EA Creative Officer Responds To Disappointing 2013 Launches

Published 8 months ago by

Electronic Arts Press Conferences E3 2011 Live

Like the hapless humans in a monster movie, it’s easy to feel insignificant up against the might of a major publisher. Triple-A games development is after all a high stakes, multi-billion dollar business. So, while Electronic Arts‘ Mecha-Godzilla may be all-too eager to tear into Activision’s own Mothra, neither side is particularly moved by the concerns of the screaming people below.

Sure, there’s always petitions, negative Metacritic ratings, infamous consumer studies and more, but at the end of the day almost all decision-making power remains with these mammoth commercial entities. Take EA’s 2013 performance as an example. The publishing powerhouse endured not one, but two major controversies last year, when it botched the release of both SimCity and later, Battlefield 4.

Despite issuing a series of vague-at-best explanations and apologies, a recent interview conducted by RockPaperShotgun appears to find the company in a largely unrepentant mood. Taken at this year’s D.I.C.E developers summit in Las Vegas, the lightning quick Q & A begins with an open criticism of both episodes, an opinion EA’s chief creative officer Rich Hilleman fails to share:

Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product on both consoles and PC. From a sales perspective, from a gameplay perspective… I think there was a lot of noise about the game, but some of that is a function of your surface area. The more customers you have, the more noise becomes available. We did things wrong. We know that. We’re gonna fix those things. We’re gonna try to be smart about what customers want in the future.

“But I’m not willing to accept — and I don’t think most of my customers are willing to say — “it’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.” That’s not the conversation we’re having now. I think what we’re hearing is, “You made a game we really liked. We would’ve liked it a little better if it didn’t have these problems.” Many of those problems we can fix, and we have and will.”

Knee-jerk reaction or not, it’s likely many early adopters would describe their experiences of SimCity and Battlefield 4 as “bad.” Hilleman’s attempts to defend the games as high quality products essentially side-steps the real issue: the question of whether ill-considered limitations and poor planning hampered the potential enjoyment of both titles.

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Asked how the company intends to improve upon its internal testing, Hilleman continued:

“Some of the problems we had were related to systems that were not released. Beta testing on an unreleased system is difficult. What I would say is, there were dynamics that were different this time. There were organizational differences. Some of those have been fixed already. Many of those conditions will not be the same next time. Some of those fixes aren’t going to solve the problem next time, though.

“The obvious and glaring issues — the ones we heard most about from our customers, the ones that matter most to them — we’ve really gotten on top of those and they’re fixed. What is most important is to know how to not have the problem next time, and that’s kinda what I’m proudest about.”

Interestingly, Hilleman goes on to state that the “80″ percent change in development process between console generations will also affect the “next major number release for Battlefield.” We hope that his optimism is grounded, but no one will argue that a company can’t avoid past mistakes unless they fully acknowledge them.

Are Hilleman’s statements intended to create breathing room for future failures? Is EA willfully ignoring the concerns of its customers?  How can the company better address its issues in public? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check in with all of the latest EA news, right here on Game Rant.

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You can follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.

Source: RockPaperShotgun

TAGS: Battlefield 4, Electronic Arts, SimCity

8 Comments

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  1. “But I’m not willing to accept — and I don’t think most of my customers are willing to say — “it’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.”

    I’ve said exactly that about Battlefield 4 several times.

    • I agree. The way I’d put it is “I wish I didn’t have to constantly suffer through Origin to enjoy it.” The game itself, I rather like.

  2. I love how EA is both in denial and willfully bullshitting about how awful they truly are.

  3. I’ve seen other interviews like this one with EA reps, and the message is always the same: “It sold well, so we don’t care if it’s broken”.

    They will not change until people stop buying their broken products, but by the it will probably be too late for them.

    • Corporate culture equates admitting wrongdoing and flaws with losing money and customer confidence (which is also money), so the only time they will ever say anything negative about one of their games is when they’re talking about how much better the sequel is.

  4. ‘That’s not the conversation we’re having now. I think what we’re hearing is, “You made a game we really liked. We would’ve liked it a little better if it didn’t have these problems.” Many of those problems we can fix, and we have and will.”’

    I’m neither EAs biggest fan nor their biggest enemy. I don’t care for COD, the output from them I like most is BioWare due to previous loyalty. The above though, sadly, he is right. I see discussions of Ghosts VS Battlefield 4 with people saying how brilliant Battlefield 4 is. I question, but isn’t it a broken mess? People don’t mind that. They heartily recommend it for purchase despite the issues. I think the assumption that customers en masse are pissed at EA, well, its true, but not as true as you think.

  5. I still don’t understand what most people are talking about. I have and often play bf4, and I’ve only had a few bugs/crashes at the initial release. At their next update the majority of those stopped, now I get little to no bugs and I cant even recall the last time I’ve had the game crash.

    SimCity on the other hand is different. Purely because the whole online s***. I’ve haven’t played the new simcity, so I can’t judge anything else, but any gamer can agree that the staying online aspect is complete bull.

  6. I hate the way EA works, but I love DICE and their games. When I first got BF4 at Christmas, it did screw up a few times and it did bug me and get on my nerves but by the end of JAN, its been fine and I’ve had nothing but great experiences with the game since. So I do feel they did hop on and fix the issues – sure they shouldn’t have happened in the first place but hey snizz happens.

    I got Portal 2 for ps3 and Steam didn’t allow me to use my PC copy as there was some mistake and they did too many codes – took me two weeks to get access to the game by sending them receipts and photos, etc. But it got done. And I never hear anyone bad mouth Steam. Everyone screws up. Most just screw up a lot less than EA.

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