When you look at what's been happening in the industry, with layoffs and studio closures, that's why I ask about sustainability with these huge games. Does that ever worry you, just the amount of money and risk? How do you mitigate the risk for your products?
GZ: I wouldn't say that success is the only option, [but] you know, [sustainability] is driven by excellence, and doing a good job, but also the fact that we have multiple studios working on multiple things. There is the portfolio element to it, right?
And then secondarily, we're very careful how and when we choose to bring our products to market. All those things are [important]... If you're really thoughtful about that, I think you can mitigate a lot of those risks.
RM: Because we're building lots of products -- there are large products, small products, and follow-on content -- in some ways it actually kind of delivers more things over time, and... it's actually less risky in some ways than delivering just one big product every few years.
We have multiple products coming out every year now, and some of them are smaller products, some are larger products. They're aiming at different audiences. In some cases, those audiences overlap; in other cases, they're a little bit different. That actually kind of distributes the risk as well.
GZ: Well, I think maybe another way to cut it, too, is it's about the ongoing consumer relationship. It's not about just throwing a game over the fence into a shop, "Eh, it's in the market. I don't really care."
Just based on demand in our community and all the rest, we have a pretty good idea how a game is going to do before we launch. All that extra stuff around it builds a safety net, I think, in a sense of when you're launching games.
The scary thing is when you don't have that, and you're going blindly into the market as throwing something over the fence. We've been working for probably over a decade to not be in that position, to have a community, to have this ongoing relationship. The DLC forms a bridge to the next game. If we did do a new IP at some point, there would probably be something connecting it back to the mothership in some way. It's always, you know, done to sort of minimize the downside and maximize the upside.
RM: We have a community of loyal fans that are going to be there to at least talk about your product -- and we learn from them, and promote it to them, and engage their interest level, and get their feedback.
And we do a lot of market research before we launch our games, too. We have great marketing research teams within BioWare and Electronic Arts; it's great to be able to tap into that. We have telemetry within our games, so post launch we can actually see what the players are enjoying and not enjoying, playing and not playing, and kind of adapt what we build for PDLC and sequels and other products that kind of reflect those changing consumer tastes and preferences.
We never lose sight of our own intuition. You can become a slave to the data, but you can certainly adapt your intuition and build on it, and use that together with your intuition and data, kind of combine the analytic with the intuitive approach to make the best entertainment possible. Because at the end of the day, it is an art form. It's a commercial art form, but a lot of it is driving entertainment for your fans.