EA Says Old Console Cycles Were “Painful;” New One Better

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Xbox One, PS4 controllers

At the Nasdaq 35th Investor Program Conference, Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen praised the mid-generation console refresh being carried out by Sony and Microsoft and condemned the old console cycles as "painful".

The executive pointed out that in previous console cycles investors always tried to identify the peak earning period, seeing as moving from a generation to generation involved huge expenses to upgrade. The fact that consoles were also highly customized didn't help matters -- each iteration of the Xbox and PlayStation were very different mainly as a result of being built on customized chipsets that were difficult to program for in the early years of their release. And then there was the issue of compatibility between between cycles, which forced gamers to stop buying games for the older consoles... According to Jorgensen, EA cut down the number of game engines from 25 to only two in a effort to control the high costs of developing for drastically different platforms, but games were still not compatible across generations. The situation is of course different today, with both Microsoft and Sony releasing micro-upgrades more often, allowing for more compatibility of games with previous generations. That's to say the market now looks a lot more like a traditional PC market than the specialized console market of yore, which Jorgensen believes is “great for the industry, great for their [Sony and Microsoft’s] production, great for software costs, and great for the consumers.” Consoles will still continue to get more powerful, making older software less appetizing, but “the whole notion that investors had of the cycle is gone away.” What do you think about the new direction Microsoft and Sony are taking with this console generation? Was it long overdue? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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