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Schappert - "Don't let the cynics get you down"

EA's COO offers five pieces of advice for surviving the next three years

Electronic Arts chief operating officer John Schappert has issued some words of encouragement to attendees on the final day of this year's DICE Summit, urging the industry not to become disillusioned by "cynics" and negative headlines about the state of the industry in the press.

As part of this talk offering business leaders five pieces of advice for working through the next three years Schappert reminded the audience that the industry was in a strong position - and while NPDs alone might not paint a pretty picture, there was a lot of data that wasn't being incorporated, such as online and digital revenues, as well as international data.

"The roof is not caving in," he said. "Every generation has ushered in a larger, more resilient industry than the one before.

"We have more consumers and more new gamers than we ever had before," he added, referencing the 450 million people using Facebook that aren't standard console consumers.

Among his other tips was an explanation of how EA has changed its strategy regarding marketing, from a democratised approach giving every title published a slice of cash, versus the new approach which assigns larger amounts to pillar products.

"All too often we see great games that don't get the marketing they deserve," he said, but pointed out that "great marketing can't make a bad game good - it might have happened a decade ago, but no longer."

Specifically the recent Superbowl commercial for Dante's Inferno meant driving awareness of the Visceral game to up to 115 million viewers of the "most-watched game in history - those are examples where we're proud of our marketing support."

Schappert also urged a focus on quality, as well as an investment in online properties: "The days of ship-it-and-forget-it are gone - as game makers we need to plan for a long term relationship with our consumers," he said.

"People are buying fewer games now than before, but people want to play those games for longer - so it's a big opportunity for the connected consoles that we have"

But while online was a business for the future, he was firm in his belief that packaged goods would be around for a long time yet - and cautioned against switching to online exclusively at the expense of boxed product.

"Before you give up making shiny disc-based games and jump for this hot new space, we need to take a bit of caution - there will be consolidation, and we're probably in a bubble," he said.

"Don't abandon your consumer base - specifically those shiny discs. We often forget about how important the disc is - I don't think in the near term, medium term or the long term we're going to lose that disc."

John Schappert was talking in one of his first conference appearances since he made the switch from Microsoft last year. More GamesIndustry.biz coverage of the DICE Summit 2010 is available on our special event page.

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