Riccitiello: “Walled-garden” consoles won’t last, open console gaming is the future

Former CEO of Electronics Arts, John Riccitiello, has said “seamlessly connected consoles” are the future, advising Sony and Microsoft to steer away from “walled-gardens”.

Writing a guest editorial for gaming site Kotaku, Riccitiello states that games that connect with other devices, including mobile platforms, are the way forward for the next-generation consoles.

“I don’t believe consoles managed as walled-gardens will succeed longer term,” writes Riccitiello. “We will want console games that seamlessly connect with our iPhones. Games that change and update in the background while we’re sleeping, to make tomorrow’s gameplay different and far more dynamic than today’s.”

“Gamers will want, and learn to love, the good parts of consoles being more connected to our digital lives than was possible with the machines launched eight years ago.”

Although the idea of an always-on DRM connection for the Xbox 720 caused online outrage from gamers, such connectivity could enable a new gaming experience, explains Riccitiello.

“I believe we’ll all want the ability to bring meaningful achievements in our PC and mobile game to our new consoles, and from our new consoles to our PC and mobile games. It needs to be simple, seamless and without a bunch of headaches with multiple registration, identity and pay gates.”

If the next-gen PS4 and Xbox 720 consoles can tie together as many devices as possible they could ride the mobile gaming wave to great success, and help bring consoles out of their slow decline in popularity.

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“The walled garden will fall eventually. At launch, Sony and Microsoft must avoid putting up new and alarming DRM schemes, and focus on enabling the cool new game experiences that seamless connected consoles allow.”

Riccitiello also fears that the two consoles will be so involved in “reinventing the living room” that they will lose sight of their original functionality as gaming platforms.

“Ensure the box delivers awesome game experiences, better than anything we’ve experience before, and millions of gamers will line up at midnight to buy it,” he advises. “Delivering a box that raises the question of whether we should buy the new console over the $100 Apple TV device of a $60 Roku player will cause too many games to wait it out and commit only when the smoke clears.”

The Xbox 720 will be unveiled at a dedicated Xbox reveal event this evening, May 21, from 6pm BST.

Next, read why Apple should fear the new, ruthless Google.