EA wants one single platform

Give it 15 years, says Florin.

EA bigwig Gerhard Florin has said he wants one single platform rather than a handful of incompatible consoles.

He was chatting to the BBC about the difficulties of developing for multiple systems, and said that within around 15 years we could see a dedicated platform that would play everything - making his life much easier.

"We want an open, standard platform which is much easier than having five which are not compatible," Florin told the BBC.

"You don't need an Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii - the consumer won't even realise the platform it is being played on."

Florin feels that this omni-hardware could take the shape of the increasingly powerful set-top boxes; the Sky receiver-like pieces of equipment that can already handle HD streams and provide access to the Internet - basically cut-down PCs.

But he says it is also important that everything stays open and that no one puts up a "walled garden", basically a closed monopoly on the service where everything has to be published by the owner - much like the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.

It is an issue that analyst Nick Parker believes will stop one open system from emerging. For him, the increase in digital distribution will make it possible for a set-top box to assume console functionality and offer Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo their own channels to provide content to.

It is far from the first time an industry name has talked of platform convergence, though - the idea that we will all be playing on one system like a Buck Rogers toilet that can provide an entire house will all its entertainment needs is common.

Sony has regularly talked about the PS3 as a media hub, too, and has recently revealed its partnership with Sky to offer on-demand telly on the system. And Microsoft has been offering downloadable films and television serials on Xbox Live in the US for some time.

Perhaps it is more realistic to assume all three will share an anonymous platform in the future, then, rather than to believe one will dominate the others.

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