EA Thinks PS4/Xbox One Hardware Upgrades Are "Great for the Industry"

EA reiterates its excitement for the direction the console business is headed.


We've known for some time that enhanced versions of the PS4 and Xbox One were likely on the way, but with their official announcements finally coming in June, third-party companies have been freed up to discuss them. During a post-earnings conference call, Electronic Arts was asked about the impact of these new mid-cycle hardware upgrades and their effect on its business. The publisher thinks they'll be "great for the industry" and believes they play right into EA's hand.

"At a macro level, we're excited about what Sony and Microsoft have announced," EA CEO Andrew Wilson said. "The reality for us is, again, in a networked world, liquidity of players is really, really important. What we've seen over the last decade or more with respect to PC gamers is that community has continued to grow. And it's grown in a world where the hardware refresh cycle has been disconnected from the software refresh cycle. And what that's meant is that, irrespective of what kind of device you have within kind of a 7-10 year timeframe, you're able to play with a much, much bigger global community."

That's the type of scenario we're now entering with consoles, where the lines between one generation and the next are blurred (if not entirely removed).

"What we see now with ... the mid-cycle refresh is that's only going to enhance the size and engagement levels inside the communities," Wilson continued. "For us, as a publisher, we're in a very strong place. We've been building across platform and across console and for scalable architectures like PC for some time. So the notion that we would build once an experience that can scale up and down across an entire spectrum of consoles, whether the first phase, second phase, or the third phase over time, is not something that's foreign to us, and [is] something we're very energized about because, again, I think we have strength in a networked world. And we have strength where there's a requirement to build these scaled experiences that keep players connected."

While Wilson certainly didn't pass up the opportunity to convince investors and analysts that EA is well-positioned for this new era of console gaming, he also suggested this shift will be a positive for the entire industry.

"On balance, we think this is great for the industry," he said. "It will almost certainly extend the console cycle almost an infinite level if we get to the point where there's just constant hardware upgrades and constant software upgrades. But we are able, through the scaling of our games, to keep the community always together."

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EA had previously shared some positive comments on the new hardware, as did Ubisoft, which said, "The beautiful thing is it will not split the communities." Take-Two also seems optimistic, saying a smartphone-esque upgrade cycle "would be very good for" it.

The first component of this new hardware cycle, the Xbox One S, launched this week. Despite Microsoft's previous suggestions otherwise, it does provide improved performance in many (but not all) existing games. It is, however, a relatively small step forward--Project Scorpio and the PS4 Neo will mark a more significant step toward ending the traditional console cycle.

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