The chief operating officer at Electronic Arts said not to let the "cynics" get you down, the videogame industry is still going strong.
John Schappert, COO of EA, took the stage at the DICE (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit in Las Vegas and tried to assuage any fears that the videogame industry was in a decline. He pointed out that although overall sales reports from NPD may have plateaued or even dipped, the numbers ignore the fact that certain business models saw huge increases in 2009. Schappert went on to urge quality over quantity because although consumers might be buying less games, they want to play them for longer amounts of time. The industry should recognize that through healthy marketing and digital support for titles.
"The roof is not caving in," he said. "Every generation has ushered in a larger, more resilient industry than the one before. We have more consumers and more new gamers than we ever had before." Anyone want to guess what agricultural simulator he's talking about?
He believes that publishers must continue to support games for longer than they have in the past. "The days of ship-it-and-forget-it are gone - as game makers we need to plan for a long term relationship with our consumers," said Schappert. "People are buying fewer games now than before, but people want to play those games for longer - so it's a big opportunity for the connected consoles that we have"
Schappert said marketing is still important, pointing out his company's purchase of advertising time during the Super Bowl for Dante's Inferno. "All too often we see great games that don't get the marketing they deserve," he said, but pointed out that "great marketing can't make a bad game good - it might have happened a decade ago, but no longer."
Interestingly, he said that although online distribution is vital, the industry can't give up the boxed product completely. "Before you give up making shiny disc-based games and jump for this hot new space, we need to take a bit of caution - there will be consolidation, and we're probably in a bubble," he said.
"Don't abandon your consumer base - specifically those shiny discs. We often forget about how important the disc is - I don't think in the near term, medium term or the long term we're going to lose that disc."
I don't know what he's talking about. I've lost many a game disc in my time.