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Former Exec Says Electronic Arts "Is In the Wrong Business" 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the inspiring-internet-outrage-is-a-bad-business-model dept.
Mitch Lasky was the executive vice president of Mobile and Online at Electronic Arts until leaving the publisher to work at an investment firm. He now has some harsh things to say about how EA has been run over the past several years, in particular criticizing the decisions of CEO John Riccitiello. Quoting: "EA is in the wrong business, with the wrong cost structure and the wrong team, but somehow they seem to think that it is going to be a smooth, two-year transition from packaged goods to digital. Think again. ... by far the greatest failure of Riccitiello's strategy has been the EA Games division. JR bet his tenure on EA's ability to 'grow their way through the transition' to digital/online with hit packaged goods titles. They honestly believed that they had a decade to make this transition (I think it's more like 2-3 years). Since the recurring-revenue sports titles were already 'booked' (i.e., fully accounted for in the Wall Street estimates) it fell to EA Games to make hits that could move the needle. It's been a very ugly scene, indeed. From Spore, to Dead Space, to Mirror's Edge, to Need for Speed: Undercover, it's been one expensive commercial disappointment for EA Games after another. Not to mention the shut-down of Pandemic, half of the justification for EA's $850MM acquisition of Bioware-Pandemic. And don't think that Dante's Inferno, or Knights of the Old Republic, is going to make it all better. It's a bankrupt strategy."
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Former Exec Says Electronic Arts "Is In the Wrong Business"

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  • Times have changed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:18AM (#30777182) Journal

    This is a business person commenting harshly mostly about how EA is financially ran, and that they haven't been able to grow as fast as Activision Blizzard (which was a one giant merker - like Microsoft and Google getting together). His bashing about the games isn't about gameplay, their originality, or how fun they are for players - it's just seems to be about business. "Hit" would be a game that makes lots of money, not how good it is.

    I actually like the way EA has been taking. They're doing a lot more original, new IP and games than some years ago - last year notably Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, Dragon Age Origins.

    The thing is that Activision Blizzard has grown in to a huge competitor with their World of Warcraft franchise, Modern Warfare 2, and Guitar Hero series. All of them, btw, series that have 6+ released games. Every year a new one. And the cash cow that World of Warcraft is.

    It seems he was more happy when EA was the company that didn't create much of new IP or games, but just milked the old ones every year with new versions. Now EA has changed it's route a bit and releasing such new kind of games than Mirror's Edge, and such legends than Bioware's roleplaying games. They don't probably hold such a mass appeal, but they're great games and something new.

    So is Activision Blizzard now the ones that are mostly after money, and EA trying to do something new?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Activision just said they crossed $1,000,000,000 (over one billion) in MW2 revenues. Just saying..

      • Activision just said they crossed $1,000,000,000 (over one billion) in MW2 revenues. Just saying..

        WoW has got to make more than that per year. 12 million subscribers × $13 per subscriber per month × 12 months per year = $1,872,000,000 gross per year, to a first approximation.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Don't forget that like half of those 12 million players are in China, where the pay structure is different - they pay by the hour, and it's handled by a licensee, not directly by Blizzard. They probably only have 5-6 million on the $12-$15 monthly plans.

          And don't forget that WoW China has been offline a bit recently due to government issues.
    • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:25AM (#30777214)
      Mass Effect um, probably holds mass appeal. With the masses. It's going to be massive! And the sex scenes, oh my, some nerds are going to go to mas...
    • Never! I could never even possibly concieve of EA ever doing anything wrong in their quest to make money by milking IP to death. /end sarcasm
      • You say this because EA released lots of CRPG's in the last decade?
        While I didn't consider DAO a big 'hit', it was definitely innovative from EA's point of view.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is actually close to the problem EA currently has, when people like him were in control of it all they did was dish out the same game every year with name changes on the models and perhaps a new colour scheme. This was a great way to keep a steady income but has 0 room to expand and increase profits and a good chance of starting to lose them as you get outbid for the contracts by upstart companies that can take risks.

      Now the new team have spotted this and have started to branch out but its having to fi

      • by Zironic (1112127)

        It's not like they need new game ideas or universes as long as they can provide high quality entertainment.

        • you mean with new game ideas?
          • by tepples (727027)
            What are "new game ideas"? I haven't seen a new genre-creating game since Parappa the Rapper. Even Katamari (distributed by EA in Europe) is just Williams' Bubbles in a bigger world, and Spore (published by EA) is a bundle of retreads of existing sim/civ games.
      • by cgenman (325138) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:25AM (#30777946) Homepage

        Also, once you've milked a single franchise for too long, you can no longer get guaranteed profits from it. Player interest starts to die out, and you start getting smaller and smaller returns from each iteration.

        EA's current administration recognized that problem. NFS's underperformance isn't a reflection of a failure of planning, but rather that the series has been milked to death for far too long. The sales curve for NFS had plummeted already, and was arguably long past the possibility of a yearly iteration remaining relevant or salable at previous levels. in 2006, they had pushed so few new IP's that when Medal of Honor started to fade they really had little to bring up in its place.

        Of course, with any new series or universe in the gaming world generally speaking the second iteration sells better than the first. You really do build up a lot of awareness and interest on the first go. Mass Effect 2 (one of the new post 2006 worlds they specifically created) looks posed to be one of next year's biggest games. Army of Two 2 is looking to make up ground. Skate has basically stolen "Best Skater Game" from the now officially flopped over Tony Hawk. Even Dante's Inferno has a surprising amount of player awareness at this point. That's a lot of profit potential that they wouldn't have just grinding out Need for Speed sequels twice a year.

        • by Skal Tura (595728)

          Actually NFS is dying because the newest games SUCK. first Underground is still the best ever NFS game, underground 2 not so good, and the newer ones were complete failures.

          Latest NFS isn't so fun, albeit i admire the attempt on realism, and had very much fun initially playing it, it had very annoying limitations (1 car of the same model only!), and for tuning you had to always stop the game, and ESPECIALLY ESPECIALLY the bugs!

          Worst ones:
          A) keyboard doesn't work AT ALL without massive battling
          B) Crashes
          C) S

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Ltap (1572175)
          Actually, it would be an interesting project to graph sales and ratings for long-running, many-installment franchises (*looks at sports/racing games*) to see how things have fluctuated - some of them are old enough to have gone through multiple generations of gamers. It's an old wrestling strategy that you can redo a gimmick after 7 years, because the people who were around then won't be around now, and the ones that are around now won't remember anyway.

          For instance, the first Call of Duty and Call of Du
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by cheesybagel (670288)
        Well, Blizzard made also made The Lost Vikings. I thought that was pretty good.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Of course he's talking about business! It's no use churning out original titles which cost 10s of millions to make and don't recoup their costs. You don't get more "art" in the market, in the long run, because the company making it will go bust.

      There is no dichotomy of companies which are trying to make money vs companies which are trying to do something new. All the games companies are trying to make money. The rest is just PR & marketing.

      • by dltaylor (7510) on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:50AM (#30777344)

        If you're in business to make money, open a brokerage, casino, or bank.

        Otherwise, while you would like to make enough profit to keep the doors open, you're in the business of producing a product. Make a good (-enough) one keep satisfy the customers and get some repeat business.

        In case no one's figured it out by now, Wall Street doesn't know their ass from a hole in the ground about the latter, and will happily destroy the entire US economy (except them, of course) to do the former.

        • MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

          by aussersterne (212916) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:08AM (#30777434) Homepage

          One particularly unhelpful wrinkle of the U.S. version of capitalism + culture has been investors' singular motivation to hit it big and rake in the bucks and a general social unwillingness (management, the population, investors, regulators) to believe there is any social good in any business that does not generate massive returns and growth on a quarter after quarter basis.

          There are simply many things that we need the economy to do that are not going to generate double-digit returns and result in world domination by a single sexy corporation. Plumbing, for example. Or reference publishing. Or wood milling. Instead of taking sustaining business + paying employees or small but steady growth as good enough within the context of also employing people and providing a necessary social good, we're happy to say "This hospital isn't giving us 20% year-over-year; it's only giving me 1%! I can get that from a damned CD! Fuhggedaboudid." And nobody bats an eyelid, everyone takes for granted that a hospital is only valuable if it's nice and profitable, otherwise it "couldn't compete" and "should" close in a free market economy.

          • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

            by YourExperiment (1081089) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:52AM (#30777698)

            One particularly unhelpful wrinkle of the U.S. version of capitalism + culture has been investors' singular motivation to hit it big and rake in the bucks and a general social unwillingness (management, the population, investors, regulators) to believe there is any social good in any business that does not generate massive returns and growth on a quarter after quarter basis.

            Whilst I totally agree with you on principle, I would take issue with one point. It's not that no-one believes there is any social good in these businesses, it's that no-one cares.

          • Or the press.
          • "This hospital isn't giving us 20% year-over-year; it's only giving me 1%! I can get that from a damned CD! Fuhggedaboudid." And nobody bats an eyelid, everyone takes for granted that a hospital is only valuable if it's nice and profitable, otherwise it "couldn't compete" and "should" close in a free market economy.

            You forget the small fact that the medical industry ceased to be a free marked in the U.S. in the late 1960's.

            There is a thing called a Certificate Of Need (CON), which are aptly named. Essentially you need a CON from a person like Illinois Governor Blagojevich in order to open a hospital, increase the amount of beds, add a new wing, add any large equipment, etc.

            So if you didn't grease the right people new hospitals don't get built. Demand goes up while supply doesn't and costs skyrocket. The medical indust

            • by nomadic (141991)
              So if you didn't grease the right people new hospitals don't get built. Demand goes up while supply doesn't and costs skyrocket. The medical industry long relied on charities like the Shriners and many others to keep hospitals running. The costs have gotten so high that all but a few charities can actually fund a hospital.

              Not necessarily. [nytimes.com]
          • by Kjella (173770)

            Hospitals have both a humanitarian value and for the most part the patient is required to have that specific hospital, but for most products that's just not a big deal. Imagine if the big three were allowed to fail, do you think we'd be without cars? Hell no, all the Japanese and Korean and Chinese car stocks would skyrocket because they'd be rid of their hardest competitiors.

            I do admit that there's one thing if it's just wages. But there's also many, many other factors like the customer appeal, choice of d

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by NeutronCowboy (896098)

            One particularly unhelpful wrinkle of the U.S. version of capitalism + culture has been investors' singular motivation to hit it big and rake in the bucks and a general social unwillingness (management, the population, investors, regulators) to believe there is any social good in any business that does not generate massive returns and growth on a quarter after quarter basis.

            This really hits the nail on the head. I visited my sister in Germany recently. She lives in an apartment that is owned by a guy who runs a custom boot shop. Complete with wooden boots for fitting, etc. So far, not that interesting. Until you realize that that shop has been a family business for over 400 years. It has been in existence longer than the entire US. It still is a single shop. And probably will be until someone decides not to do it anymore. Compare that with the US, where a decision would have b

            • by TheLink (130905)
              I guess there's a subtle difference between earning a living and making a killing :).
        • by rpillala (583965)

          If you haven't already, you ought to read The Buyout of America by Josh Kosman. And then add Private Equity firm to your list. At least your list includes honest businesses. That is, they make no claims contrary to their true intention of only making money.

          Private equity firms buy companies by giving them tax incentives for financing their own buyout. The company being bought puts up most of the money that is used to buy them. The PE company then takes a company that may have been about its products an

      • Believe it or not, there are companies who try to keep a culture of innovation and earn reputation even if it does mean being less profitable. A company with diverse expertise and talented developers is going to have the power to influence trends and create new markets.
        I find it extremely questionable how so many people have this fundamentalist belief that companies should devote everything chasing numbers on paper, which are extremely artificial and arbitrary BTW (notice how this guy laments about them "de

        • by rwv (1636355)

          I find it extremely questionable how so many people have this fundamentalist belief that companies should devote everything chasing numbers on paper, which are extremely artificial and arbitrary BTW (notice how this guy laments about them "destroying" 11 billion in stock value), instead of encouraging people to be creative and simply make great products.

          I'm going to take issue with the claim that businesses should "be creative and make great products".

          In my view, globalization has pushed the manufacturing industry away from "great products" and into the realm of "good enough for a couple years" products. Cars aren't what they used to be. Most furniture these days is made from plastic mixtures and particle board. Food is genetically mutated. Even books are being served up as disposable digital bits instead of printed pages.

          All these changes comes in

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            Food is genetically mutated.

            Food has been genetically mutated since humans began farming. Or did you somehow think that previous generations of humans turned those wild plants into the common food plants we know today through magic?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Gilmoure (18428)

            I don't know if you grew up with cars from the 60's and 70's but things have changed for the better. Back then, even Datsuns, Hondas and Toyotas, needed a lot more maintenance and more frequent maintenance than modern cars and they also didn't last as long. To get 100,000 miles out of an engine without a ring or valve job (actually taking engine apart and partially rebuilding it) was almost unheard of. Same thing with transmissions; seems you were always getting bands adjusted and such.

            Now days, my '96 Jeep

    • by NickFortune (613926) on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:45AM (#30777312) Homepage Journal

      This is a business person commenting harshly mostly about how EA is financially ran, and that they haven't been able to grow as fast as Activision Blizzard (which was a one giant merker - like Microsoft and Google getting together). His bashing about the games isn't about gameplay, their originality, or how fun they are for players - it's just seems to be about business

      You say that like it's a bad thing. His point is that EA's business strategy is unsustainable, and I think he's got a point.

      I actually like the way EA has been taking. They're doing a lot more original, new IP and games than some years ago - last year notably Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, Dragon Age Origins.

      When you say "way they've been taking", I assume you mean that in the sense of "direction they've chose to head in". As opposed to the way they've been taking money. Personally, I'm not entirely convinced. DA: Origins could have used another six months playtesting on the AI IMHO, and Dead Space sucked like a black hole. Spore was fun however, and I'll concede that I'm not generally representative of the larger gaming community.

      The point is, as you rightly point out, he's not criticising the games - he's criticising the business strategy behind them. If Spore, Mirror's Edge, Dead Space and Need for Speed: Undercover were indeed loss makers for EA, then it doesn't matter how good the games were. If they can't make them turn a profit, they soon won't be making any more.

      It seems he was more happy when EA was the company that didn't create much of new IP or games, but just milked the old ones every year with new versions

      I didn't get that, at all. As I read it, he just thinks the revenue from their established franchises isn't going to be enough to tide them through the changeover to digital distribution. And he thinks that EA are throwing too much money at trying to manufacture blockbusters, and I think he's probably right.

      The trouble is that for quite a while now, the big games companies have been throwing money at games trying to raise the barrier to entry. They want to be like Hollywood studios where you have a big investment for big returns. So we things like big name voice actors throughout. Or fully orchestral scores for a game. Hollywood gets away with this by sinking a lot of cash into publicity so they can "buy the gross" - cover the bulk of production costs in the first week. That doesn't appear to be working for EA, assuming bizpunk is right about those games being expensive loss makers.

      He's not making any judgements about the games themselves, except that they don't seem to be making enough money to recoup their development costs. Which, if true, would be a problem regardless of the game content.

      • by LKM (227954) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:49AM (#30777672) Homepage

        He's not making any judgements about the games themselves, except that they don't seem to be making enough money to recoup their development costs. Which, if true, would be a problem regardless of the game content.

        Without taking a risk on new franchises, you won't have established franchises you can milk in the future. Which is exactly how EA got into its current hole. They're doing the right thing now, even if it's not producing immediate profits for them.

        • by NickFortune (613926) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:46AM (#30778138) Homepage Journal

          Without taking a risk on new franchises, you won't have established franchises you can milk in the future. Which is exactly how EA got into its current hole. They're doing the right thing now, even if it's not producing immediate profits for them.

          Sure, in a stable market. And to be fair, I didn't read TFA as saying "EA should not be taking a risk on new franchises". He's just raising concerns about the budget size vs. the payoff.

          I think you have to remember that his comments are all made in the context of a move to digital distribution, which he feels is going to happen a lot faster than EA are allowing for. Reading between the lines a little, I think he'd like to see more, lower budget games aimed at a cheaper price point. That doesn't make sense if your retail is through shops because shelf space is expensive, and with a limited number of titles that you can offer, you need to spend money trying to force a blockbuster. But for digital distribution, you can spread your risk a bit more, develop a range of titles and see what catches the public imagination.

    • by Alarash (746254) on Friday January 15, 2010 @06:59AM (#30777388)
      I'm completely with you. Unfortunately video games are not about fun and, well, video games any more. They are about making money, and most of the time that means low innovation/risk taking. Which is sad, because video games should not be about pleasing shareholders, but pleasing gamers. If you please the gamers, you will mechanically make money. But probably not in the 5 to 15% year-to-year growth that investors are asking in our capitalist world.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by plover (150551) *

        because video games should not be about pleasing shareholders, but pleasing gamers. If you please the gamers, you will mechanically make money.

        That's not necessarily true at all. It's way more complicated than that. A complex game with all the development, artwork, mechanics, music, actors, promotion and packaging can easily cost over $50,000,000 to produce. At those costs you have to please a million gamers before you make your first dime.

        That's a huge risk. You don't know it in advance, and there are no guarantees. When some guy comes in and says "I've got this great idea for a game. We'll have these soldiers who ..." you have no way of kn

        • by Alarash (746254)
          Your argument doesn't fit in the scope of what you quoted. I explicitly said "please the gamers, and you will make money." Then you go about explaining ten different ways a game can fail. Pleasing the gamers means producing good games, avoiding exactly what you described in the process.
          • by plover (150551) *

            What I said is that there is huge risk. You can make a great game that pleases a million gamers and still fail miserably.

            And for every game you sell, you might have started on 10 or even 100 that you axed early in the process.

        • behold mount and blade, one of the last year's stars http://www.taleworlds.com/ [taleworlds.com]

          the creators are a husband and wife from turkey, who left their daytime job some years ago to chase this dream. they didnt have any capital, they didnt have any investors. instead, they made their prototype, gave it as shareware, and asked people to support/contribute. a few years later, you have the game. at no point any investment got involved, and they only sit down with a publisher (paradox) after the game was complete.

          the ga

      • by cgenman (325138)

        I'm completely with you. Unfortunately video games are not about fun and, well, video games any more. They are about making money, and most of the time that means low innovation/risk taking.

        In the early 80's it was about copying everything Atari did. In the late 80's everyone was making a sidescrolling platform. Cue the 90's, where suddenly mascot sidescrollers and fighting titles were all important.

        Personally, I think the early 00's \ PS2 era were the most innovative in gaming in quite some time. But ei

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pmfa (842853)

      It seems he was more happy when EA was the company that didn't create much of new IP or games, but just milked the old ones every year with new versions.

      You completely missed the point of the article. Maybe you're a fan of some of the games and you feel that the guy is attacking those, but he doesn't have a word to say about game quality. His main concern is EA's failure to adapt to digital distribution, and the reshaping of a game as we imagine it. In fact a lot a people are failing to see the point, that's the reason there is a follow up post named Packaged Goods [blogspot.com] to explain game unbundling. It's all about choice. Nowadays instead of spending 60$ on a box

      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        Nowadays instead of spending 60$ on a box and get 40 hours of gameplay, we the gamers, want to select our experience. If I only play on my iPhone during my daily commute I can spend a buck once in a while and I'm happy. The freaks that spend their every waking hour in some corner of a virtual world can pay a monthly subscription and be happy.

        Well in that case he should probably say that to every publisher on the planet, as everyone does this. In fact, Blizzard charges you for the base game, 2 expansion sets, and a monthly fee. Sure you can buy the earlier ones for $19 now, but that still more than an usual game and with a monthly fee. And lots of people have paid the full prices for those games, because they purchased them on launch.

        His main concern is EA's failure to adapt to digital distribution

        I think EA has been quite good with this. They sell games on Steam, Direct2Drive and their own direct-download st

    • by LKM (227954) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:46AM (#30777660) Homepage

      I actually like the way EA has been taking. They're doing a lot more original, new IP and games than some years ago - last year notably Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, Dragon Age Origins.

      This is correct. What Mitch Lasky does not seem to understand is that these new IPs don't have to be immediate monetary successes. They are investments in the future. To understand how that works, one only needs to look at EAs past. They got into the current situation by not starting enough new franchises. Eventually, yearly updates to established franchises were not enough for EA to sustain their business. Hence, EA is failing because they did not invest in new IPs in the past, not because they invest in them now.

      Activision is now going down that same path. They made a ton of money with risky, interesting new IPs such as Tony Hawk's and Guitar Hero. Now that they are on top, they're milking these franchises for all they're worth, but not investing in new, interesting franchises they can milk in the future - they're doing exactly what EA has been doing five years ago, and they will end up in the position EA is right now.

      People like Mitch Lasky got EA into the position they're now. These people are the cause of EA's problem, not its solution. They need to shut their pie holes.

    • Cash cow really just doesn't seem quite a big enough term any more for a project of such an insane monetary pull

      Cash whale?

    • So according to the parent we're on the 6th iteration of World of Warcraft? Even if you count the pre-decessor Warcraft RTS games then WoW is only number 4. If you take Diablo, WoW is really WoD, then we're only on the 3rd iteration. But then the parent also ignored Diablo, Warcraft and even Starcraft so we probably shouldn't take him too seriously.
    • by rwv (1636355)

      Activision Blizzard now the ones that are mostly after money

      Activision has always been about money. One thing that's surprised me is that they bought the Guitar Hero franchise IP (from Red Octane, or something) and then let Harmonix get right back in the saddle to produce a (in my opinion) technically superior franchise called Rock Band. But Guitar Hero makes more money because it's got better marketing and not as good support for DLC.

      Blizzard has always been about quality games. I'd be very surprised if Activision will try to mess up the money-making machine t

    • I'll second this. EA to me was almost a joke in terms of developed IP. Oh, wow, here's another version of Madden, now with Fred Taylor stats after the knee surgery! And yet another C&C/Red Alert? That has hit written all over it! I had written EA off as dead until Mirror's Edge, Dead Space, and Dragon Age, which were probably the first games had purchased from EA in over 5 years.
  • the developers are the hens and the eggs are the games

    Take Dragon Age: the hen had potential but the farmer didn't give it enough free range and the egg came out bland and clichéd. I won't bother fitting the NPC-ads in to the analogy (is there a mod to get rid of them?)
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Bieeanda (961632)
      Every last Bioware RPG has played straight to cliches. EA may be a bastard to work with (and they certainly are), but put the blame for paint-by-numbers plot writing where it belongs.
      • by ErikZ (55491) *

        Really? I enjoyed Mass Effect quite a bit. I've just pre-ordered Mass Effect II

  • by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:12AM (#30777454)

    It's been a very ugly scene, indeed. From Spore, to Dead Space, to Mirror's Edge, to Need for Speed: Undercover, it's been one expensive commercial disappointment for EA Games after another.

    Most startups fail, but this doesn't mean we don't need startups.

    An advice I read somewhere said to treat every project in your company like a mini-startup. Of course, many of those projects won't become an instant cash-cow. the secret is in being flexible, quickly recognizing failure, minimizing damage and adapting.

    But if the company stops trying to innovate and create fresh products, then all you're left with slow death by milking the existing franchises. And of course, man of the best franchises started small as yet-another-risky-project for the company.

  • by GuyFawkes (729054) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:14AM (#30777466) Homepage Journal

    The only thing that I can remember about EA games is the logo and the girl whispering "EA Games", I can't remember what games had that "loading screen", actually the other thing I can remember about EA Games is most gamers seem to hate them.

    While the marketing / advertising / PR types will probably point at my memory of the corporate logo and say "See, branding works!" the fact is that it doesn't, because the memory that I have is not a positive one.

    I remember 3dRealms for Duke, I remember Raven for SoF, I remember Cavedog for TA, and those are all positive memories associated with good games.

    I can't think of a single game that EA released, I can probably sit here and recite 50+ game titles, many of which may have been released by EA, but that's not the point.

    Frankly the ex-exec is as out of touch as the CEO, if you are going to measure anything by my experience, but of course they don't do that do they, they measure stuff by the closed feedback loops of market researchers, also employed by EA, drinking their own kool aid.

    The problem with EA is that unlike 3dRealms, Raven, Cavedog et al, they tried to make the "house" bigger than the "game", and I suspect that if you dig down to the level of the actual game workers, you will find that same corporate branding ethos at work, sure, you're all working on "Aliens vs Mario 7", but you're all working for EA first and foremost, you're all able to be switched around within EA, to "Mario vs Jar Jar Binks 3" at the whim of a manager.

    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      I remember 3dRealms for Duke, I remember Raven for SoF, I remember Cavedog for TA, and those are all positive memories associated with good games.

      I can't think of a single game that EA released, I can probably sit here and recite 50+ game titles, many of which may have been released by EA, but that's not the point.

      What you listed were developers of the games, not publishers. It's a lot easier to remember a good developer, because they generally release one game between every 2-3 years and if you like it a lot, you're gonna remember the name. Just the same way as you probably remember what bands or artists you like, but don't remember who is their record label.

      • by f0rk (1328921) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:46AM (#30777658)

        The problem with EA (for the studios) is that EA screams louder.

        What is the first thing you see in a EA game ? That damn EA logo, then for a slip second, you see some random no name company (the studio).

        The game publishing industry is trying to mimic the movie publishing industry by doing the classic " presents... a movie"-introduction.

        By sad part is. The avarage gamer is a lot less intrested in who made the game, then the avarage movie enthusiast. So they only notice the EA logo and get reminded to turn off all brain activity for 5sec because, well, every one hates waiting for the game to start.

        The movie industry can do this because its more or less part of the build up, and for the enthusiast, its just another reminder that this movie is made by the awesome studio, .

        Back in the old days. A game would open with the studio logo, and if the publisher is lucky enought, they get there very own screen to present there name, else they would just have to do with a "published by" in the end credits.

        • by sopssa (1498795) *

          I agree on that somewhat, but Ubisoft is even worse than EA. Ubisoft always puts their always-the-same intro and you cant even skip that. EA usually customizes their intro to fit the game scheme so it's not that boring and you can skip it. Activision one is probably the best, short maybe 1 sec blip and you can skip it too.

        • by Mr. DOS (1276020)

          It doesn't help that the EA logo is never skippable, but the studio logo almost always is...

                --- Mr. DOS

      • by GuyFawkes (729054)

        I hear you re developers vs publishers.

        But....

        The fact stands, the BRANDS that I remember are 3dRealms, Raven, Cavedog, mmm, positive feelings, positive associations...

        EA... ummm, errrr, dunno, sucks tho.

    • by jaraxle (1707)

      Much like you, I remember the developers of games as well.

      I remember Origin Systems, Westwood Studios, and Mythic Entertainment (granted, still around but "rebranded" to EAMythic). I also remember the publisher that effectively destroyed them and the works that they created; Electronic fucking Arts. Granted, Mythic is not yet destroyed but their latest flagship product, Warhammer Online, didn't truly start sinking until the merger with EA. Take into account the gutting of the studio with last years Q4 la

      • by revlayle (964221)
        GO back even further when EA used to take chances on innovative games in the early to mid-80s

        Ozark Softscape: MULE and 7 cities of Gold
        Freefall associates: Archon series and Murder on the Zinderneuf
        Bill Budge: Pinball construction set
        Interplay: All the early Interplay Titles (primarily Bard's Tale and Wasteland - that being said, BT games are much like the old Wizardry title, no necessarily innovative, but was a hit)
        Binary Systems: Starflight games

        EA started out in like 82 or 83 and didn't make thei
    • by Reapman (740286)

      A great example of that I think is when I fired up Red Alert 3 for the first time..seeing the intro bit and reading "EA Studios West (or whatever it was) presents.." Felt a slight bit of sadness. It should have said Westwood there.

      I think a lot of the problems some of us old timers have with EA is the death sentence they gave to a lot of good studios of old like Westwood, Maxis or Origin. I agree that I remember a time when EA wasn't top dog, but I also can't remember anything I liked out of them.. must

  • by dickbot (1116661) on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:18AM (#30777506)

    - work for EA for a while, at least until I can find a real job : CHECK

    - leave the company with a nice bundle of cash and the appearance of now having insider knowledge : CHECK

    - take various SHORT positions on EA stocks with the leverage of my new firm : CHECK

    - write a nasty paper about how bad EA is ran, and have it published on /. : CHECK

    - take even SHORTER positions on EA stock : CHECK

    - wait for stocks to drop, take LONG positions and retire to the caiman islands.

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashd[ ]org ['ot.' in gap]> on Friday January 15, 2010 @07:41AM (#30777632)

    Things that, from what I know about the typical EA manager character, should fit them:
    - Weapon dealer / Warlord: Fueling wars by selling weapons to both sides, just to make money.
    - Pharma industry: Getting school children on hard drugs sold as medicine, just to make money.
    - Competition for Monsanto: genetically engineer slowly killing plants and make the whole world plant and eat them, just to make money.
    - Music industry: Artist extortion and media reproduction, just to make money... ...Oh, wait!

  • Missed his point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:06AM (#30777766)

    I think we've missed his point. EA continues to make very expensive "disc based" titles when things are going to "download only", thus cheaper (take a look at iPhone 1.99 games... Good luck selling a $9.99 app). The article said that EA thinks they have 10 years he thinks 2-3 years. Whether he's right or not, who knows. If he is correct then EA can't keep spending $50mil per title. People pay $60 per game because they can trade them in for $40. What happens when "download only" does not allow tradeins? The price of games will need to drop. (eg. Music Cds used to cost $20 now I find most for $10.). All $ Canadian.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      I've never understood the allure of download only, it does work, but really only for companies like gog that allow you to redownload the games when you want and free them of DRM crap. If I can't do that, then I'm definitely not buying. Which is a shame because several of the games listed in the summary are ones that I would be buying if not for the oppressive DRM scheme.
  • by Bicx (1042846) on Friday January 15, 2010 @08:18AM (#30777866)
    EA: Patch Everything


    Why get it right the first time when you can release a dozen 500MB patches?
    • by Jaqenn (996058)
      Just so we're on the same page here, would you agree or disagree that Battlefield 2 was astoundingly good when it wasn't crashing?
      • by Bicx (1042846)
        It was a great game that included more aspects (guns, ground vehicles, helicopters, aircraft) than just about any other multiplayer game. The quality of the software and service tried my patience though.
    • E... A... SPORTS! PC's are lame.

      Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.
  • we, the gamer community will make sure that noone buys your games. hear and heed.

    • Wow. Someone on slashdot.org makes a threat to EA. I'm sure they're reading it. And that they're terrified. I mean, I'm sure that if they screw up Bioware, MILLIONS of sports gamers who don't give two pennies about the types of games Bioware makes (mostly RPGs), will stop buying their sports games. Fans of The Sims, everywhere, will stop buying any Sims games. Nobody will buy any EA games at all because they screwed up Bioware. All because you prophesied it on slashdot.

      Don't get me wrong, I have liked sever

  • So after churning out a decade's worth of craptastic software somebody more or less important finally caught on to their scam? This only a few short years after the general public caught onto their scam, causing a drop in sales and consequently bringing on cries of, "Oh noes! PC gaming is coming to an end!" and, invariably, "OMG PIRATES!" I'm guessing we'll see a few more years of EA squandering its IPs, putting out bug-ridden, graphically intense, empty gaming rehashes of previously successful games before
  • Remember Archon, M.U.L.E and Pinball Construction Set?

  • Electronic Arts actually made good, original, fun games and didn't shovel out shit year after year. This "EA Games" is the polar opposite.

  • T&A just don't move games like they used to. They need to offer gamers something they just can't get easily online:

    http://www.duelinganalogs.com/comic/2009/12/29/family-matters/ [duelinganalogs.com]

    Sorry if someone else posted this already. I didn't see it.

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