Chief Studios Officer Laura Miele on breaking down platform barriers, making games more inclusive, and COVID-19
"This [generational] shift is coming at an important time for entertainment and media in general," EA's Chief Studios Officer Laura Miele tells GamesIndustry.biz. "Whenever there is new technology there is change, so it is an opportune time to evolve how we think about gameplay, platform expansion and development strategies.
"We want players to be able to play our games where they want to, which is why we're bringing more games to more platforms including Stadia, Steam, Switch and Epic Game Store. We're also making a big push on cross-play, because we know a fundamental motivation in playing games is about connecting with friends and family who may choose to play on a different console or platform. The ecosystem in which we are operating has changed for the better, and we want to be everywhere players are."
She continues: "The major shift we've been seeing in our industry is hardware is no longer a barrier within the player community, and we are thinking about it the same way."
Of course new consoles do bring about the usual technical advancements. For PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, Miele talks about the speed in which players can enter the games: "They are going to be immersed either on the pitch or in a fantasy world within seconds." She also talks about the impact of 3D audio on sports titles, the scale to which DICE can now make Battlefield combat, and the physics that Criterion will be able to pull off with Need for Speed.
But the key thing, Miele says, is not necessarily how games are looking on the new consoles, but how they are going to feel.
"Historically, console transitions have been punctuated by increased graphic fidelity and that hasn't changed -- this next generation of games will certainly take a visual leap -- but we are also taking advantage of the extra memory and CPU cycles to bring a lot more detail to life.
"As an example, in Madden we will be using the NFL's next gen stats so every athlete in the game will play how they do in real life, with the data being updated in real-time. Fans in the stadium will be unique people responding to the action on the field. Deferred rendering allows us to use colors and lights in more dynamic ways... and dynamic weather systems will impact the athletes, their equipment and the playing field. Games are going to feel different, better and more visceral."
Of course, promoting games based on how they "feel" requires people to actually play them -- there's only so much you can show people in YouTube videos. With the current global pandemic putting a halt on games events and with retail demo units out of action, does EA expect it to be difficult to sell the benefits of these new machines?
"I actually don't," says Miele. "During my first demo when I experienced the instant load times and massive worlds, I knew immediately this was going to set a new bar in terms of player expectations. When players see how accessible and immersive this generation of technology is, there will be no turning back."
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