In our continuing series of discussions with EA Games Label president Frank Gibeau, Gamasutra asked for a status update on EALA.
It's a studio that's seen a low-profile shift in management after the departure of Neil Young (to run EA Blueprint and subsequently to found NGMoco), and one that has had a checkered history in terms of both game quality and popularity - with standouts like Boom Blox
but high-profile disappointments like Medal Of Honor Airborne
When asked about the "post-Neil Young era", Gibeau explains, "Neil hasn't run EALA for a while... We've got a very good business. Mike Verdu, who ran the Command & Conquer
business with Neil, is now the general manager of EALA. He reports in to Nick Earl, who runs our California studios. He manages Maxis, as well as our Redwood Shores group... I feel very good about the management and the leadership and the franchises at EALA."
When asked about the studio's pervasive quality issues, including the last Medal of Honor
game, Gibeau says, "We're very confident in EALA. This isn't BS, because if we weren't, we'd do something different. I believe in Mike and his leadership. I believe in Nick, and I believe in the teams down there."
"It's a group that we have very high expectations for, and we have a future plan for them over the next few years. We feel really great about the Red Alert
product coming out this November."
Pointing out the success of the EALA-developed Command & Conquer franchise
, Gibeau notes, "We have a product in Command & Conquer
that has delivered 80-plus rated Metacritic, which is a tough standard, for seven years now. It's an extremely successful business for us globally, so if you just take it by pieces, certainly the Command & Conquer
business has been humming along."
On the other hand, when it comes to the company's lagging shooter franchise, Gibeau says, "Medal of Honor
? It's been bumpy, no question about it. We hope to have a different strategy there that allows us to get back and bring that brand to greatness, and I feel confident that we have some good moves underway there. And we have some other products down there that we're evaluating with Doug Church's team, on the Spielberg projects, and also on Tiberium
On the uneven performance of the studio, Gibeau says, "This is software meets entertainment. Things get bumpy. Sometimes you have groups that have uneven performance. But all I can speak to you right now is what I'm responsible for, which is what's going to happen to LA going forward."
"It's a key part of our organization, we have some top franchises there, and I think we have a very proven, stable, aggressive leadership team there in place now where we intend to change your perception of EALA, for sure."
Implying that los angeles is a key geographical area for EA's development strategy, Gibeau also notes that, "Across town, you have Pandemic, so we have a pretty sizable footprint in LA inside our label with the EALA group as well as Pandemic." No further connection between the two studios, other than proximity, was mentioned.
You can now read the complete, in-depth Gibeau interview at Gamasutra
, discussing high expectations for Spore
and what success means for the title, future franchise plans, and the importance of quality over development deadlines.