Gamasutra - DICE Keynote: EA CEO on The Future of Publishing
John Riccitiello, CEO for publisher Electronic Arts, discussed in his keynote address at the DICE Summit the past mistakes EA has made in the publishing realm, what he sees as a dark future for smaller independent studios and what he hopes for the future of the industry and his company:
"The first thing I want to talk about is the rising cost of development," he said. "It's putting pressure on everyone... It's also leading to industry consolidation. It's leading to developers being bought by publishers and publishers disappearing. It's leading to creative failure. The organizations are not coming together in a good way, and we're getting less creative, less innovative products."...
Riccitiello said he didn't believe it was possible to start up a new studio in your garage anymore, and said "the proliferation of platforms is a problem" -- from PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and PC ten years ago, to 12 now, and mobile platforms.
On EA's past mistakes:
Pulling up a slide with developers Bullfrog, Origin and Westwood listed, Riccitiello admitted "we've had our share of failures with acquisitions."
"These were great studios that created great products and yet these places no longer exist today," he said. "Something broke, it didn't happen as we or they dreamed it. I would state simply that we at EA blew it, and I was involved so I can say I blew it."
"What got us to failure was the fundamental belief at EA that we could be one big happy family, that one culture and management approach fits all," he admitted.
"We had a top down approach to creative development," he explained. "Creative decisions escalated to the top of the company... When I talk to creative leaders who populated these companies at the time they felt like they were buried under bureaucracy and couldn't get heard."
On their current approach:
Riccitiello wrote a white paper about creative success while at Elevation, saying he was "inspired by my conversations with the owners of BioWare and Pandemic."
At EA, he said, there is a "simple concept of a city-state" with its studios -- "they're creatively responsible, they're financially responsible, and if they're taking anyone over it's them taking over us."
"It's a different model than in our company a decade ago," he admitted. "These citystates are more about who they are individually than they are part of EA... The heart and soul of what our company is with the developers who create the products because without that we are absolutely nothing."