EA: The PC is ‘Extremely Healthy’ and Might Become ‘Biggest Platform’
By Matt Peckham
This November the Xbox 360 turns six, the PS3 and Wii turn five, and the PC, well, it’s about as old as me (or slightly older than, depending). To hear EA tell it, the platform’s still younger and sprier than its ephemeral competitors, and increasingly back in the company’s crosshairs.
“The user base is gigantic,” EA games label president Frank Gibeau told Gamasutra. “PC retail may be a big problem, but PC downloads are awesome… The margins are much better and we don’t have any rules in terms of first party approvals.”
“From our perspective, it’s an extremely healthy platform,” continued Gibeau, adding “It’s totally conceivable it will become our biggest platform.”
To be clear, Gibeau doesn’t mean a return to one-offs (or as he puts it, “fire-and-forget” games) but rather a transition to online-angled “iterative” gaming. Think Facebook quickies like Angry Birds and Tetris, extensible games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, or monstrous time sinks like EA’s upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic, a mega-IP-availing online roleplaying game into which a self-styled whistleblower claimed the company has poured upwards of $300 million (though EA recently denied that claim, calling the figure “vastly higher than anything [it’s] ever put in place”).
It’s a foregone conclusion. Consoles have a shelf life. Publishers ride set-top boxes like waves. Between and occasionally well above the waves: The PC. It’s dependable, mutable, and indefatigable (that’s three unassailable “ables”).
You want a console experience? HDMI to your TV with a gamepad. The highest fidelity consumer flight simulation $60 can buy? DCS’s just-released A-10C Warthog, and it’ll never be on a console. Real-time strategy games that play like real-time strategy games ought to? Online roleplaying games with millions of players? The broadest social-gaming networks? The world’s finest boutique add-on gear? Superior (visually, functionally, dynamically) versions of nearly every multi-platform game? The flexibility to customize and update components at leisure? The ability to play, whether emulated or running native, nearly every game made for the platform, from its inception in the 1970s through today?
You want a PC. Not to make this into a console vs. PC thing (consoles are really just PCs in disguise) but the platform has some pretty awe-inspiring perquisites, and it’s nice for a change to hear a mega-publisher like EA sing its praises.