14 Feb 2013
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EA: Money talks

By Brendan Kelly

The man with the money at Electronic Arts has revealed a lot in an interesting interview, including some plans for the next console generation.

Blake Jorgensen, chief financial officer for EA, spoke to gamasutra.com in a revealing interview about the cost of moving to new consoles, the future of second-hand games and whether people even want to have a new generation of hardware.

He says from EA’s perspective, having a strong core of titles to bring onto a new console is better than having a massive number of titles to transfer, a problem the company struggled with in the last transition.

“Historical transitions have been bumpy for a few reasons. One reason has been that a lot of the companies had too many titles," he said.

"We had way too many titles in the last transition, and the more titles you have, the more expensive it is to convert from one generation to the next. We’re much more focused now. We’ve got a core group of ten-to-fifteen titles."

This is doubly important for EA, a company that relies heavily on sports titles to stay afloat – those titles work on the seasons of their respective sports, which means dedicated EA fans may put off upgrading to a new console straight away.

“The reality is, is that fiscal year 2014 will still be a fairly large gen-three if there’s a console business that comes in at the tail end of the year, mainly because a lot of our titles are built around sports calendars...if a next-gen console doesn’t come out until next Christmas, most people won’t wait," Jorgensen says.

"They’ll want to get involved in getting those titles early, because their friends are all playing those titles, and because they’re being played on a current generation’s consoles.”

As for how necessary the next-generation is, aside from soothsaying all Jorgensen has is hints.

“No one’s really seen yet---I mean, we have internally, but no one externally has really seen what the look and feel will be like on the new consoles. So I’ll reserve judgement other than to say that I think people are going to be pretty excited.”

He also had an opinion about second-hand gaming, and whether it would remain in the generation four.

“It’s one of those classic double-edged swords. In one way the used game business has been critical for the health of the retail channel and having a healthy retail channel is an important thing for us," he says.

"The business will probably never be 100 per cent digital. Bandwidths are a constraint, and will continue to be a constraint for many years to come, which hold back the ability to do full digital downloads of some games.”

What do you think of EA’s predictions for the future? Let us know in the comments.

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