Riccitiello says he has “no choice but to wait and watch,” what Activision does with Elite

By Stephany Nunneley, Thursday, 16 June 2011 22:06 GMT

EA CEO John Riccitiello believes that Modern Warfare 3 is “going to be a really good game” and that the war of words between his firm and Activision is all part of the business.

When two tribes go to war

Speaking in an extremely quote-worthy interview with Industry Gamers, Riccitiello used a pharmaceutical company analogy to describe the battle between the two “titans.”

“The honest truth is I think Modern Warfare is going to be a really good gam3, he said. “I think that in a weird way it’s starting to feel a little to me like the Disneyland abstraction of a war game – a little bit jump the shark. So it feels a little bit like that to me. And I think there’s a market for that. I think our game is more authentic. It’s definitely going to do a lot of things better. Lighting’s better, physics is better, animations are better, particle effects are better, vehicles are better. I think there’s a lot of things to like about our product and I think it’s going to be a great battle.

“So headline number one, having a clash of the titans in entertainment [is great]. If you’re battling your cholesterol drug versus somebody else’s cholesterol drug, there are only so many people who need cholesterol drugs. The market is getting bigger, but it’s all about cholesterol. So the market divides. Your chips versus my chips. Maybe it gets bigger. But this is great for consumers. When two titans go up against each other, and battle each other for how you’re going to spend your entertainment time and dollars, it doesn’t get better than that. So as a headline, I think this is the best time in the game industry. I love when this happens.”

EA still has “the better game, the better tack”

Despite the fun bit of spin Riccitiello seems to be putting on the matter, he is still confident that Battlefield 3 is the better game, but Modern Warfare 3 will win out with the “mass audience.”

“I do think, though, that we’ve got the better game, the better tack,” he said. “[There’s] a concentration of people that might tell the difference between a good game and a bad game. We’re going to do really well there. A lot of people bought Modern Warfare more for the coffee table and didn’t play it for 2 months. There’s sort of that mass audience… they’re going to win there. The question is, ‘So, if the gamer buys our game and the mass audience buys their game, where do the two meet?’ And all I want to do, if you will, is to have them rot from the core.”

Understanding Elite and what it does

Riccitiello said he was also keeping on eye on where Activision is going with Elite, and is unsure why the firm announced the service in the manner in which it did. In his opinion, the firm “led with its chin” with the announcement, but feels Activision has “plenty of time to recover” from what he is essentially calling an announcement blunder.

“I don’t know what’s in Elite right now, but based on what I’ve seen, I think they might’ve been better off holding the Elite thing and been a little more careful and show up a month after they’ve launched Modern Warfare 3,” he said. “‘Hey, we’ve got an expansion pack. It’s going to be x amount of money, but if you give us y amount of money, you get extra stuff.’ As opposed to leading with their chin. But maybe there’s a reason they led with their chin. I think the reason they led with their chin is that they needed to say something against what was clearly a more powerful presentation of Battlefield 3 over Modern Warfare. So they needed something to say. I think they picked the wrong thing, but there’s a lot of months between now and November so they’ve got plenty of time to recover.

“And so if we can start that process, we’re in a good spot. I do think the core is going to be particularly anxious about a pre-announcement of a subscription and I think the reason they’ll be anxious about it is because if they led with, ‘Here’s 10 great things you get,’ and they go, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to buy them,’ that’s one thing. If they lead with a business model that’s another thing. But wait and see. I give them… well, I don’t really give them the benefit of the doubt, but I’ve got no choice but to wait and watch.”

Battlefield 3 launches on October 25 in the US and October 28 in the UK, while Modern Warfare 3 is out November 8.

Both will be made available on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.

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