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Facebook Credits and Android are EA's next big push

Brown: PlayFish acquisition has "met our internal expectations" and Android may exceed iPhone

EA CFO Eric Brown has revealed that over half of EA's R&D budget continues to be focused on console titles, but he feels Facebook and Android will become increasingly important platforms for the publisher.

Responding to questioning at the Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. Technology Conference about the results of last year's PlayFish acquisition, Brown was broadly positive but concerned about Facebook's requirements.

"It met our internal expectations through Q1," he revealed, but "Some of the challenges in this space are the changes in the notification requirements for all games and applications.

"That brought across the board monthly active users down in the overall category. We actually took [market] share as a result, but it definitely slowed things down a bit there."

However, Brown claimed that EA was "working with Facebook to ensure games get the appropriate prominence without needlessly spamming the userbase. There's ongoing work there."

Another part of the social gaming revenue puzzle would be the implementation of Facebook Credits, he felt. " We're in discussion with them, we have our opinions on what would be positive or negative about how to roll out a common currency.

It has the opportunity to be good not just for Facebook but for the publisher just by increasing the transaction velocity of digital goods."

Brown also argued that Android would become an increasingly important gaming platform (although the likes of PopCap and PlayFirst feel it's not yet well-evolved enough), possibly even eclipsing the iPhone in time.

"As the iPhone is ramping up the feature phone market is ramping down – it's like going through a PS2 to PS3 transition. And I think the next big positive wave to push big growth in mobile will be the deployment of an App Store equivalent for the Android operating system.

"We think long-term, as does [market analyst] IDC, that the Android operating system is going to take a share. Last June quarter, there were more Android-powered units shipped than iOS for the first time. IDC thinks that in 2014 it'll be a 25 to 12 per cent share, Android versus Apple devices.

"So I think that there's a lot to happen in the future in Android, and we're trying to position our mobile business to take advantage of that."

Brown was less convinced by 3D gaming, stating that although Sony and Microsoft consoles were more than ready for it, a suitably large 3D TV install base would take some time to arrive.

However, he was convinced premiums on 3D flat panels would fall: "If it started out as $500, it'll be $50 in a couple of seasons."

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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