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Laura Miele谈EA产品所带来经验以及玩家多样性

发布时间:2019-07-26 09:08:51 Tags:,

Laura Miele谈EA产品所带来经验以及玩家多样性

原作者:Dean Takahashi 译者:Willow Wu

去年,原EA国际发行部门负责人Laura Miele晋升为这家巨头公司旗下20多家工作室的总管理人,包括EA Tiburon、BioWare、Respawn、DICE这些大家较为熟知的创作团队内在,游戏开发者总计达上千人。

这些工作室为EA挣得了数十亿美元的收入,而Miele在EA的职业发展也是一路高升。她见证了这些工作室的成败得失——Respawn Entertainment的《Apex英雄》大获好评,而BioWare的《圣歌》口碑扑街。

我在EA Play上对Miele进行了采访,这是他们在E3之前为粉丝举办的周末盛宴。我们谈到了她职位的变化以及从《圣歌》《Apex英雄》这些大型项目上学到的教训。另外,我们也谈到了玩家群体的多样性以及变化。

整理后的对话记录如下。

GamesBeat: 你好,近来如何?

Laura Miele:正玩得开心呢。对于我们来说,EA Play是一个重要的转折点,将这一年的所有内容整合在一起展示给大家。Gamescom一直是我最喜欢的贸易展会,因为它是以玩家为主的,EA Play也遵循了这个理念。在这里,我通过观察玩家,跟他们以及业内影响人士交流获得了很多中肯的意见和建议,我和大家分享了EA当下正在做的事、想要改进的部分以及一些值得期待的事。

plants vs zombies(from gamedev)

plants vs zombies(from gamedev)

GamesBeat: 你运营这些工作室也有一年了吧?就这段时间发生的事来说,你有什么感想?

Miele: 是的,一年多一点。这期间还是发生了挺多事情。从多方面来说,还算是美好的一年,同时我们也学到了很多东西。至少在我看来,它可能会成为EA历史上的一个重大转折点,因为这涉及到我们未来对玩家体验的思考、规划、质量标准的设定以及如何为游戏开发者创造最好的环境。我从已发行的产品中学到了很多。

我们看到有些游戏获得了巨大的成功,而有些游戏没能按照我们所期待的方向发展,这也给我了我们经验教训,为未来的战略打下基础。

GamesBeat: 你觉得这个职位变化是很有挑战性的吗?接管过程是怎样的?

Miele: 非常有趣。我在EA已经待了大约 23 年。我在营销和商业方面做过很多不同的职位,还有数据分析。《星球大战》之前是我运营的。我的职业生涯开始于Westwood工作室,我加入了《命令与征服》项目,管理在线运营团队。对我来说,回到工作室之中就像是完成了一个圆,当然它的大小已经和从前大不一样了。

这个交接过程就是去深入了解EA旗下工作室,了解各个领导团队。在上任的前100天,我巡访了位于不同地区的所有工作室,花时间跟团队交流。我定了几条规矩——他们不能用PPT来展示。我们只花了一点时间讨论游戏,大部分时间都在交流创作过程,分析我们做得好以及有待改善的地方。深入了解并参与到评估过程中,花时间与我们的员工在一起,了解他们的动力来源以及他们对玩家的看法,这非常有帮助。

我也跟那些游戏领域影响人士以及部分玩家交流过,从对话以及观点中汲取能够优化战略的有益内容。对我来说,以开放的心态去聆听别人对我们的游戏、工作以及公司本身的看法是很重要的,而且很多时候是非常有趣的。我知道了公司哪些方面进展顺利、大家是如何创造游戏、我们的玩家是如何看待我们的,以及他们的期望——他们喜欢我们所做的哪些事情以及他们希望我们对哪些事情采取不一样的策略。收获颇多。

GamesBeat: Andrew(EA首席执行官)有没有给你什么建议或者指示,关于你的任务或者说需要完成的事?是否存在某种硬性要求,还是说倾向于让你自行探索?

Miele: Andrew是我见过的最能鼓舞人心的工作伙伴之一。他不是主张循规蹈矩的管理者,他帮助我构想战略框架、愿景,如何能让组织之间的对话更加高效、便捷。个人方面,要如何合理分配时间、精力才能成为最高效的领导者,以及要如何领导这么多团队——这对他来说已经是游刃有余了。还有关于未来的创新计划,勇于对市场进行尝试,成为新的风向标。

就如我所说的,他并不是一个主张循规蹈矩的人。“第一步我们要做X,第二步我们要做Y”这不是他的做事风格,我很庆幸。他促使我成为一个更强大的领导者。坦白说,我已经在这个公司呆了23年了,游戏业务我在熟悉不过。我很了解我们的玩家、市场。所以重点就在于如何更好地领导这数千人的创意团队,把他们的潜力百分百发挥出来,把优秀的游戏呈现给我们的玩家。这就是我从Andrew那里受益最多的地方。

GamesBeat: 那么,你能跟我们解释下这个职位是负责哪些方面的决策吗?

Miele: 我坚信人才是很关键的,要尽可能获得最好的人才。在过去的一年,工作室中也有几次领导层变动。我认为当下的我们所拥有的领导团队是非常强大的。我的工作就是给他们权力。比如执行副总裁和高级副总裁,我就让他们负责游戏的创意方向,项目要砍还是要继续都由他们自行决定。他们都是经验丰富、资质拔尖的员工,不仅仅是在EA,在整个行业范围内看也是如此。

我的作用是激励他们,消除障碍,让这个工作室联盟产生积极影响。我认为自己的职责就是帮他们打好基础,让他们尽力展现出自己最好的一面。我们甚至成立了类似创意委员会这样的组织,类似于智囊团,由Respawn工作室的负责人Vince Zampella领导,团队可以向他们展示游戏,然后Zampella会给出反馈。他们不一定要按照反馈修改游戏,但是他们多少都能从各个工作室的优秀领导者的评价中受益。

这就是作为EA一份子、管理着20个工作室的我的力量。我目前正在规划的就是类似于这样的项目,将最好的创造性思想家聚集在一起,彼此互相帮助,突破单个团队的能力上限,同时克服远距离交流障碍。大家逐渐感受到了这些项目带来的好处。没有高管会像是听报告一样地坐在那里,包括我在内。这是纯粹的创意讨论。再强调一下,提交作品的团队可以自行决定要不要听从反馈。

另外一件事就是我们打算把这20个工作室打造成为一个大团队。我们让不同工作室的同事互相测评游戏,这在之前是没有发生过的。我对这些工作室的能力、创意以及领导力很有信心,我的工作是把他们聚合在一起,成为彼此的倍增器。

我为工作室联盟、为我们所追求的创新领域、为市场中不同年龄层的玩家制定了战略。我与工作室、公司的合作伙(营销公司和CTO组织)联手,将他们的战略与我们的战略结合起来,以确保能够实现公司的目标。Andrew为公司制定整体策略,从现在开始的五年我们要如何革新、公司、商业战略的发展方向是什么。

当然,正如你所想的,这其中有很多事情需要进一步探讨——Andrew为我们的订阅业务、为我们未来的玩家网络制定的策略。我也是一个非常透明化的领导者,我想要更多人看到我们正在开发的游戏,为此激动不已。公司是我们的行动的背后支撑力量,大家非常期待我们的新产品。

GamesBeat: 我听到了些有趣的消息(此处指的应该是媒体爆料有EA员工认为《圣歌》开发不顺是因为Frostbite引擎效率太低,游戏邦注)。我想知道你是怎么想的,或者大概说下发生了什么。还有就是关于使用Frostbite引擎还是让团队自选引擎的疑问,你是怎么看的,尤其是经过去年的那些事?

Miele: Frostbite是一个强大的引擎。我希望这个工作室联盟能成为有抱负有理想的游戏开发者们的最终目的地。为了实现它,我们必须要有最好的技术资源、最好的工具。比如,之前Respawn被EA收购,成为工作室联盟中的一员,现在他们使用的是不同的引擎。

我现在的目标就是确保我们使用的是最适合的技术、最适合的引擎,将开发者的创意及想法以最好的效果呈现出来,它们要成为催化剂。就像《战地》系列,它的整个生命循环周期都建立在Frostbite之上。游戏团队相当了解这个引擎,知道怎么充分利用。他们有大量适用于引擎的游戏内容。

我的策略是继续使用Frostbite引擎,但那些目前并没有使用的团队我们也不会强求。我想我们得在引擎和开发团队之间搭建一个更便捷的桥梁。之前的半年,我们将资源增加了一倍,未来我们仍会继续。为团队提供更好的工作流、接口和工具。

我非常喜欢Frostbite,因为在我看来,它能够引领我们走向未来。如果要进一步探索技术的潜力,我认为Frostbite是必不可少。我们确实需要根据开发者的反馈来优化、调整Frostbite,这是目前的首要任务。但我个人对这个游戏引擎还是抱着乐观的心态。

就像我之前提到的,我不认同要强制或规定团队必须做什么。但我相信,终究有一天EA的团队都会使用Frostbite来做游戏。我非常期待,我相信技术的力量。

GamesBeat: 《Apex英雄》收获了非凡的成功,然而《圣歌》却是截然不同的情况,从管理角度来看,你认为采取哪些必要行动?

Miele: 这是两个不同的游戏,走的路线不同。我为Apex感到非常骄傲,Respawn团队的独立性、颠覆性思维和策略值得称赞,公司团队与他们合作的内部合作方式也让我觉得很满意。不仅要帮助他们把产品推向市场,而且要在市场营销和沟通方面标新立异。我们想要在各个方面都让人有耳目一新的感觉,不断给玩家惊喜。

说起Apex的开发过程也是一个很有意思的故事。Vince希望能以最快的速度让游戏成型,在发行之前,Apex团队每天都在玩这个游戏,持续了一年半,我认为这是一个非常好的测试方法。这让我回想起在Westwood的时光,当时我们也是这样。每天一到四点我们就停下手头的工作,玩上几个小时的游戏,每天晚上也是玩我们自己的游戏。

正是这样一遍遍地玩、调整、优化,游戏才变得好玩。关键在于你如何理解这些设计选择之间的细微差别和影响,以及它们在实际体验中表现方式。这是人们从Apex的成功中获得的宝贵学习经验。很明显,《圣歌》这边就是另一种状况。《Apex英雄》只有一张地图、8个角色和一种游戏模式,但是都设计得很精致。我们正在研究学习他们实现成功的步骤和方法。

而《圣歌》这个游戏,实际上它和《Apex英雄》的情况是很相似的,类似的处理方式本来是能给《圣歌》带来好处的。但《圣歌》有很多系统,背景故事丰富、游戏世界宏大,而且角色也很多。与《Apex英雄》相比,规模、深度、开发过程都有很大不同。我们本该在实际发行日期的一年之前就把游戏做完。

这是我得到的最深刻的教训之一。之后,我打算延长产品的的alpha测试时长,让玩家更早地参与到游戏中。像《圣歌》这样的大规模游戏,最棘手的问题之一就在于多重系统的组合。你需要一些玩家——一百万玩家来测试这些系统,才能知道这种组合方式能带来什么样的影响,效果如何。你在一个封闭的环境中测试——比如一个QA小组——是得不到准确的信息的。

将来我们还会有beta阶段,不少MMO游戏都是先经过 beta测试,然后正式发行。所以不出意外的话,我们以后的项目要按照alpha、beta、正式发行这样的步骤,由此达到我们所需的测试规模,以便更好、更有针对性地完善游戏。《圣歌》《Apex英雄》都让我们学到了一些非常重要的东西,另外,市场也教会了我们不少。

市场是在不断变化的,现在我们要用全新的游戏去跟那些已经运营了好些年的服务型游戏竞争。它们已经累积了非常多的内容,历经过无数次优化,跟玩家之间建立了联系。让游戏社区在开发周期中发挥帮助作用是我们当下目标之一。

GamesBeat: 纵观整个行业,《使命召唤》系列每年都会发行新作,还有《荒野大镖客》这样2000人耗时数年打磨的顶级大作,你要如何确定EA的定位?

Miele: EA的核心策略是鼓励世界上的人玩游戏。这是一个庞大而又多样化的世界。我认为我们必须要有多样化的内容和产品。不要太惊讶,但是你提的那些特征其实我们都有。我们每年更新游戏,我们有游戏是花了六年时间精心制作的,我们有单机剧情游戏《绝地武士:失落的秩序》。除此之外,我们还有各式各样的独立游戏。

现在的市场是由服务式游戏和订阅型业务所引领的,实际上这样我们就有更多时间和精力去尝试小规模的剧情向独立游戏。还有大型的史诗级游戏体验,它们通常要耗费五到六年的时间。对于服务型游戏,我们会推出周年活动,持续迭代更新。未来我们的产品会比以往更加多元化,我对此十分乐观。以后我们不会只盯着售价60美元的3A大项目了,开发者们一定会对此感到兴奋,这对玩家来说也是一件好事。

我们会探索,创造新的IP,我们会让一些老品牌和IP跟玩家重新见面,所以大家拭目以待吧。我认为扩展以及多样化发展不仅仅局限于类型和游戏风格,而还有品牌、故事和游戏中的角色。

GamesBeat: EA Play上展出了六款游戏对吧?我回想起2008年,那时你们一年大概能发行60个左右的游戏,你觉得现在这样的节奏比较好,还是你认为应该有更多游戏?

Miele: 我很高兴市场对EA的印象是以内容高于一切,是一家拥有最好、最丰富内容的发行公司。我不会说我们的产品只有七八个,我们还有很多在线运营的产品。很多游戏现在还处于活跃状态,有团队定期优化提升、更新内容。

我们会招募更多团队或者收购更多公司吗?答案是肯定的。我当然想要继续增加内容,但是我并没有想具体要哪类游戏,因为我们的游戏真的很多,不管是手游还是其它平台的高画质游戏,而且我们还在持续创造新的内容。

GamesBeat: 看来你们现在所拥有的品牌真的非常多了。

Miele: EA有很多非常优秀的品牌。我在公司工作了很长时间,过去合作过的其中一些品牌让我影响非常深刻。现在我们正在进行评估,考虑让它们重回市场,让新一代玩家体验。另外,我们也需要创造新品牌和新IP。平衡这两个部分对我们来说非常关键。

GamesBeat: 回顾你之前的风格,再结合现在的风格,你认为你与之前的管理者——比如Patrick Söderlund的明显不同点在哪?或者与EA之前所做的不同?

Miele: 我们管理工作室的方式在这些年变化了很多。一般来说,这要取决于领导者的能力。当我们在谈论游戏内容的多样化时,我们也要注意到玩家的多样化——你看我们的用户中有婴儿潮一代(出生于1946~1964年的人)、X世代(1965年~1980年出生的人)、千禧年一代以及Z世代(1990年代中叶至2000年后出生的人),不同的人群在玩一样的游戏。作为游戏创造者,我们需要了解不同的动机、满足他们的需求。

市场的多元化发展,再加上不同的玩家以及不同的内容需求,你就需要不同类型的创作者。我的方法和风格是确保我们不仅拥有大量创新型领袖和人才,而且他们在各自的领域有独特的经验。由此我们将获得更大规模的成功,在更多市场、更多世代和更多类型中获得更好的口碑。

我觉得不能单靠一个人为所有的游戏、玩家、市场策划创意,这样不可能做到创意多元化。将这些有创造力的人聚集在一起,激发彼此的灵感,让工作成果更加出色——不仅是为我们的玩家,也为那些自己创造游戏的人。对我来说这就是最好的机会。他们在EA可以找到职业生涯的发展方向,这里有丰富的资源、资深创新人才、强大的技术和工具。

我们这个行业的大多数公司,甚至是一些规模较大的公司,都没有像我们这样的核心技术或团队合作。我们是一家大公司,有些事情是会觉得麻烦,但对我来说,这是我们必须要解锁的最大优势。这可能是开发者来到EA获得的最宝贵的资产和经验之一。我的工作就是让他们感受到这种福利。

我支持的是多元化创意领导,这样他们能够在各自的游戏类型和玩家基础上互相合作,互相帮助,互相提升,共同帮助EA革新、拓展发展空间。

GamesBeat: 这种管理风格很有意思,玩家似乎也发生了很大变化。针对最新的《使命召唤》游戏,我写了一篇文章。我认为暴力内容的画面逼真程度提升并不会让游戏变得更加好玩,结果社交平台有超级多核心玩家反对说“这就是我们想要的。我们想要刺激的东西,不想看到游戏被和谐。”我觉得他们不喜欢“主流”或者“多元化”这样的词,我不知道用这个词准不准确——他们想让游戏变得更加硬核。我想更重要的一个问题是:玩家怎么变成这样了?

Miele: 这个时代对我们这些身处娱乐领域的内容创作者来说是十分有意思的。正如之前说过的,我们的用户群体来自四个不同的世代。从动机和需求来看,Z世代的人跟X世代或者婴儿潮一代非常不同。

当我谈论内容的多样性时,我谈论的不是单个产品的内容,而是EA的产品组合策略,提供多元化的内容,满足这些玩家的需求。但是我们想到一个游戏点子,比如说《战场》,我并不指望开发团队会朝着多样化和主流化的方向发展。重点在于满足玩家的需求。

我觉得千禧年一代和Z世代在推动某些有趣趋势的发展。他们想要对游戏玩法产生影响,希望自己所做的决定会产生不同于其他人的结果。他们想要更多用户生成的内容。相比X世代或者年龄更大的玩家,他们可能想对游戏体验做出更多改变。在满足这些玩家的动机和需求之外,产品必须还具有挑战、任务等诱惑玩家不断回到游戏中的核心内容,从游戏设计和游戏开发的角度来说,这引发了我们的新思考,实质上是一个巨大的机遇。

社交互动也是我们从Z世代身上发现的一大有趣元素。为此,我们成立了一个专题研究小组。我们之前讨论过在游戏早期就引入社区,就像我前面说过的,像《圣歌》这样的游戏我们让玩家早点参与进来。我们做了尝试,先看看玩家的反应,然后再想想具体要怎么做。X世代的玩家说“不,我想自己一个人。这样我才能够自豪地跟朋友说我在玩这个游戏,厉害吧?我不想让其他人知道。我想要的是‘独占机会’,能跟别人炫耀的东西。”然而Z世代的玩家说“不,我想让我的朋友也一起玩。”

这种小差异其实是非常重要的。他们都想要一些不同于以往的东西。我们创造了新的环境和机会,让这些情感需求在娱乐体验中得到满足,我想这是一个属于EA的机会。

GamesBeat: 你认为我们现在的发展方向是更多用户生成体验吗?还是说他们想要的是其它东西?

Miele: 我想玩家确实想要自己策划游戏内容。我的确是这么想的,有很多这样的玩家想要沉浸其中,享受乐趣。我认为这对我们来说是机会,《战地》就是个好例子。在游戏中,我们加入了战争故事,非常触动人心,能让玩家沉浸于引人入胜的故事中。但是但是有些玩家想要用不同的的方式创造或者改动地图,想让朋友加入进来、创造挑战,这就是我们需要探寻新机会的地方。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

A year ago, Laura Miele moved from head of global publishing at Electronic Arts to chief studios officer at the video game giant。 She is in charge of EA’s global collection of 20 studios with thousands of game developers at places like EA Tiburon, BioWare, Respawn, and DICE。

Those studios create games that generate billions of dollars in revenue, and Miele rose through the ranks at EA in both development and publishing roles。 She has overseen the studios in a tumultuous period, with the high of the success of Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends, and the low of the poor launch of BioWare’s Anthem。

I caught up with Miele at EA Play, the company’s big fan event in Hollywood over the weekend ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo. We talked about her changing role at EA and the lessons of big launches such as Anthem, which didn’t go well, and Apex Legends, which turned out spectacularly. We also spoke about diversity, the evolution of gamers,

Here’s an edited transcript on our interview.

GamesBeat: How are you doing?

Laura Miele: It’s a fun time of year. It’s a big inflection point for us, to pull together all of our content for the year and, at EA Play—historically Gamescom was always my favorite trade show or conference, because it was about the players. That we’re able to bring that to life here with EA Play is pretty fun. I get a lot of meaningful insights from being here and watching our players, talking to players, talking to influencers about how we’re doing, what we could be doing better, what’s exciting to them. I quote them all year through, so now I have a fresh batch of quotes for the year ahead. [Laughs]

GamesBeat: Have you been running all the studios for about a year now? What do you reflect on as far as what’s happened in that time?

Miele: Yeah, a little over a year。 It’s been a pretty eventful year for us。 It was a good year in many ways, and it was also a year that we learned a lot of things。 For me, at least, it will potentially go down in history as a big inflection point for us as far as how we think about creating player experiences for the future and what our thresholds are for quality and how we create the best environment for our game creators。 I learned a tremendous amount from what we put on the market。

We saw some great successes。 We learned from some experiences that played out a different way than we wanted to。 But it was a good year。 I chalk it up as a great year。 We learned a lot and it’s setting the foundation for our strategy in the future。

GamesBeat: When you think about the beginning of that, the transition itself, was it a challenging transition? How would you describe the process of taking over?

Miele: It was incredibly interesting. I’ve been with the company for 23 years. I’ve had a lot of positions in marketing and the business side, analytics, data. I ran Star Wars. Ultimately I started in a studio. I started at Westwood. I worked on Command and Conquer and ran our online teams there. For me, coming back into the studio organization has been a bit of a full-circle moment, though certainly at a different scale.

The transition process for me was to go deep into our studios and our leadership teams. My first 100 days, I toured all of our studios. I went to more than 20 studios around the world and spent time with the teams. I had rules about—they weren’t allowed to present a Powerpoint to me. We spent just a bit of time on the games, but we really spent time talking about the creative process, talking about what’s working well and where we want to see improvement. It helped me tremendously to go in deep and learn and be part of the—to assess the process and spend time with our people and get to know what motivates them and how they see our players.

I also spent time with our game influencers and some of our players. I was able to take the insights and conversations and help that shape and form our strategy for the year ahead. I wanted to come in as if I hadn’t been at the company for 23 years. It was important for me to learn and be very open to hearing and receiving insights and information about our games and our company and our processes. It was incredibly interesting and a lot of fun in a lot of ways. I learned a lot about what’s going well, how we approach our game creation, what our players think of us, and what they would like to see from us – the things they love about what we do and the things they’d like to see us do differently. It’s been great.

GamesBeat: Did you get any instructions or advice from Andrew as to what your mission is, what needed to be done? Was there a mandate of any kind, or was it more exploratory?

Miele: Andrew is probably one of the most inspired leaders I’ve ever worked with. He’s not a prescriptive manager. He’s an inspired leader. He helps me think about our strategic frameworks, our strategic vision. He helps me think about how to manage my own energy and my own time to be the most effective leader that I can be. He helped me lead at scale, which he does incredibly well. He helped me think about and refine our strategic framework and streamline the communication of that to our organization. He also inspires me to think about innovation in the future, that we dare to show up and be disruptive in the marketplace. That’s where he’s pushed me.

As I say, he’s not a prescriptive leader. “Step one, we’ll do X, and step two, we’ll have this new plan.” That’s not how he operates, and I’m grateful for that. He’s pushed me to be a stronger leader. Candidly, I’ve been at the company for 23 years, and I know a lot about the games business. I know a lot about our players and our marketplaces. It’s really about how to lead a creative collective of thousands of people to be the best versions of themselves, to show up for our players in a way that gets us to great games. That’s where he helped me in spades.

GamesBeat: Can you help us understand what decisions you might own, as opposed to what the studios would do or what Andrew would have to decide?

Miele: I believe in having great talent, the best talent we can possibly have. There have been leadership changes in the studio organization over the past year. I believe we have an incredibly strong leadership team in the studio organization today. My job is to empower them. They’re executive vice presidents and senior vice presidents, so they’re empowered to provide creative direction, to kill their games, to greenlight games. They’re at a high level, not just within EA but within the industry overall. They’re leaders with decades of experience in making games.

My role is to inspire them and to remove barriers and to enable the collective to come together。 I really see myself as someone who’s creating a framework for them to do their best work and be the best versions of themselves。 We’ve created things like a creative council。 Vince Zampella, who runs Respawn, he’s leading a creative council for the organization that is akin to the brain trust as far as creativity。 We allow teams to come present their games to them, and he gives feedback。 The teams don’t have to take that feedback, but they get the benefit of him and craft leaders across our studio organization to get these amazing insights about their game。

That’s the power of being part of EA and having 20 studios and all of this creative experience, bringing that to bear for individual studios and teams. Those are the types of programs that I’m putting together in the studio organization to bring the teams and the best creative thinkers to help each other push beyond the boundaries that any studio would have by themselves, sitting in a remote location. They’re getting the benefit of that. I don’t sit in on those meetings. We don’t have executives sit in. It’s purely creative. Again, the teams can take the feedback if they want to or not.

Another example is that we’re bringing the studio organization together as a team. We’re doing peer reviews on games. The teams and studio leaders are playing each other’s games now, which didn’t happen before. Again, I believe in the power, the creativity, and the leadership we have in the studio organization. My job is to bring them together so they can be a multiplier for each other.

I set strategy for the studio organization, for the areas of innovation that we need to pursue, for the generations of players that we need to meet in the marketplace. I work with our partners across the studio organization and across the company – marketing and the CTO organization – bringing their strategies together with our strategies to ensure that we’re meeting the company goals. Andrew sets strategy for the overall company, innovating in how we’re thinking about five years from now and where we’re guiding the company, the business strategies.

And then of course, as you would imagine, there are some black-and-white, binary buckets I’m talking about, but we communicate and talk. The strategy that Andrew sets for our subscription, for our player network in the future—we talk about the games we’re creating. I’m a very transparent leader as well. I want as many people seeing the games we’re creating and getting excited. We have the company advocating for what we’re doing. The company is truly inspired and excited about the content we’re creating.

GamesBeat: I see some things from the outside that look interesting。 I wonder how you think about them, or could summarize what happened。 There’s the question of whether to use Frostbite or use the team’s engine of choice。 How do you look at that, especially over the past year?

Miele: Frostbite is a powerful engine. The vision I’ve set for the studio organization is that I want it to be the ultimate destination for game developers to make great games. In order for us to be the ultimate destination, we have to have the best tech and the best tools to use. As an example, Respawn has come into EA and into the organization, and they’re using different engines.

Where I am right now, I’d like for teams to make sure that we have the right technology, the right engine to optimize their ideas and their creativity. The technology needs to be a supporter and a catalyst for the game ideas and the creativity from the teams. That said, you have a franchise like Battlefield that’s been on Frostbite for its entire life cycle. The game teams know the engine well. They know how to optimize the engine. They have a ton of content that’s compatible with the engine.

I continue to believe in Frostbite as a strategy, but it’s not something we’re forcing on teams that aren’t currently on it. I think that we have to create better accessibility to the engine. We’ve doubled resources in the last six months, and will in the coming year, to build better workflows, interfaces, and tools for the teams to access it.

I love Frostbite, because I think it positions us for the future. The interfaces, workflows, and tools that we create to better access that will unleash the power that will take us into the future that’s going to be—I think Frostbite is going to be needed to realize the potential of technology in the future. I’m optimistic about it, but yes, we have work to do on the accessibility of it for the people that work on it. That’s something we’ve prioritized, and we’re shifting resources toward it. We’re working aggressively against that.

Whether it’s something that—as I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe in mandating or prescribing what teams have to do. But I believe that we’ll be in a position where Frostbite will earn people’s business within the company. I’m excited about that. I believe in the power of the technology.

GamesBeat: What about the success of Apex and the contrast with Anthem? From a management point of view, what actions become necessary based on what you saw there?

Miele: They’re different games and different paths. I’m incredibly proud of Apex, and I’m happy with the independence and disruptive thinking and strategy from the Respawn team, and how our teams internally partnered with them. Not only to help them bring it to market, but also to be disruptive with the marketing and communication in how we brought that to market. We wanted to be disruptive at every turn, on every front, and surprise and delight our players.

The method in how Respawn got to Apex has been interesting to learn from, and how they develop games。 Vince is a passionate believer in getting games stood up as soon as possible。 The idea that the Apex team was playing that game for about 18 months, every day, before it came to market is something that I think is a great discipline and a great approach。 It goes back to the days when I was at Westwood, where it was the same way。 We’d stop working at about four o’clock every day and play the game for a couple hours, play our own game every night。

That’s how games become great。 It’s how you understand the nuances and the implications of design choices that you make and how that plays out in real gameplay with real players。 That was a great learning and insight from the success of Apex。 Clearly that’s a different scale relative to Anthem。 This is a map with eight characters and a mode in the game。 But they’ve done incredibly well。 Their process and methods to get there is something that we’re learning from。 We can all take from their success there。

When I look at Anthem, it’s actually a similar situation, in that a similar approach would have been a big benefit to us with Anthem. Anthem has many systems. It’s an incredibly large world with a lot of characters, a lot of story. A very different scale and different depth and dimension of game development relative to Apex. But what we had in the game—all the parts of the game came together later than they should have. We should have had that game stood up and playable a year before we came to market, and we didn’t.

That’s been one of the most significant pieces of learning for me, in that we’re going to have longer alpha periods。 We’re probably going to start bringing players in sooner。 One of the other complexities around a game the size and scale and scope of Anthem is that it’s comprised of systems, and when you need a volume of players, a million players to come in and test these systems to understand the implications and outcomes of the combination of these systems, you’re not going to get to that in a closed environment with a QA group internally。

You’ll see us start going out for betas—remember MMOs, that would have the beta and then launch? We’ll start rolling out programs like that, so we can test these systems and get to the scale of testing we need to polish and respond and better perfect the gameplay。 A couple of really critical learnings, and some things that we learned as we had the success of Apex, some things we learned as we went to market。

The marketplace is changing。 The interesting thing right now is we go out with brand new games against games that have been in live service for years。 They have a tremendous amount of content。 They’ve been polished and perfected and responding to players。 Getting the benefit of that from a community through our development cycle is something we’re going to launch and kick off。

GamesBeat: What about looking at the industry at large? You have the annualized games like Call of Duty, and then there are things like Red Dead. Every seven years, 2,000 people. How do you look at where you want to be on that spectrum?

Miele: EA’s strategy is to inspire the world to play。 The world is a big, diverse place。 I think we’re going to have to have diverse content and diverse offerings。 Not to be too hyperbolic about it, but we’ll probably have all of the above, I would say。 We’ll have annual offerings。 We’ll have games that take us six years to create。 We’ll have single-player story offerings like Fallen Order。 We’ll have small independent games。

Where the world is headed with services and subscriptions, it’s actually going to liberate us to create small indie story games. It will allow us to create large epic experiences that may take us five or six years. We’ll have annual offerings and iterations on live services in games. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to diversify in the future, more than we ever have, based on how the business models are changing. The idea that we’re not contained in a $60 packaged good anymore is going to open things up for us. It’s exciting for game developers and it’ll be great for players. I’m optimistic about diversifying and thinking differently about our content.

We’ll explore. We’re creating new IP. We’ll bring back some old brands and some old IP, so stay tuned on that. I think we’ll be able to expand out and diversify our offering not only in genres and gameplay styles, but in our brands and stories and characters in the games themselves.

GamesBeat: There are six games here at EA Play, right? I think back to 2008, when you had something like 60 games in the year. Do you feel you’re in a good place on that front? Or do you think you should have more coming?

Miele: What I love about EA’s position in the marketplace is that content is king, and the future will reward the company, the publisher that has the best content and the most diverse content offering. I don’t see our portfolio as seven or eight games, because we have so many games that are on live services. I look at the teams that are dedicated to games and how our teams and people are allocated against these projects and against our player base. We have a lot of games that are actively live right now, being worked on and having new content created.

Could we add more teams or acquire companies into our portfolio? Yes. I’d love for us to continue growing our content offering. But I don’t have a scarcity mindset about what we currently have, because we have so many games, whether you look at our mobile games or our high-def games in services, plus we’re creating a lot of new content.

GamesBeat: It seems like you almost have more brands than you need right now。

Miele: EA has an abundance of great brands. Again, having been with the company for a long time, I have a real love for some of the brands that we’ve worked on in the past, that we’re evaluating and would like to potentially bring back for a new generation of players. Plus, we have to create new brands and new IP as well. Balancing both of those is going to be important for us.

GamesBeat: If you go back to what some of your style is, and what’s emerged now, do you think it’s different from the previous management, different from Patrick in a big way, or different from the way EA has done things in the past?

Miele: We’ve shifted quite a bit in how we manage our studio organizations over the years。 As with anything, it’s dependent on the strengths of any given leader。 I believe, as we were talking about the diversity of content and the diversity of our player base, just how many generations of players we develop for—we have baby boomers and Gen X and millennials and Gen Z all coexisting in the same game experience。 That’s a lot of different motivations and needs we have to meet as game creators。

I believe that with the diversity of the marketplace and our players and content, I think you need diversity in your creative leaders. My approach and style is to ensure that we have not just a great cross-section of creative leaders and talent, but that they have unique experiences in their respective genres and respective players. That’s where we’ll get to great at a larger scale, get to great for more players across more markets and more generations and more genres.

I don’t believe in a singular person directing all creative for all games, all players, and all markets. I love the idea of creative diversity. My greatest opportunity is to bring those creative people together where they inspire each other and become a multiplier in what we’re creating – not just for our players, but for the people who create the games themselves. They feel like they have a career-defining experience being at EA, because they had exposure to all the resources we have, the creative leadership we have, and the great tech and tools we have.

Most companies in our industry, even some of the larger ones, don’t have central tech or teams coming together and partnering and working together like we do。 We’re a large company, so it can feel cumbersome sometimes, but for me, I believe it’s the biggest advantage that we have to unlock。 It can be one of the biggest assets and experiences a developer can have when they come to our company。 My job is to unlock the benefit of that。

I believe in enabling and having diverse creative leadership, so they work together and help each other and lift each other up in their respective genres, with their respective player bases. They help us disrupt and innovate and push the boundaries.
GamesBeat: Your arrival at this management style is interesting in that—the players seem to be changing a lot, too. I wrote a story about the latest Call of Duty, saying that I think the level of graphic realism in the violence is not going to make it fun. I got thoroughly ratio’d on social media by core players who said, “This is what we want. This is exactly what we want. We want something edgy. We don’t want it censored.” I get the feeling that they don’t like the words “mainstream” or “diversity.” I don’t know if it’s the right word, but they want things to be more hardcore. I guess the larger question would be, what is happening with players? They don’t seem to be the way they used to be.

Miele: It’s an interesting time for us as content creators in entertainment. As I mentioned, there are four really different generations that we’re creating for. You look at a Gen Z relative to a Gen X or baby boomer, they have really different motivations and needs.

When I talk about diversity in content, I’m not talking about an individual piece of content necessarily。 I’m talking about a portfolio strategy for Electronics, to have diverse offerings, to meet the motivations and needs of these players。 But the idea that we would have a Battlefield, as an example—I’m not looking to necessarily have the team take that in a direction where it’s diverse and mainstream。 It’s really about meeting those players where they are。

I think there are some interesting trends coming from millennials and Gen Z in that they want agency. They want to have an impact on their gameplay, where the decisions they make have an outcome that’s different than someone else playing that same game. They want to have more user-generated content. They want to modify their game experiences more than perhaps Gen X or older players. Meeting those players’ motivations and needs while still having the core foundation of the game compulsion and the game objectives and the game challenges is something that’s a big opportunity for us in how we think about game design and game development.

Social interaction, what we see with Gen Z players—it’s interesting。 We just did a research focus group。 We were talking about this idea of bringing community in earlier, into the games, what I was mentioning about where we wanted to have more players come in early to a game like Anthem。 We were testing this idea, seeing how players would feel about it and how we would want to serve that to them。 Gen Xers were saying, “No, I just want to do it by myself。 I want to be able to brag to my friends that I’m playing this。 I don’t want anyone else to know。 I want exclusive access to this, and then be able to tell people about it。” The Gen Z people, meanwhile, said, “No, I want to bring all my friends in so we can come have this experience together。”

It’s nuanced and subtle, but it’s important. They all want somewhat different things. The idea that we create environments and opportunities to have those emotional needs met in these entertainment experiences, I think, is our opportunity. It’s super interesting.

GamesBeat: Do you think we’re pushing toward a world of more user-generated experiences? Or do you think something else is what these people want?

Miele: I think players do want curated entertainment experiences. I really do. There’s a big audience of players that want to be immersed and entertained. I just think that are opportunities for us—Battlefield is a good example. We had the War Stories in Battlefield, which are emotional, engaging, and very connected to players. But some players want to create or impact a map in different way, where they can bring their friends in and create challenges, and that’s where we have to explore a new opportunity. How do we allow people to adapt their experience in these environments as well?

(source: )


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