The next generation of consoles are unlikely to accommodate older games with backwards compatibility, Electronic Arts' chief financial officers told an audience of investors in San Francisco today.
Blake Jorgensen, addressing how EA will manage when new consoles arrive later this year, as is widely expected, pointed to the company's sports catalogue and particularly their multiplayer offerings in explaining why they should sell strong up to the changeover.
"An important thing to remember is that next-gen consoles will most likely not be backwards compatible," he said at Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, according to a transcript of remarks published by Gamasutra. "And if you [play] multiplayer on a game, you'll most likely not be able to play with someone on a different generation."
These sports gamers will not wait until the holidays for the next console generation, Jorgensen reasoned, if their favourite games are releasing between July and October. "I think that works for us positively in both ways. It helps us continue to sell gen-three products, and it will help us sell gen-four product as that cycle finally gets into place."
Sports also present a strong draw for what Jorgenseen foresees — again, doing so very broadly — as a distinguishing feature of the next console generation. "You're going to see people playing on glass at the same time they're playing on the console," Jorgensen said.
This has several applications in keeping gamers connected to EA Sports' lucrative Ultimate Team modes. Jorgensen imagined gamers playing their matches at night, then in the morning, continuing their experience during a commute — trading players, managing rosters, and more. "And all along the way, we're either doing microtransactions or just simply staying connected to the customer," Jorgensen said.
Jorgensen didn't revisit backwards compatibility and was careful to be vague about potential features for the next console generation, saying that EA, of course, has seen their capabilities internally. He largely avoided a question about what the next Xbox or PlayStation would mean for used games. "I can't really comment on where the next generation boxes are going to be relative to used games," he said. "I will say that the trend in the business is to have that always-on connectivity and connect with a customer, and to the extent that the software identifies a certain customer is going to create some issues going down the road in the used game market," he said.
"But I do believe that the consumer likes it, and it's been good for the retail channel."