Electronic Arts' CEO John Riccitiello has said that internet TV services offer more significant future growth opportunities for the publisher than other technological advances such as 3D.
Speaking in a conference call last night, he said EA was watching developments closely, and observed that internet enabled televisions and appropriate tech from the likes of Apple or Google could enable a universal standard for the games business.
"If I had to pick between IPTV and 3D and which one would be more important for gaming - not necessarily for installed base for homes, because I'm sure that people are definitely going to want to watch Shrek in 3D at home - but for us, I actually think it's probably more potential in terms of new revenue and business model for us," he said.
"What derives from the IPTV side, we're watching that very carefully. So it's a priority that's high for us."
"There's absolutely no question that Internet TV is here to stay. It's a big story," he added. "And with CPU prices as reasonable as they are for powerful CPUs and hard drives priced as cheap as they are, you're going to see the equivalent of the mini computer under the TV in the form of a device from Apple or Google or Samsung built in.
"I think the long-term opportunity there is significant. I think we'll ultimately move to be more-than-just-casual games. And I think it bodes well as we go from a world where, if you think about it, a minority of consumers around the world have got a game-ready device connected to their plasma or high-definition television to that being sort of a universal standard."
Streaming services are growing in the games business, with the likes of OnLive and Gaikai making early moves in the market. Electronic Arts has been the first publishing company to sign up to David Perry's Gaikai service, offering all its major PC franchises including The Sims, Battlefield, Dragon Age and Mass Effect.
While Riccitiello admitted that the logistics of such services will take a lot of work to get right, he pointed to the potential for growth in direct-to-consumer business models, cutting out traditional distribution and allowing for higher margins - already the focus of the Electronic Arts interactive division.
"It's likely to promote more direct-to-consumer digital models, which, as we've indicated up until now, leave more of the money in our pockets of business than they do of various folks taking a piece out of the middle," said Riccitiello of EAi.
"So I think it's a long-term positive. I think it supports both core and more casual offerings. I think it's a growth driver, and I think navigating the specifics is going to be tricky and interesting to watch."
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