Former BioWare Producer: New IP "Isn't a Priority" for EA

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Former BioWare Producer: New IP "Isn't a Priority" for EA

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A former producer at BioWare predicts that EA will shift its focus from risky, big-budget games going into the next generation.

As one of the biggest third-party publishers of video games, EA has released dozens of new IPs during the current console generation. Some of those, like Dead Space and Dragon Age, have evolved into successful series; others, like Mirror's Edge and Brutal Legend, were less successful (though rumors of a Mirror's Edge sequel have persisted for years). If one former BioWare producer is to be believed, new IPs from EA will be much less frequent next generation. According to Ethan Levy, formerly of BioWare San Francisco, creating risky, big-budget titles just "isn't a priority for the organization."

In a Quarter Spiral blog post, Levy referenced iOS game The Simpsons: Tapped Out as an example of EA's changing strategy. Levy estimated that Tapped Out has generated $29.6 million, which translates to $20.7 million after Apple's cut. Considering that the free-to-play title was only released in August, it's pretty impressive that it represents 6.6% of EA's quarterly digital revenue, if Levy's estimation is correct. "I have no idea what Tapped Out's budget was, but I can guarantee a very healthy return on investment for the title, even considering that it has to shoulder some portion of a licensing deal to use The Simpsons' brand," Levy wrote. "No doubt it is a mere sliver compared to the cost of the critical (and probable commercial) failure, Medal of Honor: Warfighter."

Levy states that EA's previous stategy of "big brands + big marketing budget + high production values = $$$" may have "finally run its course in the core space." Going forward, Levy believes, EA will focus on smaller games that will provide a bigger return on the publisher's investment. "As far as I can tell from publicly facing information, creating innovative, new IPs just isn't a priority for the organization."

From a business perspective, it's easy to see why EA would want to publish smaller, less expensive games with a built-in audience; it's much less risky than a brand new IP that gamers may not respond to, no matter how entertaining or innovative it may be. As a gamer, though, it's a bummer to think that there will be less new ideas in the coming generation than there were in the previous one.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

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They've kind of been following this train of logic for awhile now. Look on the bright-side... we still have plenty of other publishers out there with the balls to publish new IP.

I quite understand that they are in a business of making money, but ... why go further away from the direction that the gaming consumers want? That just doesn't make a lick of sense. They really need to stop saying what they want us to want to have. What we want is new I.P.'s that are innovative, inventive and tons of fun. The reason why Warfighter failed to produce is because it's a horribly, horribly mediocre game because of the fact that it doesn't even bother to try and be innovative, inventive or fun.

"big brands + big marketing budget + high production values = $$$" may have "finally run its course in the core space." Going forward, Levy believes, EA will focus on smaller games that will provide a bigger return on the publisher's investment. "As far as I can tell from publicly facing information, creating innovative, new IPs just isn't a priority for the organization."

That entire statement is them telling us that they are lousy at blockbuster games and just want to become Zynga 2.0.

I sincerely hope that this means they will never buy another developer, as they will surely ground them deeper in to the ground than they usually do anyways.

EA, challenge common sense.

It's painfully obvious that EA hurts itself with it's game budgets. But anyone who has ever played a decent or good indie game can tell you where all that money goes. Not gameplay, which is where a lot of EA's games have been lacking. To beat a dead horse, look at MoH:WF. That games budget went into sets and pretty graphics, but hardly any of it went into that actual gameplay. Look at what they are doing for Deadspace 3. If I recall, someone stated that in order for them to recoup their budget from the game, they will need to sell 5 Million units. Once again, the Deadspace gameplay is well defined at this point, so where did it all go? Making the game appear pretty and cinematic.

I could make better financial decisions in my sleep. But that is what the economic illusion of unlimited money will do for you. Their administrative infrastructure has to be full drooling monkeys.

So, EA's plan is to become a publisher to an industry where you only have to pay a small fee(once or annually depending on the platform) to self publish?

Let me know how that works out long term.

Am I the only one who was terribly confused by this article when they seemingly referred to Warfighter as a big budget new IP that failed and this Simpsons game which I had never heard of, but is seemingly a "new" idea (although the simpsons IP isn't new, this game might be a new type of game we haven't seen before) as a successful franchise?

And then they said from this logic that EA should avoid making new IP?

It was the big budget long standing (mediocre) IP that failed, and the new game that nobody had done before that was successful... EA why you no logic?

Huge spectacle games are great and all, but a clear artistic style is a whole lot better for a game than simply 'better graphics'. After all, Borderlands 1 & 2 aren't exactly bleeding edge realism, but the style works for the game and is part of what makes Borderlands Borderlands.

Different and distinctive graphics are a whole lot better (Both from a marketing standpoint and for the players) than just trying to mindlessly improve.

Now they're trying to destroy *existing* franchises (cough) Medal of Honor (cough).

Smaller games doesn't necessarily mean they'll just make those shitty phone games. Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity would be considered "smaller", budget-wise.

But Medal of Honor is not a new IP, it just a by numbers COD clone with too big a budget to recoup, that's why it failed. Though if EA are going to just focus on the mobile market from now on instead I don't think I'll be too concerned.

The Artificially Prolonged:
But Medal of Honor is not a new IP, it just a by numbers COD clone with too big a budget to recoup, that's why it failed. Though if EA are going to just focus on the mobile market from now on instead I don't think I'll be too concerned.

If anything it gives the rest of the industry a little elbow room, if it takes away at least some of the competition.

Even less new IPs? Wow, didn't know it was possible.

EA not funding triple A's sounds wonderful.

Sight Unseen:
Am I the only one who was terribly confused by this article when they seemingly referred to Warfighter as a big budget new IP that failed and this Simpsons game which I had never heard of, but is seemingly a "new" idea (although the simpsons IP isn't new, this game might be a new type of game we haven't seen before) as a successful franchise?

And then they said from this logic that EA should avoid making new IP?

It was the big budget long standing (mediocre) IP that failed, and the new game that nobody had done before that was successful... EA why you no logic?

Let me clear that up for you. The article said

According to Ethan Levy, formerly of BioWare San Francisco, creating risky, big-budget titles just "isn't a priority for the organization."

While Medal of Honor isn't a new IP, it is big budget, and since it has more or less always been an 'also ran' to Activision's CoD series, it carries some risk.

The Simpsons is a well known IP, and as an iOS game, certainly not big budget. So the risk of a casual game from a well known IP on a popular mobile platform failing is small in this case. Nowhere is it claimed that this is a new IP.

Basically, the AAA market has burned EA, and so they are going to be taking over for Zynga apparently, reserving their (I'm assuming reduced) AAA budget for the biggest proven sellers.

Honestly, I'm cool with that. Other than Dragon Age 3, there isn't a single EA game coming out that I'm interested in. I'd buy Mirror's Edge 2 if they ever made it, but beyond that, I'm fine ignoring them if they decide that they don't feel like making decent games. The market is still there. Someone will cater to it, AAA or no.

And some days I wonder why gog is my main source of games recently...

Yes, Milk them! Milk all the franchises until they are beyond recognition, dignity and any lament! *Maniacal laughter and lightning in the background*

Ronack:
I quite understand that they are in a business of making money, but ... why go further away from the direction that the gaming consumers want? That just doesn't make a lick of sense. They really need to stop saying what they want us to want to have. What we want is new I.P.'s that are innovative, inventive and tons of fun. The reason why Warfighter failed to produce is because it's a horribly, horribly mediocre game because of the fact that it doesn't even bother to try and be innovative, inventive or fun.

Well, they did try new IPs and risky games in the recent past. Brütal Legend, Mirror's Edge and so on. Gamers didn't buy these games. I believe you, individually, want new IPs and innovation, but that's not the message that gamers, collectively, are giving to publishers.

Scars Unseen:

Sight Unseen:
Am I the only one who was terribly confused by this article when they seemingly referred to Warfighter as a big budget new IP that failed and this Simpsons game which I had never heard of, but is seemingly a "new" idea (although the simpsons IP isn't new, this game might be a new type of game we haven't seen before) as a successful franchise?

And then they said from this logic that EA should avoid making new IP?

It was the big budget long standing (mediocre) IP that failed, and the new game that nobody had done before that was successful... EA why you no logic?

Let me clear that up for you. The article said

According to Ethan Levy, formerly of BioWare San Francisco, creating risky, big-budget titles just "isn't a priority for the organization."

While Medal of Honor isn't a new IP, it is big budget, and since it has more or less always been an 'also ran' to Activision's CoD series, it carries some risk.

The Simpsons is a well known IP, and as an iOS game, certainly not big budget. So the risk of a casual game from a well known IP on a popular mobile platform failing is small in this case. Nowhere is it claimed that this is a new IP.

Basically, the AAA market has burned EA, and so they are going to be taking over for Zynga apparently, reserving their (I'm assuming reduced) AAA budget for the biggest proven sellers.

Honestly, I'm cool with that. Other than Dragon Age 3, there isn't a single EA game coming out that I'm interested in. I'd buy Mirror's Edge 2 if they ever made it, but beyond that, I'm fine ignoring them if they decide that they don't feel like making decent games. The market is still there. Someone will cater to it, AAA or no.

They should have known Warfighter would fail when the last medal of honour failed. It was a stupid risk imo to pump so much money into a tired IP that has drastically waned in popularity and relevance in recent years.

fix-the-spade:
EA not funding triple A's sounds wonderful.

Even better, EA not buying up and violating AAA-game developers/studios sounds wonderful.

Absolutionis:

fix-the-spade:
EA not funding triple A's sounds wonderful.

Even better, EA not buying up and violating AAA-game developers/studios sounds wonderful.

Don't bet on it. They're swearing off creating stuff, not raping development studios and pillaging their existing IPs.

So on the one hand, less new IPs means we'll be stuck with another round of brown shooters to appease the everlasting dude-bro crowd. Okay, that does suck.

On the other, if EA's going to publish less material, that probably does mean we can expect less acquisitions or aggressive buyouts. That's good - at least until the trend shifts again ten years from now and EA figures it oughta try its hand at cannibalizing more studios again.

What I find the most interesting of this article is Mirror's Edge and Brutal Legend,these are the examples of quote unsuccessful games. Well these is the games I bought(new), while I didn't buy Dead Space and Dragon Age. Guess they don't want me as a customer then.

That the case to the rest of you?

mykalwane:
What I find the most interesting of this article is Mirror's Edge and Brutal Legend,these are the examples of quote unsuccessful games. Well these is the games I bought(new), while I didn't buy Dead Space and Dragon Age. Guess they don't want me as a customer then.

That the case to the rest of you?

Among the very few EA games I ever bought are Mirror's Edge and Mass Effect 2. Both are some of my favourite games ever. However, I have zero interest in Mass Effect 3, whereas hope for a Mirror's Edge sequel is the thing that keeps me warm at night.

I really hope those fuckers go down the Zynga route (till the end preferably)
[stares to box of C&C:TS box]
You will be avenged my precious!

I didn't realize EA did publish a lot of new IP. Kingdoms of Amalur was one from EA if I remember correctly but EA's bread, butter, honey, fish and, ale has always been the Madden and FIFA games if I remember correctly. EA has quite a bit to play with at this point anyway what with Mass Effect, Mirror's Edge, Sports, etc.

Hasn't this been going on for awhile, what was the last new IP from EA? *searches* It was Bulletstorm (maybe, I think) and that came out last year. I think the thing with EA is their IP's, for some reason, tend to flop. Mirrors edge, Bulletstorm etc seem to fail and that's bad because they're good games, it just seems like no one care. Sequels sell.

Man that's unfortunate. Some of the best games from this generation started in this one. Assassin's Creed, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Infamous, Portal, Prototype, Darksiders, Uncharted...Shame really. A bad first installment doesn't always mean the IP isn't worth the time. AC and Uncharted both had mediocre first installments, and look how recognizable they are now.

mykalwane:
What I find the most interesting of this article is Mirror's Edge and Brutal Legend,these are the examples of quote unsuccessful games. Well these is the games I bought(new), while I didn't buy Dead Space and Dragon Age. Guess they don't want me as a customer then.

That the case to the rest of you?

Rented the first three, bought Dragon Age new. Liked Mirror's Edge, but not enough to buy it. Wouldn't buy Brutal Legend if it came with an ice cream and blowjob dispenser.

Hey, if EA wants to doom itself to a slow & horrible death, who am I to complain? I'm not going to buy their drivel anymore without the 'Yahtzee certificate of not poop™' anyway.

Hey, EA, you think sequels are the only things that sell, right? Well, do you know that a Mirror's Edge 2 would be a sequel? And by your logic it would sell?

So make a freaking Mirror's Edge 2 already. It's a sequel, you love those and say only they sell these days, so do it.

But I really want a Mirrors Edge 2. Stop teasing me.

Absolutely loved the first one I bought it twice for fuck sake.

They might not have a clue what they're core market wants, but at least EA is aware enough to realize they've jumped the shark

"creating innovative, new IPs just isn't a priority for the organization."

Why do they still call themselves Electronic ARTS?
I guess that it's good if it means that they're going to stop buying good studios and devouring them.

I don't have a problem with EA buying and destroying studios, any developer who was open to selling their studio to the hihest bidder already proved that they are thinking the exact same way as EA, by putting profit maximalization first, so they deserved it.

May EA itself be eventually bought and destroyed just like them.

Sure, other companies, like Valve also care about profitability, but at least Valve is a privately held company, meaning that Gabe actually owns it, and he has the final say about the way that they are doing it, and the principles they are following, unlike a publicly traded company, that sold it's ownership to a bunch of faceless shareholders who only care about stock value maximalization.

In other news: the sky is indeed blue.

Seriously, didn't we already know this about EA a long time ago? I know their description of the absolute bastardization of the Dead Space series certainly lends support to Levy's assertion. EA isn't about innovation, it's about homogenization. That's why Warfighter got crap reviews and crappier sales. They're posers, pure and simple. Whatever is cool and hip at the time, they desperately seek to emulate. "People seemed to like that Gears of War stuff, so we're going to turn Dead Space into a generic alien-based 3rd person co-op shooter." They try so desperately hard to make people like them, but in their attempts "to reach a broader audience" with their games, all they're churning out is band, gray crap that very few people enjoy. And so what's their solution? Apparently it's to up the blandness and genericness and shovel in even more gray.

So what they're saying is: Mass Effect-ville and Tiny Dragon Age-Towers.

Oh well. If EA doesn't want to make games I'm at all interested in, then I don't have to worry about whether or not they should have any of my money.

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