EA CEO Andrew Wilson voiced the company’s virtual reality strategy in a panel at SXSW Gaming recently. He explained that a company can’t plan its future around hardware, as it’s too volatile a space, so EA is looking at how players are consuming games right now and how technology such as VR will be used by them in the future.
"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. "So, how are you trying to interact with that game?"
Wilson went on to split up the main ways people interact with games. “"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 modality, as Wilson sees it, is the “lean over” modality, covering tablet and mobile gaming.
VR, Wilson stated, is going to shake things up by introducing a 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. That might be delivered to you through a headset, or through some hologram that evolves out of your living room floor.”
The challenge for EA at the moment, Wilson said, is that people want to add this fourth modality to the three that the company is focused on, but EA doesn’t know what partner they will end up teaming up with to provide this. So right now, EA is thinking about how it can deliver the new modality while also bringing new experiences that “deliver on the promise and the fantasy of being inside a video game.”