EA Boss Admits: We Have A Problem

from the first-step dept

Like the movie industry, the videogame industry has become enamored with sequels which are generally seen as safe money makers. But the strategy hasn’t really gone according to plan in either industry, as many highly touted sequels end up as busts, while the market as a whole suffers from the lack of creativity or daring. Of the videogame makers, perhaps no company has milked its franchises the way Electronic Arts has, as it pumps out new versions of its sports-based games every year. For a while, the company was a Wall Street darling, as its annual upgrades were seen as must haves for fans, giving the kind of regular subscription revenue that investors love to see. But the company’s sales haven’t been so hot of late, and it’s finally recognizing that it’s not creating much value by offering endless iterations of each game. The new CEO admits that if the company doesn’t do a better job in the innovation department, it’s going to continue to suffer. This is, of course, a lesson that Hollywood bosses have been reluctant to admit, even though it’s been obvious for some time. Perhaps EA’s willingness to be introspective is owed to the fact that it doesn’t have piracy to blame for its problems. Although there’s scant evidence that piracy is at the root of Hollywood’s ills, the studios have been able to delude themselves into thinking that their problems are somehow out of their control. On a related front, Sony announced that it will slash prices on the PS3 in hopes of turning around the system’s weak sales. While this may be a necessary move in the short run, it doesn’t do much to address the deeper problems at the company, which, like EA, has suffered from a lack of creativity and vision.

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Comments on “EA Boss Admits: We Have A Problem”

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Ferin says:

There programming sucks too.

It’s more than just people getting tired of sequels. EA’s programming quality sucks. Take the latest update of BF2142 for example. They turned the most stable game of the entire BF series into a mess, requiring constant reloads of the punkbuster utility or constant reinstall of the entire game.

And even as the most stable BF game, 2142 still ahs enormous holes that reuqired downgrading functionality after launch cause they couldn’t solve all their problems.

Wolferz (profile) says:

Re: There programming sucks too.

Most stable game in the series? My god! What are the others like? Since release BF2142 has had horrendous flaws such as explosions killing people through walls and people being able to shoot at one titan and the bullets killing people inside the other titan. If the other games are worse than that then EA just needs to give up and close its doors.

Michael says:

Ive been ranting about EA for a while now. Theyve consistently showed their complete lack of passion for the gaming industry as a whole over the past few years, destroying fantastic franchises such as NFS and Tiger by throwing teams of lackluster talent and minimal funding to push out games lick a soulless factory. Theyve been on my boycott list for a while now, but its nice to hear that someone there actually acknowledges the problem. If they actually do something about it, I might give them another chance some day.

Sony, however, is on my blacklist for the forseeable future.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Lack of creativity" not Sony's only problem

SCEA != Sony BMG

The rootkit problem was not SCEA’s problem. You gotta remember, these are actually *separate* entities in almost every way, shape, and form. They just have the same owner. Even if SCEA thought that the rootkit was a terrible idea, they’d have absolutely no power to stop it.

cyberpunk says:

Sports franchises

I used to love some of their titles, but now they’re total crap. I tried to play the last Madden and traded it in after 1 day. The Tiger Woods line is the only one that I think keeps improving, though slowly at times. They also removed a feature that I loved from TW 07, which was the idea of sponsorships.

There’s something to be said for finding a formula that people like and sticking to it, however you need to also go outside that comfort zone, while still putting quality in your main line. An example of this is the Call of Duty line, which are all excellent games on their own, and I could keep playing a WWII shooter for a long time, however with the upcoming release of COD4 I’m really looking forward to some new terrain and plots.

Down with Madden! Keep Tiger!

Rob says:

I Love NHL '07...

…but as an avid hockey fan, I can’t believe they don’t have someone who’s job it is to update the rosters on a regular basis so that it mirrors the leaugue. This has been a major pet peeve of mine because I thought when I bought my PS2 network adapter and NHL ’06 that I would get to regularly update the rosters. NOPE! Then with an XBOX 360 and NHL ’07 and an XBOX Live Gold membership, they only had one roster update from the very beginning of the season (October ’06). WTF?! I might even be willing to pay a reasonable fee/subscription for regular roster updates.

However, I will say that they totally made the game amazing by making the right joystick the controller for shooting and puck handling and the player movement and animation is sick!

Anonymous Coward says:

This comment extends to all video game manufacturers. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop making CRAPPY video games based on movies. They are dumb and boring and lack any depth. Plus, making a movie game is being lazy, because you’re just using an idea that somebody else came up with for a storyline. I am sick and tired of walking into Walmart and seeing half the video games with movie titles. Get off your lazy butts and make some real games for a change!

And of course there’s the other extreme, games that are so complicated and lengthy that I have no interest in playing them whatsoever. Video games are supposed to be challenging, yet fun. Most of the modern video games I’ve seen are either way too complex to be fun, or way to simple to produce any fun. I suggest you take the Mario Kart franchise as an example. It’s great fun for all ages, has sufficient difficulty levels to be a challenge (to some degree anyway), and it’s not too long, too short, too hard, or too easy. Well actually, it could be a bit longer, but that’s not really the point. I know all games can’t be the same, but come on, make some decent stuff for once. Right now I have no plans to buy anything newer than my PS2 and GC because there are really no games available that I consider worth the cost.

COJeff says:

EA's problem

I agree with what is said above. I also would like to add that part of the lackluster developers they have is because they can’t keep the good ones. Doesn’t anyone remember the wife of an EA employee writing a letter about the working conditions there. If you didn’t want to work 60+ hours for 40 hours of pay then you were told to quit cause they can always get college grads that want to work in the game industry to do those hours. Also I was reading stuff about MM and I’m tried of applications/games thinking they are the only ones running on my PC. Enough with all the services already. But back to the point, companies are so focused on new features that they don’t bother to fix whats busted before adding those new features that probably won’t work as designed.

Dan says:

Can't buy EA because of copy protection

The reason I CAN’T buy EA games is because their copy protection won’t recognize their original DVDs in my disc drives.

“It’s better that 1000 buyers can’t play our game, then one be able to play it illegally.”

EA, try some original content, quality assurance, and customer service instead. You might catch up.

trollificus (profile) says:


Damn EA anyway. I stopped playing football sims when EA killed off all the competing games by buying out the “official” league licenses. FP Sports had a series of games that had a useful play and playbook editor that gave you a way to win games besides a) superior hand/eye coordination or b) a roster with superior players. That was fun, and interesting, and nowhere to be found in the EA “dump that strategic crap and add more touchdown dance moves” versions.

Also, I found EA’s implementation of PC versions to be weak, at best…lots of bugs, inferior keyboard/mouse control support, rigid playstyle (You vill chooce ein team, und play only dat team…und you vill like it!)…just not as much fun.

And what’s up with this drive to perfect verisimilitde anyway?? If you have the exact same players with the exact same skills as the real league, is the goal to exactly replicate or anticipate the exact results of the games played on Sundays?? Ummm…is there a point to that? Why not also have a game called Real Life, wherein a player with my appearance, budget and job goes to work, comes home and plays a game called Real Life on his virtual PC? I’m seeing a ‘durrrr’ factor here…

When a genre of games becomes LESS enjoyable when greater technology and resources are applied to the development…yeah, there’s a problem. Frickin’ EA…

Anonymous Coward says:

Lack of creativity and vision is *not* the PS3’s problem. PS3’s problem is that there are no one making any games for it. I guess thats sort of a lack of creativity, but not necessarily on Sony’s part. The PS3 is a beautiful piece of machinery. Unfortunately, no matter how powerful it is, its still useless if you can’t do anything with it. Actually, too much creativity & vision may have been the problem. The thing is so damned advanced, no one knows how to write games for it.

The PS3 == a hell of a lot of potential. Someone just has to tap the well.

reed says:

Some old stuff just new graphics,,,

Innovation of games has hit rock bottom over the past few years. Rather than better gameplay/strategy/quality all we get is better graphics. Big-whoop!

I hope that in 2008 open source will start making its way into gaming like never before. I am tired of seeing billions of lines of code wasted with every game when we could easily recycle the code and start focusing on creativity!

PhysicsGuy says:

Re: Some old stuff just new graphics,,,

I am tired of seeing billions of lines of code wasted with every game when we could easily recycle the code and start focusing on creativity!

have you ever actually looked at the direct x SDK? it’s not like most game developers don’t just use the already written code that’s available. there’s enough prewritten code to produce the valve’s source engine piecemeal style (i’m pretty sure the hdr lighting code in the direct x sdk is from valve).

Cixelsid says:

Re: Re: Some old stuff just new graphics,,,

Terrible. So everybody uses same shitty ass effects because they’re too lazy to write themselves better stuff in a decent API like OGL.

I agree, there’s no innovation in games these days. I’m currently finishing Starcon2 for the 18th time(http://sc2.sourceforge.net/) cause its from ’92 and its better than anything being churned out at the moment and its free and its opensource.

reed says:

Re: Re: Some old stuff just new graphics,,,

“have you ever actually looked at the direct x SDK? it’s not like most game developers don’t just use the already written code that’s available. there’s enough prewritten code to produce the valve’s source engine piecemeal style (i’m pretty sure the hdr lighting code in the direct x sdk is from valve).”

I have spent a good amount of my time programming and games have been part of that experience. Putting it together “piecemeal” size isn’t what I think of when I want a open source gaming engine (which is generally what you get).

If open source were to start hitting bigger in 2008 we could start to see a turnaround from “huge” generic productions to “small” highly creative games. This could be facilitated by those already programming by sharing the code and making better game development engines.

I am sure that the big guys wouldn’t like this idea because it spells their eventual death, but hey with the crap they are turning out GOOD RIDDANCE! 🙂

PhysicsGuy says:

Re: Re: Re: Some old stuff just new graphics,,,

it sounds to me like you don’t want to a.) take the time to write original code b.) take the time to use the enormous amount of code already available for writing a game engine c.) pay to license an engine.

you say you don’t want to put an engine together piecemeal style and you think time is wasted rewriting code from engines, yet you want it open source. so basically, you want others to code an engine for you to make a game without having to pay for the engine.

i’d also like to note, some of the huge productions have been incredible. oblivion, for one, was amazing. i’ll admit there is certainly mounds of the same old rubbish out there, but the bulk of the rubbish aren’t the ones coming out with the crazy new engines.

if you haven’t noticed, in the entire history of video games, there have always been a lack of highly creative games and a bulk of generic productions. it’s just the way it is, open source wouldn’t have a chance in hell to change that.

Brian Carnell (user link) says:

Innovative? Or Just Good?

I think he’s wrong that games need to be more innovative. I think of the games that I’ve played the most, and none was terribly innovative. Rather, they were solid games with fun gameplay that built upon previous games.

The problem with games is the tendency to appeal to the hardcore fanboys,

“”We’re boring people to death and making games that are harder and harder to play,” Mr. Riccitiello said in an interview.”

Similarly, I don’t really see many “innovative” films or read many “innovative” books. Rather, I like films that have a solid story, believable plotting, and decent acting. Same thing for novels. (Even the innovative ones are interesting more for those elements…Toy Story used innovative technology, but it is the story that keeps me watching it years after its release).

Haywood says:

EA lost my vote a long time ago

I’ve had every version of need for speed ever produced, and they continue to spiral downward. I liked 1 and 3 then NSF hot pursuit 2 was another winner, since that they have become strategy games (go here, talk to someone, go there, do this or that). My biggest gripe is the lack of support for the older games, I paid good money for NFS3, but it was written for 3dfx, now 3dfx is obsolete, a simple patch would fix it, but that is too much bother. I can and have bought the newer one, but the game play is enough different that it isn’t anywhere near the same. I am tech savey enough to get it to run, but why should I have to jump through hoops.

That Guy says:

No Competition

I think a key point that should be made, as it relates to the sports titles, is that EA over the past few years has cornered the market on exclusive rights to sports franchises. Most notable is their Madden deal, which grants them exclusive rights to make an NFL game for ALL platforms.

There is literally no competition for them.

I don’t fault EA as much as I fault the leagues. How could one think that having only one video game company create MORE demand for your sport?

I understand limiting licenses to companies you trust, but the ESPN NFL games by Sega were great.

I’d be interested in seeing the numbers of total NFL licensed games sold both before and after the EA exclusive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Competition

“I understand limiting licenses to companies you trust, but the ESPN NFL games by Sega were great.”

I agree, I really loved the 1st person playing ability in the ESPN game. As well as the slightly cheesey half time show where they showed highlights from the first half you just got done playing.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think everyone has pretty much said the same thing. EA has become a giant company full of shit. They release games that have no original content, they don’t work, they’re overpriced, have adverts in them and they stop supporting them as sooon as they can.

What more is there to say, EA is shit. Don’t buy their games until they produce something worth buying.

I won’t even download their shit for free, it’s just too shit to bother with.

Jeff keith says:

EA is shit

EA have been ripping us off since day one. they have a minimal amount of games that are even worth owning. i wish i could talk to someone in EA instead of having to sign up to one of their shitty websites!
i hate their newest game mirrors edge aswell. the biggest waste of £40 ever! i would rather have wiped my ass on the money to be honest. me and a few friends that bought it took our copies back and the clerk said ” oh its an EA game, so i wudnt expect many people to keep hold of it” this proves how shit those morons are! i fucking hate the lot of them and hope they all die!

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