EA "bet on the wrong horse"

EA CEO John Riccitiello to shareholders:

“[This transition has been] harder because of the complexity,” Riccitiello said, “and harder because unfortunately, we bet a little bit on the wrong horse in focusing so much on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and to a lesser degree on the Wii. And let me assure you that almost all of us in the industry made the same judgment. So after so many transitions of guessing exactly right, we got this one a little bit wrong and we’re dealing with that now with strong investments on the Wii.” […]

“There aren’t companies that are really directly comparable in all areas. But if you’re looking for companies that we admire and might well keep us up at night, I think about companies like Ubisoft, that made a quicker and more forceful move against the Wii and Nintendo DS, and that’s showing in their results. [They’re] insightful, and they create an awfully large number of great titles. No question, there’s a lot to admire there.”

So I guess that’s where his bizarre comments about over-complicated EA games where coming from.

Something has changed. EA didn’t used to have to “guess”. They helped define what platform succeeded.

EA seems to put their games on every platform these days regardless of the ultimate return on the investment. I think doing that actually makes your properties less exciting than if it were more exclusive, and by doing that, you certainly aren’t going to create a platform “winner” anymore.

I don’t think EA has ever really defined a platform. I think one of their greatest weaknesses is how unengaged and flighty their audience is, which is the real problem here I think. Their audience tends to migrate more than the audience of a company like Konami, so when Nintendo put out a console for half the price of the competition, Joe Average and Jerome Somebody jumped ship from Sony without much thought or warning.

The Dreamcast would politely disagree.

Yep, something definitely changed. That something is that for the first time in 10 years, EA isn’t the top 3rd party publisher, Activision is.

I remember it was a really big deal on the internets when EA complained that they weren’t getting good sales and should have supported the DS more. But all their games on the PSP were lousy ports of PS2 games. No shit they didn’t sell.

But, I mean, are they really not making good money off 360/PS3? I can understand them saying, “we should have supported the Wii better than we did”, but they are acting like supporting the 360/PS3 has hurt them. I doubt that.

It has hurt them, tremendously. Like all corporations, if they don’t constantly grow, they are considered failures. Supporting the new generation, with far less consoles in circulation than they are used to selling to, has pissed off the shareholders. They are used to EA shoveling their shit into millions of mouths, and there just aren’t as many mouths to shovel into yet.

Eh, maybe it hurt them a bit in the short term (of course in Wall Street that is everything), but the installed bases are continuing to grow on 360 and PS3, Maddens are still going to come out, each to a larger audience, they are revving up Wii support. I’m not convinced.

Well, the thing is that the two “big” consoles are under-selling, one of them massively so. The one that’s flying off the shelves is the one that they didn’t invest much in initially. It’s a missed opportunity to get in on the ground floor, and the Wii may not always be as hot as it is now. It may become the next PS2, or some massive hardware flaw could be uncovered tomorrow. That kind of thing pisses off shareholders who go on to spread their views of the company to other shareholders and potential shareholders. In their views, EA has a history of predictive success, and that looks to be in rough waters now.

the problem is, the install base is continuing to grow on the Wii as well, at about double the rate of the 360. And the DS? fuggitaboutit.

The Dreamcast was doomed from the get-go.

Attention fanboys: Sega died with the Saturn, and it was their own damn fault. Get over it.

Don’t forget to take into account the increased costs of development for the PS3 and 360 over the PS2 and Wii, which make a game less profitable with the same amount of sales, even with the $10 greater price tag.

No, Sega as a hardware company died with “$299”. EA not developing for it tossed dirt into its grave.

Good point. But we’re all in agreement Sega’s death was Sega’s fault, right?

Huh? the Dreamcast launched at $199.

The Saturn launched at $299.

no, the saturn launched at $399.

$399.99 with Virtua Fighter included in the box.

I know. I got one on launch day with Daytona USA, Panzer Dragoon, Clockwork Knight and Worldwide Soccer.

Oh. Sorry. It was the Playstation that launched at $299. But it wasn’t the launch price, it was the E3 announcement of the launch price that did it. That’s what Brandon Clements means, right?