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Electronic Arts looks to connected TV

Video games providers face challenges in addressing the connected TV market, but there are also huge opportunities if, Richard Hilleman, chief creative officer at games provider Electronic Arts has told a connected TV event in London.

The key is for games providers to respect the time and money available to this consumer segment, and to develop games features that appeal to the market, said Hilleman, giving the opening keynote at TV Connect. He said EA will build games that have cross-platform appeal, with the ability for devices such as tablets and TVs to interact.

Hilleman said the use of HTML5 would also help transform the gaming experience on TVs. However, gaming companies would have to make the software stack on connected TVs work to its maximum capability to deliver a compelling experience, he said.

While delivering games via dedicated apps is another route to the connected TV, the problem with apps is that “TVs are not iPhones”, said Hilleman. “Apps are rarely updated on TVs. The majority of the games we have today are client-server games. If you don’t update your app for three and a half years it’s very difficult to keep you in my [gaming] family,” he said.

Consuming games on the web is more flexible than delivering them via apps, Hilleman added.

Addressing differences between the connected TV market for games and the console market, Hilleman said that a return to the principles of “coin-op” games rather than high-concept console games would point the way. “The typical player on these platforms will not be typical of console gamers,” he said.

However, many mobile gamers play as much as console gamers, but play more often in smaller time segments. The same customer can also behave differently in different environments. Mobile and social gaming are the dominant platforms in the market today, he said.

“I don’t think this audience is going to spend US$60 a time for games,” he said. “We’re going to get less money from them but more often.”