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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."


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 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.

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