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GDC Online 12: EA's Segerstrale on why the future of gaming isn't device-specific, it's all devices

#gdconline Creating new consumer journeys

GDC Online 12: EA's Segerstrale on why the future of gaming isn't device-specific, it's all devices
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"Every year, I think we're at the bleeding edge of the next gaming revolution," said Kristian Segerstrale, EA's EVP Digital, kicking off his GDC Online talk 'Games as a Platform'.

"This year is no different."

However, given Segerstrale's career, first with Glu Mobile and then with Playfish, his surprising view that the next big gaming trend will occur in the living room.

"As an industry, we not spoken about the living room for years," he argued.

"The vast majority of mobile and tablet gaming doesn't happen on the bus. It happens at home, and that will continue."

The more things change

Segerstrale's point is that in this new situation, specific devices matter less, because all platforms matter.

Hence, console, mobile/tablets, connected TV and browsers are all valid channels - or contenders as Segerstrale called them - for gaming's future.

In terms of consoles, he pointed to rise of companion experiences such as Microsoft's Smart Glass; also reflected in Wii U's GamePad, not to mention the audience support for the Kickstarter-funded Ouya console.

"At EA, we don't think the console is going away any time soon," Segerstrale said.

Everything is change

Yet he was also keen to push the potential of browser gaming and smart TV gaming; which can now deliver HD gaming experiences, provided through non-traditional ecosystems.

"What's interesting is that all four channels provide very similar experiences and they all include multiple screens," Segerstrale said, referring to how mobile and tablet are now used across-the-board as secondary screens, whether in terms of controllers or additional information.

"It doesn't matter what screens you have available. We can provide great experiences for you," he added.

In this way, EA is now organised in terms of franchise teams, and how those franchise are experienced by different types of consumers.

Vision thing

Hence, in terms of his conclusion, Segerstrale argued "We, at EA, believe that any single device ecosystem or experience will become obsolete."

"Gaming [game state, XP, status etc] will be ready available on every platform. The game experience isn't identical on different platform, of course, but consumers won't care.

"We're looking at a consumer-centric, connected, persistence world."

In this way, he said that developers would increasingly not worry about coding for individual devices; instead optimising consumer journeys through the game experience across various platforms.

This also assumes the entire industry will move towards a free-to-play service model.

"Single platform visions will be challenged. The future is all about cross-platform," Segerstrale stated.

"Our collective challenge as an industry will be take this opportunity and create innovative experiences, because if we're not innovative, our consumers get bored."

Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at PG.biz which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.