EA: Golden Age for Gaming Upon Us, Industry Needs to Embrace Change
COO Peter Moore says it's a great time to be a gamer, but acknowledges that some core players aren't too enthusiastic about changes to the status quo.
The way Electronic Arts COO Peter Moore sees it, right now we're entering a "golden age" of gaming, with a wide variety of games and price points available at any moment. But this expansion into new sectors (free-to-play being one of them) is not universally adored, especially by some core gamers, Moore says in a wide-ranging interview with GamesIndustry International.
"I think we're going into almost a golden age of gaming, where it doesn't matter where you are, at any time, any place, any price point, any amount of time, there's a game available to you," Moore said. "And our job as a company is to provide those game experiences. And then on our big franchises, tie them all together."
"I think the challenge sometimes is that the growth of gaming... there's a core that doesn't quite feel comfortable with that" -- Peter Moore
Tying games together is likely in reference to EA's well-stated "games-as-a-service" model, where the publisher hopes to provide unified experiences across franchises like Battlefield and FIFA through tie-in games and the like. But as the gaming industry moves beyond the time-honored retail model and into a world of new business models and digital distribution, some consumers are having a tough time accepting this growth, Moore said.
"I think the challenge sometimes is that the growth of gaming... there's a core that doesn't quite feel comfortable with that," Moore said. "I don't get frustrated, but I scratch my head at times and say, 'Look. These are different times.' And different times usually evoke different business models. Different consumers come in. They've got different expectations. And we can either ignore them or embrace them, and at EA, we've chosen to embrace them."
Moore said he sees the rise in new business models as a positive thing for the game industry, but pointed out that there are certainly some dissenting views.
"There is a core--controversial statement coming from me, sadly--that just doesn't like that, because it's different," Moore said. "It's disruptive. It's not the way it used to be. I used to put my disc in the tray or my cartridge in the top, and I'd sit there and play. And all of these young people coming in, or God forbid, these old people coming into gaming!"
"I think the core audience that dislikes the fact that there are play-for-free games and microtransactions built into those... fine, I get that" -- Peter Moore
Moore went on to say that he's not blind to the issues some people have with new business models like free-to-play and the way in which microtransactions are implemented in such games. In the end, however, Moore contends that gamers will eventually understand that the "disruptive" changes the industry is currently seeing will end up being a net positive.
"I think the core audience that dislikes the fact that there are play-for-free games and microtransactions built into those... fine, I get that," Moore said. "I don't think anybody has to like it. I think that's where it goes. It's like me; I get grumpy about some things, but if the river of progress is flowing and I'm trying to paddle my canoe in the opposite direction, then eventually I'm just going to lose out. From the perspective of what needs to happen in this industry, we need to embrace the fact that billions of people are playing games now."
The risk of failing to accept these dynamic changes, Moore said, is the game industry experiencing the same fate of the pre-Napster music era.
"We just have to embrace it," Moore said. "We as an industry have to embrace change. We can't be music. We cannot be music. Because music said, 'Screw you. You're going to buy a CD for $16.99, and we're going to put 14 songs on there, two of which you care about, but you're going to buy our CD.' Then Shawn Fanning writes a line of code or two, Napster happens, and the consumers take control."
Part of the way forward for EA is to better listen to consumers, Moore said, reiterating the "player-first" mantra that CEO Andrew Wilson previously laid out.
"You have to embrace social media as a plus rather than a negative," Moore said. "Everybody has a megaphone now. Everybody has an opinion, and you learn to filter the rant from the constructive feedback."