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Riccitiello dismisses console/mobile divide

Ex-EA CEO says "it's really a question of big screens, medium sized screens and small screens"

Former EA CEO John Riccitiello has dismissed the divide between the mobile and console gaming markets and offered his insights on successful free-to-play models.

"People keep trying to describe the mobile and console markets as entirely different. I drive a car on a freeway and in the city and I don't have one car for each," he said in a recent whitepaper from Game Monetization USA.

"It's really a question of big screens, medium sized screens and small screens as well as touch versus controller inputs. I don't think it's really so much about mobile versus console."

He highlighted the merging of the two markets, in part thanks to the ever evolving tech capabilities of tablets and phones, and suggested we'll see an increase in the number of core games headed to tablet. He also offered his insights on the right way to monetise those titles with a free-to-play model.

"Nobody feels bad about going to the bowling alley and paying for time or per game. Nobody feels bad about going to the old style arcades and paying to play," he said.

"You've got to give credit to the guys at Glu for having the crass judgment to come up with something so simple"

"A lot of games can make a player feel ripped off if the mechanic doesn't feel central to what you're trying to do or if it's pulling money away from you too fast. Arguably the worst thing is if it feels like the only thing you had to do to progress was to pay money for it. People aren't interested in just a pay mechanic, they want to enjoy the game and demonstrate some level of skill and mastery."

He cited Clash Of Clans as a game that finds a balance between paying for progress and skill and also gave a nod to Glu's recent mega hit Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. The game was the most downloaded app in July and some have predicted its income to hit around $200 million by the end of the year.

"People have been talking a lot about Kim Kardashian getting to the top. I haven't played that game but you've got to give credit to the guys at Glu for having the crass judgment to come up with something so simple and so obvious."

Looking to the future Riccitiello name-checked Oculus and multiplayer on mobile but saw this holiday season as one for the TV manufacturers.

"The biggest new platform people are going to be talking about this Christmas, and probably next Christmas is Smart TVs. Samsung, Sony, LG and many other companies are making TVs with processors in them that are powerful enough to run virtually any mobile game."

You can read the whitepaper, which also includes input from SGN's Ariel Aguirre, here.

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Latest comments (5)

Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters2 years ago
"Nobody feels bad about going to the old style arcades and paying to play,"
I do. I hated that whole concept of shovelling endless amounts of money into something to keep playing.
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Scott Franz Studying Computer Science, University of Montana, Missoula2 years ago
@Dave,

I suspect EA is exploiting the same "addictive" (and I use the word very loosely) "press - reward" game style that is also used in other venues I've seen such as Las Vegas slot machines. I've noticed that games, for example, such as Flappy Bird, Game Dev Tychoon and Plague Inc: Evolved all exploit this aspect of human nature to some (but differing) degree. Not saying they are the only developers or the first developers but it does help the revenue.

That being said the quoted statement in the article shows John Riccitiello has at the very least got the grasp on the core concept that many engineers tend to forget:

The hardware underneath the game isn't the biggest factor in game design or design in general. It is how the human interfaces with the hardware that is the primary question. We used different size screens for different jobs. "Cinema", "Home Theater", "Work Station (PC)", "Electronic Book", "Communicator", "Virtual Reality (Oculus)" and "Heads Up Display (Google Glass)" - all of these are my personal classifications - are various interface methods optimized by their nature to deliver certain experiences. The hardware that drives them changes constantly but the customer has consistently shown a preference to use a specific screen size and shape for a specific task or to get a specific experience.

Edit 1: Corrected spelling error for "Oculus".

Edit 2: Clarification to who I was replying to.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Scott Franz on 29th August 2014 10:02pm

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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada2 years ago
I suspect EA is exploiting the same "addictive" (and I use the word very loosely) "press - reward" game style that is also used in other venues I've seen such as Las Vegas slot machines. I've noticed that games, for example, such as Flappy Bird, Game Dev Tychoon and Plague Inc: Evolved all exploit this aspect of human nature to some (but differing) degree
.. what? Those three games are indie, not EA, to start. Flappy Bird has no monetization. Plague Inc Evolved is a pay-once PC game, as is Game Dev Tychoon. Plague Inc (the iOS version) has in-app purchases just for additional content, nothing like "press - reward".

If you want examples of games that exploit Vegas-style psychology, you're looking for games like Puzzle & Dragons, or gatcha games. Your examples make no sense whatsoever.
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Show all comments (5)
Scott Franz Studying Computer Science, University of Montana, Missoula2 years ago
.. what? Those three games are indie, not EA, to start. Flappy Bird has no monetization. Plague Inc Evolved is a pay-once PC game, as is Game Dev Tychoon. Plague Inc (the iOS version) has in-app purchases just for additional content, nothing like "press - reward".
First of all none of the examples I gave had to be EA. Second of all you are thinking of "press-reward" simply in terms of a monetization method. It is also a game design method. The "reward" could be anything. In fact in very few, if any, of the cases is the "reward" any form of currency. The primary "reward" are things like endorphin releases inside the brain. These could also be potentially "addictive".

See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_stimulation_reward

Also the developer of Flappy Bird apparently feared the phenomenon I have been speaking of: http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/09/tech/flappy-bird-removed-from-app-stores/

That is, he saw his own game as addictive. Even if you don't believe every thing I wrote above you have to admit that there is probably some justification in the game's own developer fearing the "addictive" result.
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wow, so much makes sense now at what went wrong at EA for all those years.
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