Towards the end of his speech at the UBS Global Technology Conference 2017 in San Francisco, Electronic Arts Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen talked about consoles and game streaming.
Jorgensen explained that over the past couple of years console manufacturers have done two very important things: one is doing smaller, incremental improvements on the consoles. After that, he corrected himself mentioning that they’re not really small, as the Xbox One X is “incredibly powerful.” That being said, the new models are built upon existing technology, and the same thing goes for PS4 Pro.
The second thing is that they’re embracing compatibility. In the past, what killed the software business were some slow periods in which new consoles were announced, and people stopped buying games, since they wouldn’t work on the upcoming machines. This notion of compatibility is really positive. It looks more like the PC business than the console business of the past.
Jorgensen thinks that this will continue to benefit the console cycle over time. On top of that, he feels that we’ll continue to see new platforms evolve over time. Electronic Arts is working on “some streaming opportunities” (IE: cloud gaming similar to PlayStation Now). Yet Jorgensen doesn’t think those will replace the console business. On the other hand, they’ll “open gaming to a much broader audience.”
He also explained that more people play games now than ever, and this is only going to continue to grow. Mobile games drove this trend dramatically, but they haven’t done it at the expense of console or PC games. As gaming continues to grow in popularity, trying to remove barriers so that more and more people can join the party is what EA is focusing on. Streaming has a “huge potential” there.
Speaking of the quality of game streaming, Jorgensen explained that things are improving thanks to the massive proliferation of data centers. There is still need for evolution, better bandwidth, faster connections, but EA has done tests where they managed to cut latency down to “virtually zero,” and Jorgensen teased that we’ll see a commercial offering from EA “and a partner” within the next two to three years.
That being said, Jorgensen reiterated that he doesn’t think this will replace console gaming in any way. It’s an addition to bring more people into the fold.