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EA CEO says decline of social games overhyped

John Riccitiello says the big lesson from current crisis is "consumers won't pay for crap"

Zynga's much publicized struggles of late have some investors questioning the future of the social gaming market, but Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello believes the current pessimism in the market is a bit much. According to an AllThingsD report, Riccitiello used his keynote address at the App Conference today to say the social gaming market is not dying, but it is changing.

"The companies that are now suffering will have another day," Riccitiello said, adding that the future of the social market will be built on great games. He namechecked Backflip Studios' Dragonvale and EA's own The Simpsons Tapped Out as examples of quality games, and said the biggest lesson to come from the sector's current struggles is, "consumers won't pay for crap."

According to AppData, Electronic Arts has just one Facebook app in the social network's top 50 app rankings. That app is The Sims Social, ranked 35th with 10.7 million monthly active users. Zynga's The Ville, the game EA alleges is a copyright-infringing clone of The Sims Social, is ranked 20th, with 18.7 million MAUs.

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Latest comments (7)

Pier Castonguay Programmer 8 years ago
Probably something they should think about before releasing another low quality game like Battlefield Play4Free or C&C:Tiberium Alliance.. or pretty much everything on their Play4Free website.
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Chris Murphy Community & Live Manager, Ubisoft8 years ago
To be fair, both Lord of Ultima (developed by Phenomic who also make Alliances) and TIberium Alliances have been some of the highest quality titles released in their genre at the time. Unfortunately, both IPs introduce differing gameplay expectations that don't reflect the gameplay found within their respective titles. That combined with the fact that browser based strategy genre (specifically looking at games like Travian and its ilk) doesn't receive the same kind of attention from the mainstream gaming media as shooters, racers, or even RTS', means that you have people coming from an RPG/RTS background being disappointed by BBS gameplay. However, the games have been received quite well by those in the BBS communities, despite stereotypical reservations about a major publisher in what is predominantly an indie dominated genre.

So, while the wider gaming audience may not enjoy the gameplay found within games of a genre that they don't find engaging, many of those who do enjoy that genre, find the games to be of a pretty high quality.
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Feri Zsolnai Design Counsellor / Educator, 25/7 Design Studio8 years ago
I am amazed at the amount of arrogance that comes out the mouths of leaders of EA. I am just amazed.
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Show all comments (7)
Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
@Barrie Tingle
You can do social game without Facebook. You can use email and Twitter, for instance, as well. And Apple Game Centre or Steam if you are single platform. There are many other publisher solutions that are evolving rapidly, I know this because we have one at Kwalee and already we are integrating server data with our website.

Continuing mobile games on your desktop is part of what Windows 8 will easily allow. However you are then limited to MS platforms. Doing it cross platform will come but requires publisher investment and evolution from current solutions.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 8 years ago
To be fair to John Riccitiello he talks the talk very well and often makes incisive comment. EA own Playfish, Chillingo, ESN, PopCap, J2Play, ThreeSF, SingleShot Media etc etc so have a huge presence in this space.

Kristian Segerstrale is now the top person at EA in this area (EVP digital) and he is a very sharp cookie indeed.
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Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 8 years ago
Regarding your comment to Barry, its true there are a million options to use other than facebook, but that is part of the problem not the solution. People just want to use the content, irregardless of the platform they use. Someone, who can clearly solve that problem will have a field day in the social space, any content, any platform, in any space. Thats the grail, not the 10s of available options.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany8 years ago
I believe Riccitiello when he says that "consumers won't pay for crap", his company learned that the hard way and we all saw how they tried to change it. By that time great projects like Mirror's Edge, Dead Space or Dragon Age began to appear.

The biggest problem right now with social games is that, for each original idea, you have 25 other games ripping off the concept. You even have companies, like Gameloft, that they even do a living out of it. Creating something different that calls people's attention is what at the end will make you shine over competitors.

I could use as an example the games we do here at BlueByte. Why do the same others do when you can jump a step ahead and do things like "The Settlers Online"?
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