We might not have long to wait to find out the details of new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, but one person who'll have been in the loop for a while is Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello. And, speaking on an investor call to discuss the company's Q3 financials, he gave some details about the company's plans for the new hardware.
"[Next-gen] is yet to come. It's that that we're excited about, and that's what we're investing in."
"As you might well expect," said Riccitiello, we know more about the roadmap, and more about what's coming in consumer electronics, in terms of the specifics of devices that will play games, than you might otherwise be exposed to." Based on the information it has, EA is "bullish" on the hardware expected to launch in this financial year from Sony and Microsoft, and will invest $80 million in developing for the new platforms. Riccitiello noted that EA was slow to get off the mark the last time new consoles launched, and is keen to avoid the same mistake.
"A lot of devices come in and represent themselves as the next generation."
The Wii U, however, may not form as big a part of the publishing giant's plans. While Riccitiello said that "you never count Nintendo out," he made a point of distinguishing its latest effort from the consoles in the pipeline, and suggested it isn't even in the same generation. "Ours is an industry where a lot of devices come in and represent themselves as the next generation, or the next generation after that," he said. "In many ways we would argue that what we're describing as 'Gen 4' is yet to come. It's that that we're excited about, and that's what we're investing in." In EA parlance, "Gen 3" refers to the trifecta of PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii that made up what others refer to as the seventh console generation. Considering how underpowered Nintendo's last system was in comparison to its competition, it's notable that Riccitiello isn't applying the same logic this time around, and could raise questions over the level of third-party support for the Wii U.
"I am squarely in the Gabe Newell fan club."
Valve's Steam Box, meanwhile, appears to be entirely outside Riccitiello's plans for the time being, with the CEO professing to know little about what the company has in the works. "I am squarely in the Gabe Newell fan club," insisted Riccitiello, before noting that Valve "really hasn't put enough information out there to suggest whether or not they've got the wherewithal to compete in console."
"Based on what they've said so far," said Riccitiello, "it could be anything from a cool niche product that appeals to, you know, Gabe and his friends and people like me, to a product that actually has the shoulders to help move our industry forward into what we're describing as 'gen 4.'" EA and Valve have been at odds in the past, with the former company choosing to launch its own Origin download service instead of putting its games on Steam.
Riccitiello says no link between video games and real-world violence
Finally, with video game violence in the spotlight again following the Sandy Hook school massacre, the CEO made clear in no uncertain terms that he doesn't see a link between games and guns in the real world. "There's been an enormous amount of research done in the entertainment field about looking for linkages between entertainment content and actual violence," said Riccitiello. "And they haven't found any." But while legislation may not be the answer, he admits that the industry could do more to communicate to the outside world, saying that "while there may not be a factual problem, given all the finger-pointing going on in the press, there appears to be a perception problem. We can be part of that solution, and we're ready to step up to do that."