Develop Conference: Industry graveyards 'are filled with companies resisting change'

EA: Race for digital now or get left behind

A senior EA Sports executive has opened the 2011 Develop Conference with a stark warning: push ahead in digital or get left behind.

Andrew Wilson, the senior vice president of worldwide development at EA Sports, told a packed crowd in Brighton that seismic shifts in consumer behaviour had transformed the music and film industries.

“The same is happening with the games industry,” he said.

“No longer are we going to line up at games stores on mass to handover our cash. We have to change our business models.

"We know about the amount of people playing on Facebook, PlayStation Network and online – there is a consumer shift happening. If we don’t get ahead of [the digital curve], we are going to find ourselves in trouble.

“We have seen what happens when other industries resist that change – the graveyard of other companies that tried to tell consumers how they wanted to experience content,” he warned.

The Australia-born Wilson proceeded to discuss the many changes that have swept through the games industry in the past five years alone.

But, he said, new sectors such as social and mobile gaming are ultimately good for the industry.

“Change is always good,” he said. “"Every time we have gone through a transition, the industry has grown stronger".

Each new generation of consoles brings in new players and new experiences, he said.

Citing independent data, Wilson claimed that the number of “self-confessed gamers” would grow to 1.2 billion over the next four years.

"It is digital that is driving that growth,” he said.

“Those who stay ahead do very well.”

But it is the scattering of available games platforms that offers publishers the biggest conundrum, Wilson added.

“The challenge is, what does an experience look like on these new kinds of platforms?

“Those companies that have the greatest success will be those that know what it is that let you have a connected experience across [many or all of] these platforms.”

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