John Riccitello, EA’s head honcho, recently went on record with NPR’s (National Public Radio) Morning Edition segment talking some pretty honest talk about the company’s presence in the social gaming market. To sum in his words: “I’d say we’re a distant number two.”
Riccitello talks about how he would like EA to be number one “in every possible area, in every geography,” but with Zynga ruling the social gaming landscape, which has become nothing short of huge over the last few years, that’s looking like quite the uphill battle. But in a sort of defense of his company, Riccitello states that their main competitor treats themselves as a data company, while EA poses itself as an entertainment company, which he feels will give them more life in the long haul. “I think that [their model] will eventually die. Consumers want to be entertained, they don’t want to be data managed,” he states.
Despite this claim, the segment then goes on to explain how EA is planning to out-data mine their competitors with “techniques like machine learning and neural nets, to figure out what will happen next so that we can tailor the game and experiences to delight our customers,” according to newly appointed Chief Technology Officer Rajet Taneja. Translation: Figure out what people want before the people themselves do. In order to do this, a massive restructuring of the company is in order, which will lead to a whole lot more engineers, and a neither confirmed nor denied cutting of 1000 jobs. Quite the shift for a business model that will supposedly die.
Clearly, EA has quite the eye on the social gaming space. As someone who isn’t really a social gamer, I’m more curious to see how this shift in focus will affect their “hardcore” library. Will we see fewer efforts from them? Riccitello talks about being number one in every possible area, but the buzz in the report suggests otherwise. Maybe they are trying to plan ahead. Take a bigger slice of the social gaming pie to better fund the entertainment side of things in the future? It’s not like they’re number one in many fields at the moment anyway, so may as well aim for the biggest profits.
But whatever, just keep the Battlefield series going strong and I won’t complain much.