Spore Pushed to 2008, EA Outlines Plans

By Chris Remo, May 09, 2007 12:20am PDT In an analyst conference call following the release of Electronic Arts' earnings report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007, EA executives announced that the release of Will Wright's upcoming evolution simulator Spore has been pushed out of 2007. EA CEO John Riccitiello, who recently returned to the company after co-founding Elevation Partners, indicated that there is a possibility the game will be released at the end of EA's coming fiscal year ending March 31, 2008, but it is more likely it will be pushed into the following quarter.

"We continue to have enormous confidence in Spore as a franchise but have made the call not to include this title in our fiscal year financial plan," said CFO Warren C. Jenson. Responding to analyst queries regarding the current status of the game, Riccitiello added, "I've had the chance to review the title three times in my short return to EA, and it looks fantastic."

The CEO stressed the importance of giving the ambitious game enough time to create a franchise with lasting power "like The Sims." Speaking to Shacknews in 2005, designer Wright said on developing Spore, "It's a challenge. Quite a challenging project, but I've got an amazing team on it, and I'm actually very satisfied with where it's going."

EA executives frequently pointed to the company's increasing emphasis on internal intellectual property rather than licensed titles. "In general, I'd say that if you go back five or six years EA was probably over-tilted to license properties," admitted Riccitiello. "We saw the writing on the wall in terms of the cost of licensed properties rising. [Chairman and prior CEO] Larry [Probst] and the team redirected the team to owned intellectual property. That has paid dividends and there [has been] big investment made in the last 12 months to further enhance that strategy."

Jenson noted EA Montreal's Army of Two, EA Black Box's SKATE, EA Canada's EA Playground, EA Montreal's Boogie, and an unannounced Steven Spielberg-produced Wii game as examples of new EA IP slated to be released this fiscal year. He also confirmed that the nearly-announced The Simpsons game will be released this holiday season.

The three current generation home consoles as well as Nintendo DS were said to be receiving the largest allocation of games. In the current fiscal year, approximately 20-23 games will be released across PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, 10-13 on Wii, and 10-13 on Nintendo DS. The company plans to retain its leading market share across most platforms, with the goal of achieving the leading market share among third parties on Nintendo platforms. Regarding EA's strategy for the coming years, North American publishing general manager Frank D. Gibeau said, "Our goal absolutely is to be the biggest murderers on murderers' row."

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