Here we go again. It seems like a month doesn't go by without someone from Electronic Arts or Activision taking a shot at each other, or talking trash about how amazing one of there upcoming releases will be. It now happens so frequently it has become a video game industry tradition. The latest jab comes from Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello. While speaking at a technology conference, Riccitiello said that he expects Battlefield 3 to be the best product the industry will produce this year.
During yesterday's Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, Riccitiello was taking big about a few different goals that EA hopes to accomplish this year. His mantra seems to be "We want to be in a leadership position" or "Were going at them" when asked about current popular games from EA's competitors.
It has been well documented that Riccitiello is gunning for Activision's FPS crown, and it if you believe everything he says, this is the year that it could happen. Talking about Battlefield 3, Riccitiello sung its praises and boasted that the years of work done on the game will translate into Game of the Year material when the game hits stores at the end of this year:
"I've made no excuse for the reality that I want market leadership in the first-person shooter game business. In many ways I feel that we created the first mass market first-person shooter with Medal of Honor and unfortunately with the transition to the PS3 era we lost that. We're after it now. There's a great thing about an annual franchise, whether it's us or our competition; when you've got that annual franchise it's a meal ticket, it can generate a great deal of income. One of the problems with an annual franchise is you don't take the time to reengineer the underlying codebase so that it's as 'next-generation' as it can be. We think there's a window of opportunity here. We've been investing for three years to build Battlefield 3. I think it will stand up as the best product in the industry this year... and we're going dead at 'em."
During his presentation, Riccitiello also spoke about competition on the MMO side of the industry. With Bioware preparing Star Wars: The Old Republic, Riccitiello is also setting his sights on another huge Activision franchise: World of Warcraft. His words about how EA wants to take a leadership position in the MMO space sounds almost exactly the same as his FPS goal, only the Call of Duty and Battlefield names are replaced with WoW and Star Wars: The Old Republic:
"So, first off let me start off by saying I've got the utmost respect for World of Warcraft. I was once a World of Warcraft player. I play a lot of other things now. It's one of the greatest products ever invented. It's probably the most profitable individual entertainment property every built. Um, we're going right at it. We want to take share; we want a leadership position here. And our product is innovative in a number of ways. But let me start by the observation by saying, BioWare is probably the highest average rated developer in the history of games in addition the history of RPG's which is a great starting place," he said. "You know, I don't think we're, I'm not expecting to sort of knock them over but you know, they've got half of 12 million count subscribers in the Western market and a big chunk of business in Asia that counts them up to that 12 or 13 they keep talking about. We want to take a big chunk of that."
While I think it is great to have the leader of a company setting a clear goal and possessing the drive to be number one, the company needs to produce a product that can back up all that talk. Medal of Honor was supposed to be the game that made us think Call of Duty was a thing of the past, and came out to average reviews.
Earning the number one spot takes work, and can't be claimed by putting out a sub-par title, a lesson EA must have learned with Medal of Honor. Hopefully, the three years of tech going to Battlefield 3 will make it an amazing game. With the engine under the Call of Duty series starting to show its age, a brand new engine with superior graphics and gameplay could be what EA needs to topple CoD.
No one is doubting that Battlefield will be a quality game, but saying that it will be the best thing in the industry is a bit much. It may turn out to be, but what does saying that do to all the other teams working on other EA franchises? Would you appreciate it if your boss told you that you are doing great work, but that other guy's work is better than yours? Both Activision and EA need to take a step back and focus on making their games the best, and not worry about who can get the last word in the insult war.
So readers, what are your thoughts on these words by Riccitiello? Do you like the confidence he has in his teams, or do you think he needs to keep quiet until EA can back up his words?