Handheld platforms high on EA's agenda; Xbox Live still in discussion
PSP and DS support confirmed, but still no white smoke on Live.
Leading publisher Electronic Arts has committed to supporting the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS platforms, but the recently rumoured move to develop Xbox Live titles is still under negotiation, according to senior company execs.
The financial conference call which accompanied last week's record revenues and earnings figures revealed that the company is hugely optimistic about the prospects for the PSP, which it expects to match the success of the Game Boy Advance, revolutionising the handheld market in the process.
EA will launch four to six PSP games in fiscal 2005 - that's the year ended March 31, 2005 - giving it a substantial launch line-up on the platform for the European and US launches in early 2005. The publisher hopes to replicate its PS2 market share on the PSP by grabbing between a quarter and a third of the marketplace.
Despite its launch title plans, EA doesn't expect PSP to make much of an impact on the bottom line during 2005 - only three million units of the diminutive console will have shipped worldwide by the end of the financial year, after all - but revenues from the platform in 2006 and 2007 should be substantial, it believes.
The forecast for the Nintendo DS is less clear, but EA did confirm that it will be supporting the new platform in some way, as well as continuing its existing development efforts on the Game Boy Advance. More may be revealed at E3.
On the topic of Xbox Live, however, EA exec were non-committal. Although it's widely rumoured within the industry that the company will announce its intention to release Live-enabled titles at E3 this year, investors and analysts were told on the conference call that discussions with Microsoft are still ongoing.
While it's certainly possible that Live support could be on the menu for E3, it would appear that there hasn't been any white smoke from the conference rooms in Redwood Shores and Redmond just yet - a view confirmed by sources within EA who told us last week that as of yet, no development teams at the company have been told to integrate Live support into their games.