Former EA CEO: Prioritize Mobile Gameplay Above Graphics

Former EA CEO: Prioritize Mobile Gameplay Above Graphics

Infinity Blade 2 screenshot

Former EA head John Riccitiello believes that chasing console-quality graphics in the mobile gaming space should not be a key goal for developers. Not yet anyway.

To those of you reading this text, John Riccitiello is most famous for his tenure as CEO of massive games publisher EA. He left that role earlier this year, but Mr. Riccitiello still has thoughts on the current state of the gaming industry. When asked, during the recent Casual Connect conference, what mobile games developers can learn from those who create games for modern consoles, Riccitiello explained that while at EA he heard many of the company's mobile developers claim that their product would be a success purely because they worked out a way to match console-quality aesthetics on mobile devices. While an impressive technological feat, Riccitiello sees this as a hazardous path for mobile developers to follow.

"I think that's a mistake," Riccitiello states. "Investing in better graphics without figuring out what differentiating gameplay you're going to have - without thinking of how gameplay rewards players - is a road to ruin."

"Prettier games cost more to make. Better games satisfy consumers," he adds.

Not that Riccitiello sees improved graphics as a negative. If anything he welcomes new technology and the aesthetic gains it may herald, but a developer's first concern should be in making entertaining, novel gameplay experiences. By shifting development toward this ideal, Riccitiello believes mobile games could prove far less disposable in the future than they are currently. To illustrate this point, Riccitiello points out how few mobile developers (even those who are most successful) are able to capitalize on their biggest hits after the initial furor has died down.

"You can either hope to be lucky twice, or you can figure out an answer that I think is vitally important for the health of the mobile business," Riccitiello says.

"Developers need to build brands. Games that don't build a brand will not be around in a decade. Will Clash of Clans be with us in 25 years? Madden turns 25 this year. Will Candy Crush be around next year and still be doing a few million a day?"

While it's undeniably smug for Riccitiello to compare the success of the Madden franchise with mobile games that have existed for mere months, he does make a good point. The mobile market, despite its youth, is quickly growing oversaturated, and if you hope to make an impact (let alone a living) by developing mobile titles, you'd best have some cool new ideas to show people.

Source: Polygon

Permalink

Where was this attitude when he was running EA? I mean seriously.

Oh, sure, start saying things that make sense the second you're no longer in a position to do anything about it.

"Prioritize mobile gameplay above graphics"

That's a nice philosophy Riticiticiticello. So where were all those EA games for 3DS? You know, aside from a couple of sports games.

"Investing in better graphics without figuring out what differentiating gameplay you're going to have - without thinking of how gameplay rewards players - is a road to ruin."

Is this a major case of "Do as I say, not as I do"? EA killed off the Medal of Honour franchise by putting it on the Frostbite engine, and getting the developers to focus on pretty graphics over actual gameplay.

"Prettier games cost more to make. Better games satisfy consumers,"

Yeah, very true. So why didn't EA follow that logic while you were in charge?

Sounds to me like the dude is just throwing out innocuous platitudes in order to keep himself in the media now he's now longer at the helm of EA. I mean, it's difficult to argue with anything he's saying here. But it's also incredible that EA did pretty much the opposite of those same things he's saying.

erttheking:
Oh, sure, start saying things that make sense the second you're no longer in a position to do anything about it.

Perhaps when people step into that meeting room when discussing PR stuff they lose 80 IQ points? That's the only rational explanation I can think of seeing as how companies, especially EA, seem to think that the worst ideas are the best things ever...

OT: Why is it that someone who used to be in charge of EA could say these things now! Seriously where was this attitude when you ran the company Riccitiello!

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Yeah, very true. So why didn't EA follow that logic while you were in charge?

See my theory about the board room and I find that it still makes more sense. XD

This is one of the reasons why, when people call the Wii and WiiU "weak" and "not next-gen consoles", they fail to realize that graphics <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< gameplay

Go play System Shock 2. Horribly outdated game, with fugly graphics, and easily enjoyable, even by today's standards. Hell, I didn't play it until I saw the review on Zero Punctuation, and I STILL ended up not getting any sleep because I couldn't stop playing the damn game.

But perhaps the reason is just that, while graphics is something you can, objectively, improve, story is not. You cannot just say "The story is weak, make it better." - Pure effort will never make that happen. You need some good ideas, and a carefully laid out plot that doesn't screw itself over. Doing that is far harder than just making the game look more pretty.

Another reason is also that a story cannot be used as a PR hook. You cannot just say "This game has an awesome story!" because EVERYONE says that, even when it's a blatant lie. Showing pretty pictures and cutscenes, however, appears to be a good way to make people buy their game. You need a way to judge the quality of a game you haven't bought, and the only way you can do this, is by looking at the graphics. Sad but true.

Neronium:

erttheking:
Oh, sure, start saying things that make sense the second you're no longer in a position to do anything about it.

Perhaps when people step into that meeting room when discussing PR stuff they lose 80 IQ points? That's the only rational explanation I can think of seeing as how companies, especially EA, seem to think that the worst ideas are the best things ever...

OT: Why is it that someone who used to be in charge of EA could say these things now! Seriously where was this attitude when you ran the company Riccitiello!

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:

Yeah, very true. So why didn't EA follow that logic while you were in charge?

See my theory about the board room and I find that it still makes more sense. XD

everyone is forced to stick their head in a microwave for 60 seconds before they go to the board room, studies have shown when your brain is fried, you truly think clearly!

Its like he knows this will get him good PR so he says it but as soon as he is at the top he just wont give a fuck about PR again.

Agayek:
Where was this attitude when he was running EA? I mean seriously.

All Riccitiello does is latch onto a trend and pursue it to the illogical extreme.

Right now it's cheap to develop mobile games, they're the darling market, so he's talking them up.
It used to be microtransactions,
before that multiplayer,
before that online pass
before that DRM

He's talking a good fight, but don't believe him, this is the man who wiped out two thirds of EA's share price in four years, brought us Origin, Spore and project ten dollar, never trust a thing he says.

I was with him right up until he held up Madden as an example for mobile games to aspire to.

Maybe it's just my inner Australian talking, but a franchise with yearly updates to reflect roster changes in a football code where forward passing and unlimited substitutions are allowed amounts to less of an actual game than tiddly winks.

(Tongue held firmly in cheek)

Why did'n't this twat listen to be own advice?

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
"Prioritize mobile gameplay above graphics"

That's a nice philosophy Riticiticiticello. So where were all those EA games for 3DS? You know, aside from a couple of sports games.

"Investing in better graphics without figuring out what differentiating gameplay you're going to have - without thinking of how gameplay rewards players - is a road to ruin."

Is this a major case of "Do as I say, not as I do"? EA killed off the Medal of Honour franchise by putting it on the Frostbite engine, and getting the developers to focus on pretty graphics over actual gameplay.

"Prettier games cost more to make. Better games satisfy consumers,"

Yeah, very true. So why didn't EA follow that logic while you were in charge?

Sounds to me like the dude is just throwing out innocuous platitudes in order to keep himself in the media now he's now longer at the helm of EA. I mean, it's difficult to argue with anything he's saying here. But it's also incredible that EA did pretty much the opposite of those same things he's saying.

Thing is I'm starting to wonder just how much he DID control at EA. It seems to me what's going on is NOT that publishers are choking creativity but that they don't have ENOUGH control. So far it seems devs are out of control, burning through money like they think it's in infinite supply and believing they're making the next revolutionary title when in fact they're making a highly polished but derivative game. It's seems like we're in the New Hollywood of gaming; a bunch of pretentious auteurs with too much control who don't know how to manage themselves at all and the ONLY way they learn is through failure one way or the other.

Shamanic Rhythm:
I was with him right up until he held up Madden as an example for mobile games to aspire to.

Maybe it's just my inner Australian talking, but a franchise with yearly updates to reflect roster changes in a football code where forward passing and unlimited substitutions are allowed amounts to less of an actual game than tiddly winks.

(Tongue held firmly in cheek)

As a Mexican I reject that assertion. I mean I only buy soccer games every few years, but I would be tempted to buy an annual AFL game if it had the polish of FIFA or Madden ( I probably wouldn't, but I would be tempted). As I suspect you would be tempted by a game based on Thugby. It just so happens that all Aussie Rules, League, or Union games ever made have being steaming piles of shit.

I really don't think this sounds like a change of tune, or some kind of new freedom of expression from no longer being in charge of EA. CEOs biggest concern is how to make the most profit over a period of time in order to satisfy the board while encouraging company growth. Sometimes the stars align and the viewpoint of the CEO will match popular opinion.

octafish:
As I suspect you would be tempted by a game based on Thugby. It just so happens that all Aussie Rules, League, or Union games ever made have being steaming piles of shit.

Actually no, I wouldn't be tempted, and precisely for the reasons you've just outlined.

EA isn't a privet company of his. You guys should ask yourself just how much actual control Riccitiello had.
While was indeed the CEO, he still had to do as he was told by the stock owners.

Now, I'm not saying he's a good or innocent guy. I'm just saying that he didn't have all the power in EA and even if he did have the power, there is little he could do in some aspects.

While many developer agree that graphics aren't that important for the experience, he, the consumer force them to go high end. If they don't have awesome graphics, they are just making it much harder for themselves to be noticed. The consumer are quite a bit to blame for the state of the industry right now.

Like everyone else I was wondering if Ricci bumped his head or something and broke the EnchAntment - he does indeed seem to be talking more sense than he has done in years.

"Developers need to build brands. Games that don't build a brand will not be around in a decade.

..what? Oh. Never mind, John. I remember now - quite often back in the day he seemed to say something and then act in a completely different manner.

So he use a money leeching same game every year tactics of sports games as a good example. and escpaist agrees with him. what is this?

Strazdas:
So he use a money leeching same game every year tactics of sports games as a good example. and escpaist agrees with him. what is this?

Remove the Madden/branding example and the idea is sound.

The ex-EA suit wants mobile games to be less one-hit-wonders and more steady creation for the companies, because the current model is pretty hit and miss.

Agayek:
Where was this attitude when he was running EA? I mean seriously.

This reminds of Makaku in Battle Angel Alita... once he dumpeds his big, lumbering dumb body he became much more intelligent and erudite.

What I would like to see is every mobile game released on consoles so folks who don't believe there is such a thing as "console graphics" but don't particularly like the mobile experience, don't like carrying shit around, don't like buying frivolous toys, can still play all of these games.

Increasingly the real games seem to be moving to mobile platforms. And console games are becoming the video game equivalent of big insecure underwear on the outside super hero movies of late.

ShinAquarius:

Go play System Shock 2. Horribly outdated game, with fugly graphics, and easily enjoyable, even by today's standards.

I've been saying that since 1998.

Anyway, EA used to make some of my all-time favorite games ("Jungle Strike" on the Genesis, anybody?) I'd like them to get back to doing what they used to do so well, but they've become a juggernaut. And it's pretty hard to switch directions if you've got that much weight behind you, even if it turns out you're heading towards a landmine.

TheMadDoctorsCat:

ShinAquarius:

Go play System Shock 2. Horribly outdated game, with fugly graphics, and easily enjoyable, even by today's standards.

I've been saying that since 1998.

And the fact that it still holds true, in a time where 1080p quality is the basic, and we often see full HD games these days, it just proves that Graphics =/= Quality of the game.

The graphics just need the bare minimum to look like they should, and convey what they need to. There's no point in animating the fucking body hair of a basketball player. That's not impressive. That's a massive waste of time and resources.

It,s true... now all mobile or almost are terrible... start making game who can be played and are fun beffore improving graphics

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here