EA: We're Getting Better at Listening

CEO Andrew Wilson admits, "We haven't always been great listeners," but says the company is improving its dialogue with gamers.

In a frank new interview with GamesIndustry Interational, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson freely admits that the Battlefield and Mass Effect publisher has come up short in the past of listening to gamers' requests. But going forward, as part of Wilson's new "player-first" objective for the publisher, he says the company is improving its dialogue with gamers everywhere.

Andrew Wilson

Thanks to the rise in digital gaming, EA is better-equipped to make changes on the fly, Wilson said. "One of the things that we're learning as we make the digital transformation is that we don't need to guess what players want any more. For the longest time we had to guess, and the first opportunity to find out whether you got it right or not was when you saw the game on the shelf," he said. "Now, we're getting better at listening. We haven't always been great listeners, but we're getting better, and what that's telling us is that people want choice. They want to be able to choose what's right for them at a given moment in time. There isn't a one-size-fits-all any longer. We've got to build a core platform, game engines, and games that facilitate that."

One of the ways EA is offering choice to consumers is through EA Access, its newly launched subscription program for Xbox One that gives members unlimited--and permanent--access to a "vault" of titles for $5/month or $30/year. The arrival of EA Access doesn't mean EA will stop selling games at retail, as that market still remains the preferred choice for many, he said. However, for the people who do decide to use EA Access, they can expect their $5/month or $30/year to go further and further, just as movie streaming site Netflix has become a more compelling package since its original launch.

"Over time, the value will just get better and better and better, in much the same way that Netflix does," Wilson said. "When I started subscribing to Netflix, there was no House Of Cards, there was no Orange Is The New Black--there is now."

Also in the interview, Wilson says ensuring that gamers feel they receive a fair value for their money--whether it's for a free-to-play game or a $60 boxed product--is important to him going forward. "Back in the day, it was all about delivering $60 of value; now, I want to deliver $1 of value if you want to spend $1, I want to deliver $10 of value if you want to spend $10," he said. "I want to deliver value on your investment and on your investment of time. As you get older you realize that time is the most important resource. We should think about the investment of money, but also the investment of time."

Wilson was named EA CEO in September 2013, replacing longtime top executive John Riccitiello.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

194 comments
SoulControlla99
SoulControlla99

Does that mean if only 10% of people play the EASHL and that's all I play, I can pay $6 for NHL 15 on XB1?

TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

"We're Getting Better at Listening"

Then why haven't you shut down the company and left gaming in peace?

Sorry, you guys still seem pretty tone deaf to me.

electrichobo99
electrichobo99

Remember EAs wildly popular online pass code requirements to access multiplayer? They dropped that policy after seeing how unpopulated their servers were becoming, as did Ubisoft and SCE, among others.

Kayweg
Kayweg

The headline we really need to see is:

Gamers agree: EA is getting better at listening.


And even that would only be a first small step, coz after listening comes hearing, understanding and acting upon.

Somebody let me know when they arrive at the acting upon bit, until then the original DA remains my last EA game.

Blamethehealer
Blamethehealer

The EASHL community has been begging for clarification on if the mode is in NHL 15, it has trended on Twitter and has like 300,000 views on the EA forums. 10 days of utter silence and the games out In like 2 weeks.

daviz88
daviz88

ANDREW WILSON : we are better at listening  

WALLET : cha - ching

ANDREW WILSON : yes

snacky_smorez
snacky_smorez

"One of the ways EA is giving choice is through EA access. "

So you pay a subscription then EA is willing to listen. No thanks. Drop origin on PC and all this subscription based crap.

ThePlantain
ThePlantain

after messing up year after year and seeing your IP's lose significance and sales, of course

TheBruuz
TheBruuz

It would be good if their customer service could start hearing me too.
I've had dozens of phonecalls with them over a single account issue.
We're a year further now, and guess what...still not fixed.


But I did get a survey from them asking me to rate their service in a single word.
I wrote: Insulting!

nothingformoney
nothingformoney

What's the point of listening when you're not good at learning?

001011000101101
001011000101101

For the longest time, they had to "guess" what the players wanted? What?! Ever heard of internet forums? That's something that's been around, especially when it comes to games, for quite some time now. People have been requesting and suggesting features in games for years and but all of that has simply flown right over their heads? Or am I reading this all wrong?

daihideo
daihideo

All I see in quotes is "wah wah...wah wah wah wah EA Wah wah wah wah"

MigGui
MigGui

if EA starts listening to gamers, the sims 4 will be a completely different beast from the sims 3.


but it won't.

PsychoChick966
PsychoChick966

When it comes to EA not listening, game features are a biggie.  I don't think that was really addressed here.  All of the gamers that I know, have major problems with EA because they "give" us features we DON'T want.  They hadn't ever really listened to what we did want.  


Just for example, In The Sims 3 series, so many players, directly on EA's site for the game, BEGGED for things.. told them they'd throw their money at EA if they'd just give us this, or that.. and that they hated A or B.  What did they do, for the longest time?  They kept giving us A and B.  It was dumbfounding really.  I thought here we are, players who buy their products, TELLING them, EXACTLY what we want, taking any guesswork on their part, completely out of the picture.  We were telling them exactly how they could make loads of cash.. but it was like they didn't want our money or something.  It really was just so weird. 


HOWEVER, I do have to say, that in that regard, they FINALLY started listening.  But honestly, it came so late into the series, and the series was fraught with so many other problems, that it turned a lot of players off.  You have to understand something here, out of all the games I play, I don't see the dedication that Sims players have, for any other game.  This series is well over a decade old, and there are players who've played all of it's iterations.  They go through immense amounts of frustration to make their games work, and if you add them all up, all of the expansions and Store stuff we've all bought, it is a major amount of financial dedication as well.  No other game that I play, is as expensive as The Sims 3.  My point, is just that we all put SO much into making our games work, and the idea that we were begging EA to listen to us, and to give us what we wanted, instead of the crap they were giving us.. that we were telling them how they could make piles of cash and we'd all stop bad-mouthing them.. but they wouldn't do it... Ugh.. I just can't even explain the frustration.  I can't explain how stupid it sounds that a company would be so deaf to us all.  As I said though, they finally did start listening.  I just can't, because of EA's history with it's customers, put that much faith into what Their CEO is saying.  I'm hopeful that they've learned their lessons.. but I just won't hold my breath over it.  


I'm not expecting squat.. so I won't be shocked or disappointed, if they don't deliver.

gunnmetal
gunnmetal

its a start! i want more games in the vault, hint hint rivals

spikepigeo
spikepigeo

Good listeners prove it by acting on what they have heard, not saying "I'm a good listener!"


In other words, we'll see EA, we'll see...

StephenSays
StephenSays

What are they listening to the screams and agony and pain of people.

Do they enjoy hearing people complain and cry.   EA reminds me of the guy on southpark who works for the cable company.  

Oh that is so sad, I know where the worst.  Rubs nipples.

Garm31
Garm31

Can they hear the calls for it's violent demise?

bluebird08
bluebird08

Listen to this.

NO....

MICRO......

TRANSACTIONS!!!!!

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

Well I needed my fix of blatant, shameless, lying for today.

rey2
rey2

EA getting better at listening?


Still not buying it.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

IF EA was really good at listening then not only would EA access have never been created they would also be in a lake right now. 

theotherjeff
theotherjeff

Is it just me or did anyone else translate
"We should think about the investment of money, but also the investment of time." to mean We're gonna have paid progression for everything,
Andthe monetization achievement award goes to . . . EA for Shortcut bundles.

Next they'll be offered for SP as well. 

"Are you bored? For only $5 you can get an immediate successful completion of this mission." 

straightcur
straightcur

Stop comparing this to Netflix. Can you imagine Netflix being any good with only 1 publisher?

straightcur
straightcur

LOL.  This guy is proof that it's all about who you know.  Anybody can be CEO if you know the right people.

RicanV
RicanV moderator moderator

EA: Tells everyone how good they're getting at listening.


EA: Gives you only 6 hours of early access under their new subscription service.

Skele7or
Skele7or

LOL meanwhile people have been demanding EASHL info for weeks and despite the fact the game comes out in 2 weeks, EA has been ignoring everyone. 

kezz12345678
kezz12345678

too bad they dont need to listen since morons with no impulse control keep buying their products despite it being horrible. NHL 15 is a perfect example...absolutely abysmal paid game with more microtransaction than free games....almost nothing new and whats new is horribly ugly and pointless like their stupid jerseys that flap like flags....they even removed eashl one of the most popular mode and yet people still plan to buy it.  lol

HaRdNiPs
HaRdNiPs

i think that should be rephrased to finally started to listen. then again it takes ea years to even reply back to a question you gave them plus ea support is still in beta.

beazermyst
beazermyst

if you start with 0 and you times it by either 5 or 50, you still get 0. You can't listen any "better" when you have not been listening to begin with.

Shantmaster_K
Shantmaster_K

Well at least they admitted it. See if they change is another thing. 

TheGreatPhoenix
TheGreatPhoenix

This is a contradiction in and of itself. If EA was truly listening they would hear the masses shouting at them "get your heads out of your ass and start listening"


Its SimCity all over again. Months of people telling them exactly what would go wrong and why. EA ignoring everyone, and trying to suck up to us afterward.


Same EA same Bullshite

Ereheru
Ereheru

So, going by his logic, you should get no value from a free-to-play game unless you pay some money into it...which sounds about right.


The problem with all this is that when I play a game, I want to have fun, which isn't a quantifiable thing like money is.  Why doesn't he just focus on having his company make games that are fun, whether they are $60 or $1?


These CEOs from gaming companies should really just not open their mouths, nothing they say ever makes them look like a person I want to spend money on a game that will end up giving them money.

drysprocket
drysprocket

Just stop talking EA, no one believes you. You're just wasting e-trees.

smokeless_0225
smokeless_0225

Funniest article headline of the day...also most pointless...

What is the point of listening if you don't take action? I MIGHT give this new BF:HL a chance (not on release day again) but if it bottoms out, I'm done, lol!

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

I've already gotten so good at listening to your bullhonkey. Taken you lot long enough.

chimekolover88
chimekolover88

oh...really you are better at listening? PROVE IT! go back and fix one of your BIG mistakes! do a complete redo of Command & Conquer 4 put in ALL the things that were supposed to be in it and give it GREAT gameplay and a great end to Kane's story and then we will talk!

TheBruuz
TheBruuz

@001011000101101 It's probably because he had money sticking out of his ears and golden coins pasted to his eyelids.

hystavito
hystavito

@PsychoChick966 Yup this wasn't really about the games themselves and their content/features/etc.  This was basically about different, to use their term, monetization models :).  Different ways to sell a game, different ways to conduct the business of gaming, which of course is the most important thing :).

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@bluebird08 You need to be more detailed than that...  Ea would interpret that as "MACRO transactions are fine"

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@RicanV They're listening.  What they don't tell you is that they're sadistic, so the sounds of people screaming in agony and rage is like music to their ears.

waffleiron88
waffleiron88

@RicanV well its obvs, the people clearly said they only wanted a 6 hour demo. After all EA listens

flaw600
flaw600

@chimekolover88 How are they going to redo C&C 4? I agree the gameplay was crap and the length could've been longer, but the storyline in and of itself (unfortunately) made sense. Kane had to have had an endgame in mind. The best thing to do is C&C 5 where Kane comes back b/c the teleport failed or something and move on from there

PsychoChick966
PsychoChick966

@hystavito @PsychoChick966 Yeah, I know it wasn't about features, specifically, but I guess, when they say they're listening, I just wonder if they're saying they're doing that about everything, or are they just "listening" about one thing?  I guess I was just trying to show how they've demonstrated their customer first, listening to us knd of policy before. 


Thank you for your reply.  Let's hope they start "listening" across the board.  :-)