EA CEO: With Frostbite, We’re Preparing for a World with Many Devices Capable of Playing Games

Alessio Palumbo
Posted Nov 17, 2016
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EA CEO Andrew Wilson was featured in a lengthy interview posted today by The Verge. Among many other topics, he talked about how Electronic Arts is preparing for a future where games will span across multiple devices, with the Frostbite engine playing an important role to that end.

What we’re trying to do is prepare the company for a world where truly there are more devices capable of playing games, and players are refreshing them more often and likely refreshing them asynchronously. You might refresh your mobile device at a different time than I do. You might buy the 8K, I might stick with a 4K. You might go down the Oculus VR route, I might go down the PSVR route. What I’ve got to do as a creator is try and keep you together with your friends inside experiences that you love, and the only way we can do that is at a core engine level.

We talk a lot about our single engine in Frostbite. It will scale up graphics on a bigger device and scale them down on a smaller device, so that we can build once and publish to many devices. It’s a world where we’re no longer having to make a decision like, “Do we build for the Xbox or the PlayStation or both?” There’s literally 30 or 40 or 50 different devices, and we have to be able to build for all devices that are meaningful for players.

We’ve been investing heavily on that front for the last four or five years. And we think now, by virtue of that transition, we get more games on the PS4 and Xbox One than any other publisher. You see us now starting to really grow our mobile install base. You see us get to the PSVR and Google VR in the same time frame. That’s the only path forward for us. In a world in which we have to build incrementally for every device, forget the cost implications of that, we literally just couldn’t do it from a person power point of view.

DICE’s Frostbite engine really is one of the aces in EA’s pocket. It may just be the best engine when it comes to delivering both great graphics and performance, but it also allows huge flexibility and scalability which lets Electronic Arts employ it in most games regardless of the device used.

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EA CEO Andrew Wilson then explained more thoroughly that Electronic Arts is envisioning a future where every game played regardless of the device will contribute to the same virtual world, one way or another.

As you think about us putting the entire experience into the cloud, what then happens is the nature of the experience isn’t governed by the platform that you choose to play on. The nature of the experience is governed purely by the screen size that you have access to, and the connected controller, and the amount of time you have to play.

When you’re playing on a PlayStation 5 or 6 or whatever is available at that point, it’s going to look one way on your big-screen TV. When you’re looking at it through a mobile device, it’s going to look a different way. When you’re playing it on your internet-enabled fridge screen while you’re getting the eggs out in the morning, because you’re just doing a few quick trades for Madden Ultimate team, it’s going to take a different format.

The most important thing is that none of that time is wasted. It’s not throwaway time. Everything accumulates to the value of who you are in that virtual world. That’s really our vision: to get to a point where we [don’t] discern for you where you should play or how you should play, only that every minute of play that you invest in the experiences that we create adds value to who you are in that virtual world. You’re not throwing things away from one device to another or one experience to another.

That goes from device to device. It also goes from game to game, because again, we as human beings are the sum total of our experience. That’s what makes us who we are. That’s what gives us our character. We want to replicate that in the virtual space.

I’m not really sure we’ll play games on our fridges anytime soon as suggested by the EA CEO, but overall it does seem an enticing vision by Electronic Arts. What do you think, folks? Are you interested in a fully connected virtual world?

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