In the past, when specific code was added to one of EA's sports game series, for instance FIFA or Madden, the changes to the game were developed by the team responsible for the game and many times that technology did not flow over to the other game franchises.
With their new Ignite technology, they are building a single code base for all of the games to draw from when they are being developed.
So FIFA could build something into physics, but Madden would never get it - because they were on a different branch of that particular code base. So what we did this time wasn't so much about getting a single engine - although that is what has facilitated the fundamental shift we're about to embark on - it's we're all investing in a single code base.
This means that if one of the games builds something awesome into the code, the code will be rolled back into the mainline code base so that the next year other games will be able to use the advancements in physics, rendering, artificial intelligence and the like.
Currently, the use of the Ignite technology has been confirmed for four next-generation sports titles: FIFA 14, EA Sports UFC, Madden NFL 25 and NBA Live.