Browsing the Apple App Store, you are likely to find games such as The Simpsons: Tapped Out and Real Racing 3 as a mainstay in the top ten. Both are efforts from publisher Electronic Arts (EA), best known for high profile video game releases on platforms such as PC and consoles. Not only has EA been a pioneering force in bringing big budget games to the smartphone platform, it has also been a heavy proponent behind the free-to-play model. A few years ago the idea of a large publisher giving away its latest games for free was unimaginable, but that is exactly what EA has been doing, recouping costs through in-game purchases.
PC World tracked down EA A/NZ, SEA, South Africa and India mobile general manager, Mark Fordham, to talk about the publisher's focus on mobile gaming.
EA became involved in the mobile game space quite early, before the smartphone boom was kicked off by the iPhone. Why was it important for EA to get into the space early?
EA A/NZ, SEA, South Africa and India mobile general manager, Mark Fordham (MF): EA has always evaluated new and emerging technologies, and with the rise of mobiles and mobile gaming, we saw a great opportunity to reach a larger group of consumers. By investing in mobile we were effectively allowing our consumers to access our content where and when they wanted. So they could play a game like FIFA at home, on a train, or in a lift when they wanted anywhere, anytime.
For the longest time, mobile game publishers were not convinced that mobile versions of console games would sell. However, games such as FIFA and Need for Speed seem to be doing well. To what do you attribute this to?
MF: Over the last few years, there has been a lot more excitement in mobile gaming driven by the ever increasing technological capabilities of smartphones, which has made publishers take notice. We now have the ability to deliver console quality graphics on a smartphone that were never possible before. Real Racing 3 and Need for Speed Most Wanted are just two examples of how stunning graphics and intuitive gameplay can be delivered on a mobile device.
With the growth in popularity of smartphones and tablets, are console gamers prepared to play mobile games?
MF: Console gamers no longer limit themselves to just the one platform. There are so many great titles specific to any number of platforms, both console and mobile. Usually that demographic is extremely tech savvy and hungry for content, such as games, apps, videos, and music, both in the home, on the go and even in the workplace. Some of our recent titles such as Need for Speed Most Wanted and FIFA 13 integrate with the console versions of the game, which is a trend we'll continue to see emerging over the coming months. Increasingly, core gamers don't see a difference between gaming on a console and gaming on a mobile. The only difference is accessibility.
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