Thursday, July 03, 2014

Peter Moore: Core Gamers Causing Us To Lag

So Peter Moore, the COO of Electronic Arts, the bane of my existence, interviewed with Games Industry Biz. And while the article seems optimistic, the point that stands out, and a lot of people are harping on, is his statement that the core gaming group are going to be resistant to change.

And for once, I agree with him.

We are at a critical point in gaming. Not only are we changing tactics with telling stories and creating characters, but technology has made it so that anyone can play a game at any time, place, device, and price point. There is a game for you somewhere to fit your means. That's pretty nifty when you think about it. Not even 5 years ago would this have been possible, but companies like SquareEnix and Roxio pushing for cell phone games have made them so commonplace that you'd be hard pressed to find someone in a developed country that hasn't played a video game in some fashion.

Moore sees this as an opportunity for EA to grow their games-as-a-service model, offering players a unified experience (being able to play one game through multiple devices). As the industry grows and takes on new forms of the business (free to play, for example), Moore believes that the primary group of gamers are not ready for that type of change.

"There is a core--controversial statement coming from me, sadly--that just doesn't like that, because it's different. It's disruptive. It's not the way it used to be. I used to put my disc in the tray or my cartridge in the top, and I'd sit there and play. And all of these young people coming in, or God forbid, these old people coming into gaming!"

Actually that sounds like something Capcom would say.

And it's true. We see this daily through forums, blogs, and social media postings of "core" gamers responding back to publishers or arguing against people who are not exact copies of them who want change. I don't think I need to point you all to the myriad of posts made regarding women and minorities in gaming, do I? Let's move on then, shall we.

On this front, I do have to applaud Moore for finally pulling his head out of his butt and realizing that not all gamers are jackasses with microphones shouting on the internet. A majority of us have well thought out, constructive criticism, because we want games to get better. Which is why the Need for Speed franchise, another one of those EA games that releases on a yearly cycle, is taking a break in 2014. Because so many players were pushing for change and new, innovative things with NFS, it would be impossible to develop it on the schedule that the team is accustomed to. Easily a year of work, at minimum. So they pulled NFS off the schedule and they're going to make changes. That's great! Of course the "core" gamers had something to complain about that as well. "What? No NFS this year? EA is lame!" Then again, they'd also complain about the repetitive nature of it. Go fig. It's difficult to show "core" gamers that change is a good thing.

We have to embrace the change. Too many gaming companies are stuck in wanting to use the 1980's business model (a model that also helped speed the crash and the Atari Desert Dump), while companies like Roxio are taking over because they are doing things differently. You can still make the same games, hell we probably want another Resident Evil 10 and Uncharted 14, but the same business practices are just not going to work. Not with how fast technology is changing and growing. "Core" gamers, we know you're going to be the ones holding us back. But if EA can make the changes needed to keep propelling the industry forward, others will follow. Why EA? Because they are one of the largest in the world. If a company that size is willing to change the business, then others have to follow suit. We don't want games to be like the music industry. Look at how much it's altered in the short time between CD's and Napster. Overnight we saw people rebelling against a system that would not budge on it's practices. Now it's struggling to keep up in the age of digital. Games do not want to be like music. Or movies.

This is one of the few times I'm going to agree with Moore...don't get use to it. The full interview is a good read. Take a crack at it during your lunch break today. But actions speak louder then words. While he's saying that change is needed, we'll see what actually happens with EA over the years.

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