Good News and Bad: CNBC Interviews EA CEO John Riticiello

 

It’s impossible to overstate just how much the business side of the games industry affects the nature and the feel of the games that we actually play, day in and day out. With that in mind, I’ve got mixed feelings about recent comments made by (possibly embattled) EA CEO John Riccitiello. On the one hand, since I’m primarily a PC gamer, this sounds like good news: “Just five years ago people said that the PC game business was in a radical state of decline because NPD said it was down 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, year-in year-out. The fastest growing platform for video games today is the PC”.

Then the other shoe drops: “But it’s growing through subscriptions, through micro-transactions and through downloads.” Sure, if you like PC games, PC growth is good — it means more investment and interest in that side of the industry. Gamers, however, should be wary of changing business models that enrich people like Riccitiello through Day-1 DLC and other new-fangled, anti-consumer tactics — what’s good for massive publishers like EA is not necessarily good for the people who play the games they publish.

The CEO and his interviewer discuss EA’s move from a “packaged goods business to a digital business,” which Riccitiello himself refigures as a move from a “product business to a service business.” Citing FIFA as an example, he explains how in past years, the spike in player activity after launch dried up within a couple months. Not so with FIFA 12 — EA’s constant updates and challenges have kept players engaged. “We’re adding content every week,” Riticiello explains, adding a crucial aside: “by the way, we’re driving revenue every week on top of it.”

He then floats this analogy: EA, apparently, is adapting “the culture of building something like a Broadway play where you go on every night, instead of a canned television performance that’s once and done.” On Broadway, of course, the audience changes every night — EA is hoping that they can charge people over and over again for the same seat. As always, profit is the prime motive: “All of our businesses are going from ‘all the revenue all at once’ to an ongoing 12-month service business, which is a different way of performing and providing entertainment to the consumers. It’s a more lucrative way.”

If, like me, you prefer buying games to “12-month services,” these statements should strike you as very disturbing. If EA has decided that they can make more money by soaking their customers for small amounts of money over long periods of time, they’re going to keep doing it, and you can rest assured that other publishers will follow suit.

h/t PC Gamer
h/t CVG
h/t CNBC

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8 Comments on Good News and Bad: CNBC Interviews EA CEO John Riticiello

Mike

On July 20, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Wow, just as i finished criticizing the Dead Space 3 co-op, this thing pops out. I’ m usually a very calm person, but now i’ m considering bringing out the voodoo dolls for John Riccitiello (correct the title). Things are going from ridiculous to dangerous very quickly. Whatever EA’ s real reason for replacing him might be, a small part of me hopes that these maniacal statements are part of it.

R.J.

On July 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I believe this is the same guy that thinks it’s a good idea to apply microtransactions so you have to pay for a new clip in your game because people won’t worry too much about paying $1 at a time. That’s right, EA would like to charge you for your game to even be functional. Micro isn’t bad as it stands, but if this guy had his way, your game wouldn’t even work unless you kept chipping in.

Axetwin

On July 21, 2012 at 3:46 am

EA will do as EA does. What really scares me is knowing that people will actually fall for this. EA can theorize all they want with a 100 different ways to milk players out of all their money, but as long as people dont actually support this, then itll fail. So the real question is do you think people are actually stupid enough to allow themselves to be billed like this? Personally, I think they are which just makes life tougher for those of us that are smart enough to see the truth.

Nevarion

On July 21, 2012 at 4:46 am

Panem et circenses. (No, not the books)

EA and Riccitiello are a synonym for error in reasoning. It’ll bite them in their collective backsides.

SevenCell

On July 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

This is very bad news. Subscriptions for online play are just about justifiable, but regular payments just to keep playing the game?
And of course, we’ll all fall for it, for years.
But in the end, they’ll go too far, and someone’ll sneak up behind them and do it better.

LTenhet

On July 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Games are not services, as the European Court said recently. If I buy a game, I want to have the game… I don’t want to pay however-much every year to continue playing it, especially if say… they shut down the servers for it and it renders the game moot after a year.

Barry F. Skinner

On July 22, 2012 at 3:09 am

I’m really happy. I love being hooked on a game and spending hundreds of dollars. I also love having my dopamine system manipulated by amoral corporations. I’ve always wanted to be that chicken behind the glass pecking at the food dispenser. Yippee!

zoumanan

On July 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

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