Former BioWare boss: PS4 and next Xbox unlikely to cure "sick market for old-school gaming"

"I honestly don't think they're going to be that big a deal."

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Former BioWare boss Dr. Greg Zeschuk, now enjoying The Beer Diaries.

Former BioWare boss Dr. Greg Zeschuk thinks the next-generation consoles are unlikely to cure what he describes as a "sick market for old-school gaming".

Analysts, game publishers and video game retailers are hopeful that the launch of the PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox will spark a revival in traditional game sales - the kind of games gargantuan publishers such as EA and Activision make for consoles.

But according to Zeschuk, who alongside BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka left BioWare and its owner EA in September 2012 to retire from the industry, the next-gen is likely to fall flat in this regard.

"Everyone's kind of holding out hope for the new consoles, but I honestly don't think they're going to be that big a deal," he told GamesIndustry International.

"I worry a lot that unless Microsoft or Sony pull something magically out of a hat, it's pretty much the same old, same old repackaged and I don't think they're going to change the dynamic of the retail market."

He added: "I don't see how they can - the market is what it is."

While Zeschuk's comments are sure to make Microsoft and Sony executives wince, he insisted there have been recent successes - and pointed to games released by EA's bitter publishing rival Activision as evidence of this claim.

"Honestly, Activision and Blizzard have been doing really well, and they've been very disciplined and focused," he said, "but how long can they continue? They've been relying on a small number of titles, but no title works forever, and obviously they will be working hard to replace the games they're working on.

"So they're probably one of the shining examples of a company that's done well by really doubling down on a very narrow amount of things, and trying some different stuff - I'm actually really impressed with Skylanders."

Zeschuk was talking about the next-gen as part of a wider discussion around the departure of former EA boss John Riccitiello, who quit the publisher after admitting the company wasn't making enough money.

Many observers have suggested the failure of MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic - reportedly the most expensive game EA has ever made - was the primary reason for Riccitiello's downfall.

Zeschuk, who was in charge of SWTOR developer BioWare Austin, rejected this claim, instead suggesting Riccitiello was the victim of a depressed market.

"You really have to step back and look at the big picture of things at the macro level of the business," he said.

"The console core sales are slowing significantly - you can't get around that fact. And the interesting thing with SWTOR, almost the only way we could have moved the needle at EA is if we were just ginormous... it's kind of funny because it is such a giant company.

"I can't really speak to why John's not there anymore, but it was one of the many games released, and we're in a context where just a few days later it was Yoichi Wada who was booted out from Square Enix."

Zeschuk said EA's effort to increase revenue from digital games was "not filling in the gaps" left by the decline of traditional retail-based gaming, and that SWTOR was "actually doing really well" as a free-to-play game. The mobile business is, on the whole, not generating as much revenue as the console business, he said.

EA struggled during its last financial year, with FIFA 13 one of the few successes. EA retired the Medal of Honor brand after Warfighter flopped, and sales of Dead Space 3 and Army of Two: Devil's Cartel thought to have failed to hit targets.

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