What John Riccitiello’s resignation means for gaming

This past Monday, John Riccitiello the CEO of publisher EA, announced that he was stepping down. This news comes in wake of the disastrous launch of the SimCity reboot which is now being called “the worst video game launch in history.” This is huge news as EA is probably the biggest gaming publisher that doesn’t have a product on the console market. Over the past few years, EA’s reputation has gone from being bitterly received to being outright despised. They are hated so much that last April, EA was voted the worst company in America. One of these days I’ll get around to explaining why EA is hated so much but for now, all you need to know is that EA’s reputation is at an all time low point. It’s easy to forget that back in 2008, EA was actually a respectable company releasing new IPs like Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge. What EA needs more than ever is to rethink their business direction and having a new CEO could be the start of that.

The most notable thing I took away from Riccitiello’s resignation is that I don’t have any idea why he stepped down. Was he fired? Was it to distance himself from EA’s crumbling reputation? Was he just tired of being a wealthy businessman? There are some facts to consider, like the fact that under Riccitiello, EA has struggled financially. They haven’t recovered from the global financial crisis of 2008. Their struggles can be explained with another fact: EA has simply made a lot of bad decisions since 2008. From the release of Spore, to the marketing of Dead Space 2, all the way to today with SimCity’s disastrous launch. All of this controversy had to factor into Riccitiello’s decision. The question of hour is: What is EA going to do in light of this news?

Is it just me, or does he look a bit frightened of that logo in the background?

There’s no guarantee that a new CEO is going to change how EA does business, regardless of what they do a new CEO could have a big impact on the industry. EA publishes some of the biggest franchises in gaming like Battlefield, Mass Effect, and Madden. You can expect to see more games from each of these. This is good or bad depending on who you ask but for me it’s leaning towards to bad side. None of these franchises have any more to add to the industry, all it does is rehash the same old stuff which is pretty the opposite of what this industry needs right now.

EA needs to get back in touch with the video gaming community. A lot of the more controversial decisions in some of their games (Mass Effect 3 & Spore for example) have been justified by EA having a “vision” for their products. Well, having a “vision” is nowhere near as important as giving customers what they ask for. This means no more DRM (Digital Rights Management), no more Day-One DLC and less games like Medal of Honor and more games like Mirror’s Edge. EA is making progress with games like Dragon Age III: Inquistion, which is being developed primarily with the fans in mind. This isn’t going to be enough to keep EA afloat. What EA really needs to do is to take a chance; gamble on a new IP that does something different. Every single franchise in gaming began as  new IP, and each one of those was a gamble. Assassin’s Creed was a big risk for Ubisoft, but it more than paid for them. EA needs to create a new IP (not buy one like they did for Mass Effect).

I can’t say if any of this is going to happen. I’m certain that EA is going to try make more money from their bigger franchises, maybe their new CEO, whoever it may be, will be what they need. EA is at a crossroads right now, and their survival as a publisher all depends on what they do next. Gamers have shown EA that their current philosophy isn’t working, whether not EA will do anything different is in their hand but even if EA folds in a years time it’s not going to change the industry. There’s nothing EA owns that the industry can’t live without, it’s up to them to change that.


About Sam Hale

Autistic, young adult and lots on my mind.

Posted on March 21, 2013, in News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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