During the Q&A Session of Electronic Arts’ Investor Day, Wedbush Securities Analyst Michael Pachter asked the publisher’s executive team a rather brutal question on how they can ensure that quality and execution of their games is going to improve, mentioning that they have “blown it” with the NBA brand, “probably killed Medal of Honor,” really didn’t make a “super-high rated Star Wars game.”
EA Studios Executive Vice President Patrick Söderlund provided an answer on behalf of the company, briefly addressing the NBA brand and focusing on why Battlefront didn’t have a single player campaign:
“So, I would agree with you on NBA, that is something that we struggled with as an organization and so we have a different plan in play right now, but we hope to rectify that. Overall, if you look at our overall portfolio, I would say that we’re in good shape.
We are as good or better as the other people in the industry on average. […] Star Wars, I think is a game where you have to look at it from a slightly different perspective. Yes, we know that the one thing that we got criticized for was the lack of a single player campaign in it. It was a conscious decision that we made due to time, and being able to launch the game side by side with the movie that came out to get the strongest possible impact.
I think the team created a really good game based on the premise that we had, and I would say that the game was done very well for us, and reached a very different demographic that a traditional EA game would do. So from that perspective it’s a success.
Are we happy with the 75 ratings? No. Is that something that we’re going to cure going forward? Absolutely. But I think overall, we look at everything that we do in isolation, but if you take a step back and look at our overall portfolio, it’s actually in pretty good shape.”
Söderlund also talked later in the Q&A about the position of the company on depth and breadth of its games, and on the necessity of a single player story on top of multiplayer.
“In regards to the depth and breadth question, it goes back to the framework I described, where depth and breadth is one of the points that we looked at. And what we learned over the years, is that certain games and certain genres have different requirements for depth and breadth if you want to reach the maximum audience.
The shooter category as an example, we know to be true that in order for a game to truly break out and become really large, you most likely need both a single player campaign where the player can get familiar with the game and practice playing the game, to then hop on and play online.
Other games are more single player focused and may completely lack an online component, and that’s rare in our case. […] Overall we believe, and this is something that we’re working on on a daily basis, to make sure that the games that we take into market have the right depth and breadth.”
Earlier in his presentation, Söderlund admitted that Star Wars: Battlefront was criticized on its depth and breadth. Due to that, he mentioned that the publisher would have to “course correct that” for the next version of they were ever to build one.
Hopefully Electronic Arts has learned from the reception of the first Star Wars: Battlefront, and the next will have a single player campaign. Otherwise, I guess we’ll have to unleash Pachter on them.