With the release of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 later this year we will begin to see a change in philosophy around the development of both hardware and software — one that will affect how Gen 5 platforms will form in the years to come, EA's chief creative director Rich Hilleman said during today's DICE Europe conference.
The industry is catching up with large-scale shifts in the way people play games, said Hilleman who added that the console business has suffered from requiring too much time, skill and money from its players in the past.
Gen 4 consoles will respond to this fact, he said, referencing a concept called "gaming granularity" as being one of the most influential factors in how games will be designed. This refers to the amount of time a player will spend with a game in a single sitting. According to Hilleman, this differs between all platforms.
On tablets, he says, users will spend on average a maximum of 10 minutes on a game in a single sitting, PC gamers will spend on average between 90 minutes and two hours, while console gamers will play a title for a minimum of two hours on average per sitting. Mobile games, on the other hand, work on a 90 second cycle, as do coin-op machines.
As a result it is impractical to build the same game across every platform, and with this in mind there will be far more flexibility in terms of how software will become developed and at what price, said Hilleman.
But perhaps the most significant change will be the evolution of console hardware itself. According to Hilleman, Gen 4 technology will evolve seamlessly into Gen 5, with Gen 5 software becoming available on Gen 4 hardware as it becomes available.
"The platform of the future is now hardware," he said, "it is the network side, not the hardware side."
"This is a profound change. We're not changing every four years, we're in continuous change."