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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 Proteusza on 2/12/2008 6:19:09 AM , Rating: 2
I think EA needs to do more pride-swallowing.

First, they need to sit down with Valve. And Valve needs to tell them the way things are. how to make good games. how to make gamers like you. I know many of you may like Steam, but compared to EAs download service, its awesome. Do you know that, with EAs service, you can only download your game for 6 months? After that, buy it again. You can buy an extended download period (up to 2 years), but that costs money, and will still expire? Steam? Once you have bought the game, its yours, forever. As long as Valve exists, you will be able to play your game. EA's service just cant compete, in fact they should swallow what is left of their pride and join the Steam network. Even if they need to pay Valve large sums of money to provide networking, it will be worth it. Right now, Valve's online presence is the best by far available on PC.

Also, they need to double the size of their QA department. By that, I mean they need to hire at least 1 more person, but preferable about 2000. They need to test their games, not just for bugs, but for playability. Is this fun? Are we just selling graphics? If they did more of that and less hyping, we would see better games. Hellgate London was terrible - it was rushed, and it showed. EA's QA department shouldnt have allowed it to be released until 1) they fixed all the bugs 2) they improved the skill selection. but no, EA wanted a quick buck, lets rush out the competition to WoW. Epic fail EA, epic fail.

EA suffers from having a bad case of groupthink, and corporate think, and they need to change their mindset to succeed. If they carry on like they are, they will get what they deserve - bankruptcy and the scorn of all gamers and game developers.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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