Peter Moore - Part Two
The EA Sports president on accessibility of brand, Nintendo's marketing spend and communicating with consumers
Following on from the first part of this interview with Peter Moore, published last week, the EA Sports president here talks about the accessibility of the brand, the company's relationship with Nintendo over Wii Motion Plus, and how the publisher's consumer communication has changed in the past 18 months.
Q: At last year's E3 press conference you demonstrated the All-Play mode in Tiger Woods for the Wii - what's been the feedback from that mode?
Peter Moore: Oh, they love it - it allows people, all people, to play the game against people that are far better. It gradually gets you up to speed, and I find myself then not using that mode once you get more comfortable. But it's a great way of getting into games, and you see it across all of our Wii games. Think of it as making games more approachable.
Q: You've said in the past that EA Sports has been a bit hardcore, that you wanted to soften it a little - if All-Play has helped that process, have you noticed an increase in your market share on the Wii?
Peter Moore: We've made progress, particularly with Tiger on the Wii. Our core franchises, FIFA and Madden, we made progress on last year. We're very excited about Wii Motion Plus, with Tennis and Tiger - because we think it makes the games that much better, because the timing couldn't be better coming out with Motion Plus, and because Nintendo's working with us to bundle Motion Plus with both of our games.
From that element of it we're very bullish about our presence on the Wii. EA Sports Active could be one of the big hits of the Spring - more than a game, more than a franchise, it's a brand new platform fro Electronic Arts and EA Sports that doesn't cannibalise one consumer. It's talking to a very unique and different consumer - a woman - and bringing our brands to places that previously, two years ago, we wouldn't have dreamt of going to.
It's a fascinating experiment, it makes us nervous and uncomfortable as heck, but we love it. It's just so different to what we do, and all of us are excited about it. It's been a tough 12-15 months getting this thing right, doing the engineering on the strap and getting that right, working with Nintendo - who have been a great partner - I'm as excited about that as I've been about any game in a long time.
Q: Nintendo's come in for stick in the past for making it tough for third parties - given the support they've offered you with Wii Motion Plus, does that tell you they're serious about bringing third parties in more?
Peter Moore: Well I think the emphasis is on the third parties to crack the code on the Wii, and there are some games that have done well from third parties, and figure out what we need to do when we're playing on the Wii to make that game successful. Nintendo clearly has it figured out - they're the platform holders, so you've think they would.
But at the same time, it's not rocket science, and we in the publishing community have got to go and figure that out. I think we've done it with Tennis and Tiger, EA Sports Active really feels like it's going to be a success, and the unique way that we're utilising the Wii Remote is going to be the secret source to that.
But you can't blame Nintendo because third party publishers have yet, in real mass, to find success on the platform. They get the same dev kits as everybody else, and it's our job to figure it out.
Q: Doesn't it also come down to marketing spend? Nintendo plays by its own rules when it comes to that side of things.
Peter Moore: Nintendo markets its own platform.
Q: But therefore its own titles... so isn't that a bit of a problem, because anybody releasing on those platforms has to contend with Nintendo's huge marketing spend?
Peter Moore: You know what? That's their prerogative. They spend a lot of money developing the platform, a lot of money marketing it. We get to take advantage of it, but all I can tell you is that they've been very supportive of what we've done with [EA Sports] Active, very supportive in recognising that we have the best software to achieve their objective - which is to get a strong start for the Wii Motion Plus - and they have the business maturity to say "We do have a game coming, but you know, your game looks really good and we're going to get behind it for you."
Shame on us if we don't take advantage of that, and they've been great partners so far.
Q: Speaking of marketing, the way that consumers get their information around games - how have you seen that develop?
Peter Moore: We've changed radically the way in which we communicate with our consumers, not in the last five years, but in the last 18 months. We've traditionally taken a more measured approach to consumer communication during the development process.
There was the mentality - like a lot of developers had - that because we didn't have anything to say, we'd go quiet. "We're going dark," used to be the expression. There was no communication.
I think one of the things I learned a while back, getting involved with MMOs, was that the MMO developer has constant communication with their community - which of course they use for extensive beta testing and what have you.
As I sit here today I can tell you that every franchise development team has a blog, producers are encouraged to get on there and communicate. We just recently issued video cameras to our producers, so it's not just words - you can actually see them. They talk about what's going on. I'll post something on my blog about what's going on here, that we're at the Emirates Stadium, and this is why.
I think the community respects having faces behind these people - it gives us the ability to take your feedback in real time, and I think the other side as well is that the community gets to see it's challenging work that we do. It's very good work, but it's hard work. It humanises it - it's no longer the massive TV campaign when the game ships... we'll still do television, but it's just one spoke in the wheel of everything we do, and today's consumer expects that.
They expect to be spoken to, they expect to receive Tweets from whoever they're interested in, they expect people like me to have a blog, and they also expect to be able to talk to our development teams - regardless of how busy they are during the day.
If that's what they expect, they are the customer, and we have to find ways of delivering on that.
Peter Moore is president of EA Sports. Interview by Phil Elliott.