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Future is "unclear" for music peripherals - Gibeau

Thu 27 Aug 2009 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
HardwarePublishing

EA Games president is cautious over high price point plastic, but bullish on company outlook

EA Games president Frank Gibeau has admitted that the future of music title peripherals is "unclear" following a relatively weak sales period for the likes of Rock Band - but he is confident that the standalone software slate for the company remains strong, and expects a positive end to the year.

Speaking in an interview at this year's Gamescom event in Cologne, Gibeau noted that EA had performed reasonably well in terms of market share so far this year, but was cautious of big price point item sales in a market that "appears to have gone soft".

"I'm really pleased where we're at," he explained, underlining that the company was "six or seven points up" in the market. "I think right now you're looking at tough comps, sure, with Metal Gear and GTA in that first quarter [last year].

"But also plastic's way down, so a lot of the music category stuff is not as robust as it's been, and it's unclear whether a lot of this peripheral activity that's happening is going to stick. USD 125, USD 115, USD 99 price points for these things - it appears to have gone soft right now in the market place.

"But for standalone software titles that are high quality, from us? I feel good about it. I look at our first half, our Q2, I feel good about our company, our line-up. We're not as exposed to some of those other issues - year-on-year our Q4 is going to be very dramatic in terms of the titles released."

Among the key titles set for release are Brutal Legend, now free to be published following a settlement between Double Fine and Activision, and Gibeau believes that the company's learned valuable lessons from the difficult time faced by last year's Dead Space and Mirror's Edge titles.

"We didn't start early enough on our marketing," he conceded of those two games. "You have to build a fan base, you have to build it early and in a credible way, which means you've got to get your assets, your concept and demos out very early on - much earlier than you would with a sports of driving game. So we started our marketing two quarters earlier this year [for our new IP]."

"The second thing is that you've got to find the right windows. You can't just launch in the middle of November on top of everything else, so we brought in Brutal in October - it feels like we found a nice clean launch window there. We originally looked at putting Dante's out at Christmas, but it just didn't feel right in terms of the products that are coming, so we found a nice window in February where we think we can really stand out. It also gives the team a lot more polish time, and we want to make sure the team has that last three months to really make the game perfect."

The full interview with Frank Gibeau is available now.

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