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Former EA Chief: "$60 is a giant FU to a very large number of people"

In a recent interview, former EA boss John Riccitiello talks about how the traditional games industry could learn a few things from the mobile gaming business.

By Jaz Rignall. Published 5 months ago

The next generation of consoles are less than a month away, and for the average gamer, buying new hardware in addition to several games at the price of $60 each is a significant outlay of cash. Game pricing has been a sensitive subject for some time now, and former EA boss John Riccitiello believes that the console/PC side of the business could learn a thing or two from the booming mobile space.

"Another thing that console and PC guys could and should learn is variable pricing," Riccitiello said at the recent Gaming Insiders Summit, as reported by the [a]list daily. "$60 is a giant FU to a very large number of people. There's not been a console game with even half as many installs as Clash of Clans. Puzzle & Dragons has got more installs than any console game in history. Getting a larger audience through variable pricing is a really useful thing."

"More than anything, what the traditional game industry should learn from mobile is it's really about service," Riccitiello said. "It's an ongoing business. You'd think we would have learned this some time ago, but I find it interesting that WoW and Sim City and GTA and Starcraft and many other games all fell over at launch when they put their service components together. Some of the biggest brands - I'd argue almost all the biggest brands - fell over from lack of the testing and research that mobile people do in the regular course of their day."

And the traditional industry still makes games too complicated for the masses, he argued. It may be fun for the hardcore crowd, but it's ultimately limiting when it comes to audience. "The third thing to learn is simplicity," he said. Riccitiello noted how games used to come with "500 page manuals" and while games have gotten simpler, "It's incredibly rare for a new game from a traditional game company to be learnable without instruction in ten, fifteen or twenty seconds and get to the fun that quick."

But the probably his most interesting point is one that few gamers would disagree with. "Gameplay is superior to tech," said Riccitiello. "Yes, you're going to need to be somewhere near but not necessarily on top of the leading edge of technology. But I would argue that chasing tech for eye candy or going 3D because it's cool is a recipe for making more expensive games, not better games."

Be sure to check out the full article with much more from the former EA chief at our sister site the [a]list daily.

The best community comments so far 12 comments

  • Keresky 5 months ago

    "It's incredibly rare for a new game from a traditional game company to be learnable without instruction in ten, fifteen or twenty seconds and get to the fun that quick."

    That's because they have this radical concept called "depth", John.

    Comparing one of Zynga's worthless cow clickers to a real game is like comparing a McDonald's hamburger to a high-quality steak at a good restaurant. McDonald's may sell billions of one-dollar hamburgers across the world, but that doesn't mean that all the Michelin Star chefs should throw out their pantries and start serving up factory-farmed chicken nuggets instead.

  • renatocosta90 5 months ago

    Isn't he the "visionary" behind the Online Pass shenanigans? I mean, it's hard to take him seriously about pricing after those bad, bad decisions linked to his name

  • Stealth20k 5 months ago

    Funny, I thought EA was saying FU to gamers for years

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