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Riccitiello questions Activision's COD Elite strategy

EA executive says Battlefield will draw core gamers away from "Disneyland abstraction" of MW3

EA chief executive John Riccitello has escalated the continuing war of words between his company and Activision over their forthcoming shooters by calling his rival's flagship product a "Disneyland abstraction" and criticising the timing of the Call of Duty Elite announcement.

Speaking to sister site Industry Gamers, Riccitello considered the wisdom of having announced Elite without letting gamers know exactly what they'd be paying for, suggesting that the reveal was something of a panicked response to the threat of Battlefield 3.

"I don't know what's in Elite right now, but based on what I've seen, I think they might've been better off holding the Elite thing and been a little more careful and show up a month after they've launched Modern Warfare 3," he said.

"'Hey, we've got an expansion pack. It's going to be X amount of money, but if you give us Y amount of money, you get extra stuff.' As opposed to leading with their chin. But maybe there's a reason they led with their chin. I think the reason they led with their chin is that they needed to say something against what was clearly a more powerful presentation of Battlefield 3 over Modern Warfare.

He continued: "They needed something to say. I think they picked the wrong thing, but there's a lot of months between now and November so they've got plenty of time to recover."

Riccitello also said that he expected Battlefield to appeal more to core gamers than Modern Warfare 3, cannibalising that audience from his rival. In an interview peppered with loaded language, Riccitello described that process of audience creep as a "rot from the core."

"So I do think, though, that we've got the better game, the better tack," Riccitello summarised. "And if you think about your readership, it's got a concentration of people that might tell the difference between a good game and a bad game.

He added: "A lot of people bought Modern Warfare more for the coffee table and didn't play it for two months. There's sort of that mass audience... they're going to win there. The question is, 'So, if the gamer buys our game and the mass audience buys their game, where do the two meet?' And all I want to do, if you will, is to have them rot from the core,"

When two titans go up against each other, and battle each other for how you're going to spend your entertainment time and dollars, it doesn't get better than that.

John Riccitiello, EA

However, the CEO was careful to maintain some balance to his commentary, pointing out that he recognised Modern Warfare's likely quality and appeal, and that such competition could only be a good thing for the audience.

"The honest truth is I think Modern Warfare is going to be a really good game. I think that in a weird way it's starting to feel a little to me like the Disneyland abstraction of a war game - a little bit jump the shark.

"And I think there's a market for that. I think our game is more authentic. It's definitely going to do a lot of things better. Lighting's better, physics is better, animations are better, particle effects are better, vehicles are better. I think there's a lot of things to like about our product and I think it's going to be a great battle.

"So headline number one, having a clash of the titans in entertainment [is great]. If you're battling your cholesterol drug versus somebody else's cholesterol drug, there are only so many people who need cholesterol drugs. The market is getting bigger, but it's all about cholesterol.

"So the market divides. Your chips versus my chips. Maybe it gets bigger. But this is great for consumers. When two titans go up against each other, and battle each other for how you're going to spend your entertainment time and dollars, it doesn't get better than that. So as a headline, I think this is the best time in the game industry. I love when this happens."

EA's Battlefield 3 is currently scheduled to launch around a fortnight before Modern Warfare 3, on 28 October, 2011.

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Dan Pearson

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