The CEO of Electronic Arts Andrew Wilson has said that he still believes in developer BioWare despite the studio's less-than-stellar output of late.
Speaking to GameDaily.biz, the publishing giant's boss said he thinks there's potential at the core of Anthem, which saw a lacklustre release in February 2019, saying that he thinks about the game on a "seven-to-ten-year cycle".
Given EA's rather aggressive stance towards studios whose games don't hit the mark, such as the now-defunct BioWare Montreal - the studio behind 2017's Mass Effect Andromeda - and the likes of Visceral Games, it sounds like BioWare isn't going to be getting the cut just yet. A report from April into Anthem's development makes it sound like chaos at the studio, too.
“If we believed that at the very core the world wasn't compelling people, if we believed at the very core that the characters weren’t compelling for people, or the Javelin suits weren't compelling, or traversing the world and participating in the world wasn't compelling then provided we hadn't made promises to our players... we might not invest further," Wilson said.
“IP lives for generations, and runs in these seven to ten year cycles. So, if I think about Anthem on a seven to ten year cycle, it may not have had the start that many of us wanted, including our players. I feel like that team is really going to get there with something special and something great, because they've demonstrated that they can.”
Speaking of sticking with games after disastrous launches, Wilson also discussed Star Wars Battlefront II, which was released at the end of 2017 and did much to set alight the conversation about aggressive monetisation in video games.
“We found ourselves in the middle of a pretty challenging conversation on that one in particular,” he said.
“The game, even at launch, was - I don't want to go as far as to say a great game—it was a really good game. It had some issues with the progression system, and the team made a lot of promises about what they were going to put into the game. I'd like to believe that a lesser company would have just tossed it and moved on.”
Regardless of how the game is doing now, it is responsible in many ways for much of the unwanted attention the games industry is getting right now, kicking off a debate with governments around the world about what is appropriate and whether loot boxes - sorry, surprise mechanics - constitute gambling. In the UK, there's an on-going government enquiry as to whether these kinds of business models are harmful, while in the United States a bill has been introduced to ban loot boxes from kids games.
"We want to talk to a lot of regulators around the world," Wilson insisted. "There's no sleight of hand here. If it's ultimately found that any form of monetisation is inappropriate, we'll do something different. So, what we did last year ahead of, I think, anybody in the industry is we went out, and we started providing odds and being very transparent about the chances that you're to get whatever it might be in any one of these packs. We're going to continue to do that because our objective was never to be opaque."
The EA CEO also said that there's been a shift away from individual game creators - such as Metal Gear Solid maker Hideo Kojima, David Cage of Quantic Dream fame and the legendary Peter Molyneux - to large studios collaborating to make titles.
“It doesn't work that way anymore,” he said.
“No doubt there are individuals who have disproportionate impact in the creation of this thing that we do. No doubt in my mind there are very special people, but there are collections of them, and groups of these very special people that come together and do amazing things, and with teamwork you do more.”