EA to Invest $80 Million into Next Generation Console Game Development

Paul Lilly

It's sort of a weird time for game developers and publishers. Despite a reluctance on the part of Microsoft and Sony to talk about and/or announce next generation console hardware, the current crop of consoles are gettting long in the tooth and, as many suspect, facing succession. It's already happening with Nintendo's Wii console as the Wii U draws closer to release, and within the next year or so, it's conceivable to think there will be a PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 in the wild, too. Despite the uncertainty, however, EA isn't holding back and intends to invest a healthy $80 million into developing titles for next generation consoles. Does EA know something we don't?

"We intend to invest $80 million in gen-4 console development in fiscal 2013," EA CEO John Riccitiello said, according to GamesIndustry International . "We are strong believers that console will return to strong growth, representing great opportunity, one that is in lockstep with our digital plan."

Hard copy sales dropped 7 percent for EA in the past year, and looking ahead, the games publisher expects another single-digit decline during its fiscal 2013 period (April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013). So, why isn't EA fretting, and why commit $80 million to developing games for consoles that haven't launched yet? For one, developing games for consoles is like having a license to print money. And secondly, EA expects digital sales to make up for declining hard copy sales.

Riccitiello described the company's digital growth as being "robust," according to All Things D . And that's a fair assessment. EA raked in $1.2 billion in digital revenue last year, a 47 percent year-over-year increaase. FIFA 12 made $100 million in digital revenue all on its own, and looking forward, EA expects digital sales to total $1.7 billion in the next year.

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