EA Aren’t Giving Up On PCs, Pessimism

By John Walker on May 14th, 2008 at 10:07 am.

EA

John Riccitiello, the big boss at EA, has taken a pretty negative view of PC boxed sales. Kotaku quote him saying,

“Were it not for The Sims and the WoW box sales, it’d be a pretty dismal sector.”

Which implies a lack of confidence in their own boxed copies of various Valve games, and indeed everything else non-Sims EA sell on PC, and indeed the new games they’ve announced for the summer. However, hope is not lost, he says, in the form of casual games… Oh for goodness sakes. It’s like a recession. If everyone tells themselves there’s going to be a recession, spending slows, people behave like a recession’s coming, and we have a recession. The PC games industry is talking itself out of existence.

Anyhow, he goes on to say,

“The fastest growing [sector] is subscription, microtransactions-based and casual games, many of which are pretty much centered on the PC. One of the things we try to look at at EA is the total business represented on PC game software, and we’re seeing a growth in business there. It’s been growing for several years… it’s categorized wrongly by looking simply at the box side of the equation.”

Good luck to Sims 3 and Spore then. And Dead Space. And Left4Dead-in-a-box. And Mass Effect. And Mercenaries 2. And Burnout Paridise. And Mirror’s Edge. And Warhammer Online… Oh, we’re not bitter.

You can read far more of Riccitiello’s quotes on Kotaku here.

Also, this is all as nothing when compared to DigitalBattle’s claim yesterday that,

“The state of PC gaming has seen a disappointing trend of no major releases in the last couple of years.”

Guys?

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46 Comments »

  1. The Fanciest Of Pants says:

    I have no words

  2. Taxman says:

    Well he was speaking to investors so perhaps he was telling them what they wanted to hear after all they only care about the numbers and growth.

    If PC games look “soft” as the investor said they want to know what EA is doing about it but it does seem at odds with the fact that EA is going to be shipping over 30 different PC games.

  3. nakke says:

    Awesome idea: have everything in Sims 3 cost not simoleons, but actual dollars!

  4. Pidesco says:

    First, that DigitalBattle quote is a load of bollocks.

    As for the general tales of PC gaming sales woe, I’m willing to bet that the turning point will be when online game sales surpass sales through retail. Retailers are the biggest stumbling block impeding the growth of PC gaming.

    What do all you RPSers think will happen the day Valve announces it doesn’t need retail sales, anymore?

  5. Chaz says:

    The major releases often aren’t that much to write home about, so would loosing them be such a major loss. The best PC releases of late have been the less hyped smaller budget ones, such as The Witcher and Sins of a Solar Empire. Just the kind of games that EA would never release anyway.

  6. Mike says:

    Call of Duty 4, Crysis, Unreal Tournament 2008, Orange box… how are these not major releases?!!!

  7. Arsewisely says:

    Firstly – no major releases in the last couple of years?! Perhaps this is tempered somewhat by cross platform releases of the biggest games. Even so, a pretty incorrect statement.

    We can’t take EA’s opinions as representative of the health of the genre. To them profit and trends reflecting growth = good. It goes without saying that their focus is aggressively profit driven. It is not suprising that they want to focus on micropayments and digital delivery. Boxed copies require pirate protection that is easy to bypass, and boxed copies can be traded on the second hand market, both eating into their profits. I don’t know about everyone else but of the ten or so games I’ve bought in the last six months only one or two of them were new.

    As EA gets bigger their sense of acceptable profit margins from PC gaming will become skewed. It is simply the case that the genre of PC gaming, by its very nature, will not be able to support a company the size of EA. The bigger they get, the “worse” it will be – for them. Of course they are only getting acceptable feedback from The Sims and WoW because they are both massive, massive successes with sustainable means of revenue in expansion packs and subscription fees.

    Gaming in general is at the beginning of a massive upturn in the amount of people buying computer games, the amount of people training and working in the industry and as a cultural medium. PC gaming will always be the cutting edge of the movement and will subsequently always be supported.

    It’s for EA to worry about their profits, not us.

  8. Rob says:

    I really don’t know what accelerated “PC gaming is dying” from an occasional comment into this monster of a bandwagon. I suspect it doesn’t help that Valve remain tight lipped as ever about sales over Steam, goodness only knows why.

  9. Heliocentricity says:

    I’m with Pidesco once digital distributiongrows and retailers throw a hissy fit and start refusing to stock pc games everyone who cares about pc will digitially distribute.

    Then all of a sudden publishers will GTFO and the profit will be in the hands of the devs, this doesnt effect EA too much as they publish alot as well as devving, however they will see a more direct cash spent to cash earnt ratio.

    What he meant in terms of “major release”i’d really like to know though, 5 million boxes? 10? 20?

    Does one book have to define the market, is that the case in movies and music too?

    I mean, i’m sure it was the case in the lord of the rings movie years, but otherwise?

  10. Steam Report says:

    Maybe if EA had a better download service it would help matters. I didn’t think twice about buying the boxed version of Crysis rather than downloading via EA’s abysmal online store.

  11. Butler` says:

    It’s not been the best few years for PC gaming outside of perhaps The Orange Box and The Burning Crusade. My 2007 top 5 were 80% console (or multiplatform that I played on console) titles, which is a travesty by anyone’s reckoning.

    There’s still far too much hoopla surrounding the “PC platform’s demise” though – it’s evolving not dying.

  12. Jonathan says:

    Darn, it looks like the PC really is dying. The only games I can play now are Supreme Commander, Company of Heroes, Penumbra, Witcher, Demigod, World in Conflict, Space, The Entire Total War Series, Civilization, Sins of a Solar Empire, Trackmania, Guild Wars, Dawn of War 2, Starcraft 2, Fallout 3, S.T.A.L.K.E.R, Dragon Age, The Experiment and Spore.

    I think its wonderfully ironic that in publishing Valve they ruined their own business. But really he sounded kind of muffled. I think he should have stood up before he spoke.

  13. Seniath says:

    EA Aren’t Giving Up On PCs

    Nor are they going to let them down, run around or desert them.

    Sorry. I couldn’t help it…

  14. Myros says:

    IMO what’s happening here is connected to the stock market based economic model. With the advent of multi-mergers and an ever shrinking pool of mega publishers the driving force is the stock owners and stock price not the industry or products.

    Take for example the SF newspaper (I forget which one) which makes 10 million PROFIT each year. This paper is considered a failure by the owning corporation and the stock market system because it makes 10 million profit each year … ie it doesnt make more profit each year than it did the year before. Nobody cares that its a quality product, its users love it and is a consistent money maker. Its not growing so its dying in the view of it’s corporate masters.

    The same kind of attitude has infected the PC games market it seems to me. Each title has to break new records, make more than WoW and the sims etc or its a ‘failure’ and the industry is dying.

    It’s kinda sad when an industry becomes more focused on the stock price rather than the product because the model becomes unsustainable eventualy. I’m by no means an economic major so I’m sure others can tear this appart but it sure seems to be a growing problem to me.

    The other thing that has struck me recently is that these types of comments have been coming from so many different sources. Did we miss a meeting? The one where it was decided to kill the PC market? ;) I’m usualy the first to laugh at a ‘conspiracy theory’ but does it seem to anyone else that there is a concentrated and coordinated effort going on to create something out of nothing here? LOL I have no idea, but something stinks.

    Myros

  15. Heliocentricity says:

    actually, when you include infaltion?

    10 million this year is less than 10 million last year.

    so… its decelerating.

  16. pauleyc says:

    “The state of PC gaming has seen a disappointing trend of no major releases in the last couple of years.”

    That deserves just a /facepalms reaction. Now where’s this Gamespot thread with all the upcoming games (exclusives and multi-platform) for 2008/9? Never can’t find the damn thing when it’s needed…

  17. itsallcrap says:

    Um… isn’t it kind of obvious that box sales will decrease as online sales become more and more commonplace?

    Why is this a bad thing?

  18. Mooey Poo says:

    All the games that have been in various piracy crises in the past few weeks – Crysis, Spore, Mass Effect, Madden – have been distributed or will be distributed by EA. I don’t think EA are the solution, I think they’re the problem.

  19. Ginger Yellow says:

    Leaving aside PC gaming for a moment, am I the only one who thought EA’s results were abysmal? Most people attributed the loss to the Bioware/Pandemic acquisition, but before taking into account the acquisition they still made a $487m operating loss in the biggest year ever for video game sales.

  20. Jonathan says:

    Reply to itsallcrap

    Because EA don’t get a share in that. Thats why they’re declaring it dead.

  21. Crispy says:

    To add to what Arsewisely said, EA’s biggest UK seller was the multi-platform, shodware Harry Potter, which simultaneously generated revenue of 17m and reviews averaging 68 (with the more trustworthy -IMO- Eurogamer and GameInformer handing out 50 and 65 respectively). Metacritic, provider of said score, describes a 68 as ‘mixed or average reviews’. Clearly, EA as a whole is more concerned with making money than making good games.

    That said, Mirror’s Edge, BFH, Spore and CnC 3 all show promise, so perhaps in 2008 EA might deliver. But there’s still no way I’m getting L4D from EA if I can get it direct from Valve.

  22. rocketeer says:

    Perhaps not the adjective I’d like to use, but that’s a pretty fucking stupid comment from John Riccitiello.

    Of course, any points he had won with me with finally trying to change the business model with BF Heroes, he lost with the BS copy protection on ME and Spore.

  23. Guido says:

    Well, all the games EA released recently were re-releases of the previous year’s sport titles :) So I guess what he said about no major releases is true when he’s talking about EA – that company has lost the will to innovate decades ago.

  24. Ginger Yellow says:

    I seem to be the only person who thinks the copy protection furore was massively overblown. First, you don’t have to use the CD, which is huge – what’s the point of multi-gig installs if you still have to keep the disc in the drive? Second, it’s not that much more onerous than Steam. Unless they’ve changed the system since I was locked out of HL2 for several months, an unexpected internet/Steam outage will still stop you playing immediately if you didn’t select “offline mode” when you had online access. At least EA’s version gave you a few days.

  25. RichPowers says:

    I’m telling you: there’s either a massive conspiracy to convince consumers that PC gaming is “dead” (hence all this nonsensical rhetoric from the corporate suits) OR all of these people really are nothing but MBA marketing idiots with no understanding of what’s going on.

    @Ginger: The outrage stems from the fact that SecuROM is arguably malware and that Mass Effect limits you to three installs forever. Everyone realizes crackers will circumvent this, so paying customers are once again provided an inferior product.

  26. Lightbulb says:

    Well done John you’ve identified the fact that EA’s PC games are shit. Now do something about it!

  27. Jochen Scheisse says:

    The Pc gaming market is doomed. We will have so-so console adaptions and indie games. We will be like the Coca Cola league of gaming!!! Quick, the stores are still open, let’s all buy that crappy major game we didn’t care about before!

  28. KingMob says:

    Why bother giving these comments any more press?

    Honestly, I’m sure we’re all sick of hearing “PC gaming is dead” from various sources. Better to just ignore them as they ignore the actual market trends.

  29. cliffski says:

    id rather EA thought it WAS dead. I could do with less console ports and more dedicated PC games by people like stardock.

  30. Nick says:

    Dear EA man: Shut up. Thank you.

  31. dhex says:

    I’m telling you: there’s either a massive conspiracy to convince consumers that PC gaming is “dead” (hence all this nonsensical rhetoric from the corporate suits) OR all of these people really are nothing but MBA marketing idiots with no understanding of what’s going on.

    alternate explanation: there’s a market shift going on, and in terms of justifying their changing strategies, several companies have found this a convenient drum to bang.

    as far as these publishers and developers are concerned, pc gaming *is* dying. they’re just overstating the case. :)

  32. spd from Russia says:

    what a truckload of pathetic lamenting from the EA boss!
    EA has a bunch of titles that sell excellent on PC, in EU ofcourse. But the USA PC market for ‘traditional’ games is dead indeed (except for MMOs and casual games )

    And btw all the EA haters are blind. Sure EA mass-produces sequels and sport titles – but they are decent, quality games. And they publish and develop original titles as well.

  33. fluffy bunny says:

    “id rather EA thought it WAS dead. I could do with less console ports and more dedicated PC games by people like stardock.”

    Yeah, fuck you Spore, Mirror’s Edge, Dragon Age, …, we don’t need your kind as long as we have Stardock!

    And when EA buys Take Two, we can also say the same to Max Payne , Civilization, Mafia, X-Com,… that’ll be great.

    Oh. I forgot. I’m not really that keen on Stardock’s games. Sins was good, but GalCiv has always been Civ-but-not-as-good to me.

  34. scopie says:

    Meh. Whatever.

    If EA were saying this about my favorite console, I’d be worried. But, with Steam steadily gaining… steam, and indie studios blossoming everywhere, EA’s relevance in the PC realm is a bit more muted.

  35. sigma83 says:

    Whee anti-pc sentiment in the mainstream games industry. Where are my fries with that shake?

  36. Lavitz says:

    OKay i am waiting for one more developer to come out trash the pc before i go and pick up a console. Why do these people even need come out and say shit about the pc? I think its all microsoft fault. If mircosoft didnt own windows im sure theses companies would’t trash the pc so much. Anyways guys should move to consoles even thinkin about it is painful :S
    Edit:
    Why do you guys care for idie gaming seriously im sorry but the reason you buy a pc is to have to have bleeding edge tech running on it. Indie games well they are indie games and steam won’t fullfil all our needs. IDK what i am going to do :S

  37. SwiftRanger says:

    I think he is a bit confused about why the EA high-profile autumn/holiday titles of 2007 didn’t make the same splash (on PC) as some other titles did on consoles. MoH: Airborne, Hellgate: London, Crysis, The Orange Box… they probably made some good money on PC but that’s likely not enough for EA when they see what CoD4 or Halo 3 did. They’re just jealous and are only thinking about making a lot more money instead of just making money. Not surprising to hear that from a business guy.

    Anyway, C&C3 also didn’t do that bad at retail, isn’t it? The PC version outsold the Xbox360 version in the US and despite being the “pinnacle” of RTS mediocrity that game is still selling like cupcakes there. Ah well, the man doesn’t want to believe I guess…

    EDIT: about it all being Microsoft’s fault; well, just look at what exactly MS is promoting right now at the MS Gamer’s Day, barely a mention of Games for Windows, all Xbox360 stuff (with maybe a PC port later but they sure won’t tell you that now, Rockstar-style). No, I don’t think we have to look at the big guns to take the PC seriously.

  38. hmmmm says:

    Actually, have there been any PC exclusives (or even PC versions of multi-plat games) that came out in the past couple of years that broke 2 million in sales? AFAIK BF2 managed it, and there are the WoW expansions and maybe HL2:E1 and Bejewelled 2? Compared to the numbers Halo/Gears/Zelda and even crap like Mario Party etc regularly get that’s not a very good showing.
    Of course, if you can’t manage to make a profit on your game when you only sell a mere million copies then you’re probably in the wrong business.

  39. UncleLou says:

    Actually, have there been any PC exclusives (or even PC versions of multi-plat games) that came out in the past couple of years that broke 2 million in sales

    I am not sure many PC games managed to sell that much in the last 20 years, to be honest.

  40. c0wb0ys7y13 says:

    WTF are they talking about “The state of PC gaming has seen a disappointing trend of no major releases in the last couple of years.”

    Would someone like to tell me what orange box is if not a major title release?

  41. cyrenic says:

    According to wikipedia half life 2 has sold more than 4 million copies.

    I think it’s also a reasonable assumption the orange box sold more than 2 million copies (if you count steam sales as well).

  42. RichPowers says:

    Swift: That raises an interesting question: is PC gaming better off without MS’s heavy-handed involvement?

    MS’s effort to unify PC gaming collapsed under the combined weight of half-assedness and gimmicks. No one wants to pay for Windows Live!, or have GFW become an extension of the Xbox sandbox, and personally I don’t like DX10 being used as a carrot for Vista, however much that benefits MS’s bottom line. And the GFW label is supposed to mean certain standards are met, none of which are enforced or accurately represented. Outside of Flight Sim and Age of Empires, does MS even deal with PC gaming anymore?

    On the other hand, some small part of me hopes that PC games OF THE FUTURE! use OpenGL and focus on OS interoperability, MS be damned.

  43. redrain85 says:

    This seems to be the week for game execs to say incredibly stupid things . . . first the producer on Force Unleashed at LucasArts with his “you need a $4000 PC to play our game”, and now this.

    /facepalms

  44. SwiftRanger says:

    “Swift: That raises an interesting question: is PC gaming better off without MS’s heavy-handed involvement?”

    Well, the points you raise would suggest a big “yes!” to that answer but if it isn’t MS then some other big company will probably move in to squeeze the dollars out of our pockets with poor products we never really asked for (Vista, Live). I think MS has always been trying to impose a console-like business on PC but even now they fail to understand that that just isn’t working on an open platform. If they’re serious about “saving” the PC as a games platform (it doesn’t need saving imo but all help is welcome, isn’t it?) then they should be willing to accept that they’re not the only ones holding the cards and they should get rid of the “sell it first, make it work properly later”-mindset. All that probably won’t happen, I really can’t imagine that the Games for Windows- and Windows OS-guys would ever sit together with the hardware side or the likes of Valve or any other publisher/developer just to do something for the greater good. Their glorified “Vista+GfW Live connected to all things made by MS”-hype never took on (and definitely didn’t furfill all promises) and they should be asking themselves “why?”. It’s their own fault (again), they’re just not trying to do anything about it.

  45. vic says:

    The more majors that leave PC gaming the safer hands it is left in.

  46. Kanakotka says:

    While the “no major releases” is absolute bullshit, how can they compare sales of everyone with only their own sales as data? Even 10 year old children know that EA’s rep isn’t very… good.

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