EA President Says Sequels Are Boring, Lack Innovation

EA President Says Sequels Are Boring, Lack Innovation


Electronic Arts president John Riccitiello says the videogame industry lacks innovation and relies too heavily on "rinse-and-repeat" sequels.

Speaking in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Riccitiello said, "We are boring people to death and making games that are harder and harder to play." While he praised new games such as Guitar Hero, World of Warcraft and the upcoming EA-distributed Rock Band, he also said, "For the most part, the industry has been rinse-and-repeat. There's been lots of product that looked like last year's product, that looked a lot like the year before." While he believes in sequels as a sound strategy, he said they needed to be more innovative than in the recent past.

Reflecting a new trend among game developers and publishers, he also stated his belief that the industry needs to come up with new sales approaches and aggressively pursue "casual" gamers who aren't interested in playing through a normal full-length game that, according to Riccitiello, few players ever finish. EA recently announced the creation of a new division called EA Casual Entertainment, intended to pursue that market.

While Electronic Arts is the world's largest third-party publisher of videogames, with sales for the fiscal year ended March 31 totaling $3.09 billion, its net income fell for the third year in a row, dropping 68 percent to only $76 million. The company's most well-known imprint, EA Sports, has so far announced 10 titles in its various sports franchises for 2008, including the 14th NBA Live sequel and the 18th Madden NFL sequel.


Who's fault?

Wow. I find this fairly hypocritical.

Hypocritical? Probably. But very true. After watching a plethora of new game videos last evening (including the new BioShock demo), I couldn't help but be struck by the similarity between the gaming industry and Hollywood mainstream; formulas are being pushed. BioShock is now a shooter, first and foremost, instead of a story-driven rpg played in first-person. While both those titles accurately describe the game, it's easy to see the marketing team grinding the 'kick-ass shooter' label onto this game.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good shooter, but with Halo 3, Haze, BioShock, Blacksite Area 51, Shadowrun, Killzone 3, Call of Duty, Rainbow 6: Vegas, and a host of others either here or on the way, it seems like the market is saturated with the same FPS game rehashed with some slightly different mechanics.

Personally, i want innovation, not just an FPS with some Telekinesis thrown in. We're supposed to be living in the next-gen. It feels stagnant.

I personally hope this is a sign that the Pres will green light more interesting game concepts, or at least look to the independent game industry for insight. The people working on Portal (HL2 - Episode 2) were discovered in Digipen, fresh game designers are ripe for the picking, they just aren't looking hard enough.

I agree with the sentiment that the games industry currently mirrors that of Hollywood, and I think that the similarities of the 3 primary consoles of the last generation, may have played a part in that. Cross-platform games were more feasible, due to the similar control and console schemes, where as now, the Wii has a primary control scheme differing greatly from the norm, while the architecture of the PS3 and 360 vary fairly greatly. Exclusivity in games may become more apparent (excusing 360-PC cross-platform games of course, ahem). This will hopefully put more emphasis on game design, rather than churning games out to make a quick buck. But that's pure conjecture.

I hope this means EA Montreal will be given even more latitude to make whatever they want.

The company's most well-known imprint, EA Sports, has so far announced 10 titles in its various sports franchises for 2008, including the 14th NBA Live sequel and the 18th Madden NFL sequel.

The hypocrisy was the best part of the whole thing.


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