EA boss John Riccitiello has said the games industry’s hardware cycle has been broken, ending the long reign of consoles.
“Let’s be realistic. Consoles used to be 80 percent of the industry as recently as 2000. Consoles today are 40 percent of the game industry, so what do we really have?” the CEO told IndustryGamers.
“We have a new hardware platform and we’re putting out software every 90 days. Our fastest growing platform is the iPad right now and that didn’t exist 18 months ago.”
Riccitiello commented that Nintendo isn’t “off-cycle” with the announcement of the Wii U, because the “pattern” of increasing power with each generation, which the Wii and Wii U failed to “resonate” with, is increasingly irrelevant.
“The point of reference is gone. Nintendo is bringing out a new platform that brings together some of what we’re learning from new media and new platforms like the iPad and then integrating that with a console. It’s the perfect time for that in the industry,” he explained.
The veteran argued that the generational hardware cycle is “one of the least interesting things” about the games industry, and perhaps ultimately damaging.
“Every five years you’d see a new console or platform from everybody at about the same time with about the same or similar upgrades or services. You’d sort of harvest it and then it’d cycle back,” he said.
“We got used to it. It’s what seemed normal. But it’s not a particularly smart way to run an industry… bulges in technology investment followed by harvest.”
Riccitiello predicted the next round of hardware would compete in different spheres than the last few generations, saying consumers can barely distinguish between higher levels of graphical performance with the naked eye.
“I would argue that there’s more to be provided in terms of value for the consumer in micro-transactions and social experiences and driving those better in cross-platform gameplay between a console and a PC and a handheld device and a social network than there is supercharging graphics,” he said.
“The idea that we’re going to see the need for step function growth in graphic performance as the pace setting aspect of the sector is no longer the most important thing. I always liked the power, but I don’t know if it’s the story anymore.”