What do you think of E3 this year? I imagine you were probably a part of the group pushing against the previous incarnation, because I know EA was a big factor in it. What do you think of this current iteration of E3?
FG: We were just one of a bunch of people, so it wasn't like we were leading the charge. At the end of the day, it's the hardware companies who have a big impact. I don't know if the show necessarily leverages the best efforts of the industry and its profile. I liked the way it worked before, but the way it was before was no longer really sustainable. I'm not sure that this configuration's formula is leveraging the best that we have, but I think it will undergo more evolution.
I know our experience is that it's clear to us that we want to bring people to EA or go see them with our stuff in a much more concerted, impactful way, and also at consumer show opportunities, so we can continue to have that impact that that one concentrated E3 had, but not with the complete diversion and distraction of resources and time against development teams that was creating.
My perception was that it was supposed to be more industry-focused, and as an industry publication, I've found that it's been incredibly difficult to find any of the kind of stuff that we could cover, like interviews with developers. There are very few developers here. It's curious.
FG: It is. There's very few retailers, too. Traditionally, you had retail, investors, and the press, and then sometimes you get fans who sneak their way in. Nobody's sneaking in anymore. Most retailers didn't come -- it used to be global. You guys are stuck trying to find Waldo, running all over west LA. We do see investors, but there's other ways to talk to investors.
Flagship Studios' upcoming EA-published PC action RPG Hellgate: London
You mentioned Hellgate a while ago. That's external. How different is that from working with the internal teams right now?
FG: The partner's group works inside my team, and the core fundamentals are the same: working with a creative team, figuring out what game they've got, and trying to bring it to market in the best possible way. You've got less control over it than you do on an internal title. That doesn't necessarily mean that control translates into better, it just means that you can prioritize or move resources around inside EA to help the team when they need help, or maximize it in different ways that you don't necessarily have with an external party.
Having said that, one of the things we do is that we have engineers that can go and help a problem inside the developer organization -- any different types of problems that they may have with a first party or certain processes or that sort of thing. What I've found so far is that the difference hasn't been that dramatic. When we sit down with Flagship or Pandemic or our partners at Crytek, we sit down and approach the games the same way in terms of how we want to market it and how to turn it into a hit. We give them feedback on what we think will make it better.
Obviously, the internal team or an external team can choose to not do it for whatever reason, but hopefully what you do is you end up in a place where feedback makes sense and it does make the game better. Ultimately, they do get to make the final call, so there's a little bit more influence they have on an internal game, but you can't have a baby in three months even if you want to! It still takes nine months.
Even if we wanted to go twice as fast, it's still creating software. It's a little less control, but what I do like is that we can bring in more experimental ideas and more teams in EA by partnering with it in that way. I know that the approach that I'm taking with it is a lot more progressive and enlightened in terms of just saying, "Let's try lots of different things. Let's look at different ways of working with people."