EA Exec John Schappert Offers Five Tips to Surviving the Next Three Years

By Jeff Mattas, Feb 19, 2010 5:00pm PST During his presentation at this year's DICE Summit, Electronic Arts COO John Schappert addressed surviving the uncertainties presented by recent job loss figures and waning retail sales numbers. He offered five tips for the next three years in the video game industry, given

Editorial outlet Gamasutra reports that although Schappert recognizes it's not the first time the industry has needed to fight through difficult economic times, he thinks that this storm could be even more severe. A larger number of available platforms and increasingly cautious consumer spending habits both present significant hurdles to success. He asserts that when it comes to high-profile, mass-market titles, "If you're not in the top 30, maybe the top 20, or even the top 10, you're probably not making money."

Schappert's first tip focuses on the premise that consistent attention must be paid to developing the quality of gameplay, especially in the case of games with annual iterations, such as sports game franchises. With more competition and discerning game consumers, "The days of people going in, getting excited because they saw a commercial, picking up a game and going home to try it for the first time, I don't think we have those days anymore," he explained.

His second tip relates to the importance of marketing a game well. Schappert points out that while it was once possible to successfully sell a poor game with good marketing, that's no longer the case in today's industry. "Great marketing only works on great games," he said, lamenting the fact that EA titles like Dead Space and Mirror's Edge didn't get the marketing attention they deserved, and as a result, didn't sell as well as hoped.

Schappert also advised developers and publishers to invest in the future of online gaming. He's cautiously optimistic about social gaming, but warns of "extremely high market valuations compared to the number of people rushing to the space." The value of the online-connected console space is also not lost on the EA Chief Operations Officer, who believes it's also important to extend a game's lifespan with downloadable content. "People are buying fewer games than before, but they want to play them longer," said Schappert.

His fourth recommendation was that publishers not abandon releasing games on physical media. "I think we often forget about how important the disc is, and we often underestimate the technical hurdles we have to go through to get rid of the disk," said Shapppert. "I don't think in the near term, or the medium term, arguably the long term we're going to be without the disk."

Schappert's final tip was a rosy "keep your chin up" message to his industry brethren. "Keep your head high, don't listen to the cynics, and keep making those great games for us," he said, citing a growing number of gaming consumers as a positive sign for the industry.

Click here to comment...

Comments

14 Threads | 66 Comments








  • I like how he's giving advice while his company is on 11 straight quarters of losses and their stock is at disastrous levels. They've laid off something like 3500 people in the past two years when they've had the highest meta-critic average (or top two) of all the big publishers (thus, not the dev's fault...they were making quality games). They've purchased extremely questionable assets in the past two years (a social gaming platform for $400 mil?? Bioware / Pandemic for $800 mil??) and are trimming down the one place where they've had great success (EAP, external publishing). Their top level execs actually think they know what good games are and influence development (their CEO is an ex-Sara Lee marketing guy...I wonder if he told them how to bake when he was there) rather than empowering the talent the have (or rather had).

    I don't know this guy thinks he'll be taken seriously. I think the best advice is don't do what EA is doing.