Virtual Reality. Is it the next big thing in gaming? Most within the industry seem to think so. and now, EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson thinks that it could well be – but that doesn’t quite mean that EA”s jumping on the VR bandwagon just yet.
EA’s more concerned about how people consume games, than the technology with which they do so. They’re focused on the “modality of play.”
What on earth does that mean?
"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," Wilson said to Polygon at SXSW. "So, how are you trying to interact with that game?"
It comes down to how you physically interact with the games you play.
"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," Wilson said. "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 is the ‘lean over,’” says Wilson, talking about being hunched over a phone or tablet. “…that mobile modality, whether it’s a phone or a tablet, but this idea of ‘I’m here and I’m playing like this,"
Virtual Reality, says Wilson, would be the “fourth modality.”
"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," Wilson said. "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."
What I understand from all of that, based on what little I know of EA..is that they’ll start seriously looking at Virtual Reality as a way to make games once they’re convinced they can make enough money from it. Fair enough, really.
Last Updated: March 10, 2014