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Soundoff: EA’s Riccitiello Talks DRM, Ads, Economy and More

game talkLike many high profile corporate executives, EA’s CEO John Riccitiello has his share of fans and critics.  They exist among gamers and stock watchers alike. Some support his stewardship of the gaming company.  Other’s can’t stand it.  Regardless of perspective, one thing that’s hard to argue about is his candor.  Riccitiello has a penchant for speaking directly and sharing his thoughts.  In New York for Dow Jones Media Money survey this week, he sounded off on issues from the prospect of working with Google, to Digital Rights Management to the effect of the downturn on the industry.  In summary, without interpretation, here are the excerpts:

On Google AdSense for Games: “The quick answer is, of course we would partner with them and anybody else who would write us a check."  A little more long winded: “I always pay attention to what Google is doing. Right now, the In-Game AdSense initiative isn’t something that large. But when they want to take a meeting, we’ll be willing to listen."

On the economy’s impact on gaming: "I think it’s going to be a strong holiday season…the video game industry so far this year has been stunningly strong…”  but: “We don’t have a game industry index that goes back to 1929, so I don’t have any data from what happens to the game industry in a market meltdown." 

On sequelitis in game development: “The game industry had gotten a little overhooked on sequels, and EA is not immune to that. We just released our 18th Madden."

On DRM and the venom spit by some at the choices EA made to protect their PC title Spore: “We chose a particularly aggressive form of DRM, which 99.8 percent of consumers would never notice, but that two-tenths of one percent got incredibly focused and formed an online PR cabal. I personally don’t like DRM. It interrupts the user experience. We would like to get around that. But there is this problem called piracy out there."   via Gamasutra: “There are different ways to do DRM; the most successful is what WoW [“World of Warcraft”] does. They just charge you by the month… We’re going to see an evolution of these things. I wish we didn’t live in a world where we had to do these types of things. I want it to be seamless and easy – but I also don’t want to have a bonfire of money.” 
[As a side note: Ubisoft’s upcoming title Far Cry 2 appears to be heading to production with an extremely similar SecuROM protection set up to that used on Spore.  Unlike previous games, however, the system will have a means of deactivating installations to migrate from computer to computer (via Escapist)]

Dynamic Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-Gaming: “I ultimately believe that a consumer is going to want to be involved with a game that they help build rather than one that they just watch or experience.  Spore is probably the industry’s first big step in that direction, and I would encourage you to look out for The Sims 3, which comes out this spring and which is another big step in that direction.”

On the recent cancellation of the Command & Conquer franchise based shooter Tiberium (via Gamasutra): “Any company that serves every dish that comes out of the oven whether it’s burned or not is not committed to quality… U2 made great albums, Steven Spielberg made great films. It doesn’t mean they don’t have their Tiberiums." And… "When something’s not meeting expectations… you can course correct by giving it more time, more money, changing the concept or killing the game. If you’re committed to quality, you take one of those paths."

On online games: "Today what we do, more typically, is we build an online game which often has as much code on a server as it does on a disk and the CPU in your household."

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