EA Games label president Frank Gibeau has said games without online components are “finished” as “online is where the innovation, and the action, is at”.
Speaking with Develop, Gibeau said the rest of the bosses at EA agree with his stance.
“I volunteer you to speak to EA’s studio heads, they’ll tell you the same thing,” he said. “They’re very comfortable moving the discussion towards how we make connected gameplay – be it co-operative or multiplayer or online services – as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out. I think that model is finished.
“Online is where the innovation, and the action, is at.”
However, Gibeau said EA is in no way forcing its studios to put some sort of online component into games, but instead inspiring teams to do it.
“It’s about collaboration – looking at being both critically acclaimed and commercially successful,” he said. “It’s both, and I like to give studios a lot of creative autonomy, and that’s certainly proven by the types of games we’ve brought out over the last couple of years. I mean, EA used to be against M-rated content. Go check out Dead Space [laughs]. It’s one of my core cultural studio values to allow developers to decide more on what they want to build. And a studio’s creative call needs to be balanced against a commercial imperative, and if you look at online these days – that’s the place to be.
“Game makers, the really good ones, they want to make great games but they also want to make blockbusters. One of the things they need to do is balance that out – I have the right team to help them. What I learned early on in my career was that, if you’re going to lead a creative team, you have to inspire people. They’re the ones living in the game.
“I always found it a big problem when a game’s executive producer would come up to me and ask what I should do next. I would always respond that’s not my job. You’re job is to come up with the creative vision, mine is to edit and tweak so it’s a bigger commercial opportunity. I’m very clear about that.”
With EA planning to “more closely match the 40/60 percent digital/packaged goods split” seen in the “worldwide market today” in the future, online components will be easier than ever.