Electronic Arts' recently unveiled research division is a promising concept, and it means a great deal to Project Scorpio.

Electronic Arts recently wrapped up its EA Play press conference, where it showcased its upcoming titles for the year, ahead of E3 2017. While the spectacle of new AAA games drew the most attention, one of the most overlooked announcements was the company's reworked research division.

The "Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division" (SEED) is an internal skunkworks at Electronic Arts, which has been established to pursue cutting-edge advancements for use in games. As explained on stage by the company's Executive Vice President, Patrick Söderlund, SEED is an avenue for "exploring visionary concepts" within EA – a feat that's sometimes hard to pursue within today's major AAA publishers.

Electronic Arts' new "Search for Extraordinary Experiences Division" announced on-stage at EA Play 2017.

Planting the SEED

Looking past its swanky new logo, SEED as a concept is an interesting movement to see within a major video games publisher. While its introduction was left somewhat vague, to some extent this comes down the core dynamic of such a group. The actual role of the division will be forever changing around current technologies, which requires rapid growths around ongoing events – and it should be significantly faster than your traditional game development team.

"Creative ideas combined with new technologies become an unstoppable force."

What makes SEED promising is its creative approach to these advancements. As a part of Söderlund's introduction, deep learning, neural networks, and advanced AI were all mentioned on stage in passing. While these are all growing domains within the technology industry, SEED's role is to approach them from a creative standpoint. With an intent to bring these technologies into games, it is the implementation that will make them stand out in the market.

Stacked development kits for Microsoft's upcoming premium Xbox console, codenamed "Project Scorpio."

Though SEED's advancements could lead to some unique and innovative new titles in the future, the group's early work is transpiring in EA's upcoming titles. To kickstart the division, one of its first undertakings has been put into motion with Microsoft's upcoming high-end Xbox console, called "Project Scorpio."

With hardware cycles refreshing more frequently, there's a growing drive to stand out from the crowd and leverage new resources. Preparing for the next console launch, SEED has already gone hands-on with Project Scorpio development kits and is working to optimize EA's Frostbite game engine for the platform.

What EA's SEED will mean for Xbox

As shown on stage at E3, SEED's research has opened ways of using Project Scorpio's hardware advancements to improve graphical fidelity. Debuted with a short teaser for Madden NFL 18 on the console, we can see a new level of detail, with vastly improved textures and lighting, while running at 4K resolution.

A new level of detail, with vastly improved textures and lighting, while running at 4K resolution.

With improved overall optimization for the Frostbite engine on Project Scorpio, other upcoming EA titles will assumedly utilize this research. And as previously leaked ahead of E3, both Star Wars Battlefront II and FIFA 18 are among the games expected hit native 4K and 60 frames per second (FPS) on the console.

While visual improvements on Project Scorpio are welcome, this is ultimately only one of many areas SEED plans to invest in. Research goes further than visual enhancements and Project Scorpio hardware – it's designed to adapt to upcoming technology as it arises.

Electronic Arts is already planning to leverage Project Scorpio's resources with its Frostbite engine.

Going forward, we may not actually hear much of any SEED developments. Assembled as a "stealthy" offshoot of the publisher, its progress may quietly proceed and filter into upcoming EA projects.

In theory, opening the company to new ideas, these technologies can be leveraged in their upcoming titles. The group could make for an interesting backbone to the development cycle of EA's studios and make for improvements across the publisher's entire library. In an industry where big publishers are often hesitant to invest in risky concepts, a push to innovate and fully invest in new platforms is a welcome sight.

Following SEED's investment into Project Scorpio, this should be especially meaningful for people looking to pick up EA titles on the console. While the Frostbite engine in its current form has never been ideally optimized for the Xbox, this may change with a new hardware revision. And while going forward you can expect many more publishers to jump on board with Scorpio, Electronic Arts is among those leading the pack into Microsoft's latest endeavor.