More talk from EA CEO on how publisher is changing its approach to development

‘Centralising tools and creative management doesn’t work’ – Riccitiello

A new report in the New York Times has offered further insight into the ideology behind John Riccitiello’s revamp of Electronic Arts – described as ‘a new corporate humility’ – with the EA CEO saying centralised technology and management "is just not a good idea" for development teams.

“I think that the idea that you’re going to have a top-down process that uses a lot of centralised tools to try and build a common brand with a lot of centralised creative calls is just not a good idea,” Riccitiello told the NYT.

“It could certainly make for a great case study at Harvard if it worked, but I just don’t think it works.”

Echoing his comments two weeks ago about how EA fumbled the acquisition of independents such as Origin, Westwood and Bullfrog in the ’90s, Riccitiello said that the company was shifting its business around the creative talent rather than corporate bureaucracy.

“There is no question that Origin and Westwood and Bullfrog don’t exist today, and you don’t generally buy things in order to close them.

“Those deals obviously didn’t work the way we anticipated. The leaders in those organizations got set up where they thought we were bringing in a bureaucracy. We were bringing in centralized tools and technology that homogenized the output and slowed them down. They weren’t listened to.”

He added: “Frankly, the core of our business, like in any creative business, are the guys and women who are actually making the product.

“You can’t just buy people and attempt to apply some business-school synergy to them. It just doesn’t work. The companies that succeed are those that provide a stage for their best people and let them do what they do best, and it’s taken us some time to understand that. In our business the accountant, the guy in the green eyeshade, is like the guy in the alien movie that eventually gets eaten. If you let him run your business, it is neither inspiring or effective.”

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