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EA: social networking is a "primary design pillar"

Frank Gibeau explains importance to all platforms

EA Games label president Frank Gibeau has said that social networking is now an essential part of the company's development plans across all formats.

Speaking in an interview with GamesBeat, Gibeau spoke about the forthcoming showdown between Battlefield 3 and Activision's Modern Warfare 3, and what part social networking would play.

"Social is a primary design pillar for us and is part of every design that we put in a console now and also our PC games," Gibeau said. "If I can post something about what I was doing in a game and tell my friends that, they will take notice. It helps facilitate the spreading of that game. Word of mouth plus the network effect is driven by social."

Gibeau spoke specifically about Battlelog, the social network for Battlefield 3 and a competitor for Activision's Call Of Duty Elite.

"We don't think you should charge for talking to your friends. I mean its one of those things where social mechanics and social dynamics drive player engagement. That leads to monetization, downloadable content and a great game play in big communities."

Battlelog will offer similar services to Elite, including stat tracking and community features, but will be entirely free.

"We've made a conscious decision that we'd rather people were engaged in telemetry and friending and social so that it creates more player engagement. That creates bigger communities that then allows us to have the largest base possible to serve."

The executive also spoke about Facebook as a gaming platform. "I think it's going to evolve such that there will be a hardcore gaming market on Facebook. Facebook is an interesting game platform, [but] I don't think it will be particularly dominant. There is a vast oversupply of Facebook games coming, and when you are in that situation, the brands and intellectual properties are going to stand out."

In 2009 EA acquired social gaming developer Playfish for $400 million. As well as Playfish titles like Pet Society, EA's current Facebook offering includes Dragon Age Legends, extensions to sport franchises like Madden NFL.

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Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.