Sports! The generalised, foam hand-waving, anything-with-a-ball sense of the term. That’s the world new EA CEO and triathlonite Andrew Wilson came up in, as chief custodian of FIFA, Madden and the NHL games. It’s a world he understands.
But now somebody’s gone and stuck a new vowel to the front of the word, and it’s become an entirely different beast. Companies who aren’t EA are filling LA stadiums with baying video game fans, and Wilson and friends would like a slice of that pie chart to show to their shareholders, please.
To that end, the CEO is eyeing up the publisher’s series’ as potential eSports candidates - and not just the ones about men in shorts.
“When [we had] just come off franchise reviews I looked at a number of properties that we’re doing that certainly have an eSports focus,” Wilson told Red Bull.
EA don’t think that eSports is a phase, said Wilson. They believe it’ll “continue to grow”, and are looking into related possibilities for several of their games.
“We have some ready-made franchises for this in our sports properties, but we also have a number of other franchises that people may not typically think about as eSports opportunities,” he said. “But we think there might be an opportunity in the future, so it’s something that you’re going to see more of from us.”
Coo. What EA games might be eSports friendly? Dawngate is a no-brainer - a game built in response to the runaway success of LoL, Dota et al.
But if EA are willing to go the whole hog with tournaments and such, they’ll also need to justify the expense of it all to their shareholders. Riot Games last year told our Rob that the LCS was a “significant investment” they weren’t making any money from directly - but that clearly pays dividends in community giddiness, and therefore player retention.
Community giddiness doesn’t graph very well, unfortunately. Do you think EA’s money men can be trusted not to panic, if eSports investment doesn’t bring them results they can stack?