'If we had just kept iterating we would be irrelevant' says Gibeau

EA: We’d be in worse shape if we hadn’t changed

Had Electronic Arts not undergone a painful three-year transition of its business, the firm would today be “irrelevant and in far worse shape”, a top exec art the firm has said.

The west’s number-two packed games publisher has in the last three years shed over 1,000 developers and closed studios such as Los Angeles outfit Pandemic. Twelve successive quarterly net losses were the backdrop to a dark day in November 2009, when the firm announced it would make 1,500 staff redundant.

But if EA had stuck to its business plan before John Riccitiello joined as CEO in 2007, the company would be in even bigger trouble, says Frank Gibeau.

Gibeau, the president of the EA games, insisted the firm’s stock value will climb out from its nadir.

“We will get the stock price back,” he said in an interview with Gamasutra.

“Our earnings are up,” he claimed (by the last count EA reported a quarterly net loss of $322 million).

“We’re on our way back,” he said.

“If we hadn’t made the changes we did, if we had just kept iterating game after game, we would be irrelevant and in far worse shape than we are now.”

As outlined in a recent interview with Develop, Gibeau had led EA’s philosophy to create quality titles, new IP and a deeper look at the online and digital markets.

That brought with it a distancing from the ‘old-EA’ policy of annual sequels, weak movie tie-ins and, the firm has admitted, studio exploitation.

Today, EA is expanding its successful and widely-admired Partners programme to mobile and social markets.

Meanwhile its success on new platforms such as Facebook and the App Store distinguishes it favourably to rival firm Activision, which is increasingly appearing as the ‘old-guard’ of game publishing.

“I really feel good about where we are at EA these days,” Gibeau added.

“There’s a lot of transition going on in this industry and we’re really well positioned for that. We feel like we’re on the offensive. We’re moving from a fire-and-forget packaged goods model to an online services model.”

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