Interview

EA Sports' Peter Moore

Part two of our GamesCom interview

What follows is part two of our Peter Moore interview from GamesCom 2009.

Interesting that you mention the cloud. What is your view of the emerging cloud services like Gaikai and OnLive?

Well we're looking at both of those. I've certainly taken a deeper look at OnLive. There is a lot of challenges, but ultimately whether it's next year, ten years, 100 years from now... is it called 'media'? Is it going to exist? There is no doubt about it. The ability for you to deliver a seamless gaming experience to whatever device you want is going to be there in the short term. There's lot of barriers which both companies have been very open about. A lot of hard work is going to be required. If a million people want to play FIFA at the same time, which they do, how does that happen? These technical issues, which ultimately people will resolve, right now get in the way of a seamless experience. I have no doubt that you deliver for me, on a server, FIFA streaming seamlessly where I can pick it up, stop it and go back to it whenever I like. Scaling that is a real challenge.

Talking about new formats in general. What is your view of the iPhone?

Well, it's an interesting platform. We're already on there. We do both games as well as applications that support our console games on there. It's a little challenging - as someone said there are over 7,000 games available on there now. A lot of which are free, a lot of which are 99 cents , and maybe some are 4.99 USD and very few are 9.99 USD. From a business model perspective we've got to figure out how much effort do we put into something. How do we improve navigation? I've just started to play Tiger Woods Mobile on my Blackberry. I actually enjoy it but I know we can do this a lot better. Have you tried it?

PR chap: Nope.

Tiger 09 - you should try it. I'll approve your expenses. You should download it. I did before getting on the plane, and played it for a couple of hours. You know with the screen and the buttons, it's actually not bad. It's fun. But with a market like this, with limited resources, you really just apply yourself to make sure you're keeping everyone in employment and happy and not doing pro-bono work a little bit. We will support the iPhone and we are doing, and when we ship our big games, typically top ten sellers, we're also using it to supporting our console games - with Madden Online, our NFL game, you can check and work on your franchise on your iPhone as an app you download that then impacts your console game.

Do you think there is a sport that hasn't been covered yet by a game?

I think all sports somewhere have a game, at least a browser-based game.

Curling?

I bet you could find a curling game somewhere!

On the iPhone?

Some Flash based game for free. No! It'll be developed by a scotsman so it'll be 99 cents [laughter]. In our world big games, authentic games, licenced games. I get lobbied a lot by gamers who want their sport to be on there. We can't do everything. What you don't want to do is, given you only have so many people to make the games, is to dilute the quality. Alright we're going to make loads of games, all of a sudden I've got really small teams and the quality suffers. You just have to be pretty hardcore about what you can do and what can't do. There's a lot of stuff... we have to make a lot of decisions.

Any decisions that you've changed you mind about?

Naaaaa. Our big bets have recently been getting into the fitness business with EA Sports Active and then Mixed Martial Arts. Big fan. We made a decision pretty early on in the label being formed that MMA was a world sport of the future. We stopped doing a particular sport to accommodate that. We made a hard call on something that we decided to walk away from, because you can't do everything. In today's world where we'll hire 50-60 people you have to manage your expenses accordingly and you make trade offs. We had to make some hard trade-offs. We're delighted to be getting into MMA and we think it's going to be a big story in 2010.

Do you feel that the global economic situation is affecting EA Sports?

I don't think EA Sports... It's affecting our industry. The numbers bear out that it's affecting our industry. When you look at the best numbers typically come out of US, the NPD, and it's been a tough year. The optimists moot that it'll come back up again in the second half of the year and it'll get back to black year-on-year. Back to your earlier question on the PS3 - that's going to help. You'll sell, hopefully, more for slightly less money, more units of hardware, new gamers coming in and buying software. That's going to help enormously. I think the industry will do well to get back to black.

Would you like to see 70-80 GBP games?

Noooo, I don't [hesitation] I.... no.

I wouldn't. In today's world, look at Modern Warfare and the conversation around that at 65 GBP. I can't... no... I don't think anyone wants to see that, nor can I imagine a 70-80 GBP disc game experience. I just don't think that's where the industry is going. I could be wrong. We certainly have no plans to start charging what is the equivalent of...

An enormous amount of money. 120 dollars or something?

The threshold of pain with the consumer. They'll go 'I can't afford that'. I think the industry is well positioned with it's pricing right now and we all feel comfortable wherever we're sat.

Have you considered going the Rock Band or Guitar Hero route, with any EA Sports games and external peripherals?

We've got the neoprene strapping in Active. That works well. We certainly, in our games label, have Rock Band. We're going to watch what Activision do with the Tony Hawk board and Guitar Hero. In our world we're very comfortable with what we're doing, but if there is anything we'll do on a peripheral basis we'll probably focus around fitness.

So you are considering new fitness peripherals?

No. What we're doing is we're already doing the neoprene, but I'm calling that a peripheral because it's not just a game. We're very happy as a company about Rock Band and The Beatles, but as EA Sports if we do anything it'll probably be around fitness. No announcements.

Do you believe that licenses are important to your series'?

We always believe that when we listen to gamers they love the authenticity of what we do. I'm a huge sports fan, and when I play FIFA I want to play as Liverpool, my team, not as Stanley Park. I think it's important that my team wears red Carlsberg shirts, Liverpool, Gerrad, number 8, Torres. That's not to say that other companies don't have the opportunity to make generic football games, absolutely they do. To us, we've created a positioning that 'it's in the game' and that's who we are, and for better for worse that gamers across two decades have expected. Licenses are important because authenticity is important. There are situations where we have a different licensing strategy like Nike where we create our own intellectual property. That's the same with Mixed Martial Arts where we're creating our own IP, and bringing together license of a different level which are the fighters. You won't see us do a generic game of mixed martial arts - that's not we do.

Thanks for your time, Peter. Enjoy the rest of the show.

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