If the business world is a game, Peter Moore plays it on expert level. Noisily. And you wouldn’t want your brand to be in his crosshairs.
Don’t get us wrong: speak to anyone in the upper echelons at EA and the words personable” and pleasant” seem indelibly linked to his name.
But this deserved reputation aside, Liverpool-born Moore has proven himself to be an accomplished attack dog in the corporate world.
He tells MCV that he is at his best being part of what he calls the challenger brand” – keeping the biggest and the best in his sights until he ultimately eclipses them. Then it’s onto the next target.
Coupled with his infamously fierce dedication, Moore can call on an unrivalled willingness to do whatever it takes to steal the limelight from the market leader at any given time – in any given sphere. (Even if that means revealing a Grand Theft Auto IV tattoo on-stage, E3 fans).
This hankering to shoot down the established competition really blossomed when Moore headed up the launch of Xbox 360 at Microsoft – when his unapologetic desire to smash PlayStation’s paramountcy wove the tapestry of Microsoft’s bullish public face to this day.
The highlight of my career so far has been being part of the creation, launch and success of the Xbox 360 platform, comprising the best integration of hardware, software and services the industry has seen to date,” he explains.
What we did at Microsoft during that period was not perfect – nothing that complex ever is. We all agonised over the quality issues that some of our consumers were experiencing, but I was proud that the company took a very bold – and expensive – position to rectify the issues and make good on the problems we had caused for those who experienced hardware problems.”
Moore is perhaps every bit as instrumental to Microsoft’s current position in the games market as Bill Gates.
And with his level of involvement and personal passion plain for all to see – he’s never fully denied whether that GTA tatt still exists, you know – it’s little wonder he reflects on his achievements at Xbox with great fondness.
We were planning the investment levels it would take to make a serious run at the top spot in the next generation, whilst seemingly making a hundred decisions a week,” he adds. It is with pride that I can say I was a part of that team.”
If the most difficult day of his career had hit him harder, the ballsy, risk-taking Moore who was so successful and entertaining at Xbox could have emerged as a much meeker element.
Back in 2001, Moore was tasked with informing half of Sega’s hardware team they would be made redundant following the commercial failure of the Dreamcast – an experience that left him saddened and stirred, but luckily for Microsoft, not permentantly disheartened.
I arrived at Sega of America in February of 1999, and found we had nothing in place for the launch later that year,” he says.
We were coming off the Sega Saturn debacle, so the consumer was justifiably sceptical. We had to build a positioning, creative campaign, pricing and distribution strategy, even figure out whether to put the modem in the box or make it an add-on peripheral.
The parent company was in dire financial straits, Electronic Arts had decided to not publish for the platform – bless them – and [US boss] Bernie Stolar left the company a month before launch. Oh yeah, and we had to figure out how to work multi-player games through a 56k modem.
Somehow we pulled it all together for [the agreed date of] 9.9.99, and for the next year and a half gave everything we had to take on the PS2 juggernaut. Despite the blood, sweat and tears we all shed, on January 31st, 2001, I announced that we were getting out of the hardware business.
I had to let half of the company go that day – the toughest day of my professional life. I still take pride on behalf of the team that I have yet to meet anyone who regretted buying a Dreamcast. I’ve still got mine.”
Less inexorable execs may have crumbled, but the setback never once dampened Moore’s ability to think big. As in, mega big. Indeed, looking over his career, you get the impression that the man is no stranger to the phrase is that it?”.
His latest mission is to make EA Sports: The leading sports brand in the world.”
Read carefully. That’s not the leading sports games brand – that’s a logo and ethos that dwarfs sportswear leviathans Nike, Adidas and even Moore’s former employer, Reebok.
Whether it’s using his experience of taking on PlayStation with Sega to enhance Xbox’s market position, or cherry picking from his 17 years in the US sports market to enrich EA’s output, Moore is a man who’s learnt how to craftily borrow from his past.
He explains: From the irreverent and feisty Sega, to the unique doggedness of Microsoft, and now the energy and passion that embodies EA Sports, I have been fortunate to have worked in high-profile positions in interesting times in the histories of these companies.
For whatever reason, I have always enjoyed being the ‘challenger brand’, going to back to being at Reebok in the 1990s at the peak of the sneaker wars vs. Nike, at Sega when we took on Sony – and ironically EA – and then more recently at Microsoft as we sought to build an entertainment brand almost from scratch.
Even here at EA, we’ve had an extremely successful sports brand for years, but as we evolve with new experiences targeting new consumers in our space, there’s an innate hunger that fuels our teams to challenge to be the leading sports brand in the world.”
Since taking over as EA Sports president in September last year, Moore’s trademark self-belief has continued to permeate newswires – not least through his own EA-branded blog.
He says that he is already immersed in the hunger and passion prevalent at one of the industry’s proudest brands”. But after being the scourge of PlayStation for so many years – first at Sega, then Microsoft – how has he settled into embracing Sony’s brand at EA?
My role today is very different to what I’ve experienced before – I have no direct hardware responsibility,” Moore points out. I still worry about console sales, but with a very different perspective – I want them all to sell well, so that we can maximize our sales across a growing installed base of all console and handhelds.”
Two globally-loved hardware launches, a lasting legacy in sports and – in just 11 months – a very defining impact on the innovation, focus and output of EA Sports: Peter Moore has set a dauntingly high standard for any marketeer in the global games industry. Does he have anything left to achieve?
Typically, he remains fearsomely loyal to his current employer:
Sadly, time is probably running out for me to play right full back for England, but I would feel honoured to be able to lead EA Sports into the next phase of its storied history,” he comments.
We need to globalise our business, provide even more opportunities for our customers to interact with us online, knock down the barriers to those who find the learning curve of our games too steep, and discover new areas in sports – and health and wellness – in which our brand can truly make a difference.
Personally, I need to kick a 50 yard field goal before Madden launches on August 12th here in the US, but that’s a story for another day…”