EA Sports President: Digital Connections Transform Sports Gaming

Mel Lambert reports from the Game Supply Summit.

EA Sports President Peter Moore laid out the evolving vision of the most powerful company in sports videogaming at the third-annual Game Supply Summit last week in Los Angeles.

“Our strategy is based upon three pillars,” the executive said during an animated morning keynote address titled Digital GamePlay — What’s the Future? “We will innovate for the [user] core,” who are devoted fans of sports entertainment, using Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, and other consoles. “Secondly, we will create value through digital services, utilizing player imagery. Thirdly, we will deliver new experiences for new consumers.”

As an example, Moore pointed to SSX: Deadly Descents, which is being developed at EA Canada for Xbox and PS3 consoles and redefines the franchise. It pits teams of SSX snowboard riders against mountain, man, and the elements. Additionally, the game will enable users to download an evolving series of real-world mountain ranges, from the Himalayas to Antarctica.

“A decade ago,” Moore said, “an entire genre was born from the original SSX. It’s time to reboot one of the most popular franchises in an unpredictable and unexpected way. This franchise has always been about racing, tricks, characters and fun. SSX: Deadly Descents will deliver all of that, and more, on a global scale with rich on-line experiences and with a sense of adventure never before imagined on a snowboard.”

He added that EA Sports is going to bring the sports-gaming experience across all available platforms, from conventional consoles to smartphones and tablets, in addition to social networks. Also, the business is likely to move to a service-based model.

“By migrating from a transaction-based to a service-based model, we can keep the [videogame] experience fresh and players interested in the products,” he said. “We can layer on experiences that bring more revenue.”

According to Moore, the worldwide market for videogames grew 7.4% during 2010 to $48.1 billion. Two of EA Sports’ current titles, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 and FIFA Soccer 11, are available in various packaged and downloadable formats for consoles, on-line gamers, Apple iPad, mobile platforms, and social networks, he added, “enabling players to enjoy those interconnected sports experiences anywhere and at any time. We plan to drive cross-platform experience, by offering premium content via multiple D2C [direct-to-consumer] channels.”

Several fundamental changes are impacting the sports-entertainment marketplace. Acknowledging that customers acquire new products either as physical packages or as digital downloads, the EA Sports executive offered that “physical media will serve as an incentive for incremental digital experiences. More platforms are adding complexity and fragmentation to the interactive entertainment landscape.”

In addition, he said, “the casual consumer is becoming more powerful and influential. New peripheral technologies, including [Xbox 360] Kinect and [PlayStation] Move, are extending the platform cycle life and democratizing gaming.”

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