You don't get to be the biggest game publisher in the world without doing some thorough analysis of your market -- and EA thinks it's got a pretty firm understanding of the different types of gamers out there.
At present, EA's theory runs, there are three different play styles, or "modalities" as EA CEO Andrew Wilson called them in conversation with Polygon recently. The advent of virtual reality technology such as the Oculus Rift, however, has brought about the possibility of a fourth modality; a fourth way to play.
The three pre-existing modalities, says Wilson, are Lean Back, Lean In and Lean Over. Lean Back refers to gaming you do on your couch with a controller; Lean In refers to hunching over a PC keyboard and paying close attention to what's going on on screen; Lean Over, meanwhile, refers to mobile devices. It's a slightly flawed model in that there's a fair amount of crossover between different platforms -- a living room PC more fulfils the need for Lean Back than Lean In, for example, while complex handheld games could be argued to be more Lean In than Lean Over, but this is just semantics. The reason why EA makes use of these abstract "modality" definitions is because hardware evolves and changes over time; modalities, meanwhile, transcend generations of hardware.
The new fourth modality, meanwhile, is what Wilson calls Get In, and refers to fully immersive experiences. It could take the form of either VR-based games or other forms of immersive 3D such as holograms -- whatever it ends up being, EA is keen to get involved and be ready for the revolution when it happens.
"There's clearly a desire to add a modality of play to the three we're currently focused on," Wilson says. "I don't know who the technology partner is that's going to deliver that modality for us, but let's start thinking now about the experiences so that we can deliver on the promise and the fantasy of being inside a video game."