E3 2014: EA talks of "commitment to put players first"

Electronic Arts CEO repeatedly notes that company wants to hear feedback from players

Following the Microsoft briefing to kick off this year's E3, Electronic Arts hosted its own preview event at The Shrine in Los Angeles. This time, EA took a slightly different approach to its E3 event. In addition to the usual round of trailers, the publisher provided more in-depth behind-the-scenes looks at games with thoughtful reflection from some of the developers making the games. But perhaps the most important thing to note is that EA boss Andrew Wilson stressed his company's commitment to listen to fan feedback.

Wilson said EA is putting creativity and imagination first, and a "commitment to listen to you... this is the foundation for EA."

EA began its show by diving into the world of Star Wars Battlefront from DICE and followed it up with a look at Dragon Age Inquisition. And, BioWare revealed that in addition to a new Mass Effect, the Edmonton team is working on a brand-new IP, but not much more beyond that was mentioned.

Next up, EA showed off some of the features in The Sims 4, which launches on September 2. Then, turning its attention to a number of sports games, the company paid tribute to the great Bruce Lee, noting his inclusion in the new UFC game. According to Brian Hayes, creative director at EA Canada, in the new UFC "anyone can be like Bruce Lee." The company also showed off NHL 15, Madden NFL 15 (August 26), PGA Tour 15 (spring 2015) and FIFA 15.

EA also spent some time showcasing what Criterion has been up to. The team said it's a "new era for Criterion." The studio has taken away individual desks, and they often play their games together, figuring out changes that need to be made as a group. The developer's new IP gives the team the ability to move beyond cars. The first-person multi-vehicle game features an open world and all sorts of terrain. Criterion said it's the biggest game they've ever made. An exact title and date for the project was not mentioned.

Moving into another genre, EA unveiled a new MOBA game called Dawngate. The company said it's broken down the genre into its component parts, focusing on the metagame and offering a massive story arc.

Towards the end of the EA event came two highly anticipated announcements: a new Mirror's Edge and a new Battlefield. For the new Mirror's Edge, DICE said it's redefining the role of the runners to allow for more varied gameplay, and "creating Faith for a new generation." As for Battlefield Hardline, the game puts players in the war in the streets between cops and criminals. It was described as a classic "good guys vs bad guys" scenario. A beta for the new Battlefield launches today on PC and PS4, on a first come, first serve basis.

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Latest comments (12)

Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 3 years ago
I wonder if Wilson is serious about listening to gamers, or if this is just yet another case of EA saying something that sounds nicer than what it does. EA appears to have a pretty strong "don't listen to the customers" mentality embedded in its middle management layers, and in these situations it typically takes a lot more than a CEO saying "let's be different now" to change things.
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David Serrano Freelancer 3 years ago
Wilson said EA is putting creativity and imagination first, and a "commitment to listen to you... this is the foundation for EA."
And under his breath he said: "But if our foundation isn't cost effective, or it prevents EA from maximizing shareholder value and corporate profits... we'll revert back to business as usual."

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Serrano on 10th June 2014 3:03pm

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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts3 years ago
The board did hire someone who's history in EA is very much making games rather than an external corporate pirate who would look purely at numbers and not understand the passion of the consumer and how the industry works.

I do believe he is serious and he has given the green light to a number of new IP's such as Criterion new baby and others mentioned at E3. Online passes have gone etc....

Its early days yet and it always takes time to put your stamp on a company like EA.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lewis Brown on 10th June 2014 4:35pm

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Show all comments (12)
Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance3 years ago
Insert "profits" instead of players in the title, and I might actually believe this sentiment.

EA has a LONG way to go to repair their relationship with consumers.
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Derek Fitzgerald Sr. Director, Quality Verification, EA Canada3 years ago
Good post, Lewis.

Folks - can appreciate your skepticism. Can't appreciate your cynicism. Its early days yet and EA is a big company, but Andrew is clearly focused on a player-centric culture in EA. To your comment, Curt, that can take time to percolate through to every person in a company the size of EA who may not already think that way.

As someone who has worked directly with Andrew in the past (Cricket & Rugby games back in the mid-2000's), I have a lot of respect for him and have confidence he clearly understands the importance of engaging and embracing your player community. And some perspective - given that the Indian market was completely inaccessible at the time (still largely is, in many ways) - its hard to categorize those titles as anything other than passion projects from an Australian.
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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada3 years ago
I can't speak to the larger EA as a whole, but I work in EA's User Experience Testing Lab. Our role is to do exactly that - listen to players, and we've almost tripled in size in the last few years. The interest in hearing what gamers have to say isn't just coming from senior folks, it's coming from the designers and producers making the games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Berg on 10th June 2014 8:55pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
I think the cynicism comes from the fact that, given a choice between money-making and listening to right-thinking consumers, EA will almost-certainly follow the money, if past actions are any guide. Obviously, they're allowed to do this, but it strikes a discordant note when certain things that would benefit the consumer are ignored because they don't fit EA's business road-map.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 10th June 2014 8:53pm

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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 3 years ago
James, I think you missed my point. I'm sure that the designers working in EA have all along been interested in better user experiences, but there's a lot between the designers and the users over which they have no control, and where decisions are made elsewhere. Even if EA can avoid things like the SimCity debacle in the future, there are a lot of other areas outside of game design that need to work a lot better as well.

For example, Origin has in various ways caused me serious problems, ones which I'm sure the game designers would love to see go away. Even EA's tech support has come right out and said to me that some of the issues I'm having are just silly, and they wish it would be changed to mitigate those as well, but of course there's nothing an individual tech. support rep. can do about that.

Another example is when I moved from PS3 to PC. EA told me that if I wanted to continue playing Battlefield 3 (into which I had put a couple of hundred dollars and hundreds of hours on PS3), I would have to re-purchase everything all over again, not to mention start out with a new account, wiping out all my progress. This drove me in to the arms of World of Tanks. There's nothing the Battlefield 3 game designers, who I think developed a great game, can do to fix that.

Steam has had its issues for me as well, but it's clearly always been focused on making life better for all users, even if they're not the "typical" users envisioned by Valve, and that comes across in my use of it. EA has basically dumped me and a huge number of other gamers in the "too much trouble to keep as a customer" bucket, because it seems we're not playing the way EA wishes we would.

I've seen plenty of organizations with these sorts of issues, and most of them have too many people entrenched in their view of what the customers should want to have any great probability of being able to change, even with pressure from the top to start doing things in a new way that they will instinctively dislike. (Keep in mind, the first thing the company needs to admit is that it's been doing things wrong and/or badly for a long time, which is not likely to generate a good emotional response amongst the people who have been making the decisions, large and small, that lead them to that point.)

I'd love to see EA improve, because I think EA's got plenty of good games, but there's more to a good experience for the player than just the games themselves.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend3 years ago
Listening to customers is a double edged sword and can lead to some difficult decisions, but EA doing this?? hmmm not so sure they can pull it off.

To digress slightly; I love to bash EA as much as the next person, but you have to wonder how a once great game company managed to garner the hatred they receive these days. I mean, when EA claim the title of 'Worst company' when you have companies that pollute the skies, oceans and rivers, employ child laborers, or even just kill people, it seems crazy they are the worst company!

EA oh EA, how did it all come to this??? Oh thats right, it was the money. :D
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Carlos Sanchez Senior Producer, Bungie3 years ago
As someone who's on his second stint with EA, I can definitely see the change since Andrew's appointment. It's slow as you'd expect with a ship this big, but it is noticeable internally, and eventually will be, externally. As a long time consumer of EA products before joining them, I didn't think the company would ever change. Happily, it has started to. I think the future is bright for the company in the long run and that is directly tied to the general consumer's interest in the quality of the products being released. I feel good about the focus on that and innovation going forward. Andrew is definitely the right person for this job.
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Andreia Quinta Photographer, Studio52 London3 years ago
Actions speak louder than words. It's all I'm leaving on the table for now.
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David Serrano Freelancer 3 years ago
I'd like to ask the EA employees who replied to answer this question: is EA still using or adhering to the audience - market model Chris Bateman featured in 21st Century Game Design?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by David Serrano on 12th June 2014 6:26pm

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