EA develops its games for “high-powered PCs” and scales them back for console, says CFO

EA

EA CFO Blake Jorgensen says the realities of modern gaming hardware enable them to build one version of a game for a high-end PC, and then scale it back as needed for its console versions.

Hopefully, the EA titles on our list of anticipated upcoming PC games will have flawless ports.

Jorgensen made the comments at the UBS Global Technology Conference, while, amusingly, answering a question about how EA adapts around console cycles.

Jorgensen’s reply touched on a number of trends which make life easier and less risky for developers and publishers, such as moves toward PC-like architecture in consoles and more iterative, less radical hardware upgrades. This means developers don’t need to adapt to new technology as often as before, and opens the door to backwards compatibility in the future, extending the lifespan of games and making investment in the industry more appealing.

Jorgensen also mentioned the widespread adoption of the Frostbite game engine, meaning EA only needs to upgrade one engine to adapt to changing hardware rather than “25”.

These trends now mean that EA is able to build games with the best PC hardware in mind and then scale back for consoles – a much more efficient process than building several versions of a game for architectures which changed and differed with each console cycle, as has been the case in the past.

“We build all of our games to the highest possible spec, which is typically a high-powered PC, and as the consoles come in, [which] may not be the highest spec, we may actually dummy down the console product to meet the spec of the console. In a world where the console looks more and more like a PC, that’s good for us.”

This new process likely explains the smooth PC ports of recent EA games – compare Battlefield 1 to Battlefield 4 – and hopefully means we can expect more of the same in the future.