar/LotR/Whatever, but look at this other movie you have no desire to watch. We made it as well, so it's obviously just as good!"

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 3:54am

    Don't much care what EA does. They are right up there with Ubisoft in a customer hate relationship with DRM. I long ago quit buying from either of these companies and I am without a doubt not the only one.

    Between terrible DRM schemes and rapid franchise releases that are always more of the same and at the same time hardly worth the $60 they want to charge for a game, I'll go elsewhere to other companies that make games.

    Those two are off the list to ever buy because of past bad decisions. It'll take way more than just a bunch of fancy words to change that.

     

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      Haywood (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 4:21am

      Re:

      Even if they dropped the DRM schemes, and dropped the price to free, they jumped the shark a long time ago. They used to be known for fun games you could jump into and enjoy, OR play through the levels and accomplish. For some time now they seem to think; role playing is essential part of an action game. I disagree. I long for the simplicity of the original Need For Speed Hot Pursuit. I really don't want to go to some garage and meet Bob, the go to some alley and Meet Sue, I want to drive the damned car. Now that the technology for a really great experience doing just that, they have dropped the ball, & overcomplicated it to the point of, no thanks.

       

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    Richard (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 3:56am

    Wrong

    Actually I think he's plain wrong here.

    As the story points out the really great games don't seem to be synchronised to the hardware update cycle. This is because really good ideas cannot be subject to anything as banal as that. I could add quite a few more examples - the biggest of which is Tetris - which would have been implementable on the hardware of 5 or 6 years earlier..

    (incidentally I understand that this "new great hardware" more or less corresponds to current top end PC hardware and so will be ~ 2 years out of date when it arrives).

    My observation is that the new games that are produced to "exploit the new console" tend to be mostly rubbish - because it takes some experience and customer feedback to find out what works - and there is no guaranteee that the new hardware will result in anything worthwhile anyway.

     

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      Jeremy Lyman (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 4:04am

      Re: Wrong

      Yeah, I agree and was trying to remember the quote I heard from developers about the PS2. I don't know it exactly, but basically it took them years to learn how to fully exploit the system's potential. So games at console launch, or soon after are often just not as good as those that evolve as the platform becomes mature.

       

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        PaulT (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:06am

        Re: Re: Wrong

        Yep, there's a lot of stories about people having great difficulty adapting to the PS3's Cell processor as well.

        With the PS2, check the quality of the launch games and then check the last few major franchises released on the console (e.g. God Of War 2), and then compare those to the PS3 launch games. I defy anyone to tell me that the launch games for the PS2 or 3 compare to those late cycle games in anything other than prettiness - and not even that for some games.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 4:13am

    The main question out all of this is when is half-life 2 episode 3 going to be release?

    Also EA :P

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:00am

    PC gaming EA, PC gaming

     

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    PaulT (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:15am

    Well, the jury's out as far as I'm concerned and I'll give them a benefit of the doubt, but I'll tell you what this translates to in my mind - EA has decided it doesn't want my money for these new franchises until at least 2015.

    I don't bother with early adoption, and I was proven correct in my opinion last gen. Because I didn't jump straight in, I avoided the RRoD issues on the 360, avoided the high prices and manufacturing problems with the PS3's initial hardware, and came in when games and consoles were not only cheaper but had online marketplaces and gaming infrastructure that had matured sufficiently to be useful. Unless they come out with something absolutely astounding, I doubt I'll upgrade my consoles in the next 3 years, and even then I might not upgrade if the anti-used, anti-physical threats come to fruition.

    Nope, I'll sit out the next gen while they fight it out, and may go to a competing console instead if the Android console (I forget the name) or the rumoured Valve system turn out to be real and high quality. While waiting, I might be convinced to buy into a new franchise on my current hardware, but there's no way in hell I'll ever upgrade to play a single game.

    Time will tell, but I'm not convinced.

     

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    Michael, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:43am

    The NES saw some great new IPs show up every year in its lifecycle. Same goes for every major platform. The Genesis had original softs like Gunstar Heroes, Earthworm Jim, Light Crusader, and Ristar. Meanwhile, the SNES had Donkey Kong Country, Illusion of Gaia, Earthbound (Mother 2), and Chrono Trigger. I could go on and on.

     

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    A nonny mouse, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 5:47am

    "Gen 4 hardware is a huge opportunity, and it's going to lead to a huge growth spurt for the industry."

    So he's going back to the SNES / Genesis (Mega Drive) era?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_video_game_consoles_%28fourth_generation%29

     

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      mikey4001, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:06am

      Re:

      That's exactly what I was thinking. "Woohoo! new games for my TurboGrafx-16! Freakin' finally."

       

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        Rekrul, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 9:55am

        Re: Re:

        That's exactly what I was thinking. "Woohoo! new games for my TurboGrafx-16! Freakin' finally."

        Haven't heard much about the TG16, but you can get some new games for the Atari 2600, 5200, 7800 and the C64. In fact, a recent new C64 game, Souless, has been getting rave reviews. It's available on disk, tape and cartridge. You can also find cracked copies on the net for use with emulators.

         

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      Rekrul, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 9:52am

      Re:

      So he's going back to the SNES / Genesis (Mega Drive) era?

      Of course not. Everyone knows that video games started with the original Playstation!

       

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    Keroberos (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:14am

    Of course; what he doesn't mention, those 3 to 5 new IPs are just iterative, copycat crap that can only do well early in a console's life cycle so they don't have too much competition from better product.
    "Gen 4 hardware is a huge opportunity, and it's going to lead to a huge growth spurt for the industry."
    How is this gonna help. Having better hardware didn't help Sony out too much with the PS3. So unless the next gen hardware is significantly cheaper, I don't see much changing.

     

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    krusty-g (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:16am

    This is the longest summer in living memory but......

    Winter is coming

     

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    Jeff (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:29am

    EA is to good gaming as McDonalds is to gourmet food....

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:42am

    I think new franchises will do fine so long as you do them before the announcement of the next console. This sounds like EA is only going to care for the first 2 years then go back to cranking out sequels.

     

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    PopeRatzo (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 6:45am

    God, no.

    Free-two-play is not the future of gaming. Tell me it's not so.

    Don't need multiplayer, don't need third person "action", don't need "Don't turn off your PC..."

    Please God, let them make good computer games again.

    I'm willing to pay, but not to be a chump.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 7:01am

    Isn't there some simple logic at play here?

    When new hardware comes out, people will buy it.

    When they buy the new hardware, they also buy some new games.

    When they buy new games, they're likely to buy the new flagship games.

    Also take into account the fact that some of the new games can actually take advantage of the new the hardware.

    So releasing a new IP with new hardware is a way to hedge a bet with some increased sales of people who will get the hot new game to play with the new hardware.

    Could they release new IP on the existing hardware or PC? Of course, but they're just looking to hedge their bets a lil.

    What's the big deal? How is this even news worthy?

     

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      PaulT (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 7:26am

      Re:

      "What's the big deal? How is this even news worthy?"

      A lot of the counterpoints to the above points are already listed in other comments, but the main point is that EA is a company that's particularly criticised for rehashing stale old franchises. So, it's notable that they're saving all new franchises for new platforms, essentially saying "screw the current platforms (and their large install bases), we'll try to get a head start on the new ones".

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:38am

        Re: Re:

        Having read through the comments again , i must admit that I still don't see what all the hubbub is about.

        Other than it provides a useful foil for people to arc their hatred towards EA that was already there.

         

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      The eejit (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:05am

      Re:

      You have no idea of how reviled EA is in the gaming industry.

       

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    Rick Smith (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 8:34am

    Just a smoke screen...

    I read the linked discussion and I say it was just EA bullshit.

    They aren't waiting for the new consoles because of some whacky notion that franchises do better during the initial few months of a new console.

    They are waiting because the next gen consoles are going to try to cut out the used game market. It has been repeatedly stated that both Sony and Microsoft will have 'features' (one time activation codes, always on internet, digital distribution only, etc.) that will virtually make it impossible to let someone else play your copy of a game (without buying their own access code).

    It's all about the DRM! Cut out piracy and the Gamestop's of the world, cause in the end they are both the same to EA, just a bunch of freetards, stealing their goodtimes.

     

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      Jeremy Lyman (profile), Sep 7th, 2012 @ 9:59am

      Re: Just a smoke screen...

      Yup, you want to try the new games? Upgrade to the new systems where you don't own anything any more. I certainly hope they don't think they're going to get $60 for new titles in that world.

      OUYA here I come.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 9:03am

    "Hey AC, really, just fuck off already. You don't add anything to the discussions. You are more worried about launching ad homs at PaulT than the rest of anyone else's comments. If that is all you add, the you are a waste of time and a thread killer."

    FTFY

    Seriously. You just wrote a comment to tell Paul (twice now) to fuck off. Really adding to the thread there sparky. /s Keep it up and you'll keep having your off-topic and abusive comments reported for the thread killers and waste of space/time they are. (Oh, and it's not censorship. Before you or some other idiot AC decide to dig up that old bone.)

     

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    Mojo, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 9:28am

    Wouldn't they make more money by double dipping with a succesful title?

    When Blu-Ray was on the horizon, the studios didn't stop releasing DVDs to wait for HD. Are you kidding? They were only too thrilled to release the DVD, knowing full well that they could resell the same title on Blu-Ray when it was finally released.

    Likewise, if a game comes out for current consoles and is a huge hit, it stands to reason that quite a few people will buy it again when it's released for the next gen console with stunning NEW graphics and gameplay.

    Duh?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:02am

    They directly control the hardware cycle. That what we PC snobs have been trying to tell you paddle slapping chimps for years.

    You pugs just keep dumping your money down the proprietary system hole. The only guarantee you get when you buy a console is that you'll wish you hadn't 5 years later, when it's worthless.

    5 years after that, when every single game ever made for that platform can be had for free on a PC emulator, you should feel like a pure blood jerk, but you'll probably be clutching the new hotness in your monkey paws, without a thought in your head.

    Your driving all the developers to crappy console-ware, and that's sucking quality out of the PC side.

    Come on apes, get a PC and play games like a big boy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Rekrul, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 10:10am

    I'll admit, there's some very encouraging stuff in the piece, between once again acknowledging the emerging success of new business models, free to play games, and the power of the internet to massively expand the marketplace for gaming as a whole.

    Shouldn't "free to play" be "paid DLC"? It's not like you buy the game, get the entire thing and then can play it free. You buy a shell of a game and then have to pay and pay and pay for all the rest of the stuff that you need to make it practical to play the game beyond a certain level.

    Once again, it seems like they have multiple personality disorder. In the meantime, perhaps actually developing new material for the consoles your fans will have to deal with for the next couple of years yet might do wonders to turn around that sliding stock price.

    Interesting choice of words. Are you saying that current consoles suck and that gamers are eager to replace them? It's funny, back before they came out, people were drooling over the new consoles and now they're considered garbage that gamers have to "deal with".

    Historically, some of the best games came out late in each console's lifetime as the programmers learned how to really take advantage of its quirks.

    Not to mention that in the past, the jumps from 16 colors to 256 colors and then to 16 million colors were huge. Then 3D cards came out. Now, each new generation of graphics is only a slight improvement from what came before. Once they reach the photo-realistic level, there won't be any room for improvement left.

    And let's face it, these new consoles aren't being designed for the benefit of gamers, they're for the benefit of the company. The longer a console is available, the less a company makes on it as people expect the price to drop. Also, hackers learn how to exploit the system and things like mod chips are created for it. Releasing a new console allows them to charge a hefty new price and the hackers will have to start over again from scratch.

     

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    identicon
    jezsik, Sep 7th, 2012 @ 3:11pm

    I don't get it

    A new game platform will always have less customers than the older game platforms. Why release to a new market that is considerably smaller than the old market?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Tex Arcana (profile), Sep 8th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Argh

    In the meantime, perhaps actually developing new material for the consoles your fans will have to deal with for the next couple of years yet might do wonders to turn around that sliding stock price.


    :rolleyes: The only thing that makes stocks go up is firing all the employees and suing everyone else for [insert ridiculous reason here]. Hence why using stock prices as a measure of the health of ANYTHING utterly ridiculous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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