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EA CEO Speaks on Future Virtual Reality Plans

EA CEO Andrew Wilson has spoken out about virtual reality (VR) and the videogame publisher’s plans for the technology in the future. Attending a panel at the South by South West (SXSW) Gaming festival, Wilson talked about how his company is thinking of approaching VR and if it would be headsets like the Oculus Rift or other technologies that delivered a new way to play.

OculusRift_3As Polygon reports, Wilson addressed VR as a potential fourth type of ‘modality’ for players.

“There’s the ‘lean back’ modality, which is, I’m sitting in my living room across from an 80-inch TV, 7.1 surround sound, and I want high-def, high fidelity, highly immersive entertainment,” Wilson said. “That’s the first modality that we have to sort of fulfill for games. The second is the ‘lean in’ modality; that’s kind of the PC type, where you have a lot of drive for shooters, RPGs and RTS-type games. Irrespective of what computer is driving it, there’s this proximity you have to the experience and that’s the style you want to play that.

“The third is the ‘lean over,’ that mobile modality, whether it’s a phone or a tablet, but this idea of ‘I’m here and I’m playing like this.'”

For Wilson and the team at EA, VR and similar technologies represent a potential new ‘modality’.

“When I look at any of the VR devices, I look at that not in terms of ‘What is that device going to deliver,’ but a desire for gamers to have a different type of modality — the ‘Get In’ type of modality, right,” he said. “That might be delivered to you through a headset, or through some hologram that evolves out of your living room floor.

“The thing I challenge my team to right now is, ‘Listen, there’s clearly a desire to add a modality of play to the three we’re currently focused on. 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 experiences that make sense for you; experiences that deliver on the promise and the fantasy of being inside a video game.”

EA is yet to publish a title that natively supports the Oculus Rift VR headset. While the company hasn’t been directly involved with the technology, that could all change if Sony announces its rumoured PlayStation 4 VR headset at the Game Developers Conference 2014. VRFocus will continue to follow the company’s progress with the technology and report back with that latest.