EA Sports Ignite, Electronic Arts' new engine for all its next-generation sports games, doesn't support Windows PC or Wii U at the moment. During an interview with Polygon at E3 last week, Andrew Wilson, executive vice president of EA Sports, listed a few reasons why that's the case. He also said there's a chance for EA to translate Ignite to PC in the future.
The company's initial slate of next-generation sports titles — Madden NFL 25, FIFA 14 (screenshot above), NBA Live 14 and EA Sports UFC — will be released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The FIFA series is the only annual sports title that EA still releases on PC, and until FIFA 11 in 2010, the PC version of the game didn't share the same engine or features as its more advanced PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 counterparts. (FIFA 11, FIFA 12 and FIFA 13 were fundamentally similar on consoles and PC.)
EA previously asserted that most existing PCs didn't have the hardware to run the latest and greatest engine, and used that as a justification for not putting the engine in the PC version. Wilson repeated that statement, but with an important qualification.
"Even though there were some PCs on the marketplace that could run that engine, the lion's share of PCs on the marketplace could not," said Wilson, referring to the technology that made it into FIFA 11. "And the majority of the gamer base that was playing the game on PC did not have a PC spec that would work with that."
"the lion's share of PCs ... could not run that engine"
In essence, said Wilson, the primary audience for the PC version of FIFA — a video game that is played around the world — didn't have PCs that could handle the engine until 2010. With console development, users are guaranteed to be able to play a game as long as they have the console in question. The same isn't true on PC, and according to Wilson, many of the people who were playing FIFA on PC wouldn't have been able to play a game that was on par with the console versions. That, in turn, meant it didn't make sense for EA to expend resources on developing an up-to-date version of the game for PC.
As for the potential of putting Ignite on PC, Wilson said it's possible, but noted that there are some obstacles along the way.
According to Wilson, Ignite in its current form is designed not just around the particular components inside Microsoft's and Sony's next-generation consoles, but also around the specific architecture of those systems — in other words, "how the CPU, GPU and RAM work together in concert in that type of environment." The processors inside the PS4 and Xbox One may resemble x86 PC processors. However, that's not the only consideration for an engine that hasn't been customized for PC but has been built specifically for consoles.
"So could I see the potential for EA Sports Ignite to make it to PC in the future? Yes, I think it's possible, but a couple of things need to happen," said Wilson.
"There needs to be some adjustment in terms of how EA Sports Ignite works"
First, the average hardware specifications of PCs — not just PCs in general, but the PCs of those who would buy FIFA on that platform — need to catch up. Secondly, said Wilson, "There needs to be some adjustment in terms of how EA Sports Ignite works to facilitate the open nature of PC architecture, rather than the closed nature of console architecture."
Until the first part happens, it doesn't make business sense for EA to invest in the second part. The first FIFA game on current-generation consoles was FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup, which launched alongside the Xbox 360 in November 2005. The first FIFA game for which the PC version matched its console brethren was FIFA 11, which launched almost five full years later.