One of the highlights of E3 press conferences in recent years has undoubtedly been Peter Moore's tattoo-unveiling while at Microsoft. But shortly after last year's event he announced his departure from the software giant to head up EA Sports under the new label structure.
To find out how his strategy is coming along, GamesIndustry.biz caught up with him at this year's E3, following his on-stage demonstration of the new Dynamic DNA feature in NBA 09, and the All-Play function in Tiger Woods 09 for the Wii.
Well, the change was underway when I got here. When we first got here we needed the label organisation, and I wouldn't have come here if there wasn't a clear label structure - I wouldn't have left Microsoft for that.
The first thing we did was build some strategic pillars, and as early as my first week on the job I was in New York and starting to look at how we build a strategy for EA Sports - because this is a different business, it's a different generation, the next five years are going to be unlike any we've seen before and so EA Sports needs to evolve accordingly.
We still have a tremendous core following - EA Sports Nation as I always call them - that buy tens of millions of copies of FIFA and Madden, NBA and NHL. We love those people, we'll continue to build simulated experiences for the hardcore of the hardcore. Dynamic DNA is a great example of how we continue to innovate on top of what we're already doing.
But we're not blind to the different consumers that are coming in, and something like the Wii - which I showed [at the EA press conference] with Natalie [Gulbis] - is how we need to accommodate them. There's no way I could play against Natalie - she practised for an hour, she's very good - but when you gave me All-Play the two of us were immediately having fun, because I could actually take her on and have a chance of beating her.
Our biggest challenge is to adapt what EA Sports is, without losing our core consumer, and continuing to deliver great breakthrough innovative experiences - but we need to do things for the new market that's coming in.
If there's a Chelsea fan out there that loves football, and has a PC or console, but FIFA's controls have always seemed complicated - Wii is a huge opportunity, FIFA on the Wii is going to be great.
The ability for us to be able bring people in - as Nintendo has done very well, and at their press conference it was all about smiling faces - if we don't change we don't actually talk to that consumer. We're still seen as hardcore, difficult, a little bit exclusive if you're a more casual fan.
We've got to bring people in who are not only sports gamers, but sports fans - and that's where EA Sports is evolving. A little bit of new IP, something that's pick-up-and-play, a huge opportunity on the Wii, but still keeping our world class games on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.
I think the team starts to look at it, as each year goes on, technology continues to evolve and things become available to us. So NBA - I think we nailed it with Dynamic DNA. I was down on the show floor watching people play it, and people who love basketball understand that - and there are millions of those people (maybe a little less if you live in the UK) understanding the NBA, but when you're here [in the US] and watching it every night, you watch those players.
You've got to do something every year, and not just one thing, but as technology makes itself available and the teams now have time...because we march every twelve months. Nobody else in this industry does what EA Sports does, which is to deliver those franchises every twelve months. The NFL season doesn't wait for Madden to ship - it goes, and we have to be there.
This year Madden's got 85 new features or enhancements - that's already gone gold, so we'll give them some time off, then it's Madden 10. The ability for us to be able to build our feature sets...the teams if you ask them, they'll say they build a laundry list of about 150 things to add - but you can't do that every year, otherwise you can't deliver the product every year.
You pick maybe 60 or 70 things and work out what technology has now allowed, what bandwidth has now allowed - you saw it last year with FIFA and 'Be a Pro' mode and how that changed the way that people look at playing the game. We've seen it with Dynamic DNA.
I think Madden - we're addressing two problems there. We need to continue to bring more people in who are NFL fans, but when they watch us playing Madden and the screens come in, they have no idea what's going on there.
But if you go play it on the Wii now, I guarantee you in two or three minutes...snap the ball, throw the ball - it's that simple, and you can be having fun. You can actually draw with your Wii remote where you want your receiver to run, hit the 'A' button, snap, throw it - and you'll get a completion. And it's immediate fun.
We need to be able to add things every year - it needs to be a game that people feel they need to buy every year, but at the same time it's still football, it's still basketball - they're not changing the rules for us. We're bound by the game in which we're developing for - it's not an RPG, it's not an MMO, it's not an action-adventure. We're not building character, plots or storylines.
It makes it harder - I'll talk about FIFA, and I was in Zurich a couple of weeks ago. They understand what we've done to build the FIFA brand - it's something that I noticed when I came into the industry. As a huge soccer fan, going back almost since I was born, the FIFA brand was never used. Then when EA Sports started building the brand, it's only then that FIFA made it the 'FIFA World Cup'.
So what we've done is to help popularise FIFA, the world's biggest sports organisation - on a par with the IOC I guess - it's actually the videogame that's built that brand. We honour the game, we don't change the rules, and people don't understand the approval levels we have to go through - the FIFA team is sweating it now because of the new kits, and we put something like 700 teams in there, and Nike and Adidas have given us the new kits because the teams have started playing.
Imagine the art - if Liverpool isn't wearing the new Adidas kit, the community would go berserk. Adidas and Nike are particularly good at giving us the digital assets, but we've got to do all that, and do it every year. Every now and again we miss a kit, and you hear about it on the boards, but our teams I think do magnificent work.
It always hurts me when I read the forums, as you know I do, and somebody's complaining that one guy has Nike boots when he wears Adidas in real life...okay, there are some things you can miss.
Oh sure, they're right to criticise. It's tough sometimes to get that feedback, but you feel bad that people are upset about something you make decisions on. At the same time people can nitpick all they like, but they have no idea what it takes to build a game, get it right, and deliver it every twelve months.
Well I think we're already looking at how we apply statistical analysis to the beautiful game - it's a little more challenging with the fluidity, but basically it's just very labour-intensive stuff. You need somebody watching every player, how they move, and somehow aggregate that data, which then needs to be digitised and sent up...that's what happens with NBA, and it's a little easier when there's a handful of players in a court, a very confined space.
Yeah, but you've got to ask yourself, how useful is that? I kind of laugh, I'll get Sky Sports and I'll see Ryan Babel came off, and he ran 6612 metres...but did he fall over the ball every time he did it? It really is the nuance that's the key. You can tell me his heart rate, you can tell me all the telemetry you can get from athletes - that's fine, but it's that nuance you need.
Peter Moore is the president of EA Sports. Part two will follow next week, in which he discusses EA's online network Rupture, and looks at the future of videogame distribution. Interview by Phil Elliott.