Online elements help to balance the creative and commercial sides of game making, says EA executive.
You'll be hard pressed to find an EA game that doesn't have some form of online functionality in the future. EA Games label president, Frank Gibeau, said that the model of "fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you're out" was finished, and that all the innovation was taking place online.
Gibeau stressed that adding online functionality to a game didn't mean that every game had to have a multiplayer. Rather, it meant that all games would have some level of connectivity, of which multiplayer was just one type. Gibeau described the process as a collaboration between his team and the studio, as they tried to find the perfect balance between creative and commercial concerns.
"It's one of my core cultural studio values to allow developers to decide more on what they want to build," he said. "And a studio's creative call needs to be balanced against a commercial imperative, and if you look at online these days - that's the place to be."
"Game makers," he added. "The really good ones, they want to make great games but they also want to make blockbusters. One of the things they need to do is balance that out - I have the right team to help them."
There's so many ways to add online functionality to a game - from the obvious multiplayer options, to smaller things, like being able post high scores or times to social networking sites, or even something super-simple like leaderboards - that even single-player games with absolutely no scope for multiplayer or co-op can have at least some online elements added. It seems pretty likely that if it comes down to a fight between the creative and commercial, money will win out, but at least there's room for studios to maneuver.