Over the last few years, EA Games president Frank Gibeau has helped turn around the reputation and bottom line for the once-struggling publisher with a reduced focus on licenses
and annualized sequels
But in an interview with Edge
, Gibeau says effecting that turnaround required a fundamental rethinking of EA's relationship to its studios.
Using the concept of studios as "city states" under the EA banner, Gibeau said he allowed studios complete independence as long as they could fulfill a few requirements.
"You had to be able to hit a date you committed to, a quality level we were proud of and had to be profitable," he said. "We also had to lean into the online idea to transform from a packaged goods fire and forget model to a digital model where it’s service oriented and we’re connected to our gamers and fans over a long period where we can entertain them for long periods of time."
Getting each studio to a point where it could achieve this goal was not a uniform process, Gibeau said. The transformation required an understanding of the unique culture and identity at each studio, and what got that studio's employees excited about game development.
"If you like coming into work you like building what you’re building -- fundamentally that was the key dynamic," he said. "A stupidly simple idea, but if you don’t consciously go after it and make it the focus of what you do, it doesn’t happen. It’s easy to fall into the category of ‘I have a year, let’s just rip out another game’. The market said, ‘No, we’re done and you need to do something different.'"
Later in the interview, Gibeau said the company is investigating how to bring back the fan favorite Mirror's Edge
franchise, and is constantly evaluating older IP from the '90s for a possible comeback as well.