It’s All About EA…

Well, at least this post is. First up is the insane comments EA’s Chris Hecker said at the Game Developer’s Conference yesterday. Does this guy not get it? I mean, yeah the Wii isn’t the technological wonder system — it’s just barely next gen. But, that’s not what gets me — it’s his comments about Nintendo not treating games as an art. Say what?

As a game developer, I can see the desire to make video games into a legitimate art form, but as a player, I really could care less. It’s all about fun. This is basically the same argument that has been going on for years in the entertainment industries. You can have mass-appeal (aka, Nintendo) or you can have high-brow content that only a few will go see/listen to/read/etc (aka, according to Chris, Sony and Microsoft). While it helps to have the high-brow content, the people that are actually buying the system are buying it to have fun. The high-brow stuff just isn’t fun.

Right now, the video game industry, as big as it is, is really living off a small percentage of the world’s population. If you ask most people about what games they play, they’ll look at you as if you are crazy. Some would say it’s the lack of content for adults — most games are focused on the 12 – 25 age range (male, mostly at that). Others point to the complexity of games these days — how many buttons are on the average controller? How many menus are there to navigate? And then there is price — we all know about the PS3s “entry level” system. The XBox 360 isn’t far behind. All of this is a barrier to entry.

Nintendo has been looking at this situation for quite a while, and they focused in on bringing this larger segment of the population into gaming. They reduced the complexity of the controls (it’s a remote — I’ve used these before!), they’ve made games that are fun for adults (Wii Sports, is the obvious example), and they’ve set price-point for this system lower than either of the other 2 in this generation ($250 plus a couple of games is still lower than the competition).

Mr. Hecker seems to be of the opinion that games can’t be fun first — it’s all about the art form. Which is a shame, because I was looking forward to playing Spore. But if they didn’t make it fun, why would I want to play it?

In other news, it’s been confirmed that EA is publishing Harmonix’s next game. Since I’ve had nothing but fun with every other Harmonix game, it appears that not everyone in EA agrees with Mr. Hecker. Maybe there is hope for EA still.


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