EA Concedes Poor Handling of Past Acquisitions; Admits 94 Separate FIFA Soccer 08 SKUs

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello has admitted the company made serious mistakes in integrating several well-known developers, including Bullfrog and Westwood, into its corporate structure, Game|Life reports.

"We at EA blew it, and to a degree I was involved in these things, so I blew it," Riccitiello said at this week's DICE Summit in Las Vegas. "When I talked to the creators that populated these companies at the time, they felt like they were buried and stifled."

EA acquired Bullfrog Productions, creator of the Populous and Theme Park series and former home of industry veteran Peter Molyneux, in 1995. Two years later, Molyneux had left the company. "The command and conquer model doesn't work," noted Riccitiello. "If you think you're going to buy a developer and put your name on the label... you're making a profound mistake."

The CEO blamed the company's habit of applying similar management structures to studios brought under EA's wing, which in turn muted creative freedom. He went on to cite EA's recent acquisitions of BioWare and Maxis as examples of an improved model in which individual studios' corporate culture and goals remain intact.

Riccitiello added that EA's label model—in which teams and studios are designated by genre or product focus—is a solution to many issues facing developers, granting small studios a hefty financial backing without direct meddling in the development process.

During the course of his talk, Riccitiello also revealed that EA Canada's FIFA Soccer 08 shipped on eight platforms in 16 countries, and was localized into 20 languages, resulting in a boggling total of 94 different products.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 8, 2008 8:02 PM

    So what are you going to do about it, John? Nobody will forget what EA has done to Origin.

    • reply
      February 8, 2008 8:05 PM

      never forget.

      • reply
        February 8, 2008 8:19 PM


        Origin created worlds. EA shipped games. EA won.

        This paragraph scares me a bit about the gaming industry:

        Spector's games (Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent Isle, Ultima Underworld, System Shock and many more) consistently brought returns a small studio would think quite respectable. But the economics of a billion-dollar corporation are different. For EA it makes more sense to reach for the sky with every single project. The games that die or get cancelled become tax writeoffs, and the rare hit pays for all the rest. The worst case is the mere modest success, a mediocre return on equity without corresponding tax advantages.

        That's really counter-intuitive: a huge publisher would rather have a game tank than have only modest sales. Perhaps this explains why some titles get shoved out the door so quickly?

        • reply
          February 8, 2008 8:21 PM

          That paragraph reeminds me of hte consumer goods industry. Kellogs may make 300 new products every year...only 2 or 3 need to be hits.

        • reply
          February 9, 2008 1:40 AM

          A game developer could make more money with a flop, than with a hit!

    • reply
      February 9, 2008 5:44 AM

      Shit, I bet half the gamers here don't even know who Origin is.

      • reply
        February 9, 2008 10:49 AM

        I miss the orchestra intro from the Origin games. Quick someone find Chris Roberts and make him produce new Wing Commander.

        • reply
          February 9, 2008 1:39 PM

          You might want to reconsider that. It's not the "what" that I have issues with -- I'm all for a new Wing Commander game -- it's the "who".

Hello, Meet Lola