EA bullish on PS4 and Xbox One launch sales
"Pricing can come down pretty aggressively over the next few years."
With the next generation of consoles nearly upon us, EA, one of the biggest game publishers in the world, has had its say on what it expects from the launch of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Sony has gone on the record to say it will shift five million PlayStation 4 consoles before the financial year's end - 31st March 2014.
Microsoft has yet to gaze into its own crystal ball and predict Xbox One numbers, but in a financial call overnight, EA executives predicted a similar number for the console.
All in all, EA expects 10 million PlayStation 4s and Xbox Ones to have shipped by the end of the financial year.
"When I talked to our friends at both Sony and Microsoft, and I'm trying to get some indications in the numbers that are going to be available for sale by the end of our fiscal year on March 31 and I aggregate them, I think I can squint and see 10 million units combined, very easily," EA COO Peter Moore said.
"Both Sony and Microsoft are proposing that this could be their best launches ever as regards their production numbers and their ability to globalise this business quickly. So we feel bullish about our ability of having five truly next-gen titles available for that."
Moore said EA expects a next-gen console attach rate of three titles - that is, he expects on average each next-gen console owner to pick up three games to play on their shiny new hardware.
Qualifying the positivity somewhat was EA money man Blake Jorgensen, who predicted that it will take some time for he next-gen market to build, and so doesn't expect huge revenues from PS4 and Xbox One games in the short term. This despite the fact EA will release five next-gen titles in the launch window: Battlefield 4, FIFA 14, Need for Speed: Rivals, NBA Live 14 and Madden NFL 25.
"We've guided that next-gen for fiscal '14 is a relatively small part of our overall business," he said.
"Clearly, we'll be putting out five next-gen titles this quarter. We'll have a better feeling for how quick the uptake is and what the attach rate is to those. And we believe things like Battlefield will do extremely well in next-gen. But we also understand that the market's going to take time to build. And so our forecast for full year assumes relatively low next-gen uptick of our core business."
At Gamescom in August Sony announced it had received one million PS4 pre-orders. In September UK boss Fergal Gara told Eurogamer PS4 pre-order levels "are the highest we've ever seen". The five million units of PS4 for the financial year forecast would put it 50 per cent up on PlayStation 3 for the same time window.
Microsoft is yet to announce an Xbox One pre-order number, but in an interview with Eurogamer, Europe executive Phil Harrison said Xbox One pre-orders "have been unprecedented". "It will mean Xbox One by far and away is the largest launch we've ever done on a global basis and on a UK basis," he said.
Looking ahead to the months and years after launch, new EA boss Andrew Wilson said he felt both the PS4 and Xbox One are ripe for price-cuts. The Xbox One launches at £429 and the PS4 £349.
"Both companies here have pieces of hardware that feel to me, certainly, from my experience, that the pricing can come down pretty aggressively over the next few years," Wilson said.
"Sony is starting off of a full $200 cheaper than they did in the previous generation. The services attached to these consoles now are incredibly sticky, and both companies are touting their entertainment features, which make this a must-have device, not just for hard-core gamers but for households, for families."