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EA: Core games don't need to be dumbed down for new audiences

Montreal studio is focused on making hardcore titles accessible, says Army of Two exec producer

EA Montreal has said that hardcore games don't need to be dumbed down in order to attract new audiences, highlighting that the publisher is still very much focused on consumers looking for the traditional big gaming blockbuster.

EA has made headlines recently with its acquisition of Playfish as it chases new audiences through social networks, at the same time cutting projects and closing down Mercenaries team Pandemic Studios. But the core audiences is still in EA's sights, despite a desire to reach new players.

"The market is expanding with more casual players coming up, so we're starting to see a decline in terms of hardcore sales," admitted Reid Schneider, executive producer on EA Montreal's shooter Army of Two: The 40th Day. "If we want to continue to be successful and take mindshare away from other forms of media than it's really incumbent on us to make products that are more accessible.

"That doesn't mean dumbing something down because that's not the right way to do it, but how do you make accessibility that really resonates with customers? We have an amazing opportunity to make something of this medium, it's interactive and you can almost touch it, but we should continue to make intelligent and meaningful games that are experiences for people that they can't get from other forms of media," he said.

Creating games around consumer feedback is crucial, said Schneider, who acknowledged Valve and Ubisoft Montreal as experts in building and catering to core audiences. Customisable features that allow hardcore and newer gamers to play together are just one of a number of ways to keep both audiences happy, offered Schneider, adding that it's important for game designers not to get caught up creating games for themselves.

"I don't consider myself a very good player at all, I'm probably one of the worst on the team, I like playing on normal or even casual difficulty. It's no fun to just die 30 times and go home. If we can customise an experience but make it more accessible but not at the cost of the product, then as an industry we'll be better for it."

The first Army of Two game ostracised a significant portion of its intended audience, admitted Schneider, a mistake the team at EA Montreal is determined not to repeat with the January release of its sequel.

"We had this whole market in the US that thought the tone was cool, but in Europe everyone thought it was ridiculous and tasteless and a bunch of frat guys running around.

"It's really important for us tonally to appeal to the European audience because with the core audience in that territory, the game really turned them off so deeply that they couldn't get to the game underneath."

The full interview with Reid Schneider can be read here.

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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.