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Xbox, PlayStation dominance can be 'disrupted' by new Battlefield, microtransactions - EA

Easy boss says he also wants to "grab the TV screen from console manufacturers"

The increasing sophistication of free-to-play PC video games is set to "disrupt" the dominance of Microsoft and Sony consoles amongst hardcore gamers.

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That's according to EA, which will unveil a free-to-play PC Battlefield game today. The FPS will be a more hardcore, realistic offering than the wildly popular Battlefield 1943.

Speaking at the London Games Conference yesterday, the head of EA's Easy division, Ben Cousins, said that he wanted gamers to question buying a full-price console game over one of his team's core PC titles.

He posed the question: "At what point do [hardcore gamers] begin spending their $60 a month on free-to-play [via] micro-transactions, than on a console game?"

He added: "There's an opportunity in the next two to five years to cause quite a significant disruption in the traditional triple-A console market. [I want] a guy looking at buying a game on a Microsoft console thinking: 'But these games over here are free.'"

Speaking on a panel entitled 'The Shape Of Clouds to Come', Cousins was later asked by ex-PlayStation legend Phil Harrison about a quote from EA boss John Riccitiello - in which the exec said that Google TV could be more important for games than 3D.

He replied: "We've done a really good job of grabbing people's time on mobile, taking over Mac and PC... Now I want to see us grabbing the television screen from console manufacturers. That's not me speaking on behalf of EA, but myself."

Cousins said that the games industry had to take ownership of the TV 'moment' in entertainment history.

"It's still a social 'moment' with your friends - and the traditional console manufacturers are still in control [of that]," he commented.

"Embedding a chip with browser in your TV hardware is a huge opportunity [for us] in the living room... With the last great opportunity in the living room people made a lot of money - accelerated by the original PlayStation. There is now an opportunity for a new PlayStation - whether that's HTML 5 running on a Google TV [or something else]."

Cousins sentiments echoed those of Activision boss Bobby Kotick - who has expressed a wish to reduce the dominance of Xbox Live by releasing games on direct-to-TV PC units.

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