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EA regrets supporting Xbox 360 & PlayStation so strongly

John Riccitiello took over as the current Chief Executive Officer of Electronic Arts back in 2007 and has managed to life the Third Party giant out of its rut by reorganising the company’s product lines, bringing in fresh management and mixing up its development duties, choosing to focus more on game quality, rather than pure quantity. But Riccitiello does have some major regrets that he openly talked about in a recent interview.

Was Electronic Arts wrong to have strongly back the PS3 and Xbox 360 instead of Wii?Speaking with Mercury News he pointed out that development resources are now being shifted over to Nintendo’s Wii, as well as the company choosing to make wise purchases, picking up a few game studios that Riccitiello himself ran prior to joining EA. Unfortunately, though, in part due to misplaced loyalty in supporting the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 so heavily and not getting much back, EA has struggled financially lately, posting a US$454 million net loss in the last fiscal year that ended on 31st March this year. Riccitiello had this to say on the matter:

Mercury News: How would you assess how this console cycle has gone so far from EA’s standpoint? Is there anything you would like to see the console makers doing that they’re not doing right now?

John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts: The cycle is a lot like the past. There is a lot of innovation, probably more this cycle than even the last cycle; a lot of growth; a lot of exciting things. And we can choose to take advantage of those things.

One thing that’s different is we typically figured out who the market leader was going to be before the start of the cycle and bet with our development resources on that platform. We made the wrong call there (by betting on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360), which made this transition harder than it would otherwise be. But now we’re catching up, and I think we’re fine. We’ve got some incredibly innovative Wii titles, incredibly innovative DS titles coming. And so I think that issue’s sort of behind us. I am very happy that (the console makers) continue to drive an expanded install base, so I’ve got a bigger universe to sell into. But we’ve also transcended them a little bit. We’ve got a big mobile business, a big PC business, a big direct to consumer business, increasing advertising business, microtransaction business, subscription business - all things that live outside the world of (selling console games).

Was Electronic Arts wrong to have strongly back the PS3 and Xbox 360 instead of Wii?

Mercury News: But given your investment in developing games for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 - and the relatively slow sales of both of those consoles to date - isn’t it in your interest that Sony and Microsoft do something to juice sales of those boxes?

John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts: No, it’s not. It’s in my best interest that more consumers buy consoles. My job is to make sure that against the consoles and platforms that matter, we’ve got the right content. I can wish for there to be more PS3s or Xbox 360s in the marketplace. Wishing doesn’t make me an effective CEO or EA a successful company. Right now, you’re seeing an increased emphasis on Wii and DS titles, so we can drive a market on Wii and DS that’s similar to what we have on the Xbox 360 and PS3. If we are successful there - and we will be - over the course of this and next year, it doesn’t matter to me which platform prevails. This cycle is like every other cycle before it: There’s been a dominant player (in this case, the Wii). Unusual in this cycle is there’s a second and third place that is meaningful, against which we can build a profitable business. That’s a good and positive thing.

He continued by stating that he believes that EA can eventually gain as large a market share on the Wii console in the near future as it did previously on the PlayStation consoles and other formats, stating “Yes. Tomorrow? No. Can I make a big step in that direction this year? Yes. Can I continue to make steps in that pattern? Yes. Does Nintendo want us to do it? Yes. Does the platform set itself up for that to be possible? Yes. So, it requires focus.”

But do you agree that Electronic Arts was betting on the wrong horse(s) right from the start, or was it perfectly right to keeping churning out its titles on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 whilst giving Wii ‘casual’ scraps like Smarty Pants and Ninja Reflex? Be sure to share your opinions on the matter by posting below…

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29 comments on 'EA regrets supporting Xbox 360 & PlayStation so strongly'

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Comment by Anthony on 2008-07-29 16:01:51 | Reply

What is this guy talking about? Xbox 360 sales and Wii sales are equally strong, while PS3 sales have been slow.

He needs to look at the sales figures again.

Comment by Anthony on 2008-07-29 16:03:45 | Reply

EA does need to make more quality games for all consoles. Wii is more powerful than PS2, yet it gets all the dumbed-down casual games.

Ever heard of the Classic Controller or GameCube controller? You can make games that use those, for more of a traditional gameplay experience.

Comment by Anthony on 2008-07-29 16:05:30 | Reply

Xbox 360 is killing PS3 worldwide, so I don’t know how he can say sales are slow. Xbox 360 sales are about even with Wii sales, so there is no “king” this time.

Comment by noname on 2008-07-30 03:24:56 | Reply

Will, not in Japan. Say what you want but Japan is one of the three key markets.

Comment by kidkit on 2008-07-29 16:07:59 | Reply

He looks like a corrupt lawyer from a movie in his profile picture.

Comment by H34RT 4TT4CK on 2008-07-29 21:01:53 | Reply

No, he looks like he’s the “tired of the BS but still willing to fight for somethig he believes in” movie personality.

Comment by WhetWurm on 2008-07-29 16:21:51 | Reply

I’m going to go stab myself in the mouth for saying this, but I’ve been VERY impressed by EA as of late. So many great, original games from them has made me more confident in them as a company. I was hoping this would continue!

Comment by tony on 2008-07-29 16:47:00 | Reply

have you stabbed yourself in the mouth yet?

Comment by ManoDestra on 2008-07-29 18:21:34 | Reply

I’m guessing this is irony because I certainly haven’t witnessed these great, original games that are allegedly kicking about bringing joy to the gaming masses. Please detail them below to appease my curiousity.

Comment by ETHAN COLE 1 on 2008-07-29 18:23:05 | Reply

i have a knife i can let you barrow….

Comment by Whet Wurm on 2008-07-30 16:31:19 | Reply

While they aren’t all EA’s doing, they certainly paid for their publication:

Army of Two, Rock Band, Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge and Left 4 Dead are all looking good. I also loved Burnout Paradise and Skate.

It just seems like every good game I put in my system has that damn EA logo pop up.

Yes it is all the consoles fault and it has nothing to do with the oasis of piss poor quality games. *rolls eyes*

Comment by wow seriously? on 2008-07-29 17:08:40 | Reply

the problem here is now, he’s targeting “casual” gamers… people who aren’t loyal to… well… anything. So yeah, there are more consoles… and probably some high sales. but in the long run?

also… he is an idiot, even though the wii is outselling the 360 right now, the 360 still has a MUCH larger base.

If EA wants to shift their approach to to people under 10 and over 35 then go for it. They will continue to profit but nowhere near to their potential. Dedicated, real gamers at least have a 360 or PS3. I am be no means knocking the Wii but it’s fairly obvious by actual game sales where the real money is. I would like to see a estimate of how many Wii’s are rotting in pre-teen’s bedrooms at the moment. I can think of 5 off the top of my head.

Comment by StGermain on 2008-07-29 20:14:57 | Reply

If I had any stock in EA I’d sell it given that their CEO is a blazing idiot.

The 360 has a much larger install base and people tend to buy more games for it, even the more shitty ones that EA poop out on a regularly basis.

Furthermore successful games for any Nintendo system tend to be made by… Nintendo.

Obviously this is one of those CEO types who isn’t in touch with the products his company sells but works by bullshitting about idea’s that his business analysts cooked up.

what a cunt AGREED ?

Comment by KultiVator on 2008-07-29 20:42:08 | Reply

Ratio of games bought per console and peripherals bought per console is a one horse race (360)… and obviously, if this guy knew his stuff, the winning strategy for a software publisher is to back this horse with the big bucks whilst still investing in ports to the other less profitable platforms.

That said, the Wii is different enough to warrant some unique titles… leaving the PS3 as the weakest platform overall. It’s too expensive and not sufficiently different from a 360 in terms of what the gamer gets, or as family friendly as a Wii to really have any unique territory of it’s own.

Comment by KultiVator on 2008-07-29 20:43:41 | Reply

Plus the guy above looks like he enjoys a good facial.

;-)

Comment by sCHOCOLATE on 2008-07-30 01:11:41 | Reply

It’s pretty funny when you think about it. EA has been around for how long? How can there be long-term “mistakes” made like what Gumby CEO claims? It sounds a lot like sour grapes to me.

Gumby CEO inherited a publishing house that basically does nothing but churn out crap. And anything good that happens to come out of it is only attributable to that developer having been absorbed into the collective hive.

Army of Two? Original? More like Arsehole of Poo. Burnout: Paradise? Well, a lot of the fans felt burned because it’s number FIVE in the series. So much for originality.

Hey Gumby, I know what your title stands for:
EA CEO
Executive Ape who Can’t Escape his own Orifice!

Comment by TK Chillin on 2008-07-30 02:50:21 | Reply

Does he get his gaming news from CNN….WTF!!!

Comment by adam the gr8 on 2008-07-30 04:34:29 | Reply

maybe some of u guys should apply for his job since u all know what u are doing with ur ” numbers” idiots

While Wii has more sells, just who are the consumers? Are they interested in what you have to sell, EA? Combined, 360 and PS3 have 8 million moire sells than Wii, so I don’t see how putting equal development into both is a bad strategy. Then again, I’m not a CEO of a goliath producer of generally sub-par games. I’ll leave the capitalist decision making to the capitalists…until the workers of the world unite…

so ea leaves xbox 360.. that is a good thing.. look @ their games..

Comment by nokidding on 2008-07-30 12:51:20 | Reply

they havent really done shit. medal of honor was crap, especially when you look at COD4. madden has been virtually the same since xbox, the street series sucks. it was fun but all are the same. need for speed is out of gas. so what would we even miss? we would still get all those crap titles rehashed sequal anyways

Comment by mass9 on 2008-07-30 17:37:28 | Reply

I think most of you are missing the “between the lines” point they’re trying to make.

I’d wager that the install base of the 360 and PS3 are fairly large and qutie established. In fact, I think we can all agree on this. Also, as these are the “hard(er)core” gamers, they’d have a higher attachment rate (see: software).

In short, EA is already in the living rooms of those with 360’s or PS3’s. Doesn’t it stand to reason that they’d put a bigger effort into the console that isn’t seeling many of their games?

Its just economics guys. Isolate a problem area and apply a fix in the hopes of moving more units.

Comment by DeQuosaek on 2008-07-30 21:36:42 | Reply

Whoever doesn’t think the Wii is substantially outselling the Xbox 360 needs to do a little research. The Wii has sold 10 MILLION more consoles than the Xbox 360. And it hasn’t been out as long. The Xbox 360 had about a year head-start.

There is certainly a king in console sales, and Wii is it. You can argue game sales and that sort of thing, but there are 30 million Wii’s out there compared to 20 million Xbox 360’ss and 14 million PS3’s.

Comment by The_Glovner on 2008-07-31 13:32:13 | Reply

But being that EA is a software company there is more reason to discuss game sales in relation to the article you blind, thick fuck.

Comment by KultiVator on 2008-08-04 11:42:11 | Reply

I love your choice of words.

DeQuosaek is like a baby rabbit, stranded in the headlights of a juggernaut, whilst out looking for fresh tussocks of grass in the central lane of the M6 at dusk.

Night night sweet wabbit - west in peace (or, ahem, peices?).

Comment by katan13 on 2008-08-04 13:33:42 | Reply

I have to say this John Riccitiello sounds like a bit of a tw@t. It would seem he’s come to a company, found out it’s in a piss poor financial position, and isn’t veiwed nicely by many game players, and so is blaming poor console sales. Sounds to me like someone is trying to find a nice scapegoat to distract all of those shareholders, who are no doubt asking, “where’s our money? oh right you spent it on buying loads of other smaller game developers, who are now being a bit half arsed in their work cause they are being told what they can and can’t do”

Silly boy, put the EA down, thats it, just pop it down there. Good boy.

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