EA’s Vice President of Customer Relations, Chris Evenden, conceded today that the company are considering allowing cross-playability across platforms for future releases following the success of Fortnite.
“We’re looking at key franchises in terms of how we can deliver cross-platform play in a similar way that Fortnite has, especially some of our titles that have a broad and diverse player base,” he said.
The question arose at a press conference held to promote EA’s upcoming shooter Battlefield V. The Battlefield series epitomises what was once the key model for popular shooter games – a console title with a single player mode that also has an online multiplayer option enabling players to play against their friends and other gamers in a variety of formats, providing they own the same console.
The runaway success of Fortnite poses a clear threat to this model. Fortnite, a free to play title with no single player mode as such, uses a “battle royale” format – pitching 100 players into one, ever-shrinking environment to see who can be last man or woman standing.
Battlefield V already contains one nod to Fortnite: among the modes offered in multiplayer there will be a battle royale option. Evenden confirmed that this mode will not operate in a standalone, free to play format (as Fortnite does) but indicated that “we’re interested in experimenting with a free-to-play standalone game that might be in a shooter genre or another genre.”
It appears that EA are happy to see whether incorporating a battle royale format as a mode is enough to appease players or whether Fortnite really has changed the shooter model for good.
Cross-playability is a contentious issue at present – Sony recently stepped in to prevent crossplay with the Nintendo Switch – but Evenden that he believes in 3-5 years a “great portion of game experiences will exist in the cloud” and it seems inevitable that cloud gaming will enable cross play.
One possible way for EA to enable cross play at present would be through mobile gaming. Evenden again indicated that this is a possibility EA are considering for the Battlefield series without revealing any concrete plans.
It is an interesting time in the gaming industry, with models changing before our eyes. EA clearly have their eyes open but don’t appear ready to commit, quite yet, to something completely new.