Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, EA CEO John Riccitiello has admitted that the publisher has made mistakes in the last few years, but believes that it is now in a stronger position than it has been for some time.
“If you go back seven years, we were the leader,” he said, as reported by VG247. “And we dropped the ball.
"Our IP deteriorated, our costs went up, and we didn’t really have an answer for the rise of digital.Need for Speed ended up flat on its back. That annual sequel thing got to us. That was a very tough business run. We just didn’t have the portfolio.”
But its current strong slate of IPs – which includes the likes of Mass Effect, Battlefield, Crysis, FIFA, Madden and Need for Speed – is, according to Riccitiello, best of class.
“We have the strongest intellectual property portfolio by far in the games industry today,” he added. "The core market for high definition gaming is a huge and fast-growing one. It’s a great business, it’s growing, and it’s where IP is created that spreads out onto other platforms.
Particular emphasis was placed on the strength of EA's digital business, where it has flourished on platforms such as Apple's App Store and grown through casual acquisitions.
In fact, the exec went as far as to criticise the current traditional console market, saying that the sector consists of “half a dozen companies, several players and the riffraff" who "all have a stake".
"EA digital is the fastest growing part of our business, and we’re one of the fastest growing businesses in the industry today," he added. “But what’s surprising is that it’s starting to monetise. People seem to like paying for games. Play first pay later – that’s a very compelling model for today’s gamer."
One obstacle that has been overcome to a certain extent is the historically short shelf life endured by triple-A titles at retail. Riccitiello says that the use of tactics such as the Online Pass and the increase in both post-release digital content and revenues for titles means that games now “stay in the tray longer”.
“The alarm that went off for us two or three years ago is largely gone."