EA Explains Why It's Abandoning Dedicated Handhelds For Smartphones And Tablets
Posted by Damien McFerran
"You have to make some hard calls when you've got only so many people"
EA's support for Nintendo platforms is pretty lacking in general right now, but the 3DS and Wii U aren't the only systems the publisher is turning its back on — it has all but retreated from the dedicated portable console market, instead choosing to put its efforts into the burgeoning smartphone and tablet sector.
Speaking to Gamesindustry International, EA's Peter Moore tried to explain the reasoning behind the move:
We were supportive of both of those platforms (3DS/Vita), 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?
Moore has a point on one level — dedicated consoles are seeing tough competition from phones and tablets, which offer cheap games with impressive visuals that people can play everywhere. These devices also offer a massive potential audience which comfortably dwarfs anything the 3DS or Vita can muster.
However, Moore seems to have missed the point here; while the 3DS certainly won't be a big system in 2017 or 2018, Nintendo's next handheld console will be available by then, and could very well swing the pendulum back in the favour of dedicated portable gaming devices, which seasoned players tend to favour over phones and tablets.
What do you think about Moore's comments? Is EA right for going where the money is, or do its recent mistakes — such as the catastrophic free-to-play Dungeon Keeper, which it has effectively disowned — prove that mobile and smartphone gaming isn't all it is cracked up to be? Is it worth catering for a bigger potential market when only a certain percentage of those people are actually going to be interested in games, or should EA focus on the 3DS and Vita, both of which are owned by more passionate players with willing wallets? Leave a comment below to share your feelings on the topic.