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Electronic Arts: Gaming on connected TVs will be a learning curve for everyone

Richard Hilleman, Chief Creative Officer at Electronic Arts

Richard Hilleman, Electronic Arts

Richard Hilleman, Chief Creative Officer at major video games studio Electronic Arts, on the potential for gaming services on connected TVs, the different demands of Western and Asian markets, and the need for hardware manufacturers to work more closely with game developers.

Richard will be speaking at the TV Connect 2013 event taking place in London on 19-21 March 2013. For more information and to register, please visit www.tvconnectevent.com

Hi Richard! You will be speaking at TV Connect 2013 about the role of gaming in the evolution of connected TV. How do you see this role developing?

I think that Connected TV has several advocates driven by different goals. In the US and Europe, it is trying to gain attention on a screen that has a lot of other content already, including a gaming console. In this case, the connected TV market will need to find a hole, or displace an existing business.

In some other territories, there is more open space for connected TV to find its own place and define its own value proposition. My view is that games on connected TVs in these territories will serve mostly the audience that current plays mobile, tablet and online titles. In this case, the TV serves as another screen to give you access to the gaming content you want, or other channels into games you are already playing.

Some places, like China, are a pretty unique opportunity to open new markets to gaming. The lack of a console market means that the connected TV has more markets to address.This means there is more room for connected TV to find its place. These differences will probably require some different strategies for those different markets.

How do you think the needs of the service providers differ from the hardware manufacturers?

In general, the service providers are looking for a way to improve the margin from their existing customers, adding differentiating services that will drive a change from one provider to another, and finally to fully exploit the infrastructure that they have built. The hardware manufacturers are trying to distinguish their devices from the other choices the customer has, and close that sale.

Both of these groups have the ambition to run services as a long-term business. In each case, that will be a challenge. Some service providers have some content experience, and as a result have some insight into what those players want, but they don’t have all the tools to communicate the gaming experiences they are after.

This is a fast-moving business with a particular collection of gaming technical assets, and creative processes. It will be a learning curve for everyone.

What kinds of customers do you think this will appeal to?

I think the US and European markets will mostly be interested in products that don’t fit in a console experience. Shorter duration game cycles (20 minutes for connected TV, versus two hours at a time for console), Free to Play or small price points, and MUCH easier to learn gameplay will matter. In the parts of the world that don’t have high console penetration, I could imagine deeper, longer experiences working, but that will be an evolution. I also think in Asia, it will likely be a very high Free-to-Play market in the long term.

How can different parts of the ecosystem contribute to delivering services that consumers enjoy using?

Service providers need to either find a partner that can help them build out the digital distribution platforms that make the business work, or start that investment themselves. We need to have an open dialogue between hardware manufacturers and game developers. The local storage, graphics and memory management systems all need to be addressed and made more robust to accommodate the high-demand of game content.

Finally, stand-alone platforms (Linux-based) have historically not leveraged our mobile, console or PC-based titles. Open platform systems like Android give us a lot of leverage and still have the freedom to redefine a new user experience. We need to be able to aggregate some of the platforms to make product development cost-effective in the short term.

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