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Riccitiello: No one designs great games by 'staring at a spreadsheet'

Riccitiello: No one designs great games by 'staring at a spreadsheet'
"You can tell your readers I said 'f*ck' in the first sentence," declares John Riccitiello, specifically talking to members of the games press in the audience gathered to watch his on-stage talk at Slush in Helsinki.

Riccitiello, who stepped down as CEO of Electronic Arts back in march, is not here to mince words, it seems.

Indeed, he seems intent to use his time on stage to air the number of problems he has with the games industry today.

"Stop asking the question - 'will mobile kill console?'" he asks of the press, going on to suggest that, since the TV screen is 25 times the size of a smartphone, the input methods are totally different (controllers vs touch), and that one you play from ten inches while the other you play from 10 feet, that "they are fundamentally different exeriences".

"The idea that one kills the other is a silly question. It needs to die a death and go away."

'Welcome to the console business'

It's Riccitiello's view that, just because you can plug your mobile into a large screen, and even sync up a controller, it "doesn't mean [that] console is over." On the contrary, he adds, "Google, Apple, and Samsung have joined the console business".

He states that both mobile and console are "super vibrant markets", though does concede that those in console "need to take more risks with their biggest brands", and that if they don't, those big brands "simply won't exist" in the future.

He's equally critical of mobile developers, of course. Pointing to the always connected future of gaming, he points out that "always-on means a fundamental and lateral change in the way we will interact with our content".

"If you're making a single player game of the kind made ten years ago, you're probably designing it wrong," he adds, stressing that any customers currently complaining about this guaranteed future of gaming "will get over it".

Can't wait to be king

He also warns that mobile developers and publishers must be wary of "discontinuous innovation".

Addressing Nordic giants King and Supercell – with employees no doubt in the audience - he suggests that the reason they succeeded was that they took existing game ideas, gave a new and innovatiove spin on them, and people responded positively to those changes.

"People are looking at your titles in exactly the same way", he remarks, and suggests that to continue being success stories, they must "risk losing existing users".

He was also critical of game marketers, reinforcing that they must "move beyond the quantitative" to produce excellent titles and lasting franchises.

"Yes, nothing is possible if you don't master the math," he accepts, but "nobody is going to create a great new title if they're staring at a spreadsheet".

Nevertheless, Riccitiello believes this is "a golden age" for both console and mobile, quoting some of his own personal research that found that "of the 10 biggest intellectual properties across all entertainment, five come from the games industry".

Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.

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jon jordan
He is a smart man. Will be interesting to see where he turns up next...
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