Electronic Arts CEO Discusses The Company's Plans For Virtual Reality At SXSW
Posted by Samantha Sofka
Virtual reality is becoming a solid reality
The trend of virtual reality gaming has been picking up speed ever since the Oculus Rift was demoed at E3 back in 2012. Although VR has been done in the past, it left gamers wanting a better experience. Though the Oculus Rift is not on the market yet, we've seen some pretty interesting demos of games like Legend of Zelda: Windwaker and Metroid Prime making the current venture into virtual reality look promising — so much so that companies like Sony and Microsoft are already reportedly working on virtual reality peripherals for their next gen consoles. EA seems to be jumping on the VR wagon as well as the company's chief executive Andrew Wilson discussed the publisher's loose plans during a panel at SXSW Gaming.
According to Wilson, the company must first study how people are currently playing games:
When we think about making games today, we think less about the technology or the means of experiencing the game, and we think more about the modality of play. So, how are you trying to interact with that game?
Wilson emphasized the fact that the way you physically interact with the game informs nearly every other aspect of the experience:
There's the 'lean back' modality, which is, I'm sitting in my living room across from an 80-inch TV, 7.1 surround sound, and I want high-def, high fidelity, highly immersive entertainment. That's the first modality that we have to sort of fulfill for games. The second is the 'lean in' modality; that's kind of the PC type, where you have a lot of drive for shooters, RPGs and RTS-type games. Irrespective of what computer is driving it, there's this proximity you have to the experience and that's the style you want to play that.
The third modality is the "lean over" modality which refers to playing on a mobile phone or tablet. According to Wilson, virtual reality has the potential to completely change the industry by adding a fourth option to that list:
When I look at any of the VR devices, I look at that not in terms of 'What is that device going to deliver,' but a desire for gamers to have a different type of modality — the 'Get In' type of modality, right. That might be delivered to you through a headset, or through some hologram that evolves out of your living room floor.
The thing I challenge my team to right now is, 'Listen, there's clearly a desire to add a modality of play to the three we're currently focused on. I don't know who the technology partner is that's going to deliver that modality for us, but let's start thinking now about the experiences [...] so that we can deliver experiences that make sense for you; experiences that deliver on the promise and the fantasy of being inside a video game.
It's hard to say what this means for Nintendo because EA hasn't supported the company for some time. One thing is for certain however, virtual reality is becoming more of a reality and may revolutionize the gaming world forever. Do you think Nintendo will embrace the tech in the fullness of time? Share your predictions with a comment.