EA COO Peter Moore spoke with Wired in a wide-ranging interview covering the publishing giant's transformative adaption to the industry's shifting practices, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the refreshed focus for PC development. "As you get further into the cycle of fixed hardware, the PC just sprints ahead," he said. "The things we can do on the PC because of the power of both the CPU and the GPU are unbelievable."
"When I first arrived at EA in 2007, the PC was dead to us," Moore continued. "We just couldn't find the right business model for it. As a result, it became a little bit pushed back into the office and the study. Piracy was an issue. We were still delivering games on CD-ROMs, and you just needed to deliver one and the market would take care of the rest of it. We still hadn't built this kind of, if you will, content in the cloud strategy."
Moore claimed the PC's accessibility for digital- and cloud-based business models helped its restoration into EA's limelight, saying, "The big client PC games are back. Stuff we can do on an open platform from a business perspective, from patching every day without having to go through certification, or anybody else, dealing directly with the consumer without having to deal with our great friends at Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, makes the PC a very attractive platform. It has been the core of this company for three decades."
As for The Old Republic's impending free-to-play conversion, Moore said "price was always the issue" for surveyed players cancelling their subscriptions.
"You talk to people on their way out and say, 'Can you tell me why you're leaving?'" said Moore. "[They say] 'I just didn't want to pay $15 a month. I felt kind of locked in. I love the game, but I'm locked in,' and for a lot of people $15 a month is a lot of money. So when we looked at the data that was streaming out of the game, it was very clear to us that if we could knock down that initial barrier to entry that is price, we could blow out the funnel, and instead of dealing with several hundred thousand people on a regular basis, we could get into millions. That was the plan. The world moved very quickly around us, and we had to react."
Check out the rest of Wired's interview for Moore's thoughts on digital vs. retail, mobile gaming, Zynga, and other topics.