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Ask PSLS: You’re the new EA CEO, What’s the First Thing You Do?

April 3, 2013 Written by Jason Dunning

With John Riccitiello out as the CEO of EA and the company now looking for a new full-time leader, we thought it would be fun to ask the PSLS staff: “You’re the new EA CEO, What’s the First Thing You Do?”

Anthony Severino – Spoken Like a True CEO (@Sev_Anthony)

As the new CEO, I would do what most CEOs do, hire the best people I could find in supporting roles. A CEO is financially responsible for a company, but that doesn’t mean they’re solely responsible for the direction of the entire company. He has a board of investors that he must confer with, various VPs of different segments, individual development studios, etc. These all come together to form the backbone of the company. To think that one man (or woman) will come in as CEO and instill major change is overly wishful thinking and foolish. While I’d love that to be the case and have him come in and clean house, do away with microtransactions, DRM, etc. It’s not going to happen. But at least if I have the right people in the right positions to make decision on the company’s behalf, then the reputation of the company has a chance of changing for the better (or for the worse).

Chandler Wood – Trustworthy (@FinchStrife)

Sadly, EA currently has a really bad rap for trying to monetize every aspect of every game that they get their hands on. I would want to change that view. Remove subscriptions and microtransactions and the little micromanagement that EA tends to have over every game that they publish. Take a step back and trust in the developers to make a great game that is going to make money regardless of the publisher coming in and making them add a ‘Bot Personality Upgrade’ for $5. No more of that. In fact, let’s start offering freebies for loyal customers rather than charging them for being loyal to the games. We’ll start bringing in more fans/money due to our new “Dev Trust, Player Friendly” attitude.

Cameron Teague – Agreeable (@Cameron_PSLS)

I agree with Chandler. I would try and take a step back, look over all the games that I have a part in, and start trying to let the developers work. There are some extremely talented developers out there and if you suffocate their creativity, the final product will suffer and I truly believe EA has a big issue with this. I would also look hard into my server hosting and find out why the servers are being powered by mice running on wheels. EA has always had server issues and this is extremely evident when playing one of their sports titles. I would work hard to upgrade these servers and make the online experience very smooth, especially since I am charging all of my customers to play online.

Dan Oravasaari – On the Edge (@FoolsJoker)

If I were CEO of EA, I would go through the line-up of franchises that we have been pushing out and kill off anything that was less than profitable, or just restructure its development onto a more viable platform. I would completely remove the single player aspect from Battlefield, allowing development to focus on the multiplayer aspect. Bring back Mirror’s Edge, but incorporate the Oculus Rift into its development. EA Sports would continue the same path, but more would be spent on R&D to evolve the medium past its normal senseless milking. Entire studios or teams would move to mobile platforms (more so than already) to improve brand recognition and cross platform capability. The PS Vita would see a release of The Sims and SimCity. Lastly, all DRM would be taken out back, shot, lit on fire and its ashes would be spread around the planet so that it cannot ever find a way to make itself whole again.

Jason Dunning – Faux-bastian (@Jasonad21)

Since Sebastian wasn’t able to answer this exact Ask PSLS question, I’ve undertaken (undertook?) the task of providing you with a snarky response:

Everyone loves classic games being given the HD treatment, right? So my first order of business would be to release HD versions of all the Madden, FIFA, and NHL games from the PS2 for $20 per title. Dare I say it, we’ll make billions!

Louis Edwards – Friendly (@ftwrthtx)

As CEO of EA I would take it upon myself to make the company more gamer friendly. While I do understand the need for developers to have an online pass to help make some money back from the used game industry, I find it unfair to charge extra for DLC that is almost always included on the disc. If it’s on the disc, then it’s included in the price of the game when purchasing new. A one time use code should be included for any and all DLC already on the disc. Also, if a store is giving pre-order bonuses, those bonuses will only be available through them and will never be made available to anyone else. Why give special incentives if everyone can have them in the future?

Sebastian Moss – Absent (@FoolsJoker)

I don’t know the question and I’m not here right now, but Dan is an idiot.

The answer to this question is four.

Vivas Kaul – Using the Umbrella Strategy (@VivasKaul)

I think that the most ballsy thing that EA could do would be to tell GameStop to fuck off. Especially since the used games market is the exact root cause of all of EA’s present woes. Remember this is the company that gave you Project $10 which introduced the online pass system. Sure, it’s blatant nickel-and-diming, but at the very least it was justifiable from the standpoint that it allowed the developers to recoup on the used game market. However, EA’s constant front facing mentality of wanting to be very profit driven, and telling gamers and investors that microtransactions are going to appear in every game from now on seems absurd from a PR standpoint.

Therefore, if I were CEO of EA, my first duty would be to developers under my umbrella who should be free to create. I would also institute some serious reforms to both PR and Marketing regarding the surfacing of business practices to the general public. Keep that stuff internalized, especially since the public has a tendency to make mountains of molehills, and public opinion has already turned against you. Instead, take responsibility for your boneheaded decisions (SimCity, Mass Effect 3′s ending, Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel) and surface why a mistake was made. Then show that you’re doing what you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again in an unprecedented show of transparency. However, during the lead up to E3, I would minimize press exposure. Wait for things to blow over and then really blow people away at E3 with a stellar press conference. Then let the media come to you with questions instead of bombarding everyone with ridiculous press releases.

And if all else fails, blame John Riccitiello. Hell, he’s already taken the blame on himself, is directly responsible for many of the recent managerial blunders, and makes for an ideal scapegoat.

If you were the new EA CEO, what’s the first thing you’d do? Let us know in the comments below.