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EA: A year is too late to innovate

Empower the player, because the "entertainment landscape is littered with carcasses" of those that have tried to resist consumer demands

In the new digital entertainment markets, a year is too long to innovate, according to EA Sports VP Andrew Wilson, who encouraged developers to put the player at the centre of their business above all else.

In the opening Evolve keynote at the Develop Conference in Brighton today, Peter Moore's right-hand man warned that the games business must learn from the transitions that have forced success or failure in the digital music and movie businesses.

"Don't wait to innovate. A year is a full epoch, a full era in the new generation of interactive entertainment," said Wilson.

"If you wait a full year to do something great, two things will happen. Your consumer will have passed you by or some crazy start-up from the Bay Area, or Brighton or Islamabad will have come along and developed something that usurps your position in the market and delivers something to the consumer that they want."

Our ability to stay employed as game developers is directly proportionate to our ability to understand and adapt to change every single day

Andrew Wilson, EA Sports

"The transition was yesterday, the transition is today and the transition is tomorrow. And every other day for the foreseeable future because the rule of creative destruction is now driving our industry as it has almost every industry before it. Our ability to stay employed as game developers is directly proportionate to our ability to understand, to have the attitude and ability to adapt to change every single day."

Empowering the consumer was central to Wilson's message - delivering content on every available platform, offering games at every price point and allowing them to share and use it however they want.

"We've seen what happens when an organisation or an entity or a medium resists that consumer driven change. The corporate graveyard and the entertainment landscape is now littered with shells and carcasses of those that have tried to resist where the consumer wanted to go," said Wilson of companies such as Blockbuster.

"The reality is the success or failure that we as an industry see over the coming years is going to be directly proportionate to our ability to learn the lessons from the music business and the movie business before us."

Referencing economist Joseph Schumpeter, Wilson said that "every business model that anyone in this room can dream up, implement and deliver to a consumer will almost certainly be destroyed by that same consumer or the marketplace that consumer operates in."

Developers shouldn't wait for format holders to create new technology, or to even think of themselves as the centre of the business, urged Wilson.

"The transition is today. The radical transformation in our industry right now means that no longer are transitions every 5-6 years. No longer can we plan for them. No longer can we sit down with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo where they tell us two years down [the line] they've got a new platform coming."

"Recognise that consumers want to have control, recognise that given the opportunity they will bring their friends and you will get growth in your business as a result. Even if on the balance sheet when you look at it in advance it feels like you're going to lose money.

"Get away from having yourselves, or your company or the platform holders at the centre of your creative or business vision and put the consumer as the centre. The reality is they are going to put themselves at the centre, regardless."

No late fees at Netflix and Kindle from Amazon are examples of big business empowering the consumer, offered Wilson, and it's essential that even businesses that have found a successful model should try to remain ahead of the curve by thinking of their next evolution.

"Those that embrace and drive change and are always thinking, even if they have a successful business, are already thinking about what next change they are going to institute, what next change they are going to drive, how are they going to empower the consumer to drive even further change. They are the companies that are going to do well."

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Matt Martin avatar

Matt Martin


Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.