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"We are providing self-actualization for a great many of our players"

Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson slots gaming just behind air, food, shelter, and water in the hierarchy of needs, says hardware refresh cadence has gone from six years to six months

Want to fulfill your human potential? Have you tried a game of Madden or a few matches of Star Wars: Battlefront? During an investors day presentation today, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson told the publisher's shareholders that gaming with the company's products is one path to self-actualization, referencing Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

"Once you get past air, food, water, shelter, you get to social connections, sense of belonging," Wilson said. "You get to self-esteem, overcoming challenges and building self-worth. And you get to self-actualization, creation in a living world. All of those things are embodied by entertainment.

"But we believe games are the most valuable form of entertainment given their ability to fulfill those fundamental human needs. And I've already talked about the fact that games now are the predominant form of social connection for many of our players. We are providing challenge in the games we make, and people are growing inside those economies. In a world of digital content and user-generated content, we are providing self-actualization for a great many of our players."

Not all of the presentation was so grandiose in tone. Coming off a "phenomenal" fiscal year, Wilson talked at length about the company's goal of building lasting customer relationships and engagement with games across devices, the massive shift the industry has seen as its gone digital, and the ever-increasingly hit-driven market.

"[T]here is consolidation afoot," Wilson said. "In almost every media and entertainment business on the planet, as the industry has grown, there's been consolidation, whether it's movies, music, TV, books. Games is no different, and we're seeing a great consolidation in terms of the top titles driving a great deal of market share. We're seeing fewer companies who are well positioned for the future driving those titles. And as we look to the future, there's going to be a huge opportunity for a network multiplier."

"Our industry operated for the longest time on a six-year refresh rate. Now it's a six-month refresh rate, and it's asynchronous with our friends."

Wilson wrapped up his presentation with some more prognostications of what the games industry will look like some years down the road.

"When we think about the future of more people playing more games, a couple things are going to be true. One, I as an individual am going to play games across more than one device. In fact, I'm going to play different games across different devices. I'm going to refresh those devices on a much faster cadence. Our industry operated for the longest time on a six-year refresh rate. Now it's a six-month refresh rate, and it's asynchronous with our friends. We don't all necessarily upgrade our phone or our TV at the same time."

Wilson said there's an opportunity for someone running a single infrastructure to keep people connected both to their friends and the games they love as they shift between platforms in the future. Wilson said EA is uniquely position to create such a network.

"I think we have the best talent in the industry, the deepest portfolio of IPs both now and in development. I think we have taken the time to invest in core technology, both at a digital platform level and at an engine level. And we have reoriented the company away from units sold to hours spent."

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.
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