Electronic Arts CEO, John Riccitello, may be in the business of making games for millions of fans all over the world, but when it comes to his company’s future, he doesn’t like to play around. With a sharp focus on investing in tomorrow, Riccitello made some telling statements regarding EA’s direction, the future potential of developer Harmonix, and the direction of the music game genre in general.
With Rock Band-developer Harmonix being put on the market by parent company, Viacom Inc., EA looked as if it could step in and snatch up the fan-favorite groove gurus. Considering the fact that EA publishes the Rock Band franchise, this notion didn't seem too far-fetched. However, Riccitello had a few things to say about it:
Moves that look like I’m doubling down on yesterday would make it harder still to convince investors that tomorrow is the Promised Land. I’m sure some smart investor will buy the business feeling that they can catch a falling knife, but more people have been cut trying to catch falling knives than have benefitted from getting the timing exactly right.
More telling than the obvious analogy that labels Harmonix as a definite business risk is the idea that Riccitello views them as an investment in yesterday. This is a pretty negative blow to a genre that many already see as being on the way out in terms of popularity and continued sustainability in the gaming industry.
This statement makes sense though considering EA’s recent moves into the mobile and social play spaces. Having purchased Chillingo and Playfish, EA clearly views these avenues as ways to create new revenue streams to ease some of their financial woes. Let’s just hope that this enables them to continue to take risks on unique and new IPs like Dead Space and Mirror’s Edge.
Will EA’s conservative, mass-market strategy pay off for them? Could Activision pick up Harmonix and reunite the company with its Guitar Hero roots?