John Riccitiello has a dream. Not one as lofty or famous as the dreams of other leaders but one that’s just as difficult to achieve. He, the boss of EA, believes that Activision’s Call of Duty franchise can be toppled from being the public’s number one FPS. His plan (via Kotaku) is simple: “Make a better game. And make a better game again.” Last year, Modern Warfare 2 broke all kinds of entertainment records and this year, Black Ops strode past those numbers with ease. Before any review was even read, Activision already had gamers queuing at midnight. So their brand is a seemingly infallible one but rather than battle it head on, Riccitiello would prefer his game – whatever it will be – to receive a higher Metacritic score. “If I had to pick the story I’d like to play out next year is we ship a 90[%] and they ship an 85[%].” He clearly considers the internet’s review hub as an acute indicator of a game’s quality. Riccitiello added: “What I’ve witnessed a couple of times in the games industry is the way you unseat a market leader is you make a better game a couple of times in a row. “ EA have indeed tried their best to do just that with Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Medal of Honor. The problem they had was how both games borrowed a couple of elements from Call of Duty (more so with Medal of Honor) and when your main focus is on toppling the competition, you don’t tend to have a 90% quality game.
Choosing to ignore Medal of Honor‘s combined score, Riccitiello cites Black Ops and Battlefield Bad Company 2‘s Metacritic average as a noteworthy comparison. He said he thought it was “interesting” that they both received 88%. But when BBC2 was reviewed by 75 critics and Blops had 84, the results aren’t exactly scientific. Still, Riccitiello thinks that DICE who developed the Battlefield games (and MoH‘s multiplayer) are the studio who can put an end to Activision’s rule: “We knew we were building on [the] Unreal [graphics technology] for Medal of Honor which wasn’t our foot-forward tact. We knew that going in. Our next game [Battlefield 3] is being built on the second generation of Frostbite which I think is at least in my opinion is a class act for FPS. I think we’re going to lift the game pretty dramatically in the first-person shooter category.” I hope so and was talking to a friend about this today, how FPSs are in need of something new.
EA performed pretty well this year with their shooters but as is the way with company bosses, Riccitiello wants more out of 2011 and again states DICE with the next Battlefield to be the ones that can deliver just that: “I have great expectations to do a lot better in 2011 than in 2010 on the strength of a couple of products like Bulletstorm and Crysis , but most importantly for us, Battlefield 3, which I feel incredibly good about.” He added : “Over time we can take the lead.” However, it’ll take both changes from Activision and EA to elicit a shift in dominance. The next Call of Duty game will have to be a sub-standard version of its former self and Battlefield 3 needs to best it in every way. That should sow the seeds of doubt in consumers’ minds and they may just start to believe their friend who always says how superior Battlefield is to CoD. And of course EA are publishing the next game from Jason West and Vince Zampella, former key members of the Call of Duty series. All eyes will eagerly be on them to see if they can produce a golden egg for EA as they previously did for Activision.