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Don't prioritise business goals at the expense of the customer, warns Tascan

EA Montreal boss believes customers will only pay higher prices if they can understand the value of a game

Focusing on business goals at the expense of customer respect will see developers and publishers lose out in the long term, EA Montreal general manager Alain Tascan has told

And while EA Sports boss Peter Moore has recently expressed a desire to achieve consistently high scores on sites such as Metacritic, Tascan thinks these goals should be used as a "focus" rather than a "pressure".

Respecting the customer is the most important thing, he said. "[We're] not trying to push something down their throat – 'just buy this game', and putting a lot of marketing behind it.

"If you look across EA we're really drastically improving our quality," he added. "For Army of Two is it a real focus? Definitely, but I think Metacritic is not the only thing - it's a combination of a high quality game, but also a proposition that people are interested in.

"When you reach the quality and the proposition that people want to enjoy, this is when you have massive success."

Tascan believes EA is moving in the right direction in this respect. "Games are ready when they're ready right now because of the focus on quality," he revealed.

"Yes there is this cluster coming out after Christmas which is really incredible, but we're going to learn a lot via this period because the market is way less predictable than before – if it was ever predictable.

"We have new announcements coming up, now the life cycle is longer we're going to see how people are going to play."

On Activision's decision to release Modern Warfare 2 at a higher price point than the average this year, Tascan points out that everyone has their own strategy.

"I'm more on the development side, right, so what I feel you need to do is respect the customer. The more you respect the customer, they have this collective intelligence to know what's right for them, and if they feel the proposition is fair they'll buy the game. If it doesn't feel fair they won't, and we'll learn like this.

"If you really try to just focus on your business goals and you forget the customer, then I think in the middle and long term you'll be losing."

Where EA is also thinking of its customer is in regards to Natal, which Tascan says it is currently exploring to see if the controller can add anything significant to the gaming experience it offers.

There is a decision to be made, says Tuscan, to either add Natal controls to an existing game or develop specifically for it. It's a decision that Nintendo could have already answered for the company.

"I think the answer – and Nintendo has shown it – is that the big successes might come from something developed for it. And this is something we're looking at to trying to see if there's the right idea to put in production."

As to how important Natal will be for gaming, Tascan likens the controller to online distribution - "we know it's becoming a big part of the business."

But there are still uncertainties surrounding it, he points out.

"For the controller, being the controller or having a camera, we know down the road with voice recognition it will come, but is it going to come with Natal 1, Natal 2? Or is somebody else going to come with it?

"This is where it's tough to predict, but I can imagine a world in five to 10 years where motion sensors and cameras are going to work together to deliver a better experience."

The full interview with Alain Tascan, in which he also discusses the advantages of game development in Canada and the studio's plans for the Army of Two sequel, can be found here.

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