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EA's CEO talks about violence, the Steam Box, and why Wii U isn't 'next-gen'
EA's CEO talks about violence, the Steam Box, and why Wii U isn't 'next-gen'
January 31, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

January 31, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
Comments
    44 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Electronic Arts is facing a tough uphill battle. While the company is proving itself in the digital and mobile spaces, its boxed retail games -- still the bulk of its business -- are declining badly, particularly after the commercial and critical flop from its military-based shooter, Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

The performance is leading some investors and analysts to wonder if there's a future for triple-A console games. It's Riccitiello's job to convince them that there is, so during a conference call on Wednesday following his company's less-than-stellar results, he opened up to investors and analysts asking about where game technology is headed, why EA isn't making Wii U games, and whether real-life gun violence is having an effect on game sales.

We've highlighted some choice quotes from Mr. Riccitiello's answers below.

Investing big in Durango and Orbis

As you might well expect, we know more about the roadmap, and more about what's coming in consumer electronics, in terms of the specifics of devices that will play games, than you might otherwise be exposed to. [With] the information that we have, we remain bullish. It's why we have outlined our plan to invest… in the current fiscal year $80 million in that opportunity.

We’ve signaled that we’re working on the next editions of our two biggest franchises in Battlefield and FIFA.

We do recognize as we moved into what we called "gen 3," i.e. PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox 360, we started weak. We climbed forward and improved, but we lost market share coming into this transition. We've climbed back. We think Battlefield and FIFA are going to help us lead as we move into this next set of technology opportunities and platform opportunities, and continue to get bigger.

We expect [fiscal year 2014, beginning March 1, 2013] to be a point of departure -- the starting point for a new era of gaming and a growth period for the best game companies.

Why the Wii U isn't a "next gen" console…

Never count Nintendo out. They've got some of the best IP in the game industry. When their marquee titles show up, that's when you usually see the bounce. I deeply respect the achievements they've had over the last several years. And as I said, you never really count them out.

Having said that, I wouldn't say that we see a correlation between the results that Nintendo has shown with their console debut of the Wii U and what we see coming. We see a pretty sharp distinction, and unfortunately I'm unable to go any further than that.

Don't miss: Is there a Wii U software lull?

Ours is an industry where a lot of devices come in and represent themselves as the next generation, or the next generation after that. In many ways we would argue that the what we're describing as "gen 4" is yet to come. It's that that we're excited about, and that's what we're investing in. And frankly, we've been quite consistent with that for some time, while recognizing the frustration our inability to articulate precisely why causes for you.

…and why the "Steam Box" might not be either

I am squarely in the Gabe Newell fan club. I really enjoy my conversations with him, and certainly have enjoyed a whole lot of content [Valve has] produced. At one time, and certainly even today, I'd say Portal represents one of my all-time favorite pieces of game software that have ever been produced.

Having said that, Valve really hasn't put enough information out there to suggest whether or not they've got the wherewithal to compete in console.

Don't miss: Gabe Newell's plans to bring Steam to the living room

Large-scale success in game console usually goes with multiple billions of dollars in investment, in content development… retail relationships, online relationships, consumer marketing, chip fabrication, manufacturing, supply pipeline and the rest.

So based on what they've said so far, it could be anything from a cool niche product that appeals to, you know, Gabe and his friends and people like me, to a product that actually has the shoulders to help move our industry forward into what we're describing as "gen 4."

They need to put a few more breadcrumbs on the ground to tell us what path we're on. [They're] good people, smart people, technologically innovative people, and right now there's just not enough information out there.

Gun violence and the game industry's perception problem

There's no doubt we like you were stunned and horrified by the violence in Connecticut or Colorado and in many other places over the years. But there's been an enormous amount of research done in the entertainment field about looking for linkages between entertainment content and actual violence. And they haven't found any. I can give you long stories about how people in Denmark or the UK or Ireland or Canada consume as much or more violent games and violent media as they do in the United States, yet they have an infinitely smaller incidence of gun violence. But that's not really the point. The point is direct studies have been done, hundreds of millions of dollars of research has been done, and it has been unable to find a linkage because there isn't one.

Don't miss: Why the industry should fund even more research

Now, having said all of that -- and with all, if you will, humility about the world we live in -- we understand that while there may not be a factual problem, given all the finger-pointing going on in the press, there appears to be a perception problem. We do have to wrestle with that. Ours is an industry with an association that has risen to that call many times before, and will as we move forward. We're responsible, we're mature, we tend to be a part of the solution. Our media reaches literally every American, and that can be used as a voice for good.

And I think you'll hear more from Mike Gallagher, the head of the ESA, and other industry participants, including ourselves, over how we can be part of the solution to this perception problem, as opposed to, if you will, the butt of the joke.


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Comments


Jimmy Albright
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I agree 100% with his opinion on the steam box. It's frustrating to see so many gamers jump on a bandwagon for a product they know nothing about based on little more than sheer fanboyism. From what I've personally heard so far, the steambox sounds like a rather niche product, and that's coming from someone with a rather extensive steam library.

Ian Fisch
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I think the goal of the Steambox is to make sure existing steam users (sophisticated PC gamers) don't move to the Windows 8 marketplace.

The challenge, of course, is getting developers to release Linux versions of their games. That seems like an awfully big hurdle to me.

Jimmy Albright
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Ian Fisch: I worry sometimes that Gabe's fear of a crazy dystopian future where windows has a closed wall environment is going to push him farther into Linux territory which is going to alienate developers. He's seriously been almost outright fearmongering. It's also highly hypocritical of him to be extremely vocal about a (fictional) closed wall garden when steam exists for Mac users. Steam runs just fine on Windows 8, and I don't see anything changing that for the future.

It's silly, the direction Microsoft seems to have taken in recent years is more OS, with them even now adding Git support to TFS/VS and even contributing to OSS. If Microsoft keeps up this trend up I think they have a bright future with the Durango.

From my understanding there still are some pretty large problems with the X architecture on Linux that still presents hurdles for developers, although I'm told it's getting better.

Less time fear mongering, more time working on games that are years past due.

Hakim Boukellif
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"Steam runs just fine on Windows 8, and I don't see anything changing that for the future."

You're probably right about that, but a situation where Metro is the primary way most people interact with Windows and the desktop is something mostly reserved for business/power users (and from the way Microsoft is marketing Windows 8, it does seem they want it to go into that direction) is almost just as bad for Steam and consumer software development in general. And considering that the popularity of iOS shows that many people are either blissfully unaware, apathetic or even supportive of the whole walled garden conundrum, I don't think the fear of that happening is completely unfounded.

Sean Monica
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Well here is the thing you have to keep in mind about steambox. Gabe has always been an honest man for the most part. The man takes risks and can be seen as crazy. That is currently one of the hot topics on the steam forums. Valve has shown that more than anyone else they take care of their players to give them the best opportunity and responses when they can. It is not so much blindness as it is trust over a long duration of time. Believe me when I say that on the forums the steam box is something talked about daily as we await more information. The devs also chat with players which is fantastic. They talk about what its like to work with them and on current projects when they get the ok. Head over to the forums to see just how in depth the players are pursuing the devs on all the projects.

Jimmy Albright
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Maciej Bacal: I can launch steam just fine from the metro interface, do you actually use Windows 8?


Sean Monica:

I'd like to share your optimism but I was a longtime competitive CS player that waiting years to get CS:GO, which is CS:Source with slightly reskinned (and butchered, in the case of nuke) maps.

I'm a lover of the 1st generation of steam titles, which valve has seemingly forgotten about. They've shown more love for the Dota community in 1 year than in 8 years to the CS community. They can't even get integrated matchmaking working, and don't get me STARTED on anti-cheat.

I love me some Dota 2 though, win some you lose some I suppose.

Kujel Selsuru
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I Agree with Mr. Riccitiello on the perception problem we as an industry and culture have but I dissagree with his views on the Wii U, Gabe Newel and his steam box.

Thom Q
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I second that.

A W
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I third it, but unfortunately significant losses in revenue will have to dictate that message rather than the opinions of a few.

Jimmy Albright
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Why do you disagree with him on the steam box? Do you know something the rest of us don't? Not trying to start an argument or a flame war but Gabe in the past has ripped on consoles and talked about how he dislikes the closed nature of them. It's a bit hypocritical of him to release something valve has touted as being "tightly controlled".

I have a nice gaming rig, I own every current console (excluding the Vita) and I just fail to see who this is marketing too. The PC gaming experience is a solitary one, and bringing it to the living room with little AAA support to compete against consoles seems remarkably shortsighted. Microsoft sold the first generation Xbox as a loss to get into the industry, and it's detatable that they would have even been successful if it wasn't for Bungie and Halo.

Once again, not trying to flame just honest curiousity as to what you see in it. As a gamer and a developer I don't see the appeal. I wish Valve would focus more on completing long running projects instead of devoting their rather small team to seemingly niche hardware products.

Thom Q
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Jimmy: A year ago I started PC gaming again after spending a decade on consoles. I found that of course Graphics were way better, but also that the games themselves were better / more innovative, basicly fun again. I honestly believe that PC gaming is the breeding ground for the future of games. New concepts like Minecraft & DayZ kind of prove that, as did MMO's 6 years ago.

Almost everyone I know has grown tired of console gaming, at least with the current ones. Most of the best current games are not on there, the games that are being published are all the same, the graphics are lacking and the prices are too high.

I don't find it solitary at all, if anything I find it less. If I had a problem on me & my friends our minecraft server, I could get an expert in, someone we've never met, to help us fix our problem within 15 minutes for example. Having IRC, Teamspeak, and of course working browers to your disposal makes the contact you have more refined, instead of wading through seas of swearing 15 year olds.

The only thing PC gaming doesn't really accommodate is playing with 4 people, in your living room. For "live multiplayer" I always relied on the Wii, and still do. The Xbox & PS3 however are about the same as PC when it comes to playing with friends who are in the room with you.

I honestly believe that a huge portion of the decline in console sales is due to people being tired of this generation of consoles and their games. If not consciously, then subconsciously.

And honestly, the steambox is Valve's to fuck up. If they market it good, show that it works better, is prettier, and is cheaper then console gaming, I think mainly Xbox & PlayStation are going to feel that, big time.

Jimmy Albright
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Thom Q: But why purchase a completely separate product? Why not just rig your PC up to your tv? What actual advantages will the steam box provide? What is the incentive to develop for it considering it's going to have the smallest market? These are some questions that I don't see any strong answers to. I see similar problems with the OUYA, to be honest.

Minecraft isn't exactly limited to a PC experience, as seen by the massive sales on Xbox. (If I remember, highest selling XBL game of all time?)

Honestly in my experience PC gaming is best when it's used for things that take advantage of having a keyboard/mouse. MMO's, RTS, and especially MOBAS come to mind. MMO's have had virtually no success on consoles, I think the closest to one may have been FF11 on PS2.

I'd really like to see the success with a lot of upcoming new technology (steambox, ouya, and even the Oculus Rift) but it takes more than great hardware and concepts to make a success. We know almost as much about the steambox as we do the PS4 and Durango, it seems a bit silly to say "X is going to be a serious contender" when we know so little about it.

Valve as a company has had some really great ideas and also some rather strange ones. They certainly seem to take after google with the "shotgun" approach. They've spent quite a bit of time researching things like monitoring BP/Pulse during games for research and even more time on researching VR technology. None of these ideas have at this point given birth to anything. I think it's important for people to remember that Valve is not this patron saint of gaming that people make it out to be, and we should judge this product on its merits, as it should be.

As far as innovation goes I think it's agreeable that there has been a fair amount of it in recent years on consoles. Braid, Fez, Mark of the Ninja, Journey, just to name a few.

I guess the TL,DR; of this is I think people should try and keep emotions/loyalty away from judging a product on it's capabilities and mertis, both of which we know little about at this point in time.

Thom Q
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"But why purchase a completely separate product? Why not just rig your PC up to your tv? What actual advantages will the steam box provide? What is the incentive to develop for it considering it's going to have the smallest market? "

The steambox wouldn't be for people who already play on PC, they obviously have the choice of just hooking up their PC to TV.
If its build, its obviously to compete with consoles, the biggest market. And yeah, the advantages to a steambox over a console are immense, performance, quality and price-wise.

I'd personally love to see a steambox compete with Sony & Microsoft, hopefully it would hit them hard enough to either back out or start doing things differently; more open platforms, less of the same 200 million dollar costing shitty games over and over, and cut down their insane prices.

Jimmy Albright
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"And yeah, the advantages to a steambox over a console are immense, performance, quality and price-wise."

The problem with this statement is it's pure speculation, you don't know any of this to be true. It should be taken with a grain of salt especially since in the coming months we should find out more about the next generations for Sony and Microsoft.

Hell, even the piston which they've admitted is a consideration as a model for the steam box has hardware that costs over $1,000.

Kujel Selsuru
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@Jimmy I disagree with his view of gabe newel (I don't like the guy at all, he's a hypocrite) and I don't think the steam box will succeed as Mr. Riccitiello is implying.

Thom Q
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lol, I knew people here hate Nintendo.. But Valve / Steam as well? Damn.. What platform Is liked by Gamasutrians?

John Gordon
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I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm disappointed with basically every current platform. The only platforms I like were popular in the past.

Jimmy Albright
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Thom Q:

I LOVE Steam. I'm a married man that works 50-60 hours a week that still has somehow found a way to log over 1k hours into Dota 2 alone. I spent years of my life dedicated to competitive Counter-Strike. Steam is a great product. My problem is when people have blind loyalty to Gabe and Valve when they've had a history of not delivering. Gabe has done wonderful things for gaming, but in the past few years his company has strayed away from creating wonderful content and I find that as a big negative, when it concerns the potential of Valve. He's a business man, not a game designer. People seem to forget that.

Praise the great things Valve does, but certainly don't ignore their faults.




Maciej Bacal: The piston hardware costs well over a thousand dollars. I don't see how that's much different than a console, size or not. I have 4 consoles in my living room, it takes up a single bookshelf.

Jimmy Albright
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Maciej Bacal:

How do you know it's more developer friendly? Developing games on Linux is certainly NOT friendly. There are big problems with X architecture that don't seem to be getting resolved in the near future.

Also, a thousand dollars is a lot to pay to play your existing steam library with a different display.

Thom Q
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A 1000 bucks for a Piston? That's way too high of a price for it.

I agree, for PC owners who already play on steam it won't be more than a luxury product, but I'm not sure a Steambox would even be marketed towards PC owners.

If a steambox wants to compete with consoles it should definitely be lower then a $1000. It probably won't be able to play all games on Ultra-Settings, but definitely play games like Battlefield 3 1080p, on 60fps at high settings, for example.

For $500 you can build your own PC that can do that, at consumer prices. That's around the price that Valve prob could sell their official steambox for, stylized and all, probably even a bit lower.

I do agree that with the new consoles about to release, its better to wait and see what they bring to the table. Although everything I've read about it suggests that Sony & MS are not going to double their hardware power, more like juice the existing hardware a bit.

The hurdle would be marketing: How to get people to pay more in advance, but save money over a year?

I haven't followed Valve, or Gabe Newel's endeavors for a long time, until a year and a half back. Steam is a brilliant service IMO, that works beautifully. And it's good that he's a business man if they want to release a steam box, right? All i'm saying that if they do, in my opinion it has to be marketed towards console players, cheap compared to a PC, better hardware capabilities then the consoles, and cheaper after a year of gaming (if you buy more then 6 games per year, for example).

Jimmy Albright
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The price for the hardware in the Piston is a bit over a grand, and Valve said the Piston has been a consideration for a base model. Even if they sold it at a loss, it would have to be a HUGE loss to compete.

As far as xbox power goes the 'Durango' is rumored (yes, purely speculation like most of the information on the steam box) to be roughly 6 times more powerful than the current xbox. Honestly we will have to just wait and see how this all pans out.

William Johnson
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"we remain bullish"

I think that i is in the wrong place and they're missing a t in bullish.

Joe Zachery
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EA is going to be negative on anyone, and anything that will not play by their rules. AKA their Origin Online Engine! The point is they are a company that is only some what success due to monopolies they hold over license properties. As we seen with their Basketball game without the real names they have a below average product. If EA was to lose the NFL license to allow other groups like 2K to compete with them. Madden would suffer the same fate. Medal of Honor Warfighter also showed they can't compete against Activision in the FPS genre as well. EA if I was you I would try to make as many friends as possible, and not so many enemies.

Eric Geer
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"Medal of Honor Warfighter also showed they can't compete against Activision in the FPS genre as well"

Battlefield 3 is doing exceptionally well. I don't think it has to do with they not being able to compete, but rather they misunderstood the market.

Jimmy Albright
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I'm going to play Devil's advocate here for Origin. Contrary to what hiveminds like to complain about, it is not this horrible horrible service that tries to mimic steam. I've used it every day, had no problems with it, and out of the gate it has worked IMMENSELY better than Steam did.

I was a VERY early adopter of steam (4 digit ID) and Valve literally FORCED all of the CS community to use it over WON, and even then it was horribly plagued by problems. It took actually several years just to get the integrated friends list working. Punkbuster has actually also given me less problems than VAC.

I'm not saying it's a perfect service, and it certainly has room for improvement but to dismiss what he says based off your concieved notions about Origin is rather silly. It's a CEO's job to dismiss competition, look at Sony and how they mocked the Wii as a child's toy then went and released the PS Move.

Edit: As Eric mentioned BF3 is doing very well. It's a fantastic shooter and you owe it to yourself to try it if you haven't.

A W
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Battlefield is a FPS that has military style combat, however I don't think its style directly competes with CoD. Battlefield is bought because it tries more to be the simulated war online experience and to some extent it succeeds. But CoD is an action film with a good online sports twitch and has always done better that BF in that space.

Zachery is right MoH was meant to be the direct competition to CoD and it failed miserably.

matt landi
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"As we seen with their Basketball game without the real names they have a below average product. If EA was to lose the NFL license to allow other groups like 2K to compete with them. Madden would suffer the same fate.""

If this is implying that EA's NBA game didn't have access to the NBA and NBAPA licenses then this is not true. 2k does not have an exclusive deal with the NBA and NBAPA. The main reason NBA Live/Elite failed is due to lack of quality. In regards to Madden, the NFL put their license up to bid so EA had no choice but to outbid their competitors. If the NBA put themselves up for an exclusive bid today I think 2k would put up a significant fight given their market share.

Allan Munyika
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"Medal of Honor Warfighter also showed they can't compete against Activision in the FPS genre as well."

Why are they still investing in a game that has proven time and again that it has lost popularity among gamers, instead of just putting their money into the Battlefield franchise. Let MoH rest EA I'm sure WW2 shooters will be popular again one day.

Merc Hoffner
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'Never count Nintendo out, but we're going to count Nintendo out...'

Dude, good luck with $100,000,000 productions on two of your three available console platforms, 'cause if they don't work out you may be out of a job.

Who am I kidding, you've held the seat since 2007 - to keep your seat through that much 'hardship' means you're probably unshakable. Oh well, captain, down with the ship and all that.

Here's to 5 million sales of Dead Space 3. My advice? Port a necromorph slicing minigame to the Nintendo eshop and then blame it for your quarterly losses and use it to back up your investment position. Two birds, one stone.

A W
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Nintendo will get half done games and shovel ware multiplats from them, that what he's saying the model for their future with Nintendo will be.

Frankly that's a bold and stupid move.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

John Maurer
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I'm really suprised that with all this talk of declining sales, bankruptcy, violence, and uncertainty about the future that no one is really sighting the economy for anything. It upsets me because I believe its producing alot of false-positives in terms of perspective, kind of like over-thinking a simple problem.

I mean, has anyone of the researchers who are conducting this research and the CEO's who are "forcasting" these sales ever tasted desperate? If you can't relate to "mad with misery", you probably won't understand, but a good rational person who is forced to endure the way many are enduring now can find themselves so far gone that yea it does seem easier to just climb a clock tower, blow away some bystanders, and let the authorities do what you couldn't bring yourself to do. A bit of vengance before oblivion.

We've a generation of young people who have been jobless or working mimimum wage jobs holding masters and phd's (my wife knows someone in that age group who went to school to be a pharmacist, but the best he could do was two part-time jobs, one at Nike, and another at AMC). Step out of the ivory tower, visit us commoners, and you'll see first hand how people outside of the bubble are starving to death. For those who read this and live in southern california (the heart of the U.S. game industry), why not take a stroll through Santa Ana, West Covina, Corona, or the San Bernardino. It'll smack you in the face like you insulted its mom.

You want to know why console sales have gone down? Your consumer base is broke man! Why are tablet, smart-phone, and face-book game sales seeing growth? Games on these mediums are cheap or outright free to play (trial or otherwise), and people who enjoy games as a past time just want to keep that alive.

New systems come out with all these bells and whistles and that's awesome, but if its got a stellar price tag your not selling to many buddy, sorry. Has nothing to do with the games or the systems themselves, it has everything to do with your audiences means of purchasing them.

The big 3 are pushing out new consoles now, and I tell you its not only going to be Nintendo who is suprised by their lack sales. You want to sell more games for console/PC (which is the prefered medium of most who enjoy gaming as a past-time), make them more affordable. The only one I see doing that is Steam.

Its not online connectivity or stellar graphics with 3D features (a terrible idea by the way, 3D is cool sometimes, but I'd wadger that I'm not the only one who is a little annoyed with 3D games and movies), its a solid player experience. Most of the earlier titles for the (as of now) current gen blow the latest stuff away, hands down. Were I a Sony/Nintendo/Microsoft/Valve CEO, I'd focus less on making a"next-gen" product and more on making current-gen affordable. I'd also encourge some risk and let go of some of the endless sequels (not forever, just enough for them to be missed) and start pushing some new quality IPs (not in terms of graphics or being able to post my trophies/achievement on facebook, or any other online functionality you can think of, but in providing excellent experiences).

Maybe I'm outta line here, and its not just this article but many, but I read these articles everyday and the rational behind them just never seems complete.

Jimmy Albright
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http://www.thefastlaneforum.com/attachments/current-events-sports
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Gaming in general has had a relatively stable price for a long time, and honestly I'd like to dispute that as a hobby it's expensive. It is not, not in comparison to almost anything else. Right now you can buy a WiiU, an Xbox 360, and a PS3 and multiple games for each all under a grand. 1 thousand dollars.


The WiiU is being sold at a loss, the Xbox was sold at a loss. What you're asking is nigh impossible when you consider that thousands upon thousands of people develop this hardware and it takes years of research and development and endless testing. Console sales are slowing because it's the end of a lifecycle, and the new one is starting soon. WiiU could be chalked up to not having 'classic' exclusives lined up at launch, as well as poor marketing/branding with the name. (I honestly feel that it caused a lot of confusion.)


You talk about how games should be cheaper, while in the same paragraph insist the studios need to do less sequels and push new IP's. New IP's are a massive risk that commercially fail more often than not. This is why you see more creative work in the indie market, as thousands of jobs don't ride on the creativity of one person.


Lastly, you need to consider that EA having a ~45 million dollar loss is a HUGE improvement over having a 200 million dollar loss last Q3.

I'm not arguing that our country is not in a recession, but gaming isn't an entitlement that everyone gets to enjoy for the low price of mobile apps. Developers in the gaming industry already work more hours for less pay than their associates who just write software. They also deal with massive instability. (See THQ, Junction Point, 38 studios)

I apologize if I came off a little abrasive, but the thought of process of entitlement due to price is absurd, because it's been the same price bracket roughly since the NES days, with some rare cases like the Saturn and PS3. In the defense of the PS3, blu ray players were insanely expensive when it was released. That same logic is why people justify pirating games, and that's a bit of a sore subject for me.

John Maurer
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@Jimmy

First off, I don't condone piracy, period.

Second, if you think $1K is small potatoes, then I'd love to come over for dinner. Fact of the matter is you have an entire age demographic that would argue that $1K IS expensive. Its only been in the last couple of years the current gen games have become more affordable. You saying that now that this has been accomplished we're gonna throw out more costly equipment required to purchase to play? You have a point, the methods and pricing hasn't change much, but the state of the world has, and the industry is not swingin with that.

I'm no stranger to game industry culture, I know exactly what it takes to push a current gen title to market. I've seen publishers spin their wheels trying to get "online features" and silly little stuff like "cloth effects" stable enough to submit to a console manufacture, and its BS.

New console are coming out and that's awesome, but why not focus on making current-gen more cost effective and allow the average consumer and the industry itself a chance to catch up?

My argument centers around knowing your clients, not only their tastes but their means. We can meet both if we trim the fat in the development process and post-pone new console's until the economic environment becomes a little less hostile. More emphasis on development tools for the developer (which can be reused again and again provided the medium doesn't change) in an attempt to lower develpment and retail costs as an example is a good spend, getting cutting edge grass effects just right, not so much.

I 'm not blind to the effort the industy is putting into their products and consumers, but I'm saying the current solution is not a match for the current problem. Folks wanna cry about studios shutting down, (and I know EXACTLY how that feels first hand) but no-one is pushing a strategy that jives with the times. Things continue as they are, we're gonna see more of it.

In regards to new IPs:

Console manufactures need to push more solid 1st party titles, and publishers/developers need to trim down the sizzle and remember their still selling a steak. I don't care how good it looks or how many sides you throw on it, crap still tastes like crap. I'm not paying top dollar for a remix, give me something new and entertaining or go away. Otherwise the average consumer is gonna wait till they can get it used and cheap and the developer/publisher can go cry victim to GameStop.

Jimmy Albright
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You certainly have some valid points about some big disconnects between producers and consumers. In all honesty though I feel there are some big problems with consumer perception of the industry. When it becomes accepted behavior among gamers to outright harass the customer service of a publisher based off design decisions of one of it's studios, well that's where I draw the line.

I think there has been a certain sense of entitlement among current gamers that has only FURTHURED the rift between producers and consumers. I think it's fine to be critical of someones work, but I see the current generation of gamers basically out for blood if they disagree with someone in the industry.

I read that one of the head designers for bioware actually doesn't even go to the forums because he said the levels of animosity and toxicity that go in will literally just suck the soul out of him.

I've been debating going back and looking at old issues of Nintendo Power or GamePro to see if any of the fan mail was gamers ranting about developers. I'm curious whether it's the growth and availability of the internet and everyone having an anonymous voice or a shifting in the mindset of the gaming community.

I agree with you that publishers and studios need to do an improved job of connecting with their audience, but their audience to me comes off more often as volatile and selfish. It's a two way street.

Christopher Plummer
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I appreciate John's [Maurer] candor and I mostly agree with where he's coming from. Unfortunately, the costs will continue to be high because everyone keeps fighting over the same slice of pie.

I don't believe the consoles are the problem though. The Wii, the DS, the PS3, the PSP, and the XBOX 360 are all great systems that cater to a wide range of gaming tastes and have expanded the market.

It's the publishers. They are at fault for the higher costs and the totally unnecessary bells and whistles that are considered must-haves to break even now. They're saturating the market with the same things because they're not bringing new people in. Case in point would be the gap left from the decline of the Wii and DS growth - this is a SOFTWARE problem but everyone ran away from it because it didn't fit their processes.

It's almost as if they believe that the responsibility for audience growth potential falls solely on the shoulders of larger conglomerates willing to lay down billions to push new hardware. I can see how this makes sense if they were being forced to do this against their own will. Why work hard when you can just ride the coattails of someone bigger than you? But I can't make sense of it when the guy who's supposed to provide the long-term vision of the 2nd largest game publisher in the world is saying it.

Jimmy Albright
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While the publishers are somewhat to blame, a lot of time they take unnecessary flak for things they didn't have their hands in. It's important to remember that a lot of time they give studios quite a bit of leeway, more than most people would suspect.

John Maurer
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Its not a sense of entitlement that I'm trying to communicate, its not the cost of games that concerns me because I'm pissed I can't afford a new game, my message is one of healthy industry survival.

I'm one of many who was forced to leave the industry due to lack of work. In truth, the job I have now is far easier and pays twice as much as a comprable job in the biz, but I don't care about that. To say it plainly, I just want to go home.

I want to see the industry ride this nightmare out well, so that new jobs can be created and people in a similiar space can return to what they want to do instead of doing what they have to do, but I worry we're gonna slip taking this next step forward.

I'm have absolutely no doubt that the next gen looks amazing, but do we really need that right now? History has proven that those who over-extend get overrun, I can't help but feel this pattern happpening again.

It is my believe that the best move now by the industry at large to be a defensive one. Continue to push the user base on existing platforms and focus on streamlined development, this should be all that matters.

Something like a new IP is risky, sure, but new consoles, right now, sounds like suicide. Like Christopher Plummer said, current gen consoles are all great, lets work with that, and let the future of gaming remain in the future for now.

Jimmy Albright
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Hasn't the price of gaming generally stayed the same and even decreased in most cased?

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2010/10/an-inconvenient-truth-game-
prices-have-come-down-with-time/

http://i.imgur.com/wUBih.png

Gaming is really affordable in comparison to almost any other hobby, especially recreational ones. The fact that I can get 40+ hours of entertainment out of an at-most $60.00 product is something I'm okay with. I remember spending the exact same amount on N64 titles when I was a kid. Triple A titles have only increased in size and scope since then, some of them using an almost unprecedented level of development resources to create. (Look at the credits for Assassins Creed 3!)

I agree with you on streamlining development, especially in the case of tools like XNA which Microsoft is pointlessly retiring.

Current hardware in consoles is VERY outdated. I spend a lot of time on all my consoles but after upgrading my gaming rig to bleeding edge it has blown my consoles out of the water. There also has been huge lack of innovation in the industry, something which Nintendo has really capitalized on. This has been the longest console lifecycle in the history of consoles, and I think honestly that's the reason for declining console sales. I read something around the time of Black Ops release for the Xbox 360 that like 1 in 9 homes had black ops in the United States. That's fucking absurd! Look at PC games like League of Legends and World of Warcraft. Some of the highest played computer games WORLDWIDE! millions upon millions of players.

Gaming is growing, and now more than ever. You have constant budget gaming with indie bundles on steam and lot of free to play games like LoL and the excellent upcoming Hawken. The WiiU launch showed better numbers than the PS3 and Xbox360 launch, I think that speaks volumes in what consumers are ready for.

I'm sorry you lost your job, if you were in my town i'd certainly take you out for a beer, but by working in the industry you have to expect that. This is why I work in software and have been extremely apprehensive about making the jump. I'm not sure if working more hours for less money with little job security is worth doing what I love for people that probably won't appreciate it.

John Maurer
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Not sure how far back you go back Jimmy, but I'm pretty sure the NES holds the title of longest lived console. It was no stellar system, but it was fun, damn fun, still fun.

The idea of "bigger is better" has played in the industries favor since N64 era (which appears to be your heday), but at this point it just seems a little destructive.

Hardware specs have NEVER been critical in game sales, if indies haven't proven that to mainstream game developers/publishers (more specifcally the money men behind them) by now, there are none who can.

Furthermore, if you look back before NES time, an see just how saturated and mundane the market became (kinda like now) and how it lead to the industry crash in the early 80's, you'll likely draw correlations between then and now, just as I have.

FYI the economic climate was bad then to, but not as bad as it is today, which only serves to ratify my point.

Atari, Colecovision, they're gone, as are all the developers who supported them. Atari's name may still be out there, but its a cloak, not an entity. I'd hate to see it happen again.

Bob Johnson
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EA lost $2 billion this generation. Absolutely mismanaged they were.

Leon T
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Yeah I think it is funny how hey have been losing money throwing all their support behind PS3 and Xbox and will fix that by throwing their support behind PS4 and Xbox.

Erin OConnor
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I am suprised that EA didn't announce that they were going to produce their own gaming console (The Origin Console) and make their EA catalog only available on their gaming hardware.

Zach Lyle
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How many years will it take until EA is just a bad memory?


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