EA Doesn't See A Lucrative Future For Wii U, 3DS, Vita Games

By William Usher 2014-07-28 20:26:07 discussion comments
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Electronic Arts' Chief Operating Officer, Peter Moore, really let loose a bevy cache of thoughts in a recent interview, discussing and explaining why the company is moving in the direction it's currently headed in.

In a recent GamesIndustry.biz interview the Electronics Arts COO spilled some beans on why the company backed away from Nintendo's Wii U and 3DS, as well as why the company hasn't been focusing much on the PlayStation Vita.

Wii U Daily captured the quote that lays it out all on the line, with the Moore telling GI.biz...
“We were supportive of both of those [handheld] platforms. But then you’ve got finite resources and you’ve got teams that say, ‘We really think that two or three years from now, these are the platforms that people are going to be consuming games on.’ And you look at the quality of what you can do on phones and tablets… Sometimes strategy is not about what you do but what you don’t do, and you have to make some hard calls when you’ve got only so many people. To my point, we’ve got to be planning for FY 17 and 18. Do you think the Vita and 3DS are going to be around in some shape or fashion by then on a scale level?”

That's harsh.

His comments tie into a report from last year that indicated that by 2016 both the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita will have its content revenue eclipsed by the mobile market. Further reports indicated that as of last year, the Google Play store is almost on par in app revenue to what Sony and Nintendo's portable gaming devices produce.

Juniper Research notes that by 2018 mobile game revenue will hit approximately $28 billion.

It's true that more than a billion people own a smart device, but it's not true that a billion of these people are dedicated gamers or even willing to spend actual money on these games. A report from Recode indicated that only 0.15% of mobile users even spend money on apps. This means that there's a huge pool of potential consumers but less than a fraction of a percent of those consumers are willing to spend money on the product.

Anyway, what Peter Moore is saying is no different than what many other big game studios and other firms believe: the mobile market is where the money is.

The problem is that there's no rhyme or method to figuring out how to tap a steady revenue stream from the mobile market without reverting to Dungeon Keeper-style tactics.

As for whether or not the 3DS or PS Vita will still be profitable in software sales come 2017 or 2018 is really anyone's guess. I imagine Nintendo will have a new handheld device on the market within that time and it's once again another wild shot in the dark whether the device will be a runaway success or a failure. But pulling support so early on seems a little shortsighted when the gaming market is always in constant flux. At least the team at Devolver Digital are still supporting the consoles and handhelds.

Heck, just last year analysts thought Microsoft would be controlling North America with the Xbox One since it was a gaming set top box with cable integration capabilities. Oh, how wrong they were.
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