EA Sports drafting cross-platform, cross-game profiles

MI6 2011: Peter Moore uses marketing conference keynote address to unveil new program, explain how the games, they are a-changin'.

Who was there: EA Sports president and MI6 founding chairman Peter Moore gave an afternoon keynote address about the changing marketing landscape in games.

EA Sports president Peter Moore.

What they talked about: Moore opened his address saying that he had come to MI6 to share his vision--and EA's--for the future of the game industry, something he refers to as Gaming 3.0. When he started putting the presentation together, Moore said he kept coming back to Bob Dylan's classic song, "The Times They Are A-Changin'." The core premise of that song, according to Moore, was to lead, follow, or get out of the way. And just like Dylan said "you'd better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone," participants in the gaming industry have to keep up with a time of unprecedented disruptive change if they want to be around for the future.

The industry is clearly growing, Moore said, but the true growth in the industry is coming in the digital space. That means free-to-play and microtransaction-driven games, downloadable content, subscription fees, mobile games, and advertising opportunities. In 2010, EA estimates the digital gaming market was $19.9 billion, 45 percent of the $44.2 billion total industry.

When Moore broke into the game industry in the late 1990s, it was a simpler time, he said. There were set platforms and similar games on all of them. Even in 2005 and 2006 with the launch of the current consoles, things were relatively simple, with most everything determined by the packaged goods business. Since then, Moore said the industry has exploded with platforms like Facebook and browser-based games, the Kinect, the Move, the iPhone and iPad, Kindle, and so on.

Despite some nay-saying and core NPD numbers, Moore said the industry is growing at a 5 to 10 percent annual rate. Much of that is untrackable though, as they are direct-to-consumer sales that companies aren't eager to share. The audience has also expanded, Moore said, with the new platforms (mobile, social, Web) pushing the audience of gamers from 250 million to 1.2 billion.

Moore likened the current industry landscape to that of the music industry of a decade or more ago. Companies happy with the store-bought CD model didn't want to react to what consumers were doing, so consumers "took matters into their own hands," Moore said.

Those kinds of revolutions come in steps, Moore said. First, consumer behaviors change. Following on that, consumer demands change. Finally, the companies either adopt new business models that favor consumers or they lose out. He pointed to Blockbuster Video, saying DishTV bought the once-mighty rental chain "for about as much as we all have in our pockets." Blockbuster refused to listen to what the consumers wanted, he said, because they were married to the concept of building expensive retail locations stocked with new releases that were perennially out of stock and laden with late fees. Newspapers and music retailers have similarly endured their own industry-wide downfalls due to an inability to keep up with evolving consumer demand away from physical media.

Moore said that the consumer will eventually destroy every single business model companies can embrace unless they change to keep up with the times. If you hang onto a business model too long, Moore said, you become irrelevant and disappear. But that's not going to happen in games because companies are looking at their models and evolving to stay ahead of consumer demand.

He pointed to Netflix as a particularly successful company that has been evolving "in Internet time." Moore said when he worked at Sega, the founder of Netflix approached him because he'd intended to do it with games as well. Moore remembered asking him about the name Netflix, given that the discs would be sent through the mail instead of the Internet. The reason was that even then they were thinking of a day when they wouldn't distribute their films through the mail because online was the future. Moore said that sort of forward-thinking at the company has served it well in its 12 years, as 60 percent of the digital movie market in the US today is accounted for by Netflix.

Moore also pointed to the online deal site Groupon, which started in 2008 with a single offer for $10 off a pizza in Chicago. Today the service is up in 300 cities, with 50 million subscribers worldwide, and has major partners and targeted offers for individuals through mobile phone apps. The brilliance of Groupon for Moore is that it took an analog thing people were familiar with and digitized it.

Finally, Moore looked to Amazon.com, but not for the Kindle's digitization of books so much as its persistence. Moore called out the Whispersync function, which lets him stop reading a book on the Kindle and then move to the PC and open it up to the same page instantly. It's not often talked about, Moore said, but the secret sauce of the Kindle is the Whispersync function that gives a sense of persistence to the experience.

When Moore talks about change in the industry, he admits most people get nervous. The proliferation of cheap iPad and iPhone games and free-to-play games presents a threat to the core packaged goods business, and people are concerned about how it will shake out. EA is one of the largest players in the core packaged goods business, bringing in $3.75 billion a year with those products. However, the company is aiming to lead in digital gaming as well, Moore said. The three-year goal for EA is to be tops in mobile and tablet games, tops in casual Web games, and second in social games.

In the last six months, Moore said EA has started rethinking what it is and how it's evolving. The resulting vision, Moore said, is "We unite the world through play." The publisher wants to have a play experience for everyone, no matter what platform they choose. To do that, the company's goal is to "build the world's best digital playground, with fun for everyone, anytime, anywhere." Moore said the company believes it has 230 million people on file willing to deal directly with the company.

Moore said every game was offline when he first got into the industry. But when he saw NBA 2K being played online over a dial-up modem, Moore was convinced that gamers need to be socially connected. People think of "socially engaging" as a key phrase for Facebook games, but Moore said it should be for every game. From green light to finished product, Moore said the focus needs to be on enhancing the social element of games.

Moore pointed to the FIFA franchise as an example of a successful social ecosystem. Regardless of whether someone wants to play for free on Facebook or play 11-on-11 online with 21 other people on Xbox Live, Moore said there's a soccer game for them somewhere along that spectrum. He pointed to FIFA Online as benefitting from the digitization of the industry particularly well, noting that there have been the equivalent of 895 English Premiere League seasons per day, with a total of 800 million game sessions played. With 2.5 million players and more than 850 million items sold as downloadable add-ons, Moore said the monetization takes care of itself. FIFA Ultimate Team 11 alone has brought in more than $50 million for EA Sports, he said.

However, taking advantage of those opportunities means embracing new platforms to drive growth, Moore said. As recently as two years ago, the EA Sports executive would have considered his turf as a handful of distinct brands unrelated to one another. However, now Moore said it's important to take away the lines between its games so that players have one unified profile, experience points, and so on across all EA Sports games. Moore then showed a concept trailer for "a complete social experience" that would track players' progress and statistics for all EA Sports titles, from year-to-year, platform-to-platform, and title-to-title.

This brought Moore back to the mistakes of other companies. The digital transition is here, and it is a good thing. The music industry saw digitization as a negative thing, where interactive entertainment instead sees it as a positive. Games want to interact with consumers and give them say in how they will enjoy their entertainment, something music never did, according to Moore. Finally, innovation is a necessary constant. Moore pointed to the current voting campaign for the Madden NFL 12 cover athlete as one innovation putting control in the hands of the consumer, and said the same strategy will be used for NCAA Football.

Quote: "It's no longer, 'Buy Madden 11 and then buy Madden 12 and start from scratch.' It's, 'Buy Madden 11 and take everything you've done into Madden 12.'"--Moore, on how EA Sports' cross-game, cross-platform profile system will change things.

Takeaway: Moore borrowed his takeaway from Dylan, aiming a verse from "The Times They Are A-Changin'" at those in the industry who don't share his enthusiasm for the future.

"Come mothers and fathers throughout the land / And don't criticize what you can't understand / Your sons and daughters are beyond your command / Your old road is rapidly agin' / Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand / For the times, they are a-changin'."

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Discussion

62 comments
CoLdFuSioN167
CoLdFuSioN167

I'm loving the idea of a unified profile across all the EA Sports games. So much better than starting from scratch every year.

Transparanoia
Transparanoia

@scorpgul You're obviously not a PC gamer. I bought Just Cause 2 last year for $5 on Steam. Five bloody dollars! While I like having my physical copies of PS3 games, digital distribution is the only way to go for PC.

BudgetMonkey82
BudgetMonkey82

I really like the idea of taking my FIFA 11 Virtual Pro over to FIFA 12.

natenation87
natenation87

I'd like to keep the game stores in business and not have thousands of people lose their job. I love going down to the game shop to buy myself a new game. Especially when there's a sale :D Physical copies are much better imo.

natenation87
natenation87

Keep your crappy digital distribution. I'll have my physical copies thank you very much!

Vancelvany
Vancelvany

@fps_d0minat0r It could be that his net went lolz or he he actually override the post limit command by pressing a gazillion times the submit or post button upon seeing Peter Moore's face. Just trying to put a hypothesis here. Just saying. :| :P

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

@ Draxargh how the hell did you manage a triple post?

Draxargh
Draxargh

It'd be nice to play with XBox players through PS3. Doubtful, but it'd be nice. Keep PC shooters out of the fray though, well, actually, no, don't, because that's where I'll be, mowing people down with WASD and left click while you sluggishly move your thumbsticks. I'm DTF

Draxargh
Draxargh

It'd be nice to play with XBox players through PS3. Doubtful, but it'd be nice. Keep PC shooters out of the fray though, well, actually, no, don't, because that's where I'll be, mowing people down with WASD and left click while you sluggishly move your thumbsticks. I'm DTF

Draxargh
Draxargh

It'd be nice to play with XBox players through PS3. Doubtful, but it'd be nice. Keep PC shooters out of the fray though, well, actually, no, don't, because that's where I'll be, mowing people down with WASD and left click while you sluggishly move your thumbsticks. I'm DTF

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

@ ZedX-14Pilot That's the way it sounds to me, and I hope we are reading it correctly. That's the part that I like. I could take or leave cross-platform competitive/co op play.

ZedX-14Pilot
ZedX-14Pilot

Correct me if I am wrong, but, I think the only cross-platform development they are talking about is in regards to profiles.

slippship
slippship

Cross platform would sort the men from the Fanboys eh? Could be best competition ever!

oflow
oflow

@stjimmy15: What? wannabe rant? wth are you talking about. Stop trolling the thread you already said you dont even buy EA sports games so why are you even posting here?

Dragonsingh3000
Dragonsingh3000

whats this about i read the first line then wehn urrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, lol

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

And after this article, I'm going to go read the Watchmen comic again.....

slippship
slippship

I like the idea, never understood why all Dirt/Burnout and call of duty, if I must, can't play cross console. It's the PC games that tend to be riddled with hacked servers so we could leave them out.

NightDrifter05
NightDrifter05

Online gaming between PS3 PC and 360 will NEVER happen. If you recall, Microsoft did a experiment a while back and were going to let 360 gamer's play against PC game's on Games For Window's title's but for the week they allowed testing the PC game's came onto 360's servers and DESTROYED everyone. I'm not a 360 fanboy at all but I would expect most 360 game's would be able to destroy PS3 gamer's as well due to the fact the 360 seem's to have the better more stable online gameplay. But, being able to link and have all your experience and unlock's tied to 1 account that can be used on all 3 platform's would be awesome. That's why I never level up far in Call Of Duty title's because I play on 360 and PS3 so I'm stuck trying to level up 2 account's and with this idea from EA it sound's like I would be able to use this same account and not have to start over from 0 on a new console.

James00715
James00715

Looks like EA will be copying Battle.net 2.0, but that's a good thing for the most part. I love being able to chat with my old friends playing WoW while I play SC2. I don't even have to pay the WoW subscription.

scorpgul
scorpgul

Screw digital games. I can buy a used game after a month of release for almost half the price while digital games always keep their hefty price tag. No thanks not everyone is filthy rich especially with the recession these days

fadersdream
fadersdream

Without wal-mart, target and other big box retailers game sales will take a nose dive. Not in favor of digital distribution, especially since it'd geared towards maintaining price points, and reducing the ability to cut prices over time.

ZedX-14Pilot
ZedX-14Pilot

If you ask me, cross platform play is LONG overdue. So, let me get this straight, it took a recession for these ' visionaries' to 'see the light? How f'in stupid. I am getting tired of EA and their money grabs. I am no longer playing Madden due to all of the dlc that should already be in the game. I have dumped the modern warfare games due to their ridiculous $15 map packs, and I will no longer purchase games that have 'dlc' on friggin' LAUNCH DAY!!! The one that REALLY gets my goat is supposed 'dlc' being ON THE DISC!!! You know, you pay for something that has a download size of say 368kb. It's that kind of business practice that has me on the verge of giving up gaming entirely. To be that insulting AND arrogant is just too big of a slap in the face to take from these idiots. I already have one foot out of the gaming pond, and it won't be much before I jump completely out.

evaneself
evaneself

@supertom221 I'm sorry for grammar.

jimmercans
jimmercans

Ea should build Madden into a great game, like they did with their hockey and baseball games, before getting into this nonsense.

Johny_47
Johny_47

I always love to hear about 'cross platform' stuff, there isn't near enough of it today but it's always going to be 'one sided'. For example, in strategy, FPS and massive multiplayer games(MMO) PC players will just absolutely dominate. In 3rd person action and racing games it'll very likely be 360 or PS3 players for the win, If they make more cross platform stuff they need to be careful with what kind of game and what platform they... cross =/ And at swamptick I think it's nice you prefer 'hard copies' of games over download stuff. I hate that everything's going to download because for one thing I love just having a real copy of a game and the internet I use is crap and slow, and I love the smell of opening sealed games haha =P But today with the prices the way they are - too high - the local game shops(here in the UK anyway) are just 'rip offs'.

Muteki_X
Muteki_X

I hate admitting that I like a few of his ideas. I would love to see more cross-platform gaming and your progress actually meaning something in the next game in the series. I absolutely hate the digital only trend though. I will only buy what I can get on a hard-copy that I can take with me anywhere (not just places with internet connection) and play on any system. I also feel that I have the right to sell my copy that I purchased to someone if and when I no longer want that game or if I want to attempt to recoup some of the cost from a POS game. If I wanted to rent (and not own) a game, I'll stick to a rental service for that. If EA wants to digital only content, then they can count me out. On a side note, I have to say that using Dylan's song for political and social revolution and applying it his little speech about gaming is a douche move.

sleepnsurf
sleepnsurf

God, FPS players on the 360 would DESTROY PS3 owners. I guess 360 owners would win in sports games too because of superior online.

swamptick
swamptick

No. I want hard copies of games. I hope he is wrong. Support your local game store. Buy REAL copies of the games.

supertom221
supertom221

@evaneself Despite the painfull grammar, I couldn't agree with you more my friend. Although Steam actually isn't that bad, and it's not that you just pay for the game and if you uninstall it, it's done. the data is saved on your account so you can re-download it at any given time. Still I also prefer the more physical form of it. The Smell of a new Disc, the awesome cover art on the boxes..... ahh yes, pure awesomeness.... Still, Piracy is needed to keep balance, just like rebels were needed to keep Kings on guard for their Kingdom. Piracy will never die. It's too tempting to pirate. I mean, why pay 60$ when you can have it for free?? Exactly. Companies blame piracy all the time, it's become a trend. and of course, the fanboys believe every single thing they say. All developers care about today is money. where's the revolution?? The motivation to create an awesome game?? Developers once made games for fun, Money was just a bonus!!. I wish I could one day create a game of my own, or just be part of the developing team. Nothing will make me happier knowing that thanks to me, hundreds of thousands of children will have a smile brought to their face on Christmas Eve..

evaneself
evaneself

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

evaneself
evaneself

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

evaneself
evaneself

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Ethelwulfx
Ethelwulfx

@Fps_d0minat0r Right, because you can't download PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Not to mention that you can play the games you downloaded online on Wii or NDS.

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

@ Gladestone1 your not taking into account the PC is infested with pirates while consoles are not. everyone knows if piracy didnt exist on PC, no developer or publisher would be mad enough to allow steam to sell games for the price they currently do. their prices are set low enough to make people buy it in convenience over pirating it. even a new title is atleast 25% cheaper on PC....and no, thats not because Mr. Newell is kind and cares about us....its because no-one will buy it at full price.

trdrstv
trdrstv

@Netherscourge Every console has been out for at least 5 Christmas shopping seasons, so I think you can safely stop calling them "Next Gen" consoles.

Nightrain50
Nightrain50

Every game does not need to be a social experience, the best games usually aren't. I predict a dot-com bubble burst for this new evolution of gaming. If not, I'll probably just quit gaming altogether. I'll always have the classics to fall back on.

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

You guys complaining about hard copies of games better get used to this idea..Its happening already..Steam is bigger than gamestop atm because of digital downloading..Im pretty sure xbox and the ps3 and the wii are heading this way..Its already has some digital downloading in indie games..Some older games also...Its the future its here its now..Man i remember going through the disney golf ball bubble when i was a kid..This was the 70s when that future thing opened..No what talkign to your friend on tv an on a phone an seeing them streamlined..Is happening now..Not in the yeae 3020 like disney thought..Look you have video talking on the phone now..Its amazing that disney thought of this 70 years ago and its happening in todays venue..This is just the beggining also..Gaming is changing people get used to it..

afrojim525
afrojim525

@PewPewNinja But you cant lend that digital game to a friend.

afrojim525
afrojim525

All the digital games better be cheaper than physical copies. Bandwidth costs money you know.

PewPewNinja
PewPewNinja

@SolidTy : "I hate DRM's that come with Digital content." You have the same DRM with the retail version. Let's take starcraft 2 as an example, buy it retail or digital and it make no diff at all since you have to pass via Bnet to access the game, same with Valve games, any recent EA game with online feature, they all have their own service that you need to join every time you want to play the game or go online, let's not forget Ubisoft perma online DRM. So, retail or digital you just buy an access key to play a game. (hope that's what you were talking about)

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

@oflow Please tell me you're kidding. That is the most mindless, wannabe rant I have ever heard.

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

Sweet, cause I'm definitely gonna start buying EA sports games so that I can be held liable in one of their many lawsuits. Sike, **** off.

Mr_arizona
Mr_arizona

@Tommyboy_9999 Both can exist and currently do but as time advances and products get cheaper more and more people stop buying the old stuff and start buying the new sexier products. I remember walking into the store and seeing dvds and vhs tapes all next to each other then I saw dvds everywhere and vhs tapes had a small selection in the back and now bluray and dvds are side by side and I have to go to one of those bargain bins for $1 vhs movies.

jedediahpelland
jedediahpelland

I could care less about EA sports, but I like the idea more developers are thinking about cross platform gaming.

PSP107
PSP107

I pitched for this back when sports game were top notch. When I play a season in sports games, I only play that one season. I always thought the stats from that should carry over to the actual release of the new game including your players you created. Thats makes more sense than playing/managing a billion seasons from one game. Even If you did played a billion seasons, from where you left off should carry over to the new game.

nickythenewt21
nickythenewt21

Bob Dylan keeps inspiring people to change things. Awesome sauce.

salad10203
salad10203

Oh business conferences, how cheesy can they possibly be? Also, not every game needs to be social, thats just pure bs. I do not want people poking and messaging me when playing Mass Effect. But, whatever.

oflow
oflow

@tommy_boy9999: Both mediums cant exist because technolgy advances and theres no need for old fashioned media in this day and age. Everything needs to be on the cloud. When it works I find it extremely more efficient than cds/dvds. Game producers waste a lot of money on packaging and media, they could be spending that money on MAKING BETTER GAMES. And cds/dvds get scratched up and you have to deal with the crappy third party protection companies when you use them now. Just let companies like steam run all that crap for you on the cloud. In the next 7-10 years everyone will have fiber to their house, rural or otherwise. Its gonna change the game when all this social media goes live streaming . Anyway, you don do anything with the cds anyway but leave em in a big pile. They take up to much space lol. Less crap to worry about is a good thing. :D

CassadyH
CassadyH

Takeaway: Dylan was really singing about video games. :)

tommy_boy9999
tommy_boy9999

why cant both mediums exist. Some people still buy real music cds and movies. Some people will still buy games. WHy is it a all or nothing approach and screw the fans that got you where you are.