Games industry boss criticises lack of innovation

10 Jul 2007

John Riccitiello, chief executive officer of Electronic Arts who produce the highly successful games series The Sims and Medal of Honour, has criticised the entire games industry for what he sees as a series of sequel after sequel releases.

The former president and chief operating officer of Electronic Arts from 1997 to 2004, John Riccitiello, has spoken out against this perceived lack of innovation in the games industry in his new role as CEO for the company since April of this year.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal he said: “For the most part, the industry has been rinse-and-repeat.

“There’s been lots of product that looked like last year’s product, that looked a lot like the year before.”

However, he did earmark some companies that were producing new, innovative games currently taking the industry by storm, such as Vivendi’s World of Warcraft and Activision’s Guitar Hero.

Analysts suggest that Riccitiello’s backlash against the current games market may be reflecting the declining income of Electronic Arts over the past three years.

This year the company’s net income dropped 68pc to US$76m, in the face of its increase in market sales by 5pc.

Riccitiello underlined the need for a rethinking of games design, as well as pricing and target audience.

He said that the formula of the 40-hour games selling for around US$50-60 had to change, and that it was essential to extend the focus from the conventional gamers out to casual consumers.

Although these statements seemed controversial on first glance, last month the company launched its casual games division, EA Casual Entertainment, aimed at developing content light games for consoles, handheld systems and mobile phones as well as the PC.

Leader of this new division, Kathy Vrabeck said: “All over the world, consumers are playing games that don’t require hours of intense concentration. The common denominator is casual fun.”

By Marie Boran