EA’s Jorgensen Talks Next-Gen: Locking Out Pre-Owned, Always-On Connectivity And No Backwards Compatibility

Echoing rumours that next generation consoles will be capable of locking down a disk to a single owner and disrupting the pre-owned marked, EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen has spoken out regarding his personal views on where consoles are heading, and how EA are positioned.

During a question and answer session at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, Jorgensen said that EA’s range of “ten to fifteen” titles will be released as next-gen games in stages, over the next two or three years. “Our goal is to keep the cost increase for R&D under $100 million,” he said, “and some of that will be in this year, some of that in ’14, and some in our fiscal year ’15.”

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He doesn’t see a huge transition in the customer base, either. At least not at first. “The reality is, is that fiscal year 2014 will still be a fairly large gen-three [PS3 and Xbox 360] if there’s a console business that comes in at the tail end of the year, mainly because a lot of our titles are built around sports calendars.”

“And so a FIFA, a Madden, an NCAA, an NHL title, all come out aligned with the sports calendar.”

He also says that the PS4 and Xbox 720 aren’t likely to be backwards compatible, something we’ve heard a few times over the last few months.

“So if you’re a FIFA player and, and the soccer season’s starting in August, and all your friends are playing FIFA, you’re going to want to be on the same box that they’re on,” he states. “So if they all go out and buy a gen-four box if it comes out at Christmas, then you’ll most likely do it.”

Next-gen details hinted at:

  • No backwards compatibility
  • Some kind of pre-owned software lock
  • Always-on internet connectivity
  • Staged roll out of next-gen only games, especially sports-based titles

He confirms that (as you’d expect) EA have seen both the PS4 and 720, but adds that “no one externally has really seen what the look and feel will be like on the new consoles”, before saying that he thinks “people are going to be pretty excited.”

“I do think once again without describing the new consoles, you’ve got to assume they’re going to be highly integrated into the living room and the house, and there will be a lot of capability for interaction,” he says. This points to both future consoles being all-in media devices as well as machines capable of playing games.

And on the subject of pre-owned games? “Would we like to sell everything at full price and not have a used game market?” he asks. “Sure. But I think the used game market’s a little like any other kind of market where it creates liquidity. The fact is, that liquidity benefits us in some fashion. So if someone goes in and trades in a game, there’s a good chance they’re going to buy another one of our games.”

“I can’t really comment on where the next generation boxes are going to be relative to used games,” he says, concluding. “I will say that the trend in the business is to have that always-on connectivity and connect with a customer, and to the extent that the software identifies a certain customer is going to create some issues going down the road in the used game market.”

Is he referring to the recent discussion of locking a game down to a single console? We speculated that if this is something only one manufacturer does, the other will see a huge benefit.

“But I do believe that the consumer likes it, and it’s been good for the retail channel.”

Whilst Microsoft hasn’t yet announced any plans, Sony are expected to showcase the PlayStation 4 next Wednesday in New York. We’ll be there, bringing you everything as it happens.

Via Gamasutra.

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21 Comments

  1. I think he’s right that there won’t be a massive leap over to the next gen, it will be a slow transition but will increase once there is a decent number of games released.

    Also, “We’ll be there, bringing you everything as it happens” – Has TSA actually got a staff member / guest writer reporting from the event, or will TSA just be reporting on what happens?

    • Wait and see. =)

      • Such a tease!

      • .. or just read his Twitter feed.. :P

      • Ha, good idea, shame I don’t go on Twitter much anymore.

    • If GTA V, GT6 and Killzone are release titles there’ll be quite a few making the leap…….we’re all allowed to dream.

  2. Looking forward to next Wednesday so we can have some real facts and news about next gen. (Hopefully!!)

  3. There is plenty of room besides me on the fence …

  4. Looking forward to next gen. Not bought a home console (handhelds excluded) day 1 ever.

    Hope Feb 20th isn’t just DLC for MAG or something :D

  5. If EA stick to their track record, then the first wave of games from them will not have had a great deal of effort put into them. Keeps costs down I guess.

    If this is gen 3 according to him, gen 2 would have been Xbox & ps2, gen 1 would be ps1 & gamecube, so what about megadrive, snes, master system etc?

    • I was thinking the same. Probably too young to remember them lol

  6. This guy’s got a sensible head on his shoulders, but I have a feeling some people are reading too deep into what he’s saying.

    Sports titles sell by the bucket load, and basically have to do so, year in and year out in order to support the profit margins. So these titles are always going to have a lengthy legacy on the previous generation of console, and after a year or two basically end up being name packs once the current gen has picked up.

    The same kind of thing can be said of titles like Guitar Hero, Singstar and Skylanders, which have a mass market appeal, don’t take all that much oompf to run and can gradually shift across as the market moves.

    Beyond that, console exclusives will almost all head over to the new title platform to push sales, with dribs and drabs hitting the previous generation as the last few games reach the end of their development cycles.

    However, we’re also in a somewhat unique situation of EA having a well established Frostbite 2 engine, which can quite handily scale downwards to meet current consoles, so theoretically BF4 could hit two generations at the same time. Similarly, Activision would be loathe to drop the revenue from current consoles for Call of Duty, and could decide to try and keep a rough parity in content between engines.

    This can basically happen for any title in development for PS3, 360 and PC, with next gen getting a port from the PC version. A situation which I’m sure some of the THQ studios are now facing up to having been acquired, and with their new owners wanting to maximise the potential from their nearly finished games.

  7. Is he referring to the recent discussion of locking a game down to a single console? We speculated that if this is something only one manufacturer does, the other will see a huge benefit.

    “But I do believe that the consumer likes it, and it’s been good for the retail channel.”

    did they put his brain back after this answer?
    because he clearly wasn’t using it at that point.

    either that or he actually believe what comes out of the pr department.

    • Ha ha, I like the brain comment! A pre-owned block would finish off Game for sure. How he can say it would help retail channel I really don’t know.

    • Since he surprised me by seeming to understand where the money (that someone gets for selling their used game) ends up I will give him the benefit of doubt this time.

      It could be just poorly phrased by him (or whoever edited) and the “it” he refers to being used games, effectively giving us “But I do believe that the consumer likes [used games market], and [used games market]’s been good for the retail channel.” (That at least seems to fit with my reality). Hopefully we’ll get a clarification.

  8. It’s going to be interesting to see how the ideas of an always on Internet connection, lack of backwards compatibility and software locking effect the other consoles we have going forward (Vita, Wii U and 3DS, and to a lesser extent our 360’s and PS3’s).

    If you don’t have any of those issues with those formats are they going to be more attractive? Particularly as they’ll all be cheaper than either of the two new consoles.

    This is of course assuming anyone is making games for them…

  9. “So if someone goes in and trades in a game, there’s a good chance they’re going to buy another one of our games.”

    Hells teeth! Someone who finally gets it!

    • Yes, then the brainwashing his company have done, made him say this.

      “But I do believe that the consumer likes it, and it’s been good for the retail channel.”

      • one step forward, two steps back. o_O

  10. Broken games on release,always on internet connection not very eco friendly and who’s gonna pay my electric bill for that to stay on 24/7 not them.Broadband,monthly subs,always on electric.Micro-transactions before you even start the console up.
    20yrs into the future,2 tramps sitting round a fire stinking of booze n piss “i used to run a big console company” 2nd tramp “me too”.Everyday joe walks buy and throws a pound into the cup.

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