The usual wave of promises, hype, and hyperbole surrounding new consoles has been thrown off this time around as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Going into 2020, many players and members of the press alike were expecting to have seen or played more from next-gen consoles by this point. It also makes it harder for businesspeople and developers to know how folks will respond to the new tech. For Laura Miele, Chief Studios Officer at Electronic Arts, she's seen enough already, and says she believes there's "no turning back" once players can really see games for next-gen.
Miele shares her thoughts on how both next-gen consoles, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, will be received by the public in a new interview with our sister site GamesIndustry.biz. Miele covers a number of familiar points about the new consoles—improved loading, new CPUs, and immersive 3D audio—while promising that next-gen titles "are going to feel different, better and more visceral." All the talk about how games feel matters less, though, when people can't go hands-on.
Despite that, Miele says she doesn't think it'll be tough to sell players on either new console. "During my first demo when I experienced the instant load times and massive worlds, I knew immediately this was going to set a new bar in terms of player expectations," she says. "When players see how accessible and immersive this generation of technology is, there will be no turning back."
It's a strong claim considering that apart from this year's FIFA and Madden, the next-gen content shown at yesterday's EA Play Live mainly consisted of early footage and demos from studios. One of the games glimpsed, DICE's next Battlefield title, won't be coming any earlier than spring of 2021, and with other industry figureheads like Xbox's Phil Spencer warning of stalled workflows for games that far out, it's natural to wonder how soon we'll really be seeing games that effectively showcase next-gen tech.
In spite of the constraints, Miele says she's actually "blown away" by EA's quick worldwide shift to work from home, including ways devised to perform work that usually needs a studio or other shared space. "For example," she says, "our audio teams figured out a way to record the Madden 21 voice talent at home with no quality drop, we sent x-suits to the homes of our animators so they could record their own motion data, and we recorded the last third of the Star Wars: Squadrons score one instrument at a time and actually mixed them together in post-production."
With much of the world far off from safely resuming regular activity and both consoles continuing to march toward a holiday 2020 release, it might be reassuring to see an exec so confident in the new tech and the teams she oversees. Still, EA, other publishers, and the console manufacturers all have to keep coming up with new ways to market the tech and products they're pushing, as it seems we're still a long way out from actually playing them.