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EA “hopes rivals will turn up”

With the release date firmly in place for what is likely to be the biggest selling FIFA ever, EA’s head of northern Europe Paul Jackson has re-affirmed the giant publisher’s belief that it could be facing less competition at retail this autumn.

Jackson has also hit back at those who criticise EA for relying on the return of key franchises year after year, pointing out that is a totally reasonable practice, with development quality and marketing support providing what both consumers and retailers demand come the last quarter.

“I don’t mean to sound arrogant, not at all. But it does seem that competition from our rivals, when it comes to the very biggest releases, will not be as strong this year,” Jackson (pictured) told MCV.

“We hope for the sake of the industry that other publishers have powerful line-ups and very much turn up this Christmas. My sense at the moment is that they’re not.”

Jackson’s comments reiterate those of global corporate communications VP Jeff Brown, who recently noted that “to be honest, there isn’t much competition in the holiday season this year.” (MCV 29/7).

EA’s biggest seller this year is likely to be FIFA 2006 by some distance. Already winning critical approval, it will have an unprecedented run at retail by arriving earlier than usual, from Friday September 30th. Other key releases largely comprise well known names, such as Burnout: Revenge, Tiger Woods PGA 2006, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Need For Speed: Most Wanted and James Bond: From Russia With Love.

“EA has got itself into a position of being able to deliver hits every year. It worries me that others perform great one year and then seem to have exhausted themselves the next,” added Jackson.

“As for the same franchises returning, people don’t expect the Premier League to deliver a new sport every year. We have a massive amount of innovation going into our products, with thousands of people working in development.

“Just because they aren’t all new names isn’t any reason to criticise us. We deliver excitement for consumers, that’s why they buy our products. And the potential this year for retail is just staggering.”

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