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EA: No more single player-only games on PlayStation 4, Xbox 720

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EA Labels president Frank Gibeau has been particularly vocal about the future of EA lately. The executive is adamant that the company’s new focus doesn’t mean EA will abandon the game console market in favor of mobile and PC. It’s all the same ecosystem after all.

“For all the investments we’ve made in mobile and social, we never abandoned consoles,” says Gibeau in a brochure distributed at the Cloud Gaming USA Conference and Exhibition, “We are working closely with the console manufacturers and we are VERY excited about the Gen4 consoles that will be launched in the months and years ahead.”

“Gen4” consoles are Microsoft’s Xbox 720 and Sony’s PlayStation 4 respectively, and possibly machines from other competitors as well, like Boxer8’s Ouya and Valve’s rumored Steam Box.

Fans of Electronic Arts single player games of the past five years don’t have much to look forward to on those platforms though. If anyone is waiting for the return of creative visions like the original Dead Space, DICE’s Mirror’s Edge, or classic BioWare efforts like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, Gibeau’s got bad news: EA is done with single player-focused games.

“I have not green lit one game to be developed as a single player experience. Today, all of our games include online applications and digital services that make them live 24/7/365.”

That’s not to say that EA’s games will be devoid of single-player campaigns, only that they will all be augmented with multiplayer and social modes. Mass Effect 3 is a perfect example. The game can be played and enjoyed alone, but to get the complete story experience you have to buy additional DLC as well as play online with others.

In the wake of E3 2012, Electronic Arts’ executives have been preaching a new gospel. You’ve heard the goods news! The future is a place where we all play together, on every device simultaneously, and pay what we want for the privilege, forever and ever amen. EA’s future is free-to-play. It’s cross-platform play. It’s day one DLC for triple-A releases like Mass Effect. Is the pattern emerging for you? Do you see EA’s path forward?

Comedic drama aside, yes, Electronic Arts is aggressively redefining its entire business to accommodate for the new gaming market, a place where people expect to be able to play a game of Sim City on their mobile phone, then continue it on PC, and even on their living room console and each base level version of it is free. Grand! Shareholders should have faith in the new model.

EA is sacrificing a vital element of its business, though, in its mad dash to make every game appeal to every potential customer. Single player games still thrive when done right. Look at Bethesda’s Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, Mr. Gibeau. Something to keep in mind as you force studios like BioWare that specialize in single player games to change.