EA CEO Discusses Rock Band / Guitar Hero Rivalry, Claims Publishers Must Beware 'Drug of Profits'

By Chris Faylor, Oct 21, 2008 9:40am PDT
Despite being the CEO of Electronic Arts, John Riccitiello is cautious of prioritizing profit during game development.

"Companies go through cycles where they are on the drug of profits," he warned Gamasutra, noting that the easiest way to increase profit is to cut research and development costs. "That can be the beginning of an end."

"I've not only seen it, I've experienced it," Riccitiello explained, pointing to EA's controversial past and stressing the importance of game makers being gamers themselves. "You can seek to make profits, and then you'll make the most profitable games you can--or you can seek to make great games that are profitable."

As for the rivalry between Activision's Guitar Hero and Harmonix's Rock Band, which EA distributes, he noted that "rivalries are fun for people" and "invests meaning in something that is inherently sort of frivolous and fun."

"I think it's increasingly coming down to what songs, what artists are aligned with a particular product," Riccitiello said. "I happen to think that the Rock Band software is tighter, with Rock Band 2. But I think reviewers seem to give the edge to Rock Band."

He also noted that his neighborhood is one where Rock Band reigns over Guitar Hero, claiming that "my kids are the alpha gamers of the town. And I'm sure that whatever part of Beverly Hills [Activision CEO] Bobby Kotick lives in is a Guitar Hero neighborhood--to the degree that they play games up there."

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