EA Asks: Do We Need Another Console Generation?

Contributing Writer

Just months after EA chief executive officer John Riccitiello took the stage at E3 2011 and professed his love for the upcoming Nintendo Wii U console, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau is questioning whether the market will even need another wave of consoles any time soon.

In a recent interview with CVG, he claims that gamers are happy with what they currently have, and doesn't see how Microsoft and Sony can top their latest hardware. As it stands now, developers still haven't utilized the full potential of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 – they haven't squeezed the last ounce of hardware horsepower from either platform.

"It's hard for me to conceive what you would do on a PlayStation 4," Gibeau said. "The displays are already 1080p, you're already connected to the internet... You could make it faster, you could have more polys and you could up the graphics a little bit... but at what cost? It'll be interesting to see how [Sony and Microsoft] think about it in terms of the next generation, but it seems to me that customers are happy, and we're happy to build games on [360 and PS3] right now."

The console sector has changed since the days of the original PlayStation and the PlayStation 2 – the jump from one generation to the next is taking longer with each upgrade. The PlayStation 2 platform itself is still pulling in revenue for Sony, but the latter third-generation product will likely stretch on longer than its predecessor simply because of its extra non-gaming features including movies, TV episodes and music. It, like the Xbox 360, has evolved into a multimedia center.

"The way the business used to run where you had these big console transitions just isn't happening anymore," he said. "They're much longer, the online capabilities are making the way customers interact within the audience very different from when we went from PSOne to PS2. I think that [the age of] big, abrupt change in consoles where we all pile in on top of each other and everything changes overnight is just gone."

Still, the Wii U seems to be ushering in the next-generation platform, and EA has publicly embraced its arrival. Perhaps EA sees the new Nintendo hardware as a "catch up" device – a console that should better compete with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Yet as for the latter two, Gibeau said that he wants to see those last a little longer on the market.

"I don't see consumers right now banging on the walls for a new platform," he admitted. "They seem to be very happy with their PS3s and 360s. They love the online connectivity, they have great communities and great libraries. I like the fact that Nintendo's coming in with new hardware. That'll help really rev up their business for the HD side, which is where we're in a really good position."