John Riccitiello is a man with many interesting things to say. While he is no longer the CEO of Electronic Arts, Riccitiello remains a strong figure in the industry, and in a recent interview, gave his two cents on the state of the games industry.
Turns out, he's not very happy with current trends, pointing a finger at those who enter the business of game development purely for profit. Hence, we're seeing more copycats than ever. Riccitiello explained:
"Let's be realistic. I'm going to be cynical for a minute. I find this terribly hilarious - you talked about game companies, things you write about on the website, these game companies who are going to create the next generation of new ideas, they're all about fun etc. And they're working on a Puzzles and Dragons rip-off, except they're going to change one of the colors to blue. I mean, wait a minute. Are you in this because you want to create something or does it look like the easiest way to make money is to take one of the top-ten games and tweak it?
"One of the reasons we're seeing a lot of stuff that looks alike and plays alike is because that's how a lot of stuff gets born. It gets funded that way. I think we're going to start seeing a lot more differentiation as people get bored of seeing the same apps in the top 200. They're going to come at it and realize that if you don't make a fundamentally different product then it's very difficult to replace something that's up there with your own original design."
The former EA bigwig believes that the primary reason someone should go into game development is creativity. He disapproves of the "opportunists" who only concern themselves with making money. Riccitiello said, "What I don't like in the games industry today is that there are too many opportunists who are there to make money."
While making money isn't a bad thing, it shouldn't be the primary focus. He noted Zynga's new boss Don Mattrick, formerly of Microsoft, as an example.
"I think making money is a fine byproduct when you're trying to do something great, but I don't think you do something great because you set out to get rich. I think you get rich by trying to do something great. Don fits into that category. He'll do that more than most anybody you'll ever come across."
This belief is also why Riccitiello loves BioShock Infinite so much. To him, creator Ken Levine is someone who goes into the industry and works for the right reasons.
He's also keeping an eye on the upcoming clash between Respawn Entertainment and Bungie, as EA and Activision look to these two heavy hitters for the next big money-maker. Can either emulate the success of Call of Duty and Halo? Riccitiello doesn't think so, simply because that level of success is so difficult to recreate, even by the original team responsible for it.
"I like what EA's got with Titanfall. One's an ex CoD team and one's an ex Halo team. We'll see. It's actually relatively rare for a team which creates a singular hit to do it again. These things don't happen every day. No matter what the pedigree, the second hit often doesn't come. Two of the most storied teams in the history of gaming are doing that as we speak and they're using the launch of the next generation consoles to get there."
Riccitiello remains confident in consoles as well, and believes that the PS4 and Xbox One will surpass their predecessors in terms of sales, despite whatever negative forecasts analysts have predicted.