Following on from Part 1 and Part 2 last week, MCV wraps up its interview with Peter Moore, EA COO, talking origin and online services for gaming:
Australia tends to be a little more stubborn when it comes to taking the front foot on new technologies, but when we do, we do in droves. So, I imagine that any kind of resistance to always-online games and services will wither as the NBN is implemented.
Yeah, I mean, if you want a full game experience for the money you're spending, then to not be connected when you can be connected doesn't make a tremendous amount of sense to me. And I understand that when you ask people to do something different and disruptive, such as download Origin as a client to help you play the games, their first reacion will be 'why?'
I'm old enough to remember pre-internet days and how we all lived without being connected. I can look back at the days and bore my children with my absolute wonder at seeing a fax come through. I just had to help them try and figure out how to actually get how that works - you send this squeaky noise down a phone line and it spits out a page.
So, technology has changed. And being able to interact in real time and download games in real time are all things that blow your mind when you think about where we were 20 years ago. To be able to see what your friends are doing, what games they're playing and talk to them - to be able to interact with US when something doesn't go right, it is mind-blowing. And yes it's different, but different is good. Change is good. It eventually works out.
For me, I live in Silicon Valley, and it's amazing the speed of technology right now. We can look at stats that we've prepared and shown at a board meeting six months ago and say 'Well, we've moved on since then, because that was six months ago’. That's just the pace of life we're used to dealing with in Silicon Valley. I am 30 minutes drive from Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Oracle... I can drive to the world headquarters of Twitter in 30 minutes. 35 minutes to Apple and Cisco. EA is right in the middle of that.
So, things like Origin seem like second nature to us as a company. Just think about how we will engage with 150 million of our customers five years from now. We'll still be a big part of Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, Google and Apple, all of whom will have viable platforms which we will push our content on, but we also reserve the right to develop our own platform to interact with our own consumers, and that's what Origin is all about.
Would you liken any resistance to Origin (or its contemporaries) to something like a Facebook makeover?
Yeah, it's just change! I looked at my Facebook feed an hour ago and (and I don't have an iPhone) everybody is complaining about the new iOS not working right, their contacts have been deleted, my phone doesn't work today and this is the world's most powerful platform, right? It's just change, and if you can't adapt to change, and acknowledge change and figure out that change that doesn't come easy for 24 hours, you'll be stuck.
That's the ridiculous thing here, it's not like we've got months of problems with iPhones - it'll all be fixed in 48 hours, you'll have your contacts back and be able to make your phone calls. It's indicative of the speed of life we're living in, that we're so addicted to being completely addicted to being connected that anything which disrupts that is traumatic to people.
This is despite that fact that they love Apple and they're on Facebook 20 times a day, I see that interesting combo going on today where people are traumatised by losing their contacts for 24 hours.
I'd relate it back to the new Battlefield 3 interconnected services being offered. Is this a response from EA to that kind of demand, or an attempt to drive people in that direction?
Well I think it's both. I think we've done that for a number of years. Again, I'll look at FIFA as a great example as it recognises you for playing it, no matter what platform you're on, rewards you for playing it, and it all adds up to your achievement points within the EA Sports Football Club. This is the power of connection: we can see you, we can acknowledge you, we can reward you and we can help you. That all rolls up to central databases where we measure the effectiveness of our processes. The consumers vote not only with their wallets but also with their reactions and how they're playing the games and we have to measure that.
And the first step in the right direction for that sort of thing was achievements and their ability to deliver information about problematic bottlenecks within games.
Yeah, I was at Microsoft when we started talking about achievements and we never dreamt how powerful achievements would be. It touches people's egos. We found people sometimes buying games less for the gameplay, but because they had a lot of achievements in them.
The connected world that we now live in (that we at EA feel that we're helping to power) is all about 'Look at me, at how good I am, at the achievments I've got, look at what I'm doing, can you beat my time, can you beat me head-to-head, here's my ghost character in Need For Speed The Run or down the road SSX, can you get down the mountain faster than I did? Let me know! I'm asleep, but I'll wake up in the morning and have a look.'
And that's this always-on world that we're in. We're always connected, and that's why things like Origin and other companies who believe in the future like ourselves exist. Our vision is to unite the world through play. But we need to build platforms to be able to do that. We still need to develop and build on our promised platforms, but at the same time (as I said) we'll mostly take matters into our own hands as regards community, commercialisation and customer service. All the things that you need to have your own platform to do.
As far as you saying the customer is in control then, is it a matter more of the customer being in control whether they know it or not?
Sure, yeah. And it's interesting. In our presentation, something Lars and Daniel talked about was beta. They're always dangerous, right? You're putting yourself out there when you're barely clothed, you haven't showered, you haven't brushed your teeth and you're ready to go out into the world and say 'What do you think of me now?' We learned so much from the beta, fascinating stats like how many billions of bullets were fired (which DICE knows) and they use that data to say 'Ok, where's the action in the maps, what do we need to do to make some of those maps easier or more difficult, and do we need to eliminate some sniper positions?' All of the stuff that you have to do, telemetry tells you how to do that.
Many people mocked the beta because there was bugs in it. Well, yeah, it's beta software. And we needed to do load-balancing, stress-testing, so we're saying to the community 'Come help us and we'll show you how it's done' because every other game, when it goes through beta, does the same thing. So before beta we're saying 'Now we've gotta polish and fix the bugs' and to the community we say 'Help us find them!'. Some people thought it was funny (and maybe they hadn't played a beta before) and posted videos of weird things, which is just what happens.
That lack of exclusivity in an open beta tends to yield more of those kinds of vandals, but they tend to be a small enough minority not to matter.
Yeah, but even still I love open betas because look, it's free. You get to play a game that's not quite finished, and you then get to buy the game and see what they've fixed and polished and look at what you're glad they've taken out which didn't work in the open beta, and I think you'll also see some insight into how hard developers have to work.
That Battlefield open beta only closed less than two weeks ago and we'll be shipping final product next week. You can imagine the 24/7 work that goes on and the incredibly hard work that goes on at a studio like DICE to take the feedback from the data, make sure you're reacting to all the reams of telemetry that comes in from that, and get the game ready to go.
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