Former CEO of Electronic Arts: gamers will "learn to love" always-online gaming

Ian Birnbaum at

In a lengthy guest editorial at Kotaku, former EA CEO John Riccitiello wrote at length about what, in his view, the upcoming next generation of gaming consoles must deliver to succeed. The editorial was published before Microsoft's reveal of the Xbox One yesterday, which may require owners to check in to the Internet once every 24 hours.

After first reassuring readers that there will be plenty of space for mobile games and more involved console/PC games to coexist, the focus of Riccitiello’s essay shifts to the connectivity features available to next-generation consoles. Though he’s no longer the head of one of the biggest publishers in gaming, his opinions still shed some light on where gaming might be headed. This is, after all, the CEO who established Origin and oversaw the DRM plans attached to EA games since 2007.

“Gamers will want, and learn to love, the good parts of consoles being more connected to our digital lives than was possible with the machines launched eight years ago,” he wrote. “Some gamers fear the new consoles could be more about a DRM-walled garden than about enabling new types of connected gameplay. More about squashing second-sale (used games) than allowing us to play the games we own at our friends houses, in dorms or at home, without having to bring the disk with us. I don’t believe consoles managed as walled-gardens will succeed longer term.”

Hold on—isn't a game requiring an always-online connection a perfect example of a walled garden? It's a scenario where the publisher has total control over players' access to the content of the game. There are some fantastic things that connectivity can bring to games, like massive multiplayer battles and the ability to play with friends around the world. But one need only look at the recent launch of SimCity to be reminded that when always-online is wrapped around a game in a way that's even slightly unnatural, it can guide development to bad places as easily as it can guide it to great places.

Check out Riccitiello’s full editorial here

Image via Ars Technica.