Every once in a while (about six or seven years), EA dips its foot in the creative pool, testing out some new, different, and risky titles. But it never takes the company long before they step away and retreat to the warm, dry certainty of sequels and established properties — whether their own or someone else’s.
The last time EA took any real chances was back in the first couple years of the millennium, when they released games like American McGee’s Alice, Majestic, and The Sims Online. But after a half-decade of Madden sequels and buyouts of existing companies/properties, EA delivered several unique titles in 2008: Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge, and Spore.
I only liked one of the three games (Dead Space), but I appreciated the direction EA was taking. I think CEO John Riccitiello has a good vision for the company. He was a big supporter of Majestic, back when I worked on that game. And his recent stance on not meddling with partners and acquired companies is a huge improvement over the EA of years past.
But the shareholders always have the last word.
In a Friday press release, the company stated its aim “to narrow its product portfolio to focus on hit games with higher margin opportunities.”
I hope this shift in focus won’t be as bad as I fear. But, if it is, guess I’ll see you again in 2015, EA.
(EA’s also laying off 1,000 workers, which sucks. I went through the same thing with the company, and — even if it wasn’t my fault — I don’t know that I’ve ever felt worse about myself than I did at the time.)