Electronic Arts changes it game

Software giant to play with broadcasters

Videogame companies typically don’t have a major presence at the National Assn. of Broadcasters confab, but with new media playing a larger role in what winds up on any screen, Electronic Arts felt it was finally time to make the trek to Las Vegas.

The gamemaker will exhibit at NAB’s new Content Commerce Pavilion, which will showcase companies involved in next-generation film, TV, games and Internet production and distribution platforms such as MGM, the American Film Institute and online video venture Brightcove.

“This is an excellent opportunity for the gaming community to engage with a vital industry and to look for new synergies, ideas and working relationships,” says Glen Schofield, VP and general manager at Electronic Arts’ Redwood Shores Studio and exec producer of the sci-fi horror title “Dead Space.” “We view the NAB as a great way to showcase our new products and participate with other extremely creative people.”

Specifically, EA will promote games coming out of EA Redwood Shores Studio, which produced “Dead Space” last year and has follow-up “Dead Space: Extraction” coming out this fall. It also is releasing “Godfather 2” in April and “Dante’s Inferno” next year.

Its booth will offer game demos and present movies and trailers of its titles, as well as interviews with developers. Schofield also will be a member of the confab’s Virtual Worlds panel.

Electronic Arts’ decision to showcase its wares on the NAB show floor and on panels is critical for the confab’s organizers in a year when the traditional television business is slashing budgets, and vendors are forced to bail from this year’s show in order to cut costs (see main story).

Still, NAB was able to sign up 70 new exhibitors this year, replacing companies like Cisco and Quantel, which decided against having a presence on the confab’s show floor.

Apple pulled out of last year’s show because it decided to rely more on its retail stores and website rather than tradeshows to reach customers with its digital video products. It won’t be back this year either.

In the past, the NAB convention was so focused on the technology required to produce television that EA didn’t feel the need to be at the show.

“I just don’t think the opportunity presented itself to us before,” Schofield says. “Once it did, we were very eager to participate.”

One reason is that EA has recently been expanding into the broadcast arena itself.

Last year, EA partnered with Starz Media to produce an animated feature to serve as a prequel to the “Dead Space” game, and is developing other features with the company around its properties. It also produced the show “Sci vs Fi” on the Sci Fi Channel, and it creates its own TV spots for new releases.

The NAB’s confab typically attracts more than 100,000 attendees. But whereas in the past they were looking to broker deals with companies, most now use the show to seek out new technology trends that will affect their businesses.

That’s exactly the type of audience EA is looking to promote its products to.

“It’s my opinion that we can further realize the synergies and partnerships between videogames and broadcast media,” Schofield says.

“We want to expand on these partnerships, look for other innovative opportunities to collaborate, and bring our rich universes to even more fans outside of the strictly gaming space. We hope to create awareness and show that EA wants to lead and partner with new potential creative groups. We are looking to expand our idea pool and reach out to other creative media.”

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