Riccitiello on next-gen: the stakes are enormous

Former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello says console gaming will "explode" with arrival of future platforms, but only if Sony and Microsoft can avoid pitfalls.

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Former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello believes the console gaming business has the potential to "explode" in popularity with the arrival of next-generation systems, but only if these platforms are able to avoid major potential pitfalls.

In a guest editorial at Kotaku, the executive laid out his thoughts on next-generation platforms on the eve of Microsoft's next-generation reveal event. First, he argued that Sony and Microsoft must blow gamers away with the features and services of their next-generation platforms.

"I believe that console gaming is going to explode on the scene of consumer electronics with this next generation of consoles. Sony and Microsoft absolutely need to deliver new boxes that really impress us," Riccitiello said. "They need to deliver platforms that enable game experiences that are not possible on current consoles. It is not just about graphics, although it is partly about graphics. It is also about recognizing that a lot has changed with online devices and the cloud since the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were originally introduced."

Riccitiello then highlighted four scenarios he said Microsoft and Sony must avoid if their respective next-generation platforms are to succeed.

"The first and most obvious of these pitfalls is if Sony or Microsoft forgets who brought them to the dance in the first place: gamers," Riccitiello said. "I certainly see the temptation to emphasize all sorts of experiences that these boxes might bring to the living room. These new machines can do a lot. The risk is that either or both of the new platforms emphasize these 'value-add' experiences too much, both in the user interface on the consoles themselves, or in the story they tell consumers when they unleash their avalanche of advertising. To paraphrase a political slogan, 'It's about the games, stupid.'"

He further explained that the idea of "reinventing the living room" may sound like a "big and sexy" proposition that will read well in mainstream media, but said that Microsoft and Sony should instead double down on games and on building game-focused user interfaces.

"The risk of complexity in the new console UI (user interface) is real," he said. "Give us too much on the screen, and we'll never find our games. The risk is that too many choices, and a UI design to appeal to too many audiences, means nothing stands out."

Another pitfall Riccitiello said he believes could bring down the PS4 and next Xbox is that of supply. He said that consumers today expect to be able to get what they want when they want it and if they can't, then sales could suffer.

"Past console launches have been severely hampered by a lack of supply. A new console launch with only a few million units available will simply frustrate all of us," Riccitiello said. "Limited supply means the new consoles will launch with a whimper and whine, not the cry of attack. If Sony and Microsoft want to see the next generation of consoles take high ground in the consumer electronics war this year, they are going to have to invest to make sure there are enough of the new consoles out there."

Riccitiello's third potential pitfall is that of price. He claimed getting the price right will be "very important" to the prosperity of the PS4 and next Xbox.

"The stakes are enormous," he said.

The fourth and final potential problem for the PS4 and next Xbox, according to Riccitiello, has to do with what he described as third-rail topics, such as always-online requirements and DRM schemes.

"The question of the always-on connection is one that causes some gamers' blood to boil," he said. "Gamers will want, and learn to love, the good parts of consoles being more connected to our digital lives than was possible with the machines launched eight years ago."

"At launch, Sony and Microsoft must avoid putting up new and alarming DRM schemes, and focus on enabling the cool new game experiences that seamlessly connected consoles allow," he added.

Riccitiello quit EA in March. The Battlefield and FIFA publisher is currently reviewing internal and external candidates for his replacement, though a successor has not yet been named.

Discussion

189 comments
RpG2013
RpG2013

This guy is scary looking but what he sid is true in the article

eyeball2452
eyeball2452

Didn't he get fired?  Ugh, MS promoting EA and Activsion ... next gen has already jumped the shark.

edinko
edinko

Look who is talking about always on DRM. SimCity anyone?

lumanens
lumanens

I can't stand this! No matter how slowly you try to ease me into it, or try to hook me with great games and "perks"  I will never support online only DRM, and I don't like being forced into using it. Unless changes are made, this is one long time gamer that will not be buying the new consoles. Sadly I see the golden day's of gaming vanishing rapidly in my rear view mirror :(

kik4444
kik4444

UHH, he looks like a child molestor in that picture...

jeffrobin
jeffrobin

I agree with what this man had to say in this article.

Vojtass
Vojtass

Such a polite man. Like grandpa. ;)

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

good read actually...lol must be nice not being tied to a company so he can actually tell the truth

odcrl
odcrl

The most alarming part of all this:

"Gamers will want, and learn to love, the good parts of consoles being more connected to our digital lives than was possible with the machines launched eight years ago." 

Never!

Aiberg
Aiberg

Dear Mr. Riccitello,

GTFO!

Regards,

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

Basically, don't put all your eggs into non-gaming stuff because non-gamers aren't going to buy your stupidly expensive box for things that a cheaper box can do, and don't piss off gamers.


Crap anyone could have said, really.

Justforvisit
Justforvisit

Would you buy a life insurance from this man?

JulyAeon
JulyAeon

pity he couldn't implement all his good advise in his previous job...

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

Oddly enough that was an insightful read.  I pretty much agree with everything he said.

Doomkilla
Doomkilla

Huh. All he talked about was everything but the gameplay. That's disappointing.

botroo3
botroo3

"At launch, Sony and Microsoft must avoid putting up new and alarming DRM schemes, and focus on enabling the cool new game experiences that seamlessly connected consoles allow," he added 

do you guys understand this? the backlash for Simcity and the latest Microsoft's #dealwithit crap made them change strategies.. so instead of going full DRM, they are going to ease us in to it, like by disabling some of the single player content unless you're online i have seen Ubisoft doing it in might and magic 6 and i can smell it in Watch Dogs, you can't equip dynasty weapons, or making some of the SINGLE PLAYER campaign quests unavailable unless your connected to their disastrous Conflux servers...  little by little until they force all of us to stay connected anyway then they will go full online DRM. after that it will be easy to make the transition to cloud gaming, all of this because they can't stand some people pirating their games that most likely wont buy them anyway, and its not a secret that both Microsoft's and Sony's new consoles both have technology that can block used games. i know am too cynical but i feel that the future of gaming is extreme crap.

RedLegZeff
RedLegZeff

He kinda put the emphasis on the wrong spots. Yes, flashy hardware is kinda neat. Lower priced systems make it easier to fit into your budget. But games are the real thing. Will you have a library of decent games in the first 6 months. More importantly will you have a system selling game. The game that make people want to play it so much they'll go out and buy a system. The wii u's main problem is it doesn't have that game yet. 3rd party can round stuff out, or insure you buy a next gen system, but you need a stellar exclusive.

ilovethewitcher
ilovethewitcher

EA  makes shit games sims? simcity? fifa madden? all one big pile of SHIT and the good franchises they own like mass effect and dragon age have gone down bigtime since ea took them over, do everyone a favour and die already EA

Tauu
Tauu

That picture cracks me up every time.

Adenosine
Adenosine

Gamers will smell it the moment they try to slowly integrate the ALWAYS-ON requirement and will naturally move away from it. No matter how pretty they may try to paint it, the moment a gamer loses the ability to play the game just because there's no internet is an instant turn-off. It's like going to buy food from a fast food chain, only for the food to disappear if you step out of the joint because you are required to eat it inside, not outside.

TheCyborgNinja
TheCyborgNinja

Wow, thanks Captain Obvious. The systems will sell if MS and Sony do what it takes to be successful? No way!

This just in: delicious food sells better than dog poo sandwiches.

berserker66666
berserker66666

The stakes that Retardetello will never be any part of.

cireking213
cireking213

Uh oh, this means that there is a puppet master inside EA.

jyml8582
jyml8582

John Riccitiello, you have failed this city!

asendedtrunks
asendedtrunks

Is there something about being an employee of EA that turns you evil? And as soon as you quit you can say sensible things, or does Mr. Riccitiello really have the cheek to say these things after the way he completely ruined EA; but, who knows, maybe he didn't actually have much of a say in things and he really did have these views all along. He still gets a salary from EA so he might as well just say whatever the hell he wants now.

Shanks_D_Chop
Shanks_D_Chop

This guy talks a whole lotta shite. That said, he's well experienced to talk on the matter of pitfalls and epic mistakes.

guitarist1980
guitarist1980

Getting 20 million 720's out the door on day 1 is not going to be a priority for either company. It would be nice but it wont make or break the next console cycle in the slightest. 

Comrad_Sniper
Comrad_Sniper

CEO John Riccitiello: My company investment stake isn't the only thing that's enormous... *pedosmile*

wyan_
wyan_

Epic pedosmile strikes again.

fartsue
fartsue

Why are you still talking!? Just take your money and leave!

brainiac1988
brainiac1988

What a bunch of crap. A former EA guy telling Sony and MS what, and what not to do. And him talking about DRM is just a joke. Not that he's wrong.. but, come on he worked at EA. Better tell that to his former employees.

I bet you most gamers dont give a crap about all these social features on a console. Especially if it requires an internet connection.

It is all about making powerful hardware which is easy to develop for. Gamers want a jump in graphics and they want lots of good games.  

Games that look so good that you know by looking at it that it would never be possible on the last generation. I mean, its not like this is the SNES era and we're about to make the jump from 2D to 3D. They are not going to invent whole new game structures and genres. Graphics are a big deal.

blue-peregrine
blue-peregrine

I can't stand his creepy smile, even though he's no longer a EA CEO.

cirugo
cirugo

god more bullshit about "online" and "the cloud."

basically he's just saying that they have to spin it better.

fuck off

Deadly_Nemesis
Deadly_Nemesis

Former Electronic Arts CEO" That's right so now what he has to say means less than nothing. So I don't even have to read this.

nurnberg
nurnberg

What?  This is like the first time I ever see an EA rep saying something that is not insanely stupid or offensive.

Vojtass
Vojtass

@BladeStrike1234 LOL. Thre greatest trick that devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn't exist.

cirugo
cirugo

@odcrl  

he's saying that the industry just has to do a better job "selling" online-only DRM to us stupid hicks.

cirugo
cirugo

@botroo3  

that's not cynical at all...he straight-up stated in the article.  they think they just have to do a better job of selling always-online.

Doomkilla
Doomkilla

@botroo3 I agree and I think this coming generation will be the one that breaks the industry away from the innovation=graphics kind of developers. Which will be great!

kik4444
kik4444

@brainiac1988 Spoken like a true Crytek employee. What I mean is: If the gameplay is very good, the graphics can be overlooked. Just look at Minecraft - the graphics are a bunch of cubes, but thanks to the awesome gameplay, they are hugely overlooked

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

@nurnberg i don't know if you're talking about this guy but he isn't a EA rep anymore