Andrew Wilson, the new CEO of Electronic Arts, worked his way up the executive ranks by way of game development. The former head of EA Sports' FIFA franchise has a passion for real sports, and that’s rubbing off on what EA has in the works for eSports. Wilson spoke about the future of video games at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in Austin, Texas. But after his talk, he answered some exclusive questions about the growing global phenomenon of eSports and how EA may get more involved in the near future.
Electronic Arts has the Virgin EA Sports partnership. What are your thoughts on what’s going on in eSports today?
One of the cool motivations of why people play games is social connection and social interaction. And what eSports does either through the playing of the game or watching people play the game is really bring people together around great, creative entertainment. I actually think it’s going to continue to grow. When we’ve just come off franchise reviews I looked at a number of properties that we’re doing that certainly have an eSports focus to it. As a company, we believe this is something that’s going to continue to grow. We have some ready-made franchises for this in our sports properties, but we also have a number of other franchises that people may not typically think about as eSports opportunities, but we think there might be an opportunity in the future, so it’s something that you’re going to see more of from us.
We’re starting to see actual eSports arenas being built across the country in the United States. Do you see a future where eSports becomes like real sports to the gamers growing up with pro gaming today?
There are channels in other countries dedicated to this, so I don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict that that might happen for us as well (in the US). The reality is that the games are amazing. The visual fidelity is phenomenal. The storylines that come through are amazing. The heroes and the villains that evolve from team to team are compelling. I see no reason why we wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of what some of our gaming community in other parts of the world have started.