EA on PS4 Pro/Xbox Scorpio: Won’t Change R&D Costs; Assets Quality Will Slightly Increase Over Time
During a questions and answers sessions at the Barclays Global Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference, Electronic Arts Vice President of Investor Relations Chris Evenden talked about the publisher’s outlook on the PS4 Pro and Project Scorpio, and how they will influence research and development costs and marketing.
Evenden mentioned that one of the key things that Electronic Arts has done as of late is to make their work platform-agnostic. There are both technology elements and marketing elements to that. With the upcoming Player Network, the company has a way to bond with players, moving with them from platform to platform.
By having only one engine, Frostbite, the company can be independent from platforms from a technology perspective as well, moving on from platform to platform.
According to Evenden, research and development costs “should be flat year-on-year,” as recently console manufacturers have moved to what is essentially a PC architecture from a hardware perspective. Consoles have an AMD CUP and an AMD GPU.
“You can increase the performance of consoles by asking AMD for a better CPU and asking them for a slightly better GPU, but the programming for games doesn’t change very much, as the performance profile of the hardware hasn’t changed, it just got faster all around.
And the operating system, what they’re doing now with the new PS4 Pro and the Xbox Scorpio, is really the same software platform, the same operating system, so the R&D costs shouldn’t change. Now, the quality of the assets you apply will slowly increase over time, but that’s the way it’s been forever.
The way a development cycle works, is that you develop for the highest performance platform, which is generally a high-end PC, and then the tools you use will scale that down for the other platforms that you’re supporting. That’s not a challenge either, so it shouldn’t really have a big impact in R&D, because it’s not really changing what we’re doing. “
Electronic Arts appears to be definitely one of the most optimistic among publishers regarding the mid-cycle update brought by PS4 and Project Scorpo. Just a few days ago, during the Nasdaq 35th Investor Program Conference in London, Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen expressed a positive view on the new consoles, calling the mid-cycle refresh “great for the industry, great for their [Sony and Microsoft’s] production, great for software costs, and great for the consumers.”
Just today, we learned that Sony has sold-through to customers over 50 million Ps4 units combinining all models, including the newly-released PS4 Pro.