Electronic Arts boss John Riccitiello has made a candid admittance of guilt in the publisher’s fall from the top.
“If you go back seven years, we were the leader,” the CEO said last night at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco.
“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.”
Riccitiello said that, prior to the current generation of games consoles, EA boasted eight core intellectual properties. A few years later, he said, the firm was left with three.
“Need for Speed ended up flat on its back,” he said, as quoted by VG247.
“That annual sequel thing got to us.”
In listing past mistakes, Riccitiello didn’t cite of the firm’s expensive $860 million acquisition of Pandemic and BioWare – of which the former had been closed by EA months later.
Instead he spoke broadly of the retail sector, claiming it was “a very tough business run”.
“We just didn’t have the portfolio,” he said.
Riccitiello spoke confidently of his firm’s recovery from that stuttering period in the mid-to-late noughties. He said the firm has rebounded with several lucrative properties, including BioWare’s Mass Effect series.
“We have the strongest intellectual property portfolio by far in the games industry today,” he said.
“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,” he explained.
Elsewhere in the speech, the EA chief spoke of the firm’s new push into digital markets.