Gibeau: 'City state' studios saved EA

Gibeau: 'City state' studios saved EA
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

April 5th 2011 at 3:48PM

EA Games president on the benefits of an autonomous studio structure

EA Games president Frank Gibeau has said that giving the company's global family of studios absolute independence was a key factor in the giant publisher's return to its status as one of the world's most successful publishers.

Speaking in an interview with Edge, Gibeau revealed that three years ago the company was forced to take a close look at its relative success; an act that lead the company to realise that it was at its best when all its studios boasted their own unique culture.

Gibeau went on to admit that EA started to become a homogeneous centrally planned economy.

"So we purposefully blew the place up and the concept that we created was ‘city states’, which mean you had creative independence and autonomy to build a product as long as you got to a couple of key issues," he explained. "You had to be able to hit a date you committed to, a quality level we were proud of and had to be profitable and 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.

"That’s the process we went through and DICE is very different than BioWare, which is different from Visceral, which is different to Danger Close."

Gibeau went on to suggest that giving EA's studios the opportunity to create their own identities and cultures is core to success.

"[It's] 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," he added. "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’.

Affirming his belief that EA has returned to being at the 'top of its game', Gibeau insisted the company now deeply cares about the products it makes.

"We know it’s the right thing to do long-term and the profits are coming around, the company is doing a lot better financially, we’re starting to put points on the board and we’re on offense. We feel good about it," he concluded.