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Game developers are like flowers, says EA CEO

Electronic Arts has a reputation among gamers for swallowing talented game developers only to later turn them into excrement. EA CEO John Riccitiello knows it, and told Game|Life at DICE, "We at EA blew it, and to a degree I was involved in these things, so I blew it."

Developers fallen victim to EA’s previous mismanagement include the once great Origin Systems, Westwood and Bullfrog. "When I talked to the creators that populated these companies at the time, they felt like they were buried and stifled," Riccitiello said.

EA Sports is notorious for making small changes, sometimes the most significant of which is a roster update, every year to its sports games and selling them for full price. While that model may work for a select genre, it’s largely inapplicable everywhere else. EA may have figured that purchasing a developer for solely the IP would be a winning idea, but one that is now proven to fail without the adequate inspiration behind it.

"The command and conquer model," said the EA CEO, "doesn't work. If you think you're going to buy a developer and put your name on the label... you're making a profound mistake."

Such was the topic of Riccitiello’s talk at the DICE conference, informing listeners that he would put forth a "new model" of "how publishers and developers can work together in the future," hoping to avoid the mistakes of EA past.

With EA’s most recent acquisition of BioWare and Pandemic, for which the publisher paid $860 million, the company now has to makes sure it doesn’t mess with a good thing.

"Creative teams can be thought of as flowers in a hothouse -- you move the temperature up or down a few degrees and the flowers will die," Riccitiello said.

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RE: Cautiously Optimistic
By mmntech on 2/11/2008 1:21:57 PM , Rating: 3
I think you can add in-game advertising to the list. Seeing Burger King ads in the Burnout: Paradise demo ruined that game for me. There's a place for it but EA has taken it to an excess at little or no benefit to gamers. I don't want a quest in Mass Effect 2 to involve Shepard standing in line for a Wopper, or having the Burger King join your party. I wonder what his stats would be. Probably really high persuade and stealth.

I wrote on my blog (not on this site) about the big publishers limiting developers not too long ago. (There's my own plug) I was really worried about EA buying BioWare. Like the others here, I'm now cautiously optimistic. The gaming industry does need some major reforms. Maybe it's just me, but I think smaller, independent studios make better games. The big guys like EA seem to water down their products and are unwilling to take risks. That's why they produce the same stuff over and over.

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