Electronic Arts would like to turn all of its brands into "online universes."
To EA's Northern Europe boss Keith Ramsdale, speaking at the company's UK showcase this week, that doesn't necessarily mean an MMO or online play; it means being able to play a "brand" across multiple devices, each one contributing to a singular goal and profile. Think of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer game, with free iPhone app and paid iPhone app, all of which work together toward a common experience.
Here's how Ramsdale describes a hypothetical, future version of FIFA:
"Imagine a player gets up in the morning, plays an online match on his 360 before going to work. On the bus, on his way to work, he practices his free kicks on his tablet. At lunch he looks at the transfer window on his PC. On the way home he chooses his kit on his smartphone."
Does that sound like a world you want to live in?
Personally, I don't. This may be an "age thing," but I'm not a fan of ancillary material for games or other art work. While the kinds of functionality that Ramsdale mentioned make sense in terms of a sports game, and there's room for some integration across devices, I'm not a fan of the Mass Effect 3 add-ons (and the add-ons for other recent games). I think that kind of "secondary canon" often (usually?) takes away from the original experience.
Think about Lost for a second. That was an excellent TV series which was surrounded by second-rate webisodes, ARG games, product tie-ins, video games, ARGs and a whole pile of other intellectual detritus. While it's often viewed as a "fan service," it's more like a fan milking, and makes me think less of the original. When that kind of secondary-canon material has a direct effect on the main property (IE: Mass Effect 3's "Galactic Readiness" rating), it's annoying and when it's necessary to "complete" the source materially, it's just crappy.
No matter how much I like a property, I very rarely have any desire to experience the backbencher creators take on the material.