EA CEO Says Time for Game Console Cycle to End

EA CEO John Riccitiello said in a quarterly earnings call yesterday that the game console cycle, that is, the 4-5 year long space between console development and launches, is over. Between this and recent statements that physical storefronts will be disappearing in the near future, it sounds like EA has it all figured out.

During the conference call, which was spearheaded by reports of a good quarter thanks to Portal 2 and pre-orders for the coming releases of Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, Riccitiello mentioned that the video game industry has been "radically changed."

"Gone forever is the 4- to 5-year console cadence that gave developers ample time to invest and retool for the next big wave," Riccitiello said. "Consider that just 18 months ago, there was no iPad, Google was just experimenting with Android and most big games were limited to a single revenue opportunity at launch. Consider that each of the major consoles now has a controller that encourages users to get off the couch and get into the action."

Above: EA "digital distribution rocks" Origin

Of course, Riccitiello followed these comments by playing up digital distribution, mentioning that the top paid apps on smartphones and tablets are all games, and that it's "the fastest growing revenue [stream]" for consoles, PCs and smart devices.

Keeping that in mind, Riccitiello said EA's three-pronged approach to digital distribution involves developing intellectual property, establishing a platform for digital distribution, and growing a talent pool capable of working "across the full spectrum of EA's many channels and business models." He also mentioned that EA has "a dozen very substantial IPs" that it wants to transform into year-round businesses with major packaged goods launches (so much for ditching the brick-and-mortar stores), social launches, mobile launches, downloadable content and micro-transactions.

Basically, he means "finding every possible space to squeeze a Madden game into."