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Experiments and Innovations: The EA Approach


March 4, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next
 

What do you think of the philosophy change at EA? The drive for quality. What do you think of that as a guiding principle for the company?

PS: To me, that is the only guiding principle if you're making entertainment. You can't survive in this industry without having -- I mean, I think, at least -- that guidance as your primary objective.

I think, for me as a person, I could not imagine working for a company that didn't have that as its guiding philosophy. And sometimes in the old EA that wasn't always true. Today, that is the guiding philosophy, that we have to get to quality, and quality will make you successful.

There are a lot of good games that don't sell, but in the long run you'll win if you strive for quality, and if you constantly put out high-quality products, you'll win without a doubt. So, for me, it's an extremely important factor, and it's one thing that I personally couldn't work without.

That's how I used to run the DICE studio in Stockholm when I was a GM for that for almost ten years; that's how we made the Battlefield products, and all of those games that we built in the past.

The last bad game from DICE was probably Shrek. That's a long time ago.

PS: Exactly. And Shrek was a game that came out of a studio that we acquired, and that that game was basically done when we acquired them, so that basically wasn't a DICE game. It wasn't built by DICE.

"DICE has a reputation for quality" is another way of saying it that's a little bit less snarky. (laughs)

PS: And, you know, it's hard to deliver high quality products; that's why I'm so proud of the fact that EA has something like BioWare in its family.

You have to admire the guys up there, because you know that whatever they touch, you know that it's going to be 90+ rated, every single time. It might take longer...

There's a definite correlation between development cycle and quality.

PS: Time, yeah. But, they certainly know they've found their way of making things at extremely high quality, and I respect them for that. I envy them for that; I wish all of us could do that all of the time, but I think it's important that we have our Ferrari Enzo in the company, in the form of BioWare.


EA's Dead Space

We all know that Mirror's Edge didn't perform particularly well this fall, and Dead Space performed well but wasn't a huge hit, and then on the back of that some of the analysts were saying, "This 'quality' thing didn't work out! Time to switch gears again!" I think that's simplistic, but...

PS: I think that's way simplistic; I think if you analyze games like Dead Space and Mirror's Edge for their lifetime performance, I bet you'll find them to be seen as successful.

They're both new IPs; it's hard to break new ground with new IPs, especially in that Q3 window, when you have games like Gears of War 2, Call of Duty 5, and a bunch of other really strong products with a 2, or 3, or 4, or 5 on it. So, I think that we could have done a better job as far as ship timing on, probably, both of those.

I think that in the case of Dead Space, I think that we executed well on our quarter targets; probably better than we could have hoped for. I love the game; I think it's an awesome game, so kudos to the team for putting it together.

I think on Mirror's Edge we did a lot of things that we set ourselves up to do: it's an extremely innovative product, both in terms of art direction, to in-game music, to the movement and everything. Is it perfect? No. Are there things in there that we will address for future versions? Absolutely. Was it a good first attempt? Yes! That's kind of how I summarize it.

I can't compare Mirror's Edge to what we did with Battlefield... But we did a game back in the days called Codename Eagle, in 1998, '99, for Take 2. We were independent. That was kind of the foundation for Battlefield 1942, which ultimately was a slightly better game than Codename: Eagle.

And I'm not saying that Mirror's Edge versus the future iterations of Mirror's Edge is a Codename Eagle versus 1942, but what I'm saying is that I think that as long as you learn from your previous product, and you learn from what worked and what didn't work, you're ultimately going to be okay.


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