Mirror mirror, on the wall…

… who will catch you if you fall?


EA: Creativity in Games at Risk

I for one welcome our corporate overlords 

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello told the DICE Summit that increasing development costs, growing teams and industry consolidation pose a threat to creativity in the industry by dulling the creative voices of developers. 

However Riccitiello feels that this problem can be countered by adopting “quasi-autonomous label models” like the one pioneered by Take 2 Games. EA is adopting a similar model, after spending the last several years being viewed as the all-consuming Evil Empire of gaming.

Riccitiello also said that EA dropped the ball with many of their early acqusitions.

At EA we’ve had our share of failures with the acquisitions of developers. WestwoodBullfrog, Origin Systems – these places no longer exist today and are no longer creative forces in the industry,” he said. “There was a fundamental belief that we could be one happy family. We had a top-down approach to development. We at EA blew it. I would say I blew it.”

He sees the current economic state of the industry – despite its rapid growth and success – as “disturbing.”

EA’s answer is a “city-state” approach to managing its various development houses in which each studio retains creative control and responsibility for its own financial success but reports to and taps into the resources of its parent company.

Having recently acquired BioWare/Pandemic from Elevation Partners (where Riccitiello used to work), EA now has an opportunity to step  up and translate actions into words. “I can’t guarantee that this is going to be the perfect example,” Riccitiello said. “But I think you’ll find [Bioware/Pandemic] buy into this idea as much as I do.”

So how about it, readers? Is the creative heart of the industry set to be torn out by rising expectations? Are we seeing the birth of a kinder, gentler EA? Is this is all PR and bollocks? Is there another way (I recommend this link, actually)?