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EA: Mobile not a threat to consoles

Greg Lockley
EA: Mobile not a threat to consoles

The console and mobile games markets are very different beasts. But that isn’t stopping the industry’s biggest publishers bringing their blockbusters to the small screen.

The likes of EA and Activison are bringing their triple-A franchises to the small screen to compete in the  most populated games marketplace.

Activision’s Call of Duty: Strike Team sits atop Apple’s paid iPad chart and it follows big budget mobile games based on Halo and Deus Ex.

But with these blockbusters on portable devices at a fraction of the price of consoles, will we see consumers switch consoles for smartphones?

Since the formation of EA’s mobile division in 2004, the publisher has been responsible for some of the most recognisable games brands on mobile including Plants vs Zombies and Real Racing. Meanwhile, free-to-play behemoth The Simpsons: Tapped Out now boasts over 5.4m daily players and has been a resident of mobile charts since its debut in March 2012.

For the publisher, it’s all about benefitting from the growing ownership of smart devices and targeting the emerging audience of casual players.

“Over the past few years, the growth of our mobile gaming division has increased exponentially,” said Nick Earl, senior vice president at EA. “With the rise of smartphones and tablets, it means that everyone has the potential to play our games – not just our core fans who own gaming consoles.”

And the result is paying dividends.

“We’ve seen this phenomenon manifest itself with the success of some of our biggest titles; The Simpsons: Tapped Out generated $23 million in digital net revenue last quarter alone and our overall mobile business last quarter generated about $100 million, which was a substantial increase over the prior year’s performance.”

“The marketplace in mobile is arguably
the most competitive in the industry.
There are more and more apps launching
every day, which creates a challenging
environment. While we will always see
that one breakaway hit, we find that
consumers seek high quality and recognisable
brands in such a crowded environment.”

Nick Earl – senior vice president, EA


But with brands like Call of Duty and Need for Speed becoming a legitimate player on mobile, does that spell trouble for these franchises’ big brothers on console?

Earl dismisses the notion that featuring these triple-A franchises on mobile will canibalise their console appeal: “We truly believe that smartphone and tablet gaming is complimentary to console gaming. There is room for both in the lives of our consumers.”

Instead, Earl views the mobile platform as an opportunity to grow these previously console-only brands amongst new audiences.

“The growth of the mobile market excites us because we’re able to reach more than one billion mobile gamers worldwide.”

But the question remains: why risk it? Why release tablet versions of console games rather than focus on creating the next Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja? Earl says it helps with discoverability.

“The marketplace in mobile is arguably the most competitive in the industry. There are more and more apps launching every day, which creates a challenging environment,” says Earl. “While we will always see that one breakaway hit, we find that consumers seek high quality and recognisable brands in such a crowded environment.”

But big brand or not, Earl says that status doesn’t determine if a games is a success on mobile or not.

“Customers decide what a great app is, so when we see our games on the top of the charts, that is a testament to the fantastic job our studios have done.”

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Tags: games , ea , video games , consoles , mobile , smartphone

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