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EA's Riccitiello: Traditional Console Dev Cycle Is 'Gone Forever'
EA's Riccitiello: Traditional Console Dev Cycle Is 'Gone Forever'
July 26, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

The traditional 4-to-5-year console cycle that gave game developers ample time to prepare for technology changes is "gone forever," says EA CEO John Riccitiello, whose company has been reinventing itself for the digital age.

"The industry has radically changed and the pace of change has accelerated dramatically," he said in a Gamasutra-attended conference call. "Gone forever is the 4-to-5 year console cadence that gave developers ample time to invest and retool for the next big wave."

"Consider that just 18 months ago there was no iPad, Google was experimenting with Android, and most big games were limited to a single revenue opportunity at launch. Consider that each of the major consoles now has a controller that encourages users to get off the couch and get into the action," he said, adding that the top paid apps across tablets and smartphones are consistently games.

"While the game industry has fundamentally changed, games are reaching a far larger audience base than ever before," he said, before explaining his company's three key strategies for the immediate future.

First, EA says it is building on the strength of its most important IPs, which will be maintained at "about a dozen" substantial franchises.

"Each of these will be transformed into year-round businesses with major packaged goods launches, social launches, mobile launches, downloadable content and micro-transactions," he said.

Second, said Riccitiello, is establishing Electronic Arts as a platform, rather than a mere third-party publisher, while at the same time maintaining relationships with its established retail partners, both physical and digital.

Its Origin digital distribution system and storefront launched this year is of course key to this strategy, but Riccitiello says its partners are just as important, pointing out that GameStop's 11.5 million registered digital users is "proving to be one of our best partners in digital."

Finally, Riccitiello says the company is investing further in talent, saying that its creative teams have more interesting and rewarding jobs now that they are managing content across a full spectrum of channels.

"We recognize that creative and engineering talent is at the core of what we do, and we are making sure that EA is the best place to work for these industry leaders."

Its new Austin studio that will open up 300 new jobs is "a great example of our commitment to this strategy," he said.

Its PopCap acquisition seems to follow this strategy as well: at the time, Riccitiello praised that company's management staff, saying that he would not be surprised to "see them take on additional roles in the company over time."

EA reported revenue and profit growth for its previous fiscal quarter, partially driven by strong digital revenue growth.

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Joe McGinn
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Good analysis of the state of the game industry. I actually see good things ahead for EA because of this kind of thinking.

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Hm. I really hope this means that EA is going to invest in some truly new and unique IPs, beyond the FPS craze we still have.

Personally, I think I've been really critical about EA and Activision (especially Activision). So I would like to try and find the good in these companies, despite their misgivings. For example, it's really nice for EA to spread out some more, but it would be really..."nice", I suppose is the word, if they were to open up studios in the Midwest or out East (and not just Florida). Wishful thinking, but still :).

Joshua George
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The problem is businesses are businesses and at the end of the day the goal is to make money. FPS's tend to make money. So as long as that is true and studios put out decent to well made FPS's, we will see the FPS craze.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

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I don't have a problem with FPS games, per se. It's the exclusion of new IPs and genres that is bothersome. I suppose each generation has it's "craze" (Fighting Craze of the 90s, anyone?).

I understand that this is a business. And if people want to buy that FPS clone, then more power to them, as everyone should be playing a game they enjoy.

Joshua Sterns
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Deadspace, Dragonage, and Mass Effect may not be the most new, but are non the less solid franchises with some unique features/moments.

Fox English
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Sadly the direction Bioware games aren't really satisfying my RPG craving, and they're kind of stale to me as a former fan of their old PC titles. Luckily RPGs are a genre that indies love to develop the way they used to be made with a different path of innovation. Also, I haven't played Dead Space but the theme isn't my thing - not into horror and/or zombie-types.

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@Everyone's replies, especially RPG-related ones: If I met you all IRL, I would buy you a bagel.

Because saying "Your comments are true and legit" just doesn't do it justice ^_^

Philip Michael Norris
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I don't really trust guys in our industry who wear suits :/

Ruthaniel van-den-Naar
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Philip very old true, industry is now too big, too much business, no much room from real creativity in big "solid" companies.