Peter Moore Hates Your PC

By John Walker on July 4th, 2008 at 4:01 pm.

Foot-to-ball - popular with the masses we're told.

He clearly doesn’t, and that’s just the sort of reactionary nonsense he’s clearly hoping to avoid. But a recent post on his blog, regarding EA’s decision to stop making their Sports franchises for PC, isn’t quite as heartwarming as he might wish. It seems the reaction to EA Sports’ games becoming console only has been pretty vocal, so Moore has responded by laying out exactly why the PC is to be abandoned. So let’s take a look at his argument.

The PC as a platform for authentic, fully-licensed, simulation sports games has declined radically in the past three years as the next generation consoles, with their high definition graphics and 5.1 sound capabilities have attracted millions of consumers to eschew the “lean in” PC sports gaming experience for the “lean back” full room console experience.

I think there’s probably a great deal of truth to this “lean in/lean back” theory. Of course some of you will have your PCs hooked up to your 900″ plasmatronic in your home theatre, enjoyed from the comfort of your ergonomic massage-o-couch, but the vast majority of PC gamers are sat at some form of desk. However, it’s crucial to point out that as the sales have declined, so has the quality of EA Sports releases. For instance, the flagship Fifa series’ scores in PC Gamer UK:

Fifa 06 – 83%
Fifa 07 – 71%
Fifa 08 – 66%

NBA Live 03 on PC gets a Metascore of 80, while 08′s basketballer only reaches 67. NHL 2001 gets 90, but NHL 08 scores a weak 65. This has been a steady decline across most of the ranges, so it can’t be any wonder that sales have dropped too.

But the console versions are selling well, you may point out. Remarkably, NHL 08 has a Metascore twenty points higher on consoles. The PC ports, and they are so distinctly ports, are of a much poorer quality. It seems a stunning ommission in the argument to not acknowledge this.

The console graphics for the NHL series are leagues (fnar) ahead of the other series. For some reason.

The business model for PC games is evolving from packaged goods to a download model. The on-line experience is paramount, and hundreds of companies in this space are experimenting with direct-to-consumer revenue models, incorporating premium downloadable content, sponsored downloads, micro-transactions, subscriptions and massive tournament play.

This is unquestionably true. It is, in fact, the perfect response to those who proclaim PC sales are falling. “AT RETAIL!” you must reply, before pointing out not only the phenomenon of PC gaming figures online, but that these falling retail claims are a tad dubious. Thing is, Mr Moore, EA have an online store offering downloadable games, so it’s not the strongest reason.

While NBA has sat still graphically for a couple of years.

Piracy is an issue. Sorry, I know many of you disagree with me on this, but the numbers don’t lie. Companies spend millions developing content, and deserve to see a return on investment for their risk. The employees developing the game design, writing code and creating art deserve to get paid for their work. Period.

It had to happen. It’s very disappointing to see the words “the numbers don’t lie,” without a link to any numbers. It’s not surprising either, as the numbers that do exist aren’t very convincing. (Well, they often are, but for the opposing argument).

I would also raise an extremely serious issue with “and deserve to see a return on investment for their risk.” No they absolutely do not! No one “deserves” anything of the sort. Companies that generate superb content with broad appeal you’d hope would see return. Companies that spend millions producing substandard products for a medium they treat dismissively deserve not to see a return. Business.

Also, conflating employee pay with return on investment is extremely disingenuous. Of course your employees deserve to be paid. However, if they produce substandard work not of a quality to see good sales, I’d suggest they should no longer be your employees. If employees are paid based on the sales of the product, rather than for their time creating them, then the products need to be really good. EA Sports’ games on PC haven’t been for a long time, and anyone agreeing to that contract is taking a serious risk of their own choosing.

American Foot-to-ball is a mystery only to be explained in the ancient texts of the Incas.

Businesses have to make hard trade offs for where to invest for the best return, thus creating capital to make even more games. They have to take expensive risks in our hits and misses industry with new intellectual property to keep the games available to gamers fresh, innovative and pushing the technical boundaries of the hardware platforms. I know this concept touches a nerve with some of you, but our industry is founded on publishers that have driven for financially-successful games and then re-invested the proceeds in development of even more content for gamers to enjoy. It’s a simple financial premise, and an obligation for publically-traded companies who answer to their shareholders. We are not making games in garages or bedrooms any more.

A couple of years back, EA making an argument based on taking risks with new intellectual property would have had me cough out coffee I wasn’t even drinking. Things certainly have changed at EA in those regards, so he gets away with it. However, I’d go back to my point that were they to be making stunning PC sports games, it would be very interesting to see if the same logic applied.

In order to make fundamental shifts in an ecosystem, you sometimes have to hit the reset button. That’s what we have done this year at EA SPORTS as regards some of our franchises on the PC. That does not mean that we aren’t coming back next year with new, innovative, maybe even less-expensive ways to play all of our franchises on the PC, but for right now we are assessing all of the options open to us to shift the current paradigm for our games on this platform.

As soon as I hear something explained away as to do with “paradigm shifts”, I start hearing bird twittering noises. I think what he’s saying is, “We’re trying to think of a new way of approaching the PC market with our sports games.” And if he is, then great. I think EA need to do that very much. EA Sports need to start treating the PC with some dignity, rather than a last-minute thought once the consoles are taken care of. Downloadable, online-focused sporting games, at a decent price, would be a superb idea.

Are you a dedicated fan of EA Sports games on PC? Or were you, and what stopped you buying them? And most of all, how would you like to see EA approach the PC sporting market in the future?

Via PalGN.au

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114 Comments »

  1. RiptoR says:

    The PC ports, and they are so distinctly ports, are of a much poorer quality. It seems a stunning ommission in the argument to not acknowledge this.

    So true.

    Got both PC and Xbox360 versions of Fifa 08 and Tiger Woods 08 (and almost all other sports games that EA released in the 08 edition too, I love being a reviewer :p), and the PC versions are no where near the quality and polish of the console versions. This is probably due to the PC versions being ports of the PS2 games, but still.

    Tiger Woods for example plays like a charm on the 360 and it looks extremely nice for a golf game, while the PC version is a pain to play and is a joke graphics wise.

    I don’t think it’s a wonder the PC versions score so low compared to older iterations…

    I used to buy each new Fifa game a couple of years back, but ever since PES reared it’s head on the PC, I’ve switched over to that. Simple reason being that the quality and gameplay is a lot better in PES.

  2. Nallen says:

    Having clearly made the case that EA Sports’ products on the PC are terrible and don’t sell I think you’ll be hard pressed to find someone upset about this. I couldn’t care less.

    I have to say I’ve never played the EA Sports stuff based on the assertion they represent everything that’s wrong with the way EA used(?) to run their operations. The idea of actually paying money for Madden 58 or whatever makes me physically recoil.

    In fact driving games aside the only sport related product from any publisher I know of people playing on the PC (let alone play myself) is Champ/Football manager.

  3. sigma83 says:

    The fact that an input system has yet to be developed for the PC that is as good as the multi-gamepad split screen multiplay for sports games (which is part of the big deal, obv) is also a major stumbling block

  4. Dexton says:

    Personally I have never liked sports games, however even I can see the difference between playing those games on your own in your room at your desk and with your mates in a living room.

    Although I never really played I even enjoyed watching my old university housemates playing a highly competitive match of Fifa on the PS2. That is not to say that competitive sports games don’t have a future on the PC, but the future must be online and with rankings and offical tournaments.

  5. cyrenic says:

    I’ve never thought sports games were that great a fit for PC. But the only time I ever play sports games is local multiplayer with friends, so I guess that makes sense :P.

  6. sigma83 says:

    I seriously think they’re missing a HUGE market segment by not pushing the PC’s obviously superior online capabilities, but that’s corporate conglomeramania for you

  7. implain that says:

    I don’t think it’s a question of living room vs study for everyone. Both my PC and consoles are hooked up to the same screen, and both have the same number of gamepads attached. Yet I still got FIFA on PS2, because I wanted something I could infallibly operate whilst pissed…

  8. Nero says:

    I made fan pages for NHL 97-2002 with info and roster update downloads (some are still online this day) but I just got sick of it after that. I think NHL 08 was a port from the PS2 version and it promised the skill stick on the cover, but there was no real skill stick option like in the 360/PS3 versions. Also releasing a FIFA 2008 (or UEFA 2008 can’t remember) demo with no place to set any video options so it ran in like 640×480 some crap like that, and the only way to set options was to download a user created trainer that did this. Um, no wonder PC players doesn’t give a crap.

    They have gotten my money in the past but until they begin (which is unlikely) to make the PC version the same as the best versions I won’t buy a EA Sports PC game again.

    NHL 97 still rocks with it’s awesome music, not like these days with licensed garbage music.

  9. Paul Moloney says:

    I suppose I should be upset in the spirit of Martin Niemöller’s poem (“When EA stopped publishing sports games, I remained silent and indeed snorted, for I think sports games sucketh majorly.”) and I’m _trying_ to work myself up into a frenzy of outrage, but I can’t. I wouldn’t play the best sports game in the world, never mind Midden’s American Braindamaged Morons Hitting Each Other June 2008 Edition. Admittedly, I did get 10 minutes of fun from Wii boxing, but that passed quickly.

    But I suppose it’s not good if any company pulls out of a particular genre of PC games, for any reason. This will probably continue to happen as long as Microsoft considers PC gaming to be the Xbox 360′s nerdy deformed brother, a sort of Monster of Glamis type character not fit for refined company. I mean, what does Kevin Unangst actually _do_? The only difference I’ve seen Gaming for Windows making is to the top inch on the front of game cases.

    P.

  10. Talorc says:

    I haven’t played a sports game on my PC ever. I think the last vaguely sport related game I played was decathlon, california games or summer games on the C64. But I must admit that that it is pretty ballsy (in a good way) by Peter to post that on his blog.

    Who knows, maybe he might even take on board some valid points, such as the crapness of the ports.

  11. Ross B says:

    I think invoking Metacritic to show the quality of the PC ports was in poor-form, but I agree with your sentiments.

    I’d like to see EA do a bunch of licensed 3D PC Downloadable games with micro transactions or ad supported and low system requirements, I think my soccer loving friends would enjoy that.

  12. Taxman says:

    I’m honestly surprised anyone plays sports games on a PC these days at all. I wonder how much of the “criticism” is from people who are just PC fanboys and dont want to see EA stop supporting sports titles on the PC even though they dont actually buy the games to begin with.

    As for numbers they did mention one off hand in industrygamer interview it was for madden and the last version sold 20 copies on the PS2 alone for every 1 copy sold on the PC, not good numbers so I can see why EA wouldn’t want to bother with a low volume product.

  13. Stuart W says:

    I used to buy every annual instalment of Fifa until about 4 years ago when i switched to PES. I still played a demo of every Fifa incarnation since, comparing it with Konami’s effort, but always sided with the latter and thus always purchased it.

    It was just a quality thing for me – i bought the best football title that was available and in recent years that wasn’t an EA product. It’s a shame that EA react to that by pulling out of the market.

  14. Paul says:

    I bought Fifa 98(my first EA sports game) which was a great game. Years later i bought Fifa 2005 and it was total crap.
    After the 05 disapointment i got pro evo 6 and have never looked back since.

    I think EA should approach the PC sporting market with innovative ideas instead of slightly tweaking gameplay and graphics each year. Giving their develepors a longer deadline instead of bringing a new edition every 12 months would definately improve the quality of their sports games.

  15. Andrew Stomps says:

    meh, EA sucks anyways

  16. Frank says:

    Doesn’t bother me. The last realistic sports game I played was EPYX World Games. Maybe they’re missing a business op, but…meh.

  17. Meat Circus says:

    PC GAMER KILLED PC GAMING.

    Um.

  18. Po0py says:

    PC version of Fifa 08 was not the Fifa 08 that they were marketing. It did not have any of the new next-gen features that the 360 version had and many people purchased it thinking it was finally going to rock on the pc. Obviously they didn’t read the small print.

    You need to test some quality fifa games out on the pc before you can dismiss it as a viable platform for your games.

    Cowards.

  19. Paul Moloney says:

    I must admit, the idea of paying full price every single year for virtually the same game strikes me as weird. The strange thing to me is not that EA is pulling out of the PC sports game market, but how they ever manage to conjure up such a gold mine in the first place.

    I mean, I love Oblivion, but I can’t imagine buying a new version every year (“Oblivion 2008 – now with extra helmets”).

    P.

  20. Legandir says:

    “Are you a dedicated fan of EA Sports games on PC? Or were you, and what stopped you buying them? And most of all, how would you like to see EA approach the PC sporting market in the future?”

    First, they need to come up with a control scheme that takes advantage of the pc’s controls rather than bypass it by practically forcing people to use gamepads. Keyboard and mouse control is one of the pc’s greatest assets and if they put some thought into it im sure they could come up with a great control scheme.

    I have a control scheme in my head for a football game that i fully intend to make. It won’t be licensed and it probably won’t be pretty, but i’m confident that the control scheme is at least as good and maybe even better than the usual gamepad

  21. Meat Circus says:

    So, PC gaming is changing. Yes. Is it for the better or the worse?

    If you’re Epic, and nobody wants to play your braindead homoeroticism outside a 360- bad.

    If you’re EA Sports and are worried that PC gamers are too smart to fall for your “same old game with new rosters” trick: bad.

    If you’re everybody else: ACE.

  22. Radiant says:

    Nearly every thing Moore says is sprinkled with a nasty dose of spitefulness.
    Either for his subject matter or towards the person that he is talking to.

    Dumping the sports line for the pc is probably the smart thing to do but he didn’t have to get thousands of people’s backs up in the process.

    Seems like a bit of a wanker.

  23. Ian says:

    I’d be interested to see a PC footy game try out a system like Pro Evo has on the Wii, which is arguably the best of the ’08 crop of footsoccer games.

  24. Kanakotka says:

    Someone is still actually buying Fifa 2008, revision 21 or NHL 2008 revision 24982479 ? They started to get old at -96 already. I see this as huge loss for the PC industry as losing the next release of Big Fish Games or some other garbage pump.

  25. cullnean says:

    to my mmo loving self it makes no odds anyhoo, i mean apart from mangement sims who buys/uses a pc for sports games?

  26. Radiant says:

    @Legendir have you played PES on the wii?
    The way they re-jigged the entire game for the controls was awesome.

    The main issue with wasd and mouse controls for sports games on the pc is that the keyboard is actually a really clumsy piece of kit when compared to the simplicity of an analogue thumbstick or even a d pad.

    With our casual games [I don't work for EA] we see a huge drop off of repeat play when we use wasd controls compared to when we just use a mouse.
    The current thinking is that its because of the increased complexity.

    /We’re/ used to it but everyone else is not.

  27. Flubb says:

    diningenuous? :)

  28. Pepito says:

    The only experience I have with sports games on PC (besides Hyperblade) is an in-class tournament we had in primary school on some crappy old 2D soccer game for Macintosh. I made it to the final round but lost to the principal’s son because he was allowed to use the keyboard and I had to use the mouse. Bitterness ensued.

    Anyway, when I hear “less-expensive” in regards to online games, I hear “casual.” Not that sports games can get much more casual… or maybe I’m just underestimating EA. Yeah, I’m gonna go for the latter.

  29. John Walker says:

    Good grief, I must have read through this piece 30 times, and didn’t spot that.

  30. Sean Ridgeley says:

    Excellent story man. I was going to write something on it for one of the sites I write for but I think you covered it all. :)

  31. James T says:

    I seriously think they’re missing a HUGE market segment by not pushing the PC’s obviously superior online capabilities, but that’s corporate conglomeramania for you

    It’s a conglomeramaniarama! I’d be interested to know what a conglomeramaniaramologist would make of this.

  32. Legandir says:

    @Radiant: I haven’t played PES on the wii but i’ve heard about its controls, they sound interesting and slightly similar to mine. Not quite the same but close. I would love to play it to see what they’re like but i cant afford it :(

  33. MetalCircus says:

    Oh my gooooood, no more sports games. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO!?

  34. James G says:

    I’m not surprised frankly. I don’t tend to play sports games myself, but have plenty of friends who do. And all of them play them in groups, slouched down on the sofa, and often with beer around. While as others have pointed out there is absolutely nothing that stops you doing this with a PC, it is an environment to which the console is better adapted. In the case of my brothers their gaming is almost exclusively confined to Pro Evo (on the 360) and Football Manager on the PC.

  35. c-Row says:

    Oh my gooooood, no more sports games. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO!?

    Participate in real sports for a change, maybe? Oh no, wait, SC2 and D3 are just around the corner…

  36. restricted3 says:

    Peter Moore is an idiot, so I kind of don’t mind whatever he says.

    All the EA Sports game have been shit for a long time, anyway. FIFA Football 2008 (yeah, Football, not Soccer) is FIFA 2001 with prettier graphics… as are FIFA 2007, FIFA 2006, FIFA 2005… well, you get my meaning.

    EA doesn’t deserve to sell shit on any of their sport franchises. And if Peter Moore can’t acknowledge any of this and instead blames piracy like every other shitty developer that doesn’t sell as much as he wanted (I won’t even say ‘expected’ anymore), he’s only making it harder for me to buy his next game.

    I hate to give money to whiners. Specially if their games are not good and/or I played the exact same game 8 years ago, with less polygons and no bloom.

  37. Okami says:

    I don’t like Peter Moore, so I guess it’s kinda ok. Hearing about all the money he got for moving to EA reminded me why I’m still a communist at heart..

  38. Yhancik says:

    Would you play Stalker in a couch ?
    NO WAI !

    I’m a deskcore player

  39. Rodafowa says:

    As for numbers they did mention one off hand in industrygamer interview it was for madden and the last version sold 20 copies on the PS2 alone for every 1 copy sold on the PC, not good numbers so I can see why EA wouldn’t want to bother with a low volume product

    It was alluded to in the article, but as a wise man once said – you’re gonna reap just what you sow.

    The PC ports of Madden has been at least a generation behind the corresponding console versions for… oooh, ever. I’ve been playing them since Madden 2004 in the main because I don’t want to take up the family TV for the hours it takes to play through a Madden franchise, and aspects of the game have been borderline-broken all that time.

    Given that it’s hardly a game series that’s renowned for its innovation, it’s particularly galling that issues like any controller button remaps not working in the Practice or Superstar modes kept recurring year after year. And the PC port of the game only got working Jumbotrons in the stadia with its last iteration, despite them being in the console games since the first PS2 version.

    Honestly, is it any surprise that anyone with the option would choose to play the game on a console? “Piracy is an issue” my enormous hairy ARSE.

  40. Paul Moloney says:

    Maybe we can get Ian Paisley to go spank his ass:

    http://kotaku.com/5022173/ea-sports-very-sorry-for-irish-anthem-screw+up

    P.

  41. Dolphan says:

    I don’t understand the justification for the PC version of Fifa 08 being a port of the far inferior PS2 version. The 360 version is excellent, by far the best football game I’ve played, having skipped 07 which is apparently where the major improvements came in. Why not port that?

  42. Ginger Yellow says:

    “I’d be interested to see a PC footy game try out a system like Pro Evo has on the Wii, which is arguably the best of the ‘08 crop of footsoccer games.”

    It’s not even arguable. It’s the best footy game I’ve played in years. It would be awesome on the PC with proper graphics, good online and mouse control.

  43. implain that says:

    Dolphan – system requirements. Still, it’s a shame they don’t use the PS2 graphics engine and 360 game code, since most PCs these days have a 360-level CPU and PS2-level graphics card. But of course that would be tricky and probably require lots of work to get the animations right.
    Also, people who don’t like sports games – try Virtua Tennis, it’s brilliant.

  44. Commando says:

    Don’t know how there can be any moaning about keyboard and mouse controls when the Xbox 360 wired controller works like a dream. Yes it’s an accessory you have to buy but it works great for quite a lot of games, like Trackmania!

  45. Meat Circus says:

    I’m just laughing at c-Row, who thinks that Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 are ‘just around the corner’. Chortle.

  46. dan^ says:

    What we really need is for someone to release a decent update of Sensible World of Soccer. (And not, for instance, the pile o’ cack that was Sensible Soccer 2006.)

  47. theapologist says:

    Quality is clearly massively important, and isn’t online the other big deal here they are ignoring?

    This sounds like a division of a big company that doesn’t want to think differently, as it knows what it’s doing with console actiony games.

    That’s also why Football Manager Live will be hugely popular and Sports Interactive will make tonnes of cash from it, while FIFA disappears and no-one cares.

  48. Optimaximal says:

    The fact that an input system has yet to be developed for the PC that is as good as the multi-gamepad split screen multiplay for sports games (which is part of the big deal, obv) is also a major stumbling block

    As much as I hate giving MS more money, you can happily plug 4 Xbox 360 pads into a PC these days…

  49. RichPowers says:

    We’re all puzzled by the revelation that some people actually play sports games on the PC. The next step is to find said people and terminate them.

  50. Nick says:

    Oh.. dear god.. no more EA sports games of ever decreasing quality.. what ever shall we do?

    How will we live without a yearly update of the same game barely changing anything?

    Still, all that hard work and innovation and risk (!) certainly deserves to turn a profit.

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