The CEO of PopCap says he doesn’t expect Electronic Arts to mess around with his company very much because when you get right down to it, the new overlords just aren’t very good at making casual games on their own.
For a number of years and not all that terribly long ago, Electronic Arts had a reputation for assimilating some of the finest development studios in the business, turning them into cogs in its machine and then disappearing them as soon as we stopped paying attention. It’s spent the past few years trying to convince the world, with some degree of success, that it has mended its ways. One person who was convinced is Dave Roberts, the chief executive at casual gaming giant PopCap, which was recently acquired by the publisher.
“One of the things I like about EA – and I don’t think this was true of them a few years ago – is that they care about games very passionately. I think they lost that for a while,” Roberts told The Guardian. “The EA of four years ago was the EA that was arrogant and didn’t really give a shit about games. At some point though, and I personally didn’t even notice this about EA until around last year, but things had changed. EA was different; people were actually excited about their jobs again, and I don’t think that had happened in a while.”
As for the threat of assimilation, Roberts doesn’t seem worried. “Every indication is, that EA like us as we are,” he said. “They’ve not really proven to be very good at making casual content, so there’s no reason why they’d want to mess with what we have here.”
EA does have strengths of its own, however, and PopCap will be taking advantage of them. Roberts said that prior to the acquisition, PopCap employees would often be handling multiple jobs rather than focusing on a specific task, but with EA’s massive resources as its disposal, that won’t be an issue anymore.
“EA have set it all up so we get to choose which parts of our organization and workload that we want to integrate. There’s no big EA mandate that dictates that we have to do things their way,” Roberts explained. “Their attitude is more, ‘Look, here’s the stuff our organization can do. Let us know what you want and we’ll figure it out’.”