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.

News by Jaz Rignall, .

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.

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Comments 12

  • Avatar for Keresky #1 Keresky 4 years 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.
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  • Avatar for Blika #2 Blika 4 years ago
  • Avatar for Wellman #3 Wellman 4 years ago
    John you stupid.

    The mobile market has the benefit of being on a platform that many, many more people can access due to its functionality then the standard console could ever do without being built into TVs from the jump.

    And the fact is while I agree with him on how chasing high end graphics and tech is making games more expensive and not better, his lack of understanding on the depth most console or even portable games offer in comparison to some of the more successful mobile games makes him look like another trend jumper or a microtransaction lobbyist.
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  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #4 renatocosta90 4 years 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
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  • Avatar for matthewyoung47 #5 matthewyoung47 4 years ago
    On the subject of price, PC gaming has had "variable pricing" for longer then mobile phone gaming has even been around.

    PC gaming pricing varies from free to $60 and everywhere in between. Like the new batman game coming out this week, you can get it legally on pc for about $38. Few days ago it was even cheaper at about $28(It was under $40 on sale then a coupon code for %25 off, the sale is no more but the code still works).

    Or try games like the new Path of Exile, which is a great free diablo like game.
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  • Avatar for Stealth20k #6 Stealth20k 4 years ago
    Funny, I thought EA was saying FU to gamers for years
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  • Avatar for Daikaiju #7 Daikaiju 4 years ago
    Hindsight really is 20/20 innit, Johnny boy?
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  • Avatar for Jonny5Alive7 #8 Jonny5Alive7 4 years ago
    What a load of rubbish. Mobile games are much more simplistic and cost a lot less to make, hence why they are so cheap. Surely the massive sales of GTA V is proof that that price point is absolutely fine.
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  • Avatar for Thusian #9 Thusian 4 years ago
    I don't think everything being said is entirely wrong, the problem is the source. Given the past actions of this guy, this is all insincere bullshit where his actions seem not to be governed by how he actually thinks or feels, but simply by where he happens to be working. He's like a politician, they all act one way when they're the opposition, then another when its their turn in office.

    His flip flopping based on where he works is his action, speaking louder than his words. And actions not only speak louder than words, they do it half as often.
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  • Avatar for RoninChaos #10 RoninChaos 4 years ago
    There was variable pricing in the PSOne and PSTwo eras. This gen was really the advent of "EVERYTHING IS 60 BUCKS!"
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  • Avatar for alexb #11 alexb 4 years ago
    This is rich. EA, along with Activision, were the ones who pushed us past the $50 price point of the previous generations and helped to kill off cheaper, midtier games by refusing to make anything that could not support an online multiplayer mode and be annualized. Riccitiello is talking out of his ass.
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  • Avatar for bigdsweetz #12 bigdsweetz 4 years ago
    Can someone please make EA and THQ switch positions?
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