EA Games sees a strong partner in Microsoft
Electronic Arts (or EA - the devil of gaming, as its better known within the gaming industry) is currently in talks with Microsoft to bring mobile games to the next version of Windows (on all platforms). EA sees Windows as central to its handset strategy (so we'll be including Windows Phone too) and have previously worked with both Microsoft and Nokia in getting titles released on the mobile platform.
Peter Moore, COO at EA, had the following to comment on the relationship with Microsoft:
"We’re working very closely with Microsoft to understand what their views on gaming navigation are. Anything that allows more platforms to be adopted quickly that have a gaming element is good for Electronic Arts."
EA is hoping that with the Windows Store, as well as smartphones and tablets running the Windows operating system, the company can further reduce its reliance on boxed retail products. Microsoft has an increased focus on gaming on Windows with its Xbox LIVE service covering not only the popular Xbox console, but both Windows Phone and the not-so-distant Windows 8. This combination will provide distributors and publishers access to a huge, connected install base.
Currently, Nokia and EA have unique partnership which has so far brought Mirrors Edge to the Lumia line of smartphones. There are another 20+ planned EA titles coming to Windows Phone in the future, a lof of which are not timed-Nokia exclusives. (When we spoke with Nokia recently, they told us they are releasing those games as they "come online" for Marketplace approval.)
This is good news for gaming enthusiasts, who can look forward to stronger releases on all Windows products, not to mention regular deals and offers. It's bad news for retailers, however. European video games retailer Game has been fighting a difficult war with the recession and less business flowing in the front doors. The likes of Valve and other means of digital distribution has had its toll on face-to-face purchasing.
Windows 8 will be an interesting release for PC video games. Microsoft will of course introduce further integration with Xbox LIVE on the desktop, but Valve has continuously been against the upcoming operating system. Should publishers and studios look at Microsoft directly, would we be missing much with a lack of Steam? Microsoft would have a digital store in place (and a good one at that), which could be accompanied by regular deals and title offers - much like what we currently have on Windows Phone with the Xbox LIVE Deal of the Week.
Microsoft needs to get not only the release of Windows 8, Windows Phone Apollo and Surface tablets perfect, it has to ensure that its services and cross-platform features are rich and integrated to offer consumers a complete experience. With EA on-board, Microsoft can look to add the big names to a list and push gaming through its software stores. As for Windows Phone, adding new engines, offering more tools and expansion for developers will provide consumers with enhanced titles that are worthy of the larger screens and can put to use the more advanced hardware.
What do you think the future of gaming looks like with Windows 8? Do you believe Microsoft needs Valve on-board? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.