EA CEO talks game-killing, Legend brutalizing

Riccitiello promises his company will "kill a game or two a year" due to quality concerns; calls Double Fine's action game "a very significant creative risk."

by

At first, it appeared as if EA was simply taking its time with Command & Conquer Tiberium. After debuting the first-person shooter set in EALA's sci-fi real-time strategy universe to much fanfare late last year, EA without warning bumped the game from fall 2008 to sometime during its 2010 fiscal year, which runs from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010. Two months later, that game was canceled.

In an interview with Gamasutra this week, EA CEO John Riccitiello put Tiberium's cancellation in more colloquial terms. "If you want to put good food on the table and you've got chefs in the back, you give them better ingredients, better training--and when you burn the omelet, you don't serve it," the EA exec said. "Any company that serves every dish that comes out of the oven, whether it's burned or not, is not committed to quality... U2 made great albums, Steven Spielberg made great films. It doesn't mean they don't have their Tiberiums."

With no uncertain amount of conviction, Riccitiello also said that Tiberium won't be the last game to meet the headsman's axe. "EA will kill a game or two a year. Forever," he affirmed. "When something's not meeting expectations...you can course-correct by giving it more time, more money, changing the concept, or killing the game. If you're committed to quality, you take one of those paths," continued Riccitiello. "If you preclude any one of those paths, quality will suffer."

On a brighter note, Riccitiello also addressed the ongoing speculation of whether EA will publish Double Fine's seemingly already-cult-hit Brutal Legend. "I have seen it," said EA's boss. "I am well aware of what the game is. It's a very significant creative risk. Sometimes significant creative risks end up being some of the world's best products. Spore was also a significant creative risk. So was The Sims. Portal, BioShock. But so was Grim Fandango."

Grim Fandango, along with Psychonauts, was seen as a critical success but created a pebble's splash at retail. Both games were also designed by Brutal Legend creator and Double Fine head Tim Schafer, who abruptly found himself without a publisher when Activision passed on the bulk of Vivendi Games' catalog after the two companies' merger earlier this year. In July, a report surfaced that Double Fine was close to landing a publishing deal with a partner that isn't a traditional game publisher.

Discussion

146 comments
TimDigit
TimDigit

Saw previews concepts art models for this game; it would have been epic there is no question for me the problem with the game was on the programming side not the design; I think this was a bad desision; time will prove so.

bonekraker
bonekraker

F###!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tiberium looked bad ass it had a mulitple heat seeking rocket launcher and it was one of the only games i was gonna a buy i dont buy games often last game was Halo 3 ps this game reminded me of Starwars republic commando and that game was awesome and needed more sweet cut scenes like the beginning of the game!

drofgameanomics
drofgameanomics

Well, EA has TOTALLY screwed up Red Alert 3 by rushing it's release. I mean c'mon. U just got Kane's Wrath out in the shelf and then u now want to quickly put up Red Alert 3? Not even a year now, instead of fixing the game and polishing it (which they should have take their time to do before releasing it) they now are producing an expansion? WTF???!!! Let us players get the hang of this game 1st. Give us official mod or something. Not rush an expansion! EA have KILLED Red Alert nor Command & Conquer series. The game was going so damn smooth and fun and God damn famous untill EA took over Westwood. Listen to us EA! Please! Give back Westwood to it's original staffs and stop killing games. You wanna talk bout burnt out omelet? Well, u have burnt a perfect omelet which was and has took the gaming world by storm! But u buggers have destroyed it. Now Red Alert 3 i see most of the reviews is in between 8-8.8 out of 10! WTF???!!! Red Alert 1 and 2 scored even more higher then that and it's still in most of websites most loved games. It could potentially be RTS game of the year or in matter of fact, game of the year maybe. But u guys killed it! Now u wanna take away this bound to be awesome game from us? I say thank u EA! Thank u for killing a much loved, honored and cherished game in decades. Thank you.

sbose22
sbose22

Wait... did Riccitiello put down Grim Fandango? That must have been one of THE best games I played back in the day... regardless of whether or not it sold well, it was still a brilliant game by Tim Schafer.

green_dominator
green_dominator

EA, Activision and all the other big "publishers" need to learn some patience. A publishers job is simply to promote a game and get it known and out there.....Its the developers that do all the work....I wish Westwood was still its own entity then maybe this gem of a FPS might have been made.

leoleez
leoleez

BS, tiberium... finally when someone gets a good FPS idea, it gets killed for its creativity

skunkpants
skunkpants

I agree with this guy, i wouldn't want to risk such great classics. To be honest the expectations would be high and it would be such a shame if it didn't meet it. Either way i was kinda lookin forward to this, renegades was awesome :D

skunkpants
skunkpants

I agree with this guy, i wouldn't want to risk such great classics. To be honest the expectations would be high and it would be such a shame if it didn't meet it. Either way i was kinda lookin forward to this, renegades was awesome :D

kakashi-kaho
kakashi-kaho

Man, a huge disapointment. Tiberium was looking like a huge success and a huge hit. Why burn it down?

MxO
MxO

Whingy suit.

Paladin_King
Paladin_King

Agreed with tranroxas...with the right marketing and advertising support, this game could pull in a lot of Rock Band/Guitar Hero fans, as well as hard rock/metal listeners in general...which a quick trawl of the forums will reveal make up a pretty solid base among gamers.

TranRoxas
TranRoxas

I think the game being a creative risk is bs. Its because Tim Shafer makes great games that don't sell. You give a game like Brutal Legend an advertising campaign like Assassin's Creed and you got yourself a hit.

dannyatkinson
dannyatkinson

If I know EA they will continue to "AXE" the good titles and still push the garbage games on us. I don't see how anything has changed. If anything with the SecuROM issues they are worse than before. I am so sick of crap games getting all the money, Promotions and support while the truly great games get trashed on. I am also sick of game companies that could care less what the gamers want.

JohnnyNeat
JohnnyNeat

I hope he means what he's spitting because EA as a brand to me has been dying. They have become too big for their own good. Someone needs to take a step or two back and really see what games need what he has mentioned. I think Dead Space is pretty good at being an example of a good choice & product while Far Cry 2 is a missed opportunity.

HardcoreBunni
HardcoreBunni

Brutal Legend must be on shelves in 2009 max!!!

DJKrayz_basic
DJKrayz_basic

i would think Mirror's Edge would have been considered a significant creative risk... tho i hope it goes over well.. its got potential.. Brutal Legend should be finished and released.. all that time and money already spent.. it was sounding like something i'd wanna play, especially with Jack Black involved...

bryanacross
bryanacross

They killed this instead of facebreaker because command and conquer is a franchise they may want to still explore, making a bad game would have killed any hope of a good new c&c.

wheresmymonkey
wheresmymonkey

no they don't send out burnt omlets. just under cooked ones that give the diners food poisoning!

Gooshnads
Gooshnads

really... if this is their NEW view on quality..... we can expect much better... but it still doesnt account for the fact that they've screwed up CNC3 and RA 3 already... and although dead space was more of an accidental success, it was one none the less... i liked it lol

gunswordfist
gunswordfist

They don't care about quality in their games at all. they just want to kill off anything that doesn't make enough millions.

kollin_1
kollin_1

WTF does a brother gotta do to get some Brutal Legend in here!?

smalls5
smalls5

srsly EA. do u know how much garbage uve released in the last forever? (Facebreaker *cough*) i was realllly lookin forward to this. it looked like republic commandos and i loved that game

NatziJokeR
NatziJokeR

you got to be shting me i been waiting for the day a game like this would come out.and ea makes tons of bad omelets not dead space tho but wtf kmon!

thenewau25
thenewau25

yeah how do they release facebreaker and not this?

football_legend
football_legend

Kill NFS... It will break my heart... it was my racing game since the early days.....but.....i think it just lost it.

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

EALA is whats left of Westwood, who used to do CnC. Perhaps they are ticked at being part of the EA sewer system.

RonTorque
RonTorque

Dead Space is alot better than omelet.

Iloveconnie
Iloveconnie

So if there are a dozen AAA titles in one year to be put out, one or two of them are gonna get axed just "because"?

xyboink
xyboink

EA is not normal; first in 2008 and than immediately bumped to 2010. That is 2 years ! what a bump ! It is now a financial crises, okay, but they have bumped more than 10 games. Bump it for 6 moths of a year. That is my advice

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

I sometimes wonder about the numbers. A publisher makes around $10 gross on the sale of a $50 game. So if a game sells 5 million they make $50 million gross. Grim Fandango may have only sold around 600,000 units at full price, but it has gone onto sell over the years around 8 million on budget. Now with publishers earning around $1 per budget sale, my maths says GF has mad around $15 million for LucasArts. Now $15 million for a PC title is what most publishers would love to see for a PC title. Seems to me therefore, that if publishers took a longer view for income and took a longer view for pricing, there would still be room for the Grim Fandago's of this world. PC gaming would be better off selling games at £20 but never putting them on budget and continuing to market them. That way, as word of mouth grows (like it did with Grim) the publisher would still get the sales rather than ebay! The Longest Journey, a point and click adventure released in 2000 has, by word of mouth, sold over 9 million copies and been translated into 14 languages. All this has taken 8 years. TLJ also didn't go onto budget for the longest time, which helped sales continue. FunCom also had a well oiled direct sales division, not where you could download the game, but where they would ship you the boxed version! So you can see, Mr EA, there are directions not being taken that mean gaming suffers!

Paladin_King
Paladin_King

that said, Facebreaker was totally a "burnt omelet" that shouldn't've been served

Paladin_King
Paladin_King

Heh. Spore ended up not being THAT great of a creative risk at all, that's why it was a disappointment. That said, I don't care who picks up Brutal Legend, just as long as someone does. With EA's new initiative in putting out fresh titles (Dead Space, Spore, etc), I can definitely see them putting this game out to great success.

Hellequin85
Hellequin85

Only question is... with the wash of very bad/non-improving sports games (I'm thinking tiger woods here which hasn't really improved much since 06 and don't get me started on the cricket games) and the annoying securom issues etc... do we really want EA to be saved...

rikhan_z
rikhan_z

I bought some of EA burnt Omelets aswell!

Briantb_2008
Briantb_2008

I can only hope they will kick out great games from now on

firehawk998
firehawk998

DEAD SPACE IS AWESOME. I THINK THiS NEW CEO CAN SAVE EA.

KrzyJoe
KrzyJoe

"If you want to put good food on the table and you've got chefs in the back, you give them better ingredients, better training--and when you burn the omelet, you don't serve it," then what the hell have you been doin EA!?!? Just that! Or maybe it's just that u guys over there are so closeminded that can't tell if it's good or not before u release your "burned omelets" to the world. I can't even believe what a CEO is sayin when obviously his company is the most quality ignorant in this industry but they still sell

Quofan
Quofan

Urgh, capitalism.

Col-Neil
Col-Neil

EA have been allowed to grow far to much and theres no real stopping them :(

ThAdEa82
ThAdEa82

corvette_3 - That's what Im saying. It seemed like it would make a great game...maybe it was an elaborate shell of a game that was hollow. I thought it had huge potential. Some others disagree on here however. I was wondering why exactly was it canned.

raven449
raven449

How does that explain how Facebreaker got released then?

raven449
raven449

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Acagold20
Acagold20

One thing business execs can never understand is the creative process. Levine has been saying all about how it took them a dozen different designs and game play renovations before they finally ended up with Bioshock. Hopefully this tool isn't just going around axing games on pure whim, because otherwise he's exactly like every other risk adverse, maximum profit overpaid tool out there.

Acagold20
Acagold20

I agree with the other posters that hopefully this guy isn't the one vote. If the games not going too well, its a team decision to make, not one bureaucratic jackass in a Brooks Brothers suit with the sole power to cancel games. Until EA learns that, they will continue to put out sub par games, although the company really does appear to be turning around.

Cujo31
Cujo31

EA can do whatever they want, if they knock over games to pump out quality like Dead Space. They well have a happy consumer for a long time coming.

corvette_3
corvette_3

what the heck was wrong with tiberium it was beginning to look awesome they have have published worse games before and tiberium had a lot of potential to be good and it was not even finished im really upset with ea right now

ecs33
ecs33

@Spiny: I disagree. Or maybe I just don't understand the point you are trying to make. It is those economic and business related mechanics that run the gaming industry. The gaming industry has its own trends and market that need to be addressed in order to make a game that meets the needs and desires of customers. If you ignore the business side of things, then you are ignoring the big picture. If companies don't know what people want, then ofcourse they are going to release alot of misses. We have to accept that the gaming industry is no longer the small entity that it used to be. Market research is considered for every game that is being tested for feasibility. It is just a fact of the matter.