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'Traditional console gaming under pressure,' says former EA, Xbox bigwig

Zynga man thinks game makers must evolve or die at the hands of social and mobile

John Schappert, former chief operating officer of EA and VP of Xbox Live, has said social and mobile games are eating away at the traditional video game business model.

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Schappert, who left EA to become chief operating officer at social games behemoth Zynga, told MCV that social and mobile games will make it difficult for all but a small number of top tier games to thrive.

"Traditional gaming is under a little bit of pressure," he said. "If those businesses are not ready and want to live in the traditional world, they can. It's just there's only going to be a few big games a year. If you're one of those games, more power to you. If you're not, it's going to be tough.

"Big console games take years to make. They need massive budgets and you have to hope the bet you started three years ago pays out. If it doesn't, it's a game changer for you. And not in a good way.

"That's a really, really tough business. Is there still a market for it? Absolutely. But look at film versus TV. What do we watch more of these days? I think the social gaming world and the mobile gaming business captured the same magic which is why we're doing well these days."

Schappert went on to say traditional games released for consoles cater specifically to the core audience, which means casual players resort to free games for a quick hit.

"Traditional games have become more core. They require an expensive console, use a controller which laymen are afraid of, and their interfaces are not always the easiest to use.

"People are buying fewer games and playing them longer. A lot of players are stretched for time - they don't have two hours, they have fifteen minutes and don't want to spend money."

Switching from the doom and gloom outlook, the Zynga man also pointed out that the influx of casual and mobile players has facilitated gaming's overall growth.

"The good news is, while I think that we're seeing traditional gaming shrink, we're seeing gaming overall grow. To me it's a very positive message to the overall industry. But I think some people have to change."

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