Trip Hawkins is the founder of the largest publisher, Electronic Arts. He even came up with the popular Madden series. He also found 3DO and released his own game console. Recently he made another new company, Digital-Chocolate. This time however, he will be making games for mobile phones. And for those wondering, he hasn’t been with EA for some time now so don’t say you don’t like him because of EA.
Something that was on people’s minds before, though not as talked about currently, is that the next-gen systems will bring an increase in game prices. Currently, we do see some premium titles but we mostly see the price at $49.99. Do you feel an overall price increase in games will come with the next-gen consoles?
I don’t think prices will go up, in part because gamers can always rent the games. read more on…
One change that we will be seeing with games is in regards to sports’ licensing. EA now has the exclusive rights to the NFL and Take-Two has the exclusive rights to the MLB (with exception of 1’st party publishers). Being the creator of the top-selling Madden series, how do you think this exclusive licensing will affect the future of sports games?
There have always been a lot of exclusive licenses and sometimes the publisher cuts some corners or gets a bit lazy and the quality goes down. But there are plenty of examples where that doesn’t happen, so we should all hold out hope that quality is maintained.
With the next Xbox planned for release prior to Nintendo’s and Sony’s next systems, the cost of implementing a next-gen media format (HD-DVD or Blu-Ray) would be expensive. What do you think if Xbox 2 used the standard DVD format instead of high definition?
Personally, I don’t think this is an important distinction. But maybe some early adopters will care about this and at least initially sway market share. HD will only be relevant in the long run if applications like football use it effectively to enable you to see more of the field. But I think the players are already on information overload as it is.
While on the subject of console hardware, what do think about hard drives in consoles? On message boards, people have expressed that their reason for purchasing an Xbox was due to the hard drive and that the will only purchase Xbox 2 if it contains a hard drive. Could they be the future of consoles?
Historically, new consoles have launched at prices like $299 and $199. If the platform maker can afford a hard drive and hit those prices then they will become a standard feature. But I think it was pretty painful for Microsoft on the first Xbox and it is not unreasonable to treat it as an upgrade add-on.
We have seen a couple of game companies go under in just this generation of systems (including your own 3DO). Do you see it getting harder for companies to make it, as production costs increase?
Console game publishing has become more like theatrical release film-making and it is very hard if you are not one of the major publishers, and even for them it is hard unless they are working with major game brands. It is very unfortunate that it is now very hard to innovate because of the cost-structure.
EA has made its way to the top. Are there any publishers that you see rising up in the future and possibly taking over “the top spot?”
The candidates would be EA, Sony, Microsoft, and Konami. But any big change is more likely to result if there is a disruptive event such as new technologies or platforms that have a surprising effect on market share.
What do you think about Nintendo’s future? People have commented that they should focus only on portable systems in the future.
My magic eight ball says they will be acquired by Microsoft within five years.
We have heard about at least two companies being sued for work conditions-EA and VU. Do you think this may improve or will we start hearing more about this in the future?
Yeah, we’ve all heard about EA Spouse! It’s a tough problem on both sides. Hollywood has some of the same issues and of course has been unionized for quite some time. Outsourcing is going to be another factor in this story. Lower labor costs and tax benefits have, for example, caused publishers like EA, UbiSoft, and others to move more production to Canada. Digital Chocolate has 60% of its developers in Finland where the sun never sets in the summer and there is nothing to do outside in the winter, so we are very productive! 😉
Do you think online gaming will play a big part with the next-gen systems or will it still be in an “early phase?”
Online console gaming will continue to grow at a healthy pace. It makes a lot of sense, because hardcore gamers have the appetite to compete against each other.
Not that long ago, IGN posted an article regarding the lack of original titles. Thinking about games that are in development, the majority are sequels or licensed games based off of a movie or tv show. Do you think we will continue to see a decrease in original titles?
What original titles? Just kidding. This is a huge problem. As a result, we will continue to see more innovation on the Internet and on mobile phones than on consoles.
To close things up, have you ever had the interest in wanting to create another system?
Uh, let me think about it… I’ve decided. No! That is like asking me if I want to put my hand on a hot stove again. 😉 The system, as it is now, is fully operational and I think that, at this point, it would just be useless to create another system that would be better or more efficient and successful. The users are quite happy with the present setting so due to this fact, it is better to leave the things where they are at the moment. I have worked very hard to make this system as it is today and for now, it does not have to go through any changes what so ever. Maybe in the future, when demands change and users start asking for a better system, we do something that would make this platform now evolve. For now, let us concentrate on what we have and make online console gaming greater than it ever was. After all, gaming is not only about competition, it is much more about having some real fun.
A big thanks to Trip Hawkins for taking some time and answering some questions.
more quotes from: Trip Hawkins