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Android and streaming will be the future of smart TV gaming, says EA creative head

EA plans to stream console-quality games to smart TVs and have people use their phones as controllers, according to EA chief creative officer Richard Hilleman. 

Speaking at the opening keynote of TV Connect 2013 in London this morning Hilleman said that Android smart TVs, set-top boxes, phones and tablets will dominate the future of gaming on connected services.

For game developers Hilleman said that EA will adopt a ‘use what they want and have’, approach to controllers and leverage viewers’ phones and tablets as second screen controllers. We’ve already seen how phones have all but replaced the humble TV remote in several situations and EA thinks that there’s room for phones to give the likes of your Xbox gamepad food for thought too.

Android and streaming will be the future of smart TV gaming, says EA creative head
EA Games – streaming soon to a smart TV near you

Improvements in both broadband speeds and compression will see EA able to deliver console-style graphics to people’s screens and transform TV gaming into a viable platform instead of what Hilleman terms as something for you to do while you’re waiting for the football to start.

There’s no release date or even a vague ETA for when EA plans to do this, with timing more likely to revolve around the widespread adoption of superfast broadband in the UK, Europe and US.

Hilleman said that delivering a quality service over sub-10Mbps connections with less than ideal latency right now is tricky.

Using OnLive as an example, in their first year it would have been cheaper for the gaming streaming service to give all their customers new PS3s due to bandwidth costs. Right now, the UK’s average speed might be 12Mbps, but as we’ve seen from the latest figures, most Brits aren’t getting anywhere near that.

The space between a quick game of Civ on the train and Skyrim at home is…?

Hilleman seems confident that a third market can be found between traditional console gamers and casual players. Explaining that the same customer will be a different customer on a different platform at a different time, Hilleman said:

“You might spend six hours on a Saturday playing FIFA but in the week you’d spend 10 minutes, six times a day playing Sims Social. It’s the same customer behaving differently because of their environment.”

While that’s indeed true, quite how you’d convince people to make this jump is another thing. While nothing concrete was revealed, there’s hope to ‘build experiences across platforms’, whereby you’d be able to play a game on your phone during the evening commute, and then use your phone at home as a controller to play a fuller version on your TV screen and in a connected multiplayer environment.

This is a song we’ve heard before, most notably with Microsoft’s early plans for Windows Phone and Xbox, but it’ll be interesting to see if EA can pull it off. 

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