During the UBS Global Technology Conference in San Francisco, Electronic Arts Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen talked about what the publisher is doing to improve its games, and the move to Frostbite as a single engine for all of its titles.
Jorgensen mentioned that historically Electronic Arts spent too much on smaller games that didn’t have the potential of some of their larger games. Over time, the company move towards releasing fewer games. Now they’re on roughly the right level, and they may actually increase the number again a bit going forward, but they’ll never go back to where they were a while ago.
he then talked about where the company is focusing its investment:
“We’re trying to invest in both making the games better, better visuals, better graphics, better play, deeper stories, so it brings more people into the franchise or back into the franchise if they have left, and trying to build those live services around them, which gives more and more leverage. If you can keep people playing FIFA or Madden all year long, there is a huge value to that versus have them play a few times and them move to another game.”
Jorgensen also explained that the move to a single engine with Frostbite is “Incredibly powerful” for Electronic Arts. They went from about 26 different engines to essentially one. Interestingly, he confirmed that the Madden NFL franchise will make the move to Frostbite as well, following what happened with FIFA 17 this year.
Essentially, Electronic Arts blended all the sports engines that they had into Frostbite to create a new engine. This helps all of EA’s games have better movements, better physicality that was really strong in their sports games, and will now appear in other genres as well.
Frostbite has basically become a large open source engine inside Electronic Arts, for which developers can create new tools, which can be used by every other EA developer across all studios.
Previously, EA’s studios couldn’t help each other because they worked with different engines. With the move to a common engine, the publisher was able to ask developers from BioWare familiar with storytelling to help the FIFA team in creating a storyline for FIFA 17.
“It’s created a huge opportunity for us to reach across games’ development and really improve the development of games over time.”
That said, the most important reason according to Jorgensen, is that if tomorrow Apple decides to create its own console based on iOS, Electronic Arts would not need to scramble to move 26 different engines to iOS, but they can move just Frostbite, and all the games would come with it.
“I’m not predicting that Apple is gonna put a console out, but at the end of the day, if there was a change in platforms, we would be very prepared to be able to do that versus having to try to move all of the different games onto a new platform.”