EA isn’t the most popular video game company in the world, but you’d be hard pressed to prove that given the sales figures of its biggest franchises. CEO Andrew Wilson has been all about putting gamers first as his first year at the company’s head comes to a close, and while fixing EA’s image might not happen overnight, he’s not going to stop trying.
Speaking at the GamesBeat Conference in San Francisco, Wilson gave a speech in front of a group representing the more business focused side of the industry, stating that EA has a three year plan to put gamer’s first once again after he admitted that EA has lost that image.
“The first is to re-establish a player-first culture in the company. The focus is on the player and the people enjoying the entertainment you produce. That is the most important thing and I want to get back to that.”
While focusing more on putting gamers first, Wilson also points to two other major focuses his company will make: the expansion of digital delivery over the traditional retail market and the divide between EA’s different department from development and distribution to marketing and executives. EA is a massive company, but no longer can one studio or one branch take the fall for a misstep.
“Every person at EA has to accept responsibility for deepening and nurturing the relationship with the player.”
Wilson also dropped the word “polish” in his speech, pointing out that EA has a responsibility of launching working products for its fanbase after major catastrophes like SimCity and Battlefield 4 had pushed its reputation for successful launches about as far from acceptable as they come.
“When they give you $20 for something, they expect something that is worth more than $20 in return. You always have to get to the point where they feel like what they get in return is greater than what they put in.”
Wilson is all about putting the power back in the hands of gamers. He has said so ever since taking office.
However, his predecessor CEO, John Riccitiello, didn’t just speak about putting gamers first, he actually did it! His brief experiment of actually putting what we think of as “core” games back in 2008 saw the launch of excellent new IPs like Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge and gave BioWare the space they needed to turn Mass Effect into a success. How was this effort rewarded? A drop in profits and a slap on the wrist while he watched his plan go up in smoke.
I’d like to believe Wilson when he says EA can put gamers first, but the truth is there are way too many other kinds of people invested in EA to make that happen. Not to mention that the phrase “gamer” now means so many different groups of people with such diversity that it would be impossible to satisfy everyone.
History has proven to not be in his favor, even when things were far simpler. How exactly can he turn this ship around where so many others have tried and failed?