currently have interesting articles describing a presentation EA CEO John Riccitello gave today at the 2008 DICE Summit
. In it, Riccitello talks about the lessons the company has learned from acquiring developers, like Westwood, in the past:
"At EA we've had our share of failures with the acquisitions of developers. Westwood, Bullfrog, Origin Systems -- these places no longer exist today and are no longer creative forces in the industry. There was a fundamental belief that we could be one happy family. We had a top-down approach to development. We at EA blew it. I would say I blew it."
Interesting to see that EA's mistakes of the past have finally resonated internally. Riccitello now acknowledges -- with no pun intended, I'm sure -- that "the command and conquer model doesn't work. If you think you're going to buy a developer and put your name on the label... you're making a profound mistake."
How will EA do things differently in the future? The IGN article
EA's answer has become a "city-state" approach to managing its disparate development houses in which each studio retains creative control and responsibility for its own financial success but reports to and taps into the resources of its parent company. Riccitiello cited Maxis as a successful example from EA's past, before it adopted its current model.
"In many ways these companies took over Electronic Arts and used EA as a platform for their success. Instead of enslaving them we empowered them," he said.
With EA's recent acquisition of fan-favorite independent developers BioWare and Pandemic, the company is in a perfect position to deliver on Riccitiello's new promise. Will they follow the Maxis model or become the next Westwood and Bullfrog?