Riccitiello: Traditional development cycle "gone forever"

Publisher embracing new technology and services; CEO confirms Origin will host third-party content

Electronic Arts' CEO John Riccitiello has said that the traditional 4-5 year game and console cycle has gone forever, following a period of rapid change and business evolution.

Speaking following financial results that highlighted improved sales and profits thanks in large part to console game sales, he noted that current growth areas - such as tablets and mobile - were not even on the market less than two years ago.

"Most of us recognise that the industry has radically changed and the pace of change has accelerated dramatically. Gone forever is the 4 to 5 year console cadence that gave developers ample time to invest and retool for the next big wave," he said.

Gone forever is the 4 to 5 year console cadence that gave developers ample time to invest and retool for the next big wave

John Riccitiello, EA

"Consider that just 18 months ago, there was no iPad, Google was just experimenting with Android and most big games were limited to a single revenue opportunity at launch. Consider that each of the major consoles now has a controller that encourages users to get off the couch and get into the action.

"On smartphones and tablets like the iPhone and iPad, the top paid apps are all games. Recognise that the fastest-growing revenue streams for console, PC, smartphones and tablets are all digital, and that EA is partnering with its retail and platform partners to help jointly grow these digital revenue streams. While the game industry has fundamentally changed, games are reaching a far larger audience base than ever before."

Riccitiello went on to highlight the publishers three point plan to grow the business - regular releases based on its strongest IP, turning the business itself into a platform with the help of services like Origin, and maintaining and fostering talent.

"We're building the strength of our most important IP," he offered. "And for EA, this means about a dozen very substantial IPs. Each of these will be transformed into year-round businesses with major packaged goods launches, social launches, mobile launches, downloadable content and micro-transactions."

As part of the plan to turn the business into a platform, Riccitiello said that it still needs the support of other businesses, and confirmed that download service Origin will host third-party content - not just EA's games.

"GameStop, with 11.5 million registered users of their PowerUp Rewards program, is proving to be one of our best partners in digital."

"We believe that Origin will scale quickly with the addition of third parties and with the launch of Battlefield 3 and Star Wars later this year," he added.

He also highlighted the recent opening of a new studio in Austin as evidence that the company is keen to grow talent, allowing them to work across a broad spectrum of technology and business models.

"We recognise that creative and engineering talent is at the core of what we do, and we are making sure that EA is the best place to work for these industry leaders."

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Latest comments (11)

Open a Studio in other countries. Its necessary to use different cultures to be able to create something really new.
Maybe a studio in South Africa, Indonesia, Chile, Peru and other countries much more linked to his native culture can be much more innovative and less expensive than these studios in the North America, Europe and Japan.

I believe that the 'traditional development cycle' was gone forever... but it has gone late. It shouldnt exist anymore for years, but we have yet lots of games being produced for years and years.
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Matthew Green Producer, Solar Studios Inc7 years ago
Currently there is no process to get third party on Origin. They need to make a pathway for third party publishers with a professional interface. Ive seen articles for 6months about origin working with third party but no third party games and no pathway.

Hey JR how about actually getting origin third party going? We need competitors to steam and D2D as they are not run with the level of polish EA could bring to the digital market.

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Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
I don't think the traditional development cycle has 'gone forever', but many aspects of the medium would do well to move with the times; especially for a company like EA if they want to remain at the forefront of social gaming, DLC sales and packaged goods.

In light of this comment, I think it will be interesting to see how Skyrim sells later this year; a game which has had a new engine created for it, has had a development of several years and will be heavily marketed by a company who almost exclusively deals in games for the 'hardcore' audience. Somehow, despite Riccotiello's comments I think Skyrim will be very successful and generate a lot of profit for Bethesda/Zenimax, and vindicate a traditional development cycle in some instances.
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Show all comments (11)
Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 7 years ago
turning the business in a platform sounds awfully lofty, when neither consoles, nor iOS pads, nor smartphones really integrate Origin. In the long run, the companies providing the operating systems will take control on how stuff is sold digitally. What is EA to do then? Release a Linux based EA-OS? Or will they rather swallow th pill and hand over 30% of everything to Sony, Apple, Google, and Microsoft?

What is the worth of having Origin installed on 10% of all PCs, when every copy of Win8 comes with some Microsoft store? Imho, $0.
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Tony Johns7 years ago
One thing that should have changed was the scrapping of Region Locking Practices on consoles.

But now they are starting to come into handhelds too. :(
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
I guess this means a PS4 and new Xbox will get the usual bunch of mostly forgettable launch games that don't make the best use of the hardware because they're all rushed to market to grab the early adopters who always think a NEW console means better graphics means better gameplay (again)? Yawn. Here we go again...
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Konstantin Hohl7 years ago
@ Klaus.

Just because they won't integrate Origin right away, doesn't mean they won't do it later on. Thats just a question of origin's success.

EA has managed to have a strong portfolio with great IPs in the casual and hardcore segment. There will be tons of people that want to play those games and will end up in Origin. Whether they like/use it will ultimately be determined by the benefits that origin will have to provide. This will be EA's challenge...
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One feels wary of the possibility that longer development cycles will be replaced by pressure cycles continuing a (well documented) four decades of increasing worker productivity without increasing remuneration. I want to be clear here that Riccitello's comments need not be read that way, but EA's history is not spotless in this area. They are in a great position to do something material to show the development community that if the way forward is to break from longer cycles, then it is also not to repeat history. Certainly commercial production shouldn't, and increasingly won't, be restricted to ever-more costly blockbusters. Being industry leaders can mean making the most money, and can also mean doing the most improving.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Klaude Thomas on 28th July 2011 3:42pm

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Alex Hutchinson Creative Director, Ubisoft Montreal7 years ago
It's nonsense to say that long dev cycles are gone forever, especially when EA's two big games for the next 12 months are Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: Old Republic, both of which are 5 years plus in terms of dev cycle...
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Jane Ng Sr Artist, Double Fine Productions7 years ago
I think JR has to say/believe that if he just spent something like what, 40%+ of EA's cash reserves buying PopCap.

Hi Alex!
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Rafael Brown Lead Designer, id software7 years ago
@Terrence - agreed, I believe that Skyrim, Rage EA's, SW:ToR and Battlefield 3 are just a few of the many releases that have gone a few years and will do quite well. That said, there is room for smaller dev cycles and more adaptive strategies alongside the bigger projects.
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