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EA's Travis Boatman - Part 2

Following on from the first half of our interview with Electronic Arts's executive producer of mobile studios, here's the second part - where Travis Boatman discusses a range of topics, including how life at Jamdat has changed since the EA acquisition.

The first part of the feature is still available to view here. The mobile market does seem to be booming, with a lot of money flying around and big players like EA getting more involved. But is there a risk that the market could implode? Where do you see the market in five years time - are you 100 per cent confident that mobile gaming will take off, or do you have concerns?
Travis Boatman

Oh, I'm extremely excited to have this as a part of the EA family, and a firm believer that the space has a future and it's here to stay. Again, there are hundreds of millions of enabled handsets sold every year, and it's growing. This is a huge market.

If you look at the people using handsets today... If you go to a university, for example, everyone knows how to send text messages, right? But now there are cameras, too - just a few years ago the screens were just black and white, and now you have people text messaging and picture messaging, playing games and doing all kinds of interesting things.

I don't think that's a fad, that's a new kind of paradigm. I think that mobile devices are here to stay and I think that they're going to become more and more common as the future generations of kids grow up, and their kids are going to be even more mobile savvy. I guarantee that my kids will know how to use mobile devices to their full extent. Do you find that you have to approach different markets in different ways, or are you looking at the whole thing on a global basis at the moment?
Travis Boatman

No, no, you definitely have to approach the mobile markets in a different way. Not only from a platform and technology perspective, but also from a demand perspective. For example, a game like NASCAR would do very well in America, whereas a game like FIFA would do much better in the European market.

So you definitely have to build some games for certain markets, to target a specific market demand. What about the question of quality - I know you believe that EA's mobile offerings are of a decent quality, but perhaps talking about other producers and publishers in general. Do you think that it's damaging to the market that there are so many, frankly, rubbish games out there?
Travis Boatman

Yes, I think it definitely impacts on the market and I think it hurts the market. If you're a consumer and - just going back to the whole distribution channel issues - if you're just blindly buying games and you look on the carrier's deck and you say 'I'm going to give this game a try,' but you have no idea of the quality and there are no screenshots or images, and you buy it and it's a bad game, you're going to say 'You know what, I'm not going to buy another mobile game.' Consumers are not going to come back.

So I think definitely, if the games are not of a great quality, it's going to be detrimental to the business. That's also why we spend a lot of time and energy making sure that when someone does pick up a game with a brand like Madden, or Need for Speed, that they have a good quality gaming experience - again, to grow the future of the business. How has the experience of being at EA been since the acquisition of Jamdat, compared to how things were before?
Travis Boatman

It's been great. I think with the Jamdat experience, you know, we had to be very wily and crafty, build very high quality games, innovate those games and bring in our own IP as well as licensed IP so we had a good mix of revenue.

With EA, we have some phenomenal brands; we can leverage the tremendous amount of talent that we have here. There are really amazing opportunities that we have with these franchises - to tie the games to the consoles, to do interesting things with cross promotions, to leverage the two communities and drive awareness back and forth. And keeping in mind again how important that awareness is, there's a lot that we can do here at EA given their strength and legacy to drive that awareness towards the mobile market. At today's studio showcase, there's obviously been a lot of focus on PC and console titles - have you found much interests from journalists in the mobile section?
Travis Boatman

We have, you know, and the interest continues to grow. I mean, in the early days of Jamdat you couldn't beg or drag someone over to come and look at a mobile phone application or game, but I think now people are more interested.

Again, the quality and type of experience you can get on a cell phone now is much more similar to what they're used to seeing. So for example, when they see a 3D game on a cell phone, they're like 'Wow, I didn't even realise a cell phone could do something like that.' Then they want to see more, and they ask, 'Can my phone do that?', and they realise their phone can do that so they start exploring a little bit more and the interest is peaked.

Again, some of these big brand names help drive that awareness - so when they see Madden on the phone, they're want to see more, and they can't believe you can play a game like Madden on a cell phone. When people see it, I think they're not only surprised at the capability, but also the look and feel of the games, and the whole experience of it on the mobile platform.

So those types of games are helping to generate that awareness. We love it, we're excited about it and we firmly believe there's a future in this space, and that it'll continue to grow.

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