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Moore: "We want to make stars of all our players"

EA's Chief Competition Officer lays out company plans for eSports

Peter Moore, newly crowned Chief Competition Officer at EA, has spoken about his hopes for the future of eSports and EA's involvement in it at Gamelab in Barcelona this morning, talking about the importance of diversity, regulation and the need to extend the medium beyond the glamorous top level events which players aspire to.

Echoing some of the thoughts expressed in a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz from E3, Moore spoke at length about his desire to "make stars out of all our players," rather than just the big prize winners at the top of the pyramid. Whilst those players offer inspiration for the grassroots community, every game should ideally make you feel like you're playing in a championship, pushing the limits of your ability. Key to that is solid matchmaking, something Moore says EA is devoting considerable resources to.

"We've all gone online and had our asses kicked by obnoxious 12 year olds," said Moore. "Matchmaking is the base of the pyramid. That's the essence of enjoyment - appropriate competition."

"The beauty of what we're in here in competitive gaming, is that 'yes you can'. You absolutely can, if you've got the dedication, if you've got the motivation, the basic skill levels"

In fact, Moore called the top tier competitions which see young players showered in money and glory a "necessary evil" and a "loss leader", whilst simultaneously recognising their importance as a way to inspire the average player. Whilst these events may represent the World Cups and Superbowls of the eSports world, Moore's passion seems firmly rooted in the Sunday league matches and park-based kickabouts which are the day to day experiences of most gamers.

Continuing that theme of democratisation, Moore went on to say that success in eSports is a possibility for almost anybody willing to put the (considerable) work in.

"I grew up in Liverpool. I wanted to play for Liverpool, but I was never going to play for Liverool. It didn't matter how much I practiced, I just didn't have it. The beauty of what we're in here in competitive gaming, is that 'yes you can'. You absolutely can, if you've got the dedication, if you've got the motivation, the basic skill levels. It doesn't require the physicality, the genetic luck that real athletes often have on their side. It's very different, and it's very opportunistic. This is a massive opportunity."

Later, Moore adressed two contentious issues regarding the rapid growth of eSports: diversity and regulation. Speaking about representation, Moore was keen to point out EA's track record on encouraging the broadest possible swathe of players, whilst recognising that there's still work to be done.

"Diversity is at the core of what we believe at EA. If you follow us at all you'll know how important diversity is to us. Not just gender but sexuality, colour, race, you name it."

"I think it's a big issue," he said in response to an audience question. "Diversity is at the core of what we believe at EA. If you follow us at all you'll know how important diversity is to us. Not just gender but sexuality, colour, race, you name it. I think we all understand the challenges there. The equation online, that everyone understands, tends to be: audience + anonymity equals douchebag. That is the world we live in, unfortunately. As publishers, developers, administrators we need to ensure that people don't knock women, people of colour. Whether that's via Twitter, harrassment in their headphones. Our goal is to make games for everyone. It's a very simple edict. We're somewhere around 25-28% female customers. So an environment were you can administrate againt harassment is key."

Moore also took the time to praise the senior female executives at EA, people like Amy Hennig and Jade Raymond, who were providing positive role models to bring more women into the industry.

Asked about regulation of eSports, and where he sees EA's roles within that, Moore pledged EA's support to ongoing protection of player welfare and the establishment of rules of fair play.

"When you look at eSports today, you see teenge biys being showered with thousands of dollars in prizes. What can possibly go wrong there," he joked. "In all seriousness, I've tried to ink this to real sports. How can we see how close we are to real sports? Because we've got match fixing, we've got drug taking involved: ritalin, adderal. When you have money, aspiration and audience, people are going to try and cut corners. That's every sport.

"So I think that, as an industry, we completely need to figure out a governing body that's going to help police, patrol and administrate. We've already built out a set of terms and conditions. If you want to compete, you need to adhere to them. We have vaues as a company. We need to be able to protect the people playing. Like any sport, it will evolve, but it's going to be a problem for a while. It's going to be a bumpy ride. EA is going to be front and centre."

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Latest comments (8)

Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager A year ago
I might be splitting hairs here but "making stars out of all our players" is not the way competition works. There are a few winners and a lot of losers. I would wager that the "losers" of current competitive landscape are not going to be crying about losing to another team and are fully content with losing, and on the flip side also empowered when winning. Making everyone a star dilutes the whole scene. in sports everyone is not equal and people accept that.

If the focus for EA is indeed Sunday league and Park-based kickabouts then I think we are talking of two slightly different things, a very casual side of gaming, and the the actual eSports side (with the match fixing and drug taking), which I think most relate to competitive play.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing A year ago
maybe it is star as in,

... your Playstation Cam is a 24/7 paparazzi.
... an AI will generate fake gossip articles about you and post them to your contact list and total strangers (along with the photos from earlier).
... EA games will feature "Star Mode", a new and exciting social multiplayer mode focused on random people interview each others and give "expert" analysis on plays.
... the EA virtual agent will now schedule your entire life and coach you through every decision.
... EA Access now includes preferred entry into clubs and discos EA has partnered with. Skip the line with the EA "I'm a Star, get me into there" app.
... you are only allowed to wear the clothes EA sends you, whereas fashion brands and sponsors compete with money for their brand of clothing to be sent to EA's stars.

There are lots of ways to bring the full star experience to people without them ever winning more than one match against Wales at a big tournament.
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You are right.
I was present at the conference, and while Moore addressed on amateur players, or "The players at the bottom of the pyramid" as he named them. He just said that they should prove how worthy they are against players of similar skill, having a robust match making system providing great experiences to everyone.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic ArtsA year ago
Aleksi you skeptic :-) I am one of the recruiters looking for talent for the Competitive Gaming Division. That ground up approach is very much part of my conversations with prospective eSports people to join the team and a message passed through all levels of the business.

I also think it is possible to make a competitive landscape to reflect different abilities. The Sunday league system is a great example, I have played to various standards of football over the years (all terrible) but as longs as I am playing against a team at a similar level (also terrible) that enjoyment to be gained from the competitive element is still there. I can see myself doing the same with FIFA or Battlefield (again to a terrible standard)
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager A year ago
@Lewis....Damn you got me. Im always the skeptic. :) Especially when there is no real tangible thing to latch onto.

As english is not my first language ill try be a little more non-skeptic and to the point. How the article reads to me is that Peter is talking about more precise matchmaking. If you have perfect matchmaking you would be playing 100% of time against people of your similar skill. If you win, you play against slightly better people. if you lose, your opponents are slightly lower in skill. IF the matchmaking is perfect and it pits the people of similar skill against each other, you would lose 50% and win 50% of the games, not taking into account for example you getting better (maybe) as a player during all your games.

You know more about matchmaking than me thats for sure but I still think that most people are content with losing. And most people know that we do not live in a perfect world when it comes to matchmaking. I would tread very carefully if the ultimate goal is to try and please most of the player base with an even W/L ratio. Wheres the fun in that? :)
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing A year ago
If people were content with losing half their games, how come most non-PvP games are designed around a 95% success rate? There is no shortage of games which have you perform menial task with zero challenge. In too many games, the player's perception is entirely deflected upon judging the result (i.e. some random loot crate) instead of evaluating whether the process of acquisition was fun or not.

I argue that in most Sunday league sports, playing the game is more important, than the result. In video games, that is not what we see at all.. The psychological reward moments of games are mostly designed around judging the outcome of something and nothing else. For some games that means not rewarding the losing team, for other games it means only rewarding personal performance when it comes to rewards and the attached progression (e.g. CoD). This focus on the result is the basis for players demanding match making in the first place. For some games, good matchmaking therefore means a win/loose ratio of 50/50. For other games (again, CoD), good matchmaking means making sure the distribution of victim and prey inside a match is 50/50.

As a contrast, imagine a Tennis video game engaging enough that playing each point is fun, no matter whether you win the point in the end or not. The fun lies in playing each point, instead of determining the fun by evaluating the outcome of each point. You could still lose 0-6, 0-6 and want to play more. The fun lies in playing, not in winning. This is what happens in Sunday leagues. You lose, but the fun was playing a match together with your friends against other people.

I do no see where any EA Ultimate Team property might achieve that in a current iteration. It is a pay2win scheme exploiting a competitive tendency within players. Improve matchmaking all you want, it will still be a farcry from Sunday league mentality. That would need to be an entirely different game mode that is way more social than any competitive PvP out there.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic ArtsA year ago
I have played plenty of Sunday league football, I can assure you its not just about taking part.
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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch GamesA year ago
I've been watching some of the eLeague play on the TBS channel here in the States. It may be just a marketing angle, but the players seem to be made out as a bunch of egotistical dicks. They are probably regular nice guys in real life but they don't come across like that on the show. There's a lot of posturing (folded arms, sneering at the camera) as the camera zooms around them. The first 20-25 minutes of the show is about showing us how "cool" they are without the viewers really getting to know them.

If the show wants us to think of these players as "stars", have then visit a kid's cancer ward and play some games against the young cancer patients (and let the kids win without shouting at the screen when they lose). If you want to make stars out of them, show us they that they deserve our respect for being more than just a good video game player.
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