EA Rethinking Its Release Date Strategy

EA Rethinking Its Release Date Strategy

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As the transformation of Electronic Arts continues, Glen Schofield of EA Redwood Shores says the company has discovered the folly of cramming new releases together for the lucrative holiday season, resulting in "far too many" games coming out at the same time.

It aggravates me: You go the entire year with little more than a trickle of new games to keep you entertained, then blam, October hits and you're buried in an avalanche of new releases which you have neither the time nor the money to accommodate. It dilutes the market: It's hard to concentrate on a hot new IP like Dead Space when it's jostling for shelf space and your attention with every other hot new (and old) IP on a holiday release schedule. And while EA is far from the only one to indulge in this bad habit, Schofield says the company has finally clued in to the fact that lumping all its releases together for Christmas is doing more harm than good.

Two of EA's most anticipated new IPs, Dead Space and Mirror's Edge, were released within a month of each other just prior to Christmas 2008 and while they received solid critical response and sold reasonably well, they failed to reach sales projections. "You can blame some of it on the economy," he said, but added that there were "far too many games" released at that time of year, creating a glut that had a negative impact on many titles.

"I think that we traditionally thought that people only buy games at Christmas or around holiday time, and now we're looking back and going, 'You know what, GTA launched in May; Resident Evil comes out in March'," he said in an interview with GamesIndustry.

"I think the industry has finally gone, 'Wow, we could probably just come out just like the movies do'. Movies launch on Christmas day, they launch blockbusters during the summer, and we're now learning that we could probably launch a game at any time, and if it's a good game it will be well received."

Despite the weaker-than-expected sales over the Christmas period, Schofield said EA's new direction under CEO John Riccitiello has the company back on track. "EA took some chances and made some really good games," he said, noting that the company is beginning to re-establish its "credibility" with gamers. And while Dead Space may not have lived up to EA's hopes, the company isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. "We haven't announced anything yet, but I don't think you take a game that's rated 89 and just go, 'Well, that was a failure'," he said.

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They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

Ranooth:
They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

Maybe, I guess we'll actually have to wait and see though.

I'm definitely liking EA more and more as time goes on. Hopefully more companies will think of this and I wouldn't have to choose between so many good games at the same time.

Ranooth:
They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

I dunno, the next Dead Space is threatening to be a lightgun game, doesn't bode well.

fix-the-spade:

Ranooth:
They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

I dunno, the next Dead Space is threatening to be a lightgun game, doesn't bode well.

Im still megaly fucked off at what they did with Dungeon Keeper, but these could be the first steps to redemption.

Ranooth! yeah i miss bullfrog very much T.t

Ranooth:

fix-the-spade:

Ranooth:
They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

I dunno, the next Dead Space is threatening to be a lightgun game, doesn't bode well.

Im still megaly fucked off at what they did with Dungeon Keeper, but these could be the first steps to redemption.

Dungeon Keeper 3 with updated graphics and a more fleshed out interface would be the Nuts

Ranooth:
They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

Not until they remove all that SecuROM nonsense from all their games ever made ever.

Hear, hear! this last holiday season had WAY too many first-person shooters coming out all at once. Spread it out, I'll be more inclined to buy them all.

It doesn't mean much until they actually do something about it but Schofield speaks the truth. I still don't own either Dead Space or Mirror's Edge, not because I don't have any interest in them - I do - but because I was just swamped over Christmas. Spreading things around is a good idea for everyone: Gamers don't have to worry about release date overload and developers get a break from the pressure to ship in time for the Christmas season whether they're really ready or not. Because we all know how well that can work out.

Maybe this will finally get them realise to stop releasing:
A) Half-finished games
and B) Games nobody gives a shit about

As far as I am concerened, at the moment, they are a learner of all trades, master of fucking nothing.

Ranooth:
They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

Oh my f-.... its the 9th sign of the apocalypse! Flee, FLEE! FLEEEEEEE!

Nivag:
Maybe this will finally get them realise to stop releasing:
A) Half-finished games
and B) Games nobody gives a shit about

I was just going to say they should adopt the release strategy of "When it's done."

Ranooth:
They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

Took 'em god-damned long enough....

Malygris:

"I think that we traditionally thought that people only buy games at Christmas or around holiday time, and now we're looking back and going, 'You know what, GTA launched in May; Resident Evil comes out in March'," he said in an interview with GamesIndustry.

He thought that people only buy games at Christmas? Seriously? I guess EA deserves a pat on the head and a cookie for finally putting two and two together, but jesus-effing-christ I still can't get over how asinine that statement is...... You mean people might actually want to buy games at other times of the year??

Think about it fellas. Gamers benefit from the holiday rush because there are inevitably two or three high-profile games that don't sell well. Poor sales mean the bargain bin is only just around the corner. Look at Mirrors Edge for example.

I never understood why there wasn't some crazy summer release thing. I mean, that's when school's out so all the kiddies have copious amounts of free time to play games during. And TVs in repeats. Seems like a winning strategy.

"I think the industry has finally gone, 'Wow, we could probably just come out just like the movies do'. Movies launch on Christmas day, they launch blockbusters during the summer, and we're now learning that we could probably launch a game at any time, and if it's a good game it will be well received."

DUH!!!

And how much salary is he paid for this marketing analysis epiphany?

I think 99% of us here could have told you that at 1/10th the cost.

But isn't that the same with 80% of all upper management? Now all they need to learn is that not all customers are pirates and not be treated as such, if scaled back graphics to that of 2 years ago as used them resources saved on a decent plot, AI and give the developers some time to work know might get a game worth the $40 you asking for and not treat gamers like simpletons and dumb down content as some of us like to use our grey then maybe just maybe they would be redeemed in communities eyes.

it's probobly true, theyre releasing sims 3 in june or so, they probobly did it to spread out releases

"I think that we traditionally thought that people only buy games at Christmas or around holiday time"

WTF? If theres ever a time where i've got less money to spend on games, its round crimbo and the holidays...

"Its about fucking time."

A hell of a lot of potentially good titles in the past have been ruined by greedy publishers pushing incomplete products out the door before Christmas, only to witness the unfinished game go under in the sea of releases, at which point they close the Developer.

Its nice to see that somebody with a voice at EA see's that the Christmas release rush is hurting sales, because its been hurting games for year's.

Take for example, Christmas of 2004.
Vampire:Bloodlines, KOTOR2, Tribes:V, a handful of titles I picked up in the bargain bin a year after release. All three games where released in the leadup to the Christmas of 2004, competing against titles such as HalfLife2.

All three titles where good games. All three titles where critical acclaimed. All three titles where follow-ups on previous, sucessful games. All three titles where made by good developers with great games under their belt.

All three titles where pushed out the door early after sub-standard development cycles, unfinished, and broken, at the whims of greedy and stupid publishers keen for the Christmas rush with limited or no support. Another month of development for all of them could have done wonders, six months, we could have seen pure gold. But instead, they where pushed out incomplete, buggy and unpolished.

As a result, two failed completely, and one barely scraped by riding off the release of its predecessor a year earlier.

One developer, Trokia, responsible for some of the greatest RPG's ever made, Arcanum, a developer with so much potential and skill; tanked.

Irrational was bought up Take2 and became 2K Games Boston/Australia, then went on to Produce Bioshock, free of the yoke of their Vivendi slave drivers, the same publishers that Valve sued to get the rights to their IP back.

Obsidian was lucky, KOTOR2 still sold, riding fresh off the success of KOTOR, but it was still a broken game and is to this day a sore point for Obsidian. Six months, even using Bioware's engine, is still not enough time for a game to be made.

As a testament to these titles brilliant yet broken states, players of the games have devoted hundreds of hours to filling the gabs and repairing the damage, bugs and problems form their rushed development. T:V has nearly 4 gigabytes on my machine alone of community made content, mods and patches. Bloodlines has its famous and ongoing fanmade patches, fixing (and sometimes creating) many of the games bugs, restoring cut or unfinished content, and improving the game. And then there is the Restation Project for KOTOR2, though it looks like Duke Nukem Forever will come out before they finish their work...

It's nice to see they are learning from their mistakes.

Ranooth:
They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

Well this means the apocalypse isn't far away. Everybody, get into your fallout shelters :P

One of their guys must have finally read the 'For Dummies' book on marketing.

Ranooth:
They finally get it!

Dear god, could EA actually have grown some common sense?

Whoaaaa there, lets not jump to conclusions.
But I must agree that they do seem to be getting things right these days.
Listening to the opinions of the gamers, and now this.
EA, maybe I wont hate you so much anymore...in fact, EA, I like you :)

EA's obviously got some history with folks, and thankfully, that combined with the current state of the economy has finally given their stockholders pause. In the MMO sector, it's fairly obvious to those who followed its development that Warhammer Online was rushed out the door to get ahead of both Christmas and World of Warcraft's expansion release. The result was a game that is doing ok, but could have benefited so much more from a 1st Q2009 release.

All that being said, I tire of the whole "EA hate" stigma that seems to be going around whenever EA does, well, anything these days. You see it in every thread and every discussion including this one - all the players who want to get in their little jabs and jukes at EA because they read about the DRM or the EA Widow's blog a while back. I'm not saying EA didn't do anything wrong, but they have to work double or triple as hard for sins of the past that frankly have lost their shine.

John Ritticello has made some statements this past year or two that have at least shifted my opinion about EA back into the positive (at least cautiously). Like I said, EA's hands are dirty, but geez, for some people it's like they'll never be clean no matter how hard they scrub. Give them a fair shot.

Well it is about time, my budget ran uncomfortably thin when I bought Fable 2, then Fallout 3 on their release dates. Maybe now I can get brand new game for my birthday in April!

Yea I wont have to stop the progression of my life around Christmas just to accommodate bad release strategies. I wont have to lock my self in a basement with copies of L4D and COD;WAW just to keep up with My gaming friends.

Or maybe they just release too many games, most of which are crap.

WHO ALLOWED THIS EA EMPLOYEE TO GROW COMMON SENSE? That is CLEARLY against company policy!

EA laid off all the wrong people if it took those remaining this long to get this particular clue.

Their cred is shit amongst PC gamers with activations and DRM nonsense, nonsense that idealogically blocks people from purchasing even if they want to, which is the height of stupidity. Riccetello's cred is shit from the day he publicly stated all those complaints about Spore DRM were from pirates or morons.

EA is worthy of bashing because they could do things so much smarter than they do, but they don't, or it takes them years and losses and missed chances to figure it out. They're too detached and typically corporate, and that is always going to be a major failing if they don't pull their heads out.

EA's proven they can produce moneymakers, but their insistence on allowing those properties to lie fallow or broken after inital release, making more problems with DRM than a property is worth, and adhering to a rule by MBA committee will keep them low. They could do better, much, much better, but it's on them that they don't.

I don't care how much they try to improve I will always dislike them.

 

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