As well as managing the EA Games label, Frank Gibeau has a good overview of the entire Electronic Arts business, from free-to-play and casual to console blockbusters and digital distribution. At E3 earlier this month, GamesIndustry.biz sat down with Gibeau to discuss long term strategies at the publisher - the Origin distribution service, the reduction of console and growth in free-to-play games, reaching new markets like Russia and Brazil and new technology opportunities.
We were really blown away by the unique innovation that Nintendo brings with the Wii U controller on a high performance machine. The ability to do HD graphics and access game experiences in a completely novel way and a way that's never been seen before, it really struck our fancy. We were excited by what Nintendo presented to us, we thought about it and it fits well with what we're trying to do with our franchises like FIFA and Madden and Battlefield. There's great horsepower there, great innovation and Nintendo's got fantastic branding. We're platform agnostic as a company so if we find something we believe will have success commercially and critically, and has a business model that works for us, we're in.
We've had it for a little while, I can't really go into the details of it. We've had machines and we've been working on games. At the E3 press conference what was really important for us was to establish the relationship and talk about a few things, what we're thinking about and excited about, and we'll show games when they're looking ready, when they're looking tight.
With the Wii U it's important for us to get there on day one so we can get in and build as big an audience as possible
Absolutely. It served us well on PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. Getting in early is partly about being a successful transition company and figuring out where the hardware is going to go. With the Wii U it's important for us to get there on day one so we can get in and build as big an audience as possible.
We've been doing this for 25 years and trying to pick platforms and more often than not we get it right. I hope we have this one right. That's the gamble.
It's something we've been doing at EA for three years now. Really transforming EA from a fire and forget packaged goods business to an online services company and Origin is the next iteration of that strategy or the next milestone in that strategy. Prior to that we created a technology called Nucleus that enabled us to have a single sign-on registration. We've been changing the way we develop games so that we can have them on Smartphone, tablets, in addition to console and PC. It's all part of the digital transition that we're going through and Origin is the platform on which we'll be able to publish and service customers on mobile as well as PC platforms. And then link to the consoles in unique ways as they develop.
For us it's really about, we're the worldwide leader in packaged goods publishing, we'd like to be the worldwide leader in digital publishing. And we think that EA has unique strengths there related to what we can do with our content, because we're a content creator as well as a retailer in this business. But in general it's not just a retail site, it's a community, it's a platform, it has traits much like you see with Steam or PSN or Xbox Live, but it's unique to EA.
It depends on the title and what we're trying to do. In the case of Star Wars we're trying to build an audience for Origin. And it's also an opportunity for us to better manage the downloads and how we bring people over from the beta and that sort of thing. For a lot of reasons it made sense for an MMO, which is a highly complex deployment. I think long-term you'll see we believe in reach so we will have other digital retailers for out products because we want to reach as many audiences as possible. But at the same time if we can use exclusive content or other ideas to help grow our audience then we're going to do that because we're growing a platform.