Former EA bossman John Riccitiello, speaking for the first time since leaving EA has managed to set off the irony sensors buried somewhere within my skull. He’s lashed out at opportunists, copycat developers who’re only in the business to make money. This is the guy who’s been running EA for the past 6 years. EA.
“Let’s be realistic. I’m going to be cynical for a minute,” he said in an extensive interview with GI.Biz. “I find this terribly hilarious – you talked about game companies, things you write about on the website, these game companies who are going to create the next generation of new ideas, they’re all about fun etc. And they’re working on a Puzzles and Dragons rip-off, except they’re going to change one of the colors to blue.
“I mean, wait a minute. Are you in this because you want to create something or does it look like the easiest way to make money is to take one of the top-ten games and tweak it?”
This coming from the guy who ran a company that tried so hard to turn its shooters in to Call of Duty, and failed. Maybe now that he’s not forced to suck up to a board, he’s actually able to say this stuff with a straight face and this is how he really feels – but surely he must feel like a bit of a hypocrite?
“One of the reasons we’re seeing a lot of stuff that looks alike and plays alike is because that’s how a lot of stuff gets born. It gets funded that way. I think we’re going to start seeing a lot more differentiation as people get bored of seeing the same apps in the top 200. They’re going to come at it and realize that if you don’t make a fundamentally different product then it’s very difficult to replace something that’s up there with your own original design.”
“What I don’t like in the games industry today is that there are too many opportunists who are there to make money. I think making money is a fine byproduct when you’re trying to do something great, but I don’t think you do something great because you set out to get rich. I think you get rich by trying to do something great.”
I’d honestly lie to believe that Riccitiello really does favour creativity and that he was being restrained by investors; there’s no way to justify the absolute milking of the Need for Speed series and the torrent of Sims expansions otherwise.