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EA Sports' Moore: 'There Will Be No Offline Games'
EA Sports' Moore: 'There Will Be No Offline Games'
June 16, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander

June 16, 2011 | By Leigh Alexander
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More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



EA Sports played a particularly key role in Electronic Arts' presentation this year at E3. The label's portfolio lies at an intersection area for the publisher's strategy around a couple key trends: Social play that encourages players to engage more deeply with a brand, and further progress in gesture-based gaming.

"We are probably in year three of a very focused community management strategy that allows our consumers and our fans to provide us with feedback," says EA sports head Peter Moore, talking to Gamasutra about the label's plans "to give them platforms for their opinions as well as finding ways to be able to integrate that in a very public manner."

That Madden 2012 cover star Peyton Hillis -- who appeared on stage during EA's presentation -- was chosen to front the title by public vote is a good example, in Moore's view: "If there's a piece of real estate in video games that's prominent, it's the cover of Madden," he says.

"There were 32 players, one from each team, and it all came down to Peyton Hillis and the fans have spoken... it's the first time we've ever had a player from a losing team the year before on the cover."

"I think the ability for us to be able to utilize the power of the community to listen, to learn and to improve as a result is very important in our industry," he adds.

When it comes to the quickly-evolving motion control arena, EA Sports continues a calculated increase of its presence in that space. Last year the company released EA Sports Active for Kinect and an edition of Tiger Woods PGA Tour for PlayStation Move; following the initial unveil of those input technologies at E3 2010, Moore told us the label's approach to utilizing them would be 'very prescriptive'.

Through those releases, Moore says the teams "learned a lot of lessons that have taught us what we need to do to make the application of that technology more prevalent. We know exactly what we need to do. We have four Kinect games next calendar year. In the case of Move we had Tiger, and we're looking at ways to be able to integrate Move going forward."

The Wii U's New Frontier

And what about this year's newest console innovation: Nintendo's Wii U, which will add a touch tablet controller to the home experience? Nintendo was joined in its presentation by EA CEO John Riccitiello, demonstrating the publisher's interest in supporting the hardware early.

"My dev teams -- their heads are exploding, in a good way and a bad way," Moore says, and it appears the label will use caution in its eagerness here, too: "How do we look at this new technology? We don't just want to bolt this on; this has to be relevant to the sports gamer."

Moore says he likes Wii U, "from the perspective of once again, Nintendo is putting a different spin on things, showing that it's not all about graphic fidelity and processing power. In the world of sports, our minds are racing as to how we can bring a sports game to life in a unique way." For example, he feels that being able to use the controller to call plays in Madden would be "kind of a no-brainer for us."

And the exec finds it heartening that with its next console, Nintendo seems committed to addressing some of the issues third parties have seen as limitations on the Wii platform: "We love the fact [Wii U] is high def, that Nintendo has a renewed focus on building online communities. Nintendo adds that kind of outlier mentality that is a very different take on what the industry needs, and more power to them," he says.

The Multiplatform Social Explosion

EA Sports' games in particular stand to benefit from the rapid flourishing of multiplatform, social play. "We look at our research and see, there are 130, 140 million fans of the NFL in America. What do we need to do to bring a Madden experience to them? It could be as simple as a three-minute experience every day, or as complex as playing Franchise Mode, or every stop in between."

The divisions between gamers and nongamers, or even among gamers on different devices, is a thing of the past, Moore enforces. "Now everyone who's a sports fan who has a device is a consumer," he says. "The goal ultimately is to move those folks further along the value chain, and that's what we're intending to do. It's a double-edged sword: It's a more fragmented marketplace, but there are more gamers than ever before. It's a broad swath of experiences and a great opportunity to grow our business."

One way is to offer consumers in-depth social tools around games: "We're already doing that [with] FIFA," says Moore. During the development of EA Sports Football Club, the team looked at ways players would want to represent their real-life team. "There's a massive humanity that supports this tribal thing called soccer out there, and how do we bring that to life within the video game experience? It's a quantum leap in the virtualization of the passion I have for the game, more than just for the video game."

"You can imagine that being extended, this concept of persistence, to Madden next year," Moore suggests. "We want to use this ability to make our games less discrete, standalone experiences and more like services. Madden shouldn't be a place you buy, it should be a place you go. And skill-based gaming is the next frontier we continue to look at with our partners at Virgin Gaming: How do I allow you to prove how good you are and have a monetary value around that as well?"

New innovations are currently being driven by platform holders, and software publishers must leverage them and adapt, Moore says. But the game business is "clearly becoming an industry that's taking massive franchises and then spreading that experiences across multiple platforms and multiple geographies, anytime, anywhere. There will be no offline games, and it's very pleasing to see how our industry has embraced connectivity, has changed our business models to react to consumer demands."

Whither MMA?

We spoke to Moore in a room lined with large individual posters representative of each of EA Sports' major franchises, but notably missing from the lineup was EA Sports MMA. Last year, he acknowledged that breaking into the new, popular MMA field would be difficult with the major UFC license held by rival THQ, but that the entry represented a "long term play" for the publisher.

"MMA's doing fine, we just have no announcements to make on future iterations," Moore says. The company has a boxing title with Fight Night, which Moore says has been particular in particular for its ability "to tell a story outside the ring. It could be a precursor to some interesting ways of having an RPG-type storytelling with a game like this," he suggested.

But the main challenge facing sports gaming remains the fact that there's generally little room for multiple publishers contending for one sport. "When you look at the math in today's world, and the number of platforms you're obligated to be able to develop for, is there room for three players to still make money? We have to be able to show shareholders a return on investment, and there are very few instances where there are multiple publishers all fighting over the same sport and all are being successful."

"That's not to say there can be only one player, but if you're a distant number two, the numbers don't add up for you."


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Comments


Daniel Martinez
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No offline games? Kiss my disposable income goodbye. Because it will be in the stock market, and not in your stocks.

Michael Yochum
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i don't know about 2012 being the first year that a player from a "loosing team" made it onto the cover. i wonder what he considers a loosing team because madden 2007 featured a seahawk and the seahawks haven't won a championship in a long time.

Todd Boyd
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Loose != lose

Michael Backus
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He means a team with a losing record the year before.

Michael Yochum
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@ Michael Backus, thanks. i am not much of a sports guy.



@ Anthony, i misspelled a word twice on a posting, but you are the one who is truly being unprofessional.



@ Todd, thanks but really was this that important for you to call me out? i do like the little bit of code in their though.

Mark Brackeen
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It's pretty obvious he meant a team with a losing record. The Seahawks went to the Super Bowl the year before Shaun Alexander was on the cover. They definitely were not "losers". He didn't say every other cover athlete had won the Super Bowl the year before, that's obviously not true.

Ujn Hunter
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"No offline games" = I'm done with gaming... dependence on internet connections is a horrible thing... just ask people who bought Capcom games on PSN.

Doug Poston
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It's comments like these that make me wonder why people put up with such shitty internet connections.



To me, the internet is like electricity. I can live without it but, if I'm paying for it, I expect 24/7 access.



Edit: I just realize that you're talking about other people's services going down. Yeah, that crap has got to stop too.

Dave Smith
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and what happens when the regional cable monopolies decide to charge through the roof for internet access?

Doug Poston
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Then EA dies and we go back to playing card games by candle light. ;)



But I doubt it will happen. With so many products going to "the cloud", if ISPs start charging the moon, they will lose their monopoly either through competition or the government will split them up. Look at the history of power, transportation, phone, etc. in the US.

Kelly Johnson
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I know lots of football fans and the only ones that play Madden are the ones who have been playing it since they were kids. Everyone else is investing their time (and now money) into Fantasy Football Leagues. People like Fantasy Football because they get to create their own leagues and rule sets and there is a direct correlation to real football games on Sundays. People don't play Madden when watching games they are too busy tracking their FF players successes and failures. You pour a lot of time into Madden and what do you gain? Skills that only suit that game but in Fantasy the time you put in actually makes you more knowledgeable about football. There is much greater satisfaction in winning a FF League than winning at Madden. If you are good at Madden, well nobody really cares but if you win your FF league you get respect.



To kill off single player gaming (won't use the term "offline") would be a huge mistake but I am not surprised because there is no more innovation in gaming, it's all about getting on the latest money-train bandwagon. Instead of innovation in game design, it is the hardware that is touted as being innovative (motion control, 3d, etc). Any old gamer can wax nostalgic about low tech games that were quite fulfilling (Wizardry comes to mind) but this is a new era in gaming...social games, subscription based games...free to play games...its all about the money now.

David Serrano
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I agree about fantasy football being a more popular option, especially to those who don't play AAA games. I gave up on Madden after the 07 edition. I've never been in a FF league but I was heavily into fantasy baseball a few years ago. It's more satisfying (and addicting) than any console or PC game I've ever played. At some point I'd love to see a developer take a crack at bringing video game tech. and production values to fantasy leagues. It'd be interesting if nothing else lol.

Gilliard Lopes
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Very poor choice of words for a headline. If you actually read the article, you'll realise what Peter actually meant: that no game will be a disconnected experience anymore, that titles will always extend their scope towards online community building and social interaction. However, the choice of exploring those features and making your gaming experience an online one is still up to the player.

Brian Lomeland
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Bummer. I was really looking forward to being able to "engage more deeply with a brand."



I can't think of any game I've ever played that was truly a disconnected experience. I can still talk to my friends about Seven Cities of Gold or Zork. The communities exist despite the publishers or developers and in many cases are better off being independent such as sites dedicated to niches. This sounds like Facebook promotions and achievement badges. Nothing inherently bad, but nothing incredibly compelling either.

Jason Turnip
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Let's face it. EA is once again pushing its weight around. As one of the first publishers to introduce DRM into PC games, EA is now letting everyone know the transformation of gaming is almost complete. They will now freely use their games to steal marketing data from your gaming system of choice. Thanks EA.

wes bogdan
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This doesn't seem new as i can have my trophy or raptr log posted on facebook for all to see.

Raptr is a great resource and through the ps3 itself you can have trophy data-has earned x trophy in x game auto posted.



As for games i still can't find a multi-player mode that's as deep and enjoyable as say uncharted 1 or 2,rouge galaxy or various final fantasy games. Zelda and metroid beat online any day. Competition or now co-op campain/horde mode still can't beat single player mode but with dev's shrinking story mode to single digits(less than 10 hours to beat) and focusing 80% on online we get derivative stuff like cod "story mode" but the meat of series like halo,killzone or really any modern f.p.s. is online as some players skip the story mode and go straight to online. With bots being less than intelligent i wouldn't waste my time in a sports game:madden,woods etc where i wasn't playing someone who wasn't online.

While i prefer games with depth:ratchet,mario,rouge galaxy,mini ninja's,zelda,metroid,fable or halo/gears i also respect games that dare to evolve a preconceived genre like lbp,metal gear solid 1 or modnation,bioshock 1 etc.



Most gamers are looking foward to mw3,ac :revelations,batman:ac,uncharted 3,gears,battlefield 3 or halo ae but i'm also looking foward to equally disgaea 4,beyond good and evil 2(hope it doesn't turn out like duke forever did),toy soldiers:cold war,guardian heros and journey.



It's tragic to see very few innovative games outside psn or xbla but right now everyone simply wants to shoot each other in F.P.S and i'm not saying those aforementioned games are bad-far from it but what happens when saturation finally hits like the music games...overspecialize and breed in weakness- ghost in the shell.I'd prefer the ps2 era with lots of different games:jrpg's were plentiful,ratchet,jack,sly,god of war,team ico,bg a e-it was still a time where innovation lived but when everything went HD lots of studio's closed,merged or were scuttled as they simply couldn't handle HD costs.



Anyway i wish more gamers out there were looking for more than the big franchise games and while madden devotes will likely never burn out on football other games like cod deploying elite this year might run dry. First everyone needed a mascot/platformer,then the fighting games came to town and more recently 3d brought doom/F.P.S which is still king as online is polished here but what's next will play,create and share dethrone shooters and every game must let players create their own content,who knows.

Dave Smith
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in the early days every game was expected to be two player, but those gave way to better more emmersive one player experiences. now they are saying the pendulum has swung back so far that one player is looked on as a relic, and i just dont buy it. this idea that people no longer care for emmersive, personal experiences just makes no sense to me.

Robert Gill
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Agree with the comments above on a misleading title.



I don't believe we will be going totally online in the next couple of years. We still have the "old guard" that like to play single player, offline games.



What I would really like to see is consoles not bound by a particular service. Not going to happen anytime soon, but imagine if you were a PS3 user, but could use Steam instead of PSN for your gaming? I guess choice would be a lot better, in terms of online connectivity.

Mark Harris
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Calm down, no one is taking away your single player games. He's saying what everyone else is saying, because it's true. As we progress there will literally be no game that doesn't have some kind of connectivity built in, even if it's just a simple stat upload to your online game account or sending metrics to the publisher.



All games on all platforms will be designed to be "connected" somehow. You are more than welcome to not hook your console up to an internet connection, but that doesn't mean the game won't coded to look for a connection and use it.

David Serrano
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Is it just me, or does this man go out of his way to infuriate people every time he opens his mouth? The only upside to allowing him to speak is he usually places his foot directly into his mouth in the process. And this was a gem: "The divisions between gamers and nongamers, or even among gamers on different devices, is a thing of the past" Moore enforces.



Really? That's funny because I believe Peter Moore is one of the people responsible for the "casual players aren't worthy of us" environment core gaming embraced several years ago. He's been instrumental in placing the most vile, destructive segment of the audience on a pedestal and blowing sunshine up their ass. Because at the time, it was very profitable. But now that casual, mobile, and social gaming are disrupting the core market, the division between gamers and non-gamers he helped create is magically gone? Just like that? Poof?



Even worse, he has the balls to try to appeal to the players he dismissed and ignored for years? "Look, I know both myself, and my company may have been slightly hostile, even dismissive towards you in the past. But you proved we're total frigging idiots, so now we want you to be our newest best buddies!" Sorry Peter, the days of having your cake and eating it too are over. You picked sides, now own it.



A multi-billion dollar industry cannot be managed by people who behave like James Woods on Family Guy:



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5cZHyMqE5g



Oooh, hardcore audience... Oooh, casual audience... Oooh, mobile audience.... Oooh, social audience... Peter Moore, and all executives like him, are fair-weather friends. They are your best friend until something better comes along, then they stop returning your calls. They are executives who hyper-focus on one audience, who they loving label "the community." Until a new, more profitable audience comes along. Then they abandon the old community so they can hyper-focus the new community. Until another new and profitable audience comes along, etc, etc, etc... Completely oblivious to the fact as they blindly following the trail of candy forward, they leave a trail of burnt bridges behind them. They're also not smart enough to look down the road and see the trail of candy is leading them into a trap. A trap which hopefully, will spring in the next few years and force long over due management changes.


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