Riccitiello: Need for Speed quality decline down to “death march” regime

By Johnny Cullen
21 September 2010 11:55 GMT


EA boss John Riccitiello has said the decline in quality in Need for Speed in recent years was down to developer BlackBox doing the series year in, year out, in a “death march regime”.

He said when he first joined the games industry, NFS was a key and “really strong” series.

“I’d come into EA just after we’d shipped a couple of relatively miserable ones. Our Need For Speed business was off… dramatically. We came up with this idea of putting a cop in the game. Suddenly this whole cat and mouse, cops and chasing thing blew the roof off,” he said to investors at the America Merrill Lynch 2010 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference.

“We had several consecutive years of growth. We reached a bit of a lull period and came up with Underground which has sort of that night-time vibe and lightning which brought it to new heights – north of 10 million units for the franchise.

“In the ’04 to ’07 period, we had a single studio, Black Box, up in Vancouver, building our [NFS games]. And we literally had them on a death march building for five years in a row. [They were] annual iterations, they had to put it out; no rest for the weary.”

Riccitiello continued: “It’d happened before – games publishers do this from time to time. We should have put them on two-year alternating cycles but we didn’t. And the title declined dramatically. We started to lose people. They didn’t want to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

He admitted the problem was EA’s “fault,” but that those days were gone.

Since then, BlackBox has released Need for Speed: Undercover, as well as Need for Speed World.

The next title in the series, Hot Pursuit, comes from Criterion Games. That releases on  November 19.


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