Electronic Arts executive vice president Patrick Söderlund took to the stage at the Nintendo Switch Presentation 2017 to announce that the company were developing a “custom built” FIFA experience for the console.
Quickly abandoning support for Wii U after FIFA 13, Madden NFL 13, Mass Effect 3: Special Edition, and Need for Speed: Most Wanted U sold below expectation, the third-party publisher is clearly approaching Nintendo Switch with more caution. But, in FIFA, it brings a globally recognised brand to the console.
“We’ve been with Nintendo for a very long time,” Söderlund told IGN. “I’m a Nintendo fanboy since I grew up. Nintendo is the reason I got into gaming.
“What I like about Nintendo is that they come to the table with a slightly different approach. They’ve done that in the past to great success, and sometimes not so much, but I think unless you’re willing to think about something unconventional, it’s going to be hard to break ground.”
“Nintendo forces us to think differently,” he added, pointing out that Nintendo Switch “challenges conventions” and “as game makers, makes us think about the platform in a different way.”
Moving on to talk about why EA chose FIFA as the first game to develop for the console, Söderlund believes that it presents the audience with a brand that has the widest appeal.
“It’s our biggest brand,” he continued. “It’s the brand that spans across the most markets. It’s the brand that spans the biggest age demographic. It’s a mass market proposition. It’s a game a lot of people want to play.”
FIFA should only be seen as the start of EA’s support for the console, with Söderlund pointing out that “this is our way of showing we’re going to be there. We’re supporting the platform. We are not announcing anything [else] yet, but you can expect us to be there once the platform launches and takes off.
“We have the benefit of being a platform agnostic company. We will be at whatever platform the consumers are. New hardware is always a positive for our industry. It allows us to push forward.”
He was then asked whether Nintendo Switch could see consumer interest return to dedicated handheld gaming, even when mobile has reached a point where it dominates the market.
“I think it can, I hope it will,” he shared. “There’s no denying [smartphones are] the biggest platform today. That’s not going to change in the foreseeable future. But I think the types of game experiences you can get on the Switch will be different than what you can get on a smartphone. The power of it and the types of games will, I hope, bring a renewed interest in portable gaming. That’s what I hope.”
FIFA aside, Söderlund is most looking forward to playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch.
“It’s on the top of my list for 2017 as one of the games I’m looking forward to the most,” he admitted. “I’ve played every single Zelda since the first one. And having completed all of them, even if I forget about my job, just as a gamer, from what I’ve seen and what I’ve played, I can’t wait to get my hands on it.”
FIFA will release on Nintendo Switch later this year.