Richard Hilleman of Electronic Arts delivered a short address to the attendees of the Ubuntu Developer Summit this eveninga day after the company released its first two games on the Ubuntu platform.

Highlighting the emergence of new platforms – ‘At least one a week. Sometimes one a day’ – and the changing audiences and business models associated with them.

Hilleman expressed enthusiasm towards the ‘fastest growing platforms’ – mobile, social and web.

‘The biggest thing that’s changed is where our customers play games, who they are, and how they pay for it.’ he said.

‘[In the past] we had a core demographic who played our games: around 50 million of them, and they were disproportionately men.

‘That’s no longer true,’ he continued. ‘The fastest growing segmemnts are mobile, social and web – and all three of those formats are dominated by women.’

And this has changed how EA make money.

“The fastest growing payment models, in the fastest growing platform, are in the ‘freemium/free-to-play models’.

‘We have always been a platform agnostic company, willing to support platforms that have a viable business model.” he concluded.

One inferred a passing nod to Ubuntu as he said this.

Walled Gardens & Native Games

Using the analogy of ‘walled gardens’, Hilleman compared the ‘open nature’ of projects like Ubuntu and Google as being the ‘white spaces’ between the walls of other products. And these, he believes, are fast becoming what’s more important, helping the company to ‘sew together’ its customers experiences regardless of what, when or when they play.

‘Generally the open systems, the part that unify the rest of the world, are the parts that actually matter. You can only keep the world out for so long.’

During a Q&A with Hilleman, he revealed some interesting information: –

  • EA have built 14 different products for WINE but are moving away from it
  • They are seeking to create a set of ‘configuration sets’ with Canonical on hardware they will support
  • They are most excited about HTML5 and WebGL – which boasts the widest reach
  • Hilleman expects China to pick an OS ‘not made by Microsoft’
  • The company will ‘showing off’ a browser-based game with Playstation 2 grade graphics at Google I/O
  • They will be judging the ‘success’ of the Ubuntu titles on user rather than ‘financial’ metrics
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