A portion of an MTV interview with John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts…
Multiplayer: When they’re following E3 a lot of people get worked up about “How did Sony do?” “How did Microsoft do?” From EA’s perspective how do you view the fact that there are three strong players in the video game console market? Is that one too many? Would you prefer there to be two? What do you make of the competition?
John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts: The way I look at it is, first off, is having three strong platforms creators is spectacular for us. The metaphor I’ve used before is this: They make the war. We make the bullets. We’ll sell to any of them. We’re really pleased with that. And as long as that level of innovation comes about as a consequence of that competition, that’s good for us.
Remember, last year we were the leading third-party developer for the Wii. We’re one of the leading developers on virtually every platform. Their battle is good for us and the consumer, because the level of innovation there is spectacular. And I wouldn’t limit it to the three. Remember things like the Nintendo DS. Remember the iPhone. Remember the PSP. Note that last year one of the top-selling platforms was the PS2.
What’s happening is there’s more platforms and more choices. And as there’s more platforms and choices, there’s consumers involved in our industry. And that’s really what’s best, all that innovation. Don’t forget the PC. The PC is one of the fastest growing platforms for games - full stop. Not the packaged good at retail, but businesses like Pogo Online — go to Pogo.com and you’ll see it — advertising models, subscription models like we’ve got right out the door here with “Warhammer.” It’s just a dynamic exciting time for the industry.
Multiplayer: People used to see you guys as doing a lot of licenses, things like James Bond and Superman and all the other superhero games. We’re not seeing as much of that out of EA any more. Why is that?
John Riccitiello, CEO of Electronic Arts: I still think we have a number of core license partners. What’s happening right now is sort of the core creativity of our team is really coming forward. When you see titles like “Dead Space” and “Mirror’s Edge” — or something like “Boom Blox” — these are sort of like art teams creating something new. We’ve always been good at that [and have decided], “Let them go out there and do it.”
Frankly I think that a lot of the intellectual property we create are better than the licenses. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for great licenses. We’ve had a 20-year partnership with the NFL. We’re incredibly proud of that. A 15-ish year partnership with the NBA. NHL, etc. But also we partner with J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers in bringing over the Harry Potter games to market and a great partnership with Hasbro — a lot of new stuff this year for the more casual consumer. There’s room for both. I think what you’re noticing is that in years gone by we haven’t had as many great, original intellectual properties. There’s a lot more of that this year from EA and I think from here forward.