There was a time when EA seemed to churn out nothing but Madden, craptastical movie license games and sequels. They were all about parlaying brand recognition into sales, with innovation and quality taking a back seat. But under CEO John Riccitiello, EA has been embracing new IP such as Dead Space, and has published innovative, ground-breaking titles such as Mirror's Edge.
The result? They've lost their shorts. Sales are down. So earnings are down. (You'd almost think the entire world was short on cash.) EA's shareholders are pissed. "Not to fear!" says EA. "We're gonna focus our future investments on titles with the greatest 'hit potential'!"
If you're like me, you're worried that focusing on "hit potential" means returning to their old sequel-factory ways. And it may be that leaning back in that direction will result in a healthier balance sheet. But I worry that EA will be too quick to blame innovation and new IP for bad sales rather than another major factor: timing of releases.
I should have bought and played Dead Space and Mirror's Edge, but I didn't. But it wasn't because the words "Star Wars" didn't appear in their titles. It's because they came out in the midst of a flood of high profile, AAA titles. Take note EA! I would definitely have bought both Dead Space and Mirror's Edge had I not already been buried in Fable 2, Fallout 3, LBP and Rock Band 2. Even us gamers with full-time jobs can't buy everything ('cept Jervo).
Look at Bioshock. A new IP which certainly tried some things that hadn't been done in a shooter before. And it was released in August, when it had the whole hype machine all to itself. The result? Mofo sold by the bucketful!
Before EA tosses innovation and new IP over its shoulder, I really hope they'll at least try releasing a few of its more "experimental" titles in the spring or summer, when gamers actually have dollars in their pockets that aren't pledged to Gears of War 4.