• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • Hey Guest. Check out the NeoGAF 2.2 Update Thread for details on our new Giphy integration and other new features.
  • The Politics forum has been nuked. Please do not bring political discussion to the rest of the site, or you will be removed. Thanks.

Opinion Game Dev EA Is Putting the Future of its Franchises, into its Studios' Hands

IbizaPocholo

Banned
Dec 1, 2014
26,442
27,074
1,335
ibiza

Laura Miele loves working with people who make games -- a love that began to be cultivated around 25 years ago, when she got her start at former EA subsidiary and Command & Conquer creator Westwood Studios.

"Those years working directly with developers forever shaped my understanding of the complexities and sophistication of game development, as well as my appreciation and admiration of game developers," Miele says.

Now, she's the chief studios officer for EA, where she works with over 6,000 game developers across the company. Miele tells us she sees EA's internal studios as the "gravitational center" of the company, with the focus of her job being to empower those developers to make the things they want to make, all the while responding to the wants and needs of EA's game communities and fans.

"In terms of our game development philosophy, our players are always our north star," Miele says. "As I started this current role, I wanted to strip away some of the preconceived notions about what games we should be investing in and really start listening to players and incorporating their voice into our development process. Since then, we have announced a slate of games that players asked for: a new Skate, College Football, a Command & Conquer remaster, the Mass Effect Trilogy and we developed free content in Battlefront 2 for several years to turn the perception of that game completely around."

Miele repeatedly emphasizes the importance of keeping players involved in the ongoing development processes of all EA's games, citing as examples EA releasing the Command & Conquer source code, and the recent announcement of a new Skate game by a new EA studio called Full Circle.

"We call it Full Circle for a reason -- we want our players’ experience with EA to come full circle. Our players deserve to be part of the process."

Miele points out that responding to what players are asking for is very rarely something that can happen instantly, pointing to annual franchises like Madden and FIFA which iterate more slowly over each new installment. Major changes to how games like that work, she says, often don't happen until a few years after they're first brought up, simply due to how challenging development of annual installments can be.

"We have recently added advanced innovation teams that are heavily focused on tech development and dedicated to long-term game development," Miele says of Madden and FIFA. "These teams explore innovation initiatives that players will get to experience in two to three years."

And Miele also wants to make it clear that being player-focused doesn't mean "making everyone happy 100% of the time." Our conversation with her occurred just ahead of the announcement that BioWare would end development on Anthem, a game that BioWare strove to overhaul over the course of a year in response to player feedback. Miele says that ultimately the studio needed to allocate its time and resources to franchises like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, and that the COVID-19 pandemic made it especially difficult to make the game into what players wanted.

In contrast, Miele points to Star Wars: Battlefront 2, where EA DICE was able to take the time to turn the game around from its original form, which players were unhappy with.

"When I first took this studios leadership role, players were incredibly unhappy with this game," Miele recalls. "We had made commitments to deliver content to the community, but we didn’t have team members assigned to deliver on these promises. We quickly pulled together a great team of people from our studios in Vancouver, Montreal and Stockholm to immediately get to work on fulfilling our promises. We created free content for players because it was the right thing to do and I felt we owed it to our community of players.

"We didn’t expect any accolades or pats on the back for this work, but we actually saw a significant sentiment turn around from players and the game was re-reviewed at much higher scores. Players still love to play Battlefront 2 and I feel we are moving past its history. To hear fan feedback and see players loving this game is deeply gratifying."

So ultimately, what does it mean when EA and its studios say they will listen to its players? Ultimately, EA proper does have the final say on decisions regarding what games get made or updated or ended, Miele acknowledges -- they're all in business together, after all.

"There is a lot of creative autonomy within Electronic Arts but there are certain values and principles we have as a company that we just couldn’t allow to be compromised."

But there's an overarching understanding across the company, she says, that teams should have the creative license to receive, listen to, and accept or reject feedback from players. The studios are, after all, the creators and entertainers making the art in the first place.

As for how the studios actually collect that feedback, Miele points to a number of areas. One of those is social media, which she says played a key role in making Skate 4 happen.

"With Skate for example, we knew that every time we posted on Instagram that the first comment no matter what we posted would be #skate4," she says. "But we only want to revisit a series if we’re confident we can build an experience that moves the franchise forward in a contemporary way. "

Other sources of feedback include actual game telemetry that shows the developers how players are interacting with the games and what problems they are having as they play, customer support feedback, and the game's community teams.

"One of the things I did in the first 100 days of my role as head of studios was to spend time with our community leaders for some of our biggest franchises," Miele says. "I asked them to give me their best advice on how we can have a better connection to our players. The biggest theme was - please listen to us about the content players are asking for which resulted in us green lighting Skate, College Football, Command &Conquer and additional content for Battlefront II.

"We take all of these inputs and that gives us a sense of what players are loving and not liking- our studio leaders then work with the game teams to determine how we prioritize and address direct player feedback."

Ultimately, Miele says, everything is about balance -- EA will step in and make decisions as needed, developers are given agency to make the things they want to make, and players -- hopefully -- eventually feel their needs and wants are met.
"It’s about working to understand what a player’s motivations are and working to meet those," Miele says. "While at the same time recognizing our game teams are tremendously talented at their craft and will determine where the story and game go."
 
Last edited:

SSfox

Member
Jan 7, 2018
1,891
8,868
485
Nobody cares, i just want them to sell Dead Space and Mirror's Edge franchises to somebody who cares.
 

dezzy8

Member
Aug 21, 2008
2,301
226
1,070
As long as they include a way to milk the consumers. I think EA forgot that part.
 

martino

Member
Apr 25, 2013
6,041
3,855
705
France
Hum it's not clear someone to decypher what this mean when it comes to produce solo games without micro transactions ?
 
Last edited:

mansoor1980

Member
Oct 12, 2020
1,485
2,459
390
sorry EA but
 
  • Like
Reactions: Phase

AJUMP23

Member
Sep 29, 2020
2,568
2,760
425
They probably do have some freedom to create what they want, they just have financial targets to meet. The easiest way to do that is loot boxes.
 

Dinky

Member
Jun 15, 2020
972
2,091
500
You're very naive if you believe this. EA is all about pleasing shareholders and they aren't gonna be happy if maximum profit isn't made.
 

sublimit

Member
Aug 28, 2009
20,785
9,273
1,310
Will we ever see a time where they invest on new (singleplayer) IPs again like they did back in 2008-2010? That was probably the most interesting period of EA by far for me with games like Dead Space,Mirror's Edge and Dante's Inferno.
 
  • Empathy
Reactions: makaveli60

laser_printer

Member
Dec 10, 2019
2,243
3,665
490
Sactown
Will we ever see a time where they invest on new (singleplayer) IPs again like they did back in 2008-2010? That was probably the most interesting period of EA by far for me with games like Dead Space,Mirror's Edge and Dante's Inferno.
The entirety of EA from 2000-2010 was something that was second to none in terms of investment. I don’t know what happened but I guess they decided that exploiting people in sports games for literally billions was a better choice.
 

sublimit

Member
Aug 28, 2009
20,785
9,273
1,310
The entirety of EA from 2000-2010 was something that was second to none in terms of investment. I don’t know what happened but I guess they decided that exploiting people in sports games for literally billions was a better choice.
I think they really falled off a cliff ever since that prick Andrew Wilson became the CEO.

Their best period in terms of interesting games was when Riccitiello was their CEO (2007-2013) but it was also one of their worst in terms of profits.
 

Dinky

Member
Jun 15, 2020
972
2,091
500
And they already took need for speed from criterion, LMAO!!
Pretty sure one of the main reasons they bought Codies was to take over NFS and Burnout. It's unforgivable how they treat Criterion, I mean the guys made the best arcade racers last gen and EA rewarded them by making them a support studio. ES is the ultimate Cancer in videogame industry.
 

fart town usa

Member
May 31, 2009
2,919
1,465
1,075
Too long to read the whole thing but if she's sincere and EA doesn't force terrible decisions, we could potentially have some gems coming out of EA.

EA was really great for a while during the PS3/360 generation.
 

Punished Miku

Gold Member
Jan 13, 2018
6,734
13,344
925
I can't remember the last EA game I purchased. I think it was ME Andromeda for $10. I was pretty disappointed with it.

Games are only set to increase in price this gen, so if they don't put out something incredibly compelling, I'm likely not going to buy anything from them this gen. I wish them luck of course. More good games is a good thing if they actually do it.