EA's Wilson: Sony and Microsoft to face console challengers

EA's Wilson: Sony and Microsoft to face console challengers
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

December 4th 2013 at 7:48AM

New CEO expects duopoly of console market to be shaken by Apple, Roku

The next generation console launch is off to a great start, but EA CEO Andrew Wilson says Microsoft and Sony might not have long before other companies challenge their dominance.

Speaking to investors at Credit Suisse 2013 Technology Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona as recorded by GamesIndustry International, Wilson pointed to Apple, Google, Roku, and Comcast as potential challengers to the console status quo.

The record sales of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One might make this caution sound paranoid, but consumers have become used to faster evolutions than traditional consoles can provide and this means there's plenty of room for serious challengers to enter the market in the next few years.

"Our market is evolving at a very, very, very rapid rate," said Wilson.

"I think that Microsoft and Sony have a real opportunity to build a strong following and a strong install base while they continue to be the single best way to get high fidelity, high definition interactive entertainment to your 80-inch television.”

The implication of course, is that something better is sure to come along before the end of this generation.

“If you think about Microsoft's strategy – and I think Sony shares some of this in their long-term view, of being a broader entertainment device in your living room – I think they have that time,” he continued.

“I think that three years from now, four years from now, they're going to be under some fairly stiff competition for the living room, from mobile providers, from Apple, from Google, from Roku, from Comcast, to try and own that living room experience."

It's interesting that Wilson doesn't mention Valve, and omission seems tactical; the Steam owner is EA's biggest competition in the digital distribution space and admitting the possibility of Valve becoming a major player in the living room wouldn't be a good thing to say to investors.

On the other hand, EA's new CEO didn't shy away from saying his company would go where the gamers were, joking that in five years the biggest revenue platform could be a hologram that springs from the living room floor.

The idea is that it's gameplay and not the platform that matters in the business of selling games.

"For us, we are less focused on the device and more focused on the modality of play because we think that will continue irrespective of what piece of technology is used to deliver the [content]," Wilson explained.

This emphasis on flexibility could well lead EA away from the console space to a revenue model driven by emerging markets, namely PC and mobile free-to-play.