Peter Moore Pt.1

Interview: The EA Sports boss on Microsoft, FIFA and being good to your fanbase...

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[We're about] continued innovation in what we do, in particular taking a very critical look in the mirror. And when I say paranoid, I mean it. The team listens brilliantly to its fanbase - because it knows there's always things you can fix; always things you can do a little better. The team will tell you they can do a lot better with Manager Mode [as seen in FIFA 10] - and they will in FIFA 11.

We've got a very complex game which is growing with things like Ultimate Team adding to that, but the team will never rest on its laurels. Coming into a World Cup year, they've got the bit between their teeth at the same time, they know they need to innovate because Konami will keep on coming, to their credit. They've built a great brand and they're having a difficult time right now.

We took a huge gamble four years ago on a brand new FIFA engine for next-gen. All of the downsides that gives you temporarily paid off eventually. It was a real gamble - look at our Metacritic scores from 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and look at where we are now. The difference is incredible, and something I'm hugely proud of. But we'll never be complacent and we'll never believe the hype. We've done a phenomenal job getting to where we are today - but one bad iteration and it starts to crumble again.

FIFA World Cup 2010 is round the corner, but some CVG readers have asked us: Why release a standalone World Cup game? Couldn't it just be DLC for FIFA 10?
If you read the background on it, we've got all 199 teams, all the South African stadiums, you've got a good chunk of home stadiums for the teams involved. Make no mistake, this is a seriously big game.

The World Cup has always been a major event [for EA] every four years - and one we spend a lot of time and a lot of money getting ready for.

Who's not to say four years from now at World Cup 2014, it may be downloadable content? But right now, when you see the magnitude of the game we've delivered and the marketing plans we have in place, it's deserves to be a standalone game. And this is the first time we've shipped a World Cup games as [our FIFA engine] is in the ascendancy [vs. Pro Evo etc.]. We're very excited about it.

EA has made great strides in moving away from being seen as a faceless corporation that produces generic games - and that's particularly true for EA Sports. What lessons did you learn at Xbox in shifting that brand's identity away from the giant Microsoft Corporation?
One of the greatest challenges when you're a part of a very large organisation like Microsoft - probably the most polarising corporation in business history, that I have incredible fondness for - is recognising that, to consumers, its ubiquity and presence in everything is polarising. What we had to do at Xbox was take the 'goodness' that was Microsoft, but at the same time look at the issues the company was facing.

Remember, this was a company the US Government was suing to try and break up. It was an enterprise company - not an entertainment or even a truly consumer-focused company. Our job was to create an entertainment consumer company with cool hardware, cutting-edge software and an awesome online service like Xbox Live - all within the confines of still being Microsoft and being darn proud of it.

But we had to make sure that we weren't so inexplicably intertwined that we couldn't create our own identity. We moved away from the main campus and got a little bit of our own space. Then we created an identity that was still Microsoft, but was separate and stood for different things. We knew that was the only way Xbox as a brand could stand on its own two feet.

Check back over the weekend for the second part of our chat with Peter for more on his career - and EA's challenges in 2010.

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