Ten months after stumbling his way through Rock Band at Microsoft's E3 2007 press conference, Peter Moore is back in the spotlight. The former showman of Seattle's shock departure from the platform holder came less than a week after Eurogamer's last interview with Moore. Now firmly installed as EA Sports supremo, Moore used this month's Season Opener event at EA Canada to re-emerge from self-imposed public exile, not just to showcase the publisher's latest sporting wares, but also to launch himself back into the media frontline and evangelise the changes he's implemented since sliding into his big, leather Mr President chair.
Whether it was unveiling the studio's bold new casual strategy, limbering (and dressing) up in the ring with world-beating bruisers, or appearing in contorted digital form in several of EA's upcoming titles, Moore's mark was stamped all over the event. This was his vision, and he's very clearly been itching to tell us all about it. Once he'd ditched the iridescent boxing garb and slipped into something a little more 'executive', Eurogamer caught up with Moore, as candid and forthright as ever, to tackle him on his roles past and present.
Eurogamer: It was good to see you in the ring this morning, looking great in your robe.
Peter Moore: I'm never afraid of making a fool of myself as you well know.
Eurogamer: You're certainly never afraid to get involved, and it was good to see you back out in front of a crowd again yesterday. Is it fair to say you've missed being centre stage over the past year?
Peter Moore: Well, it was a very high profile role I had at Microsoft and I thoroughly enjoyed being a protagonist for Xbox, being the face of the business and running the business as well. But I like to think that the work we're doing here is equally important. We're doing a lot more work now, as you've see from the Season Opener - it's less about me.
I enjoy it and I enjoy having fun. [EA's PR] talks me into doing some weird stuff. There was going to be a lot worse than that at one point. I was gonna be in a mo-cap suit and it was gonna get ugly. That would have been the jiggles you saw there. You know me, I have a lot of fun - it's a fun industry. What's not to like?
Eurogamer: Couple of quotes that stood out to me in the presentation you gave yesterday. "Our games can be too hard sometimes"; "there are issues of approachability". I also notice there's a Satoru Iwata portrait on the wall over there talking about games for the masses [commemorating his 2007 visit to the studio]. I couldn't help but notice an irony - aren't those the sort of problems that Xbox currently has?
Peter Moore: It's a very similar branding problem. When we moved from Xbox to Xbox 360, the Xbox was the shooter box, the hardcore box; it was black, it was aggressive in its design. The advertising - you remember the champagne ad in the UK of the baby being born? It was very dark.
That, if you will, set the tone for the Xbox brand from that moment onwards. Here at EA Sports we have a similar problem; I don't think it's quite as big a problem as we had at Xbox of taking a piece of hardware and all the content, and moving to a more mass-market. I think we did a reasonable job of going from black to white, the architectural design being more organic, from "It's good to play together" to "Jump in".
But the same here, we run a very large, hardcore business that is a little bit out of position for Nintendo Wii consumers coming in. You don't want to lose that core consumer, but you've got to go after and captivate the masses and find a way to bring them in.
We used the analogy of a swimming pool, which people have mocked us for. But it's a good analogy. EA Sports was the deep end, right? You either jumped in, you sank or you swam, or you were intimidated and didn't go near the water. We needed to provide a shallow end. So things like All Play for the Wii, the Freestyle brand, provide that shallow end that you can get in and hopefully move down the pool, which we want you to do. But unless we do that, we're really out of position.
Eurogamer: And having tuned in to this change, that Nintendo has done so much to push and that you talked passionately about yesterday, did you feel that towards the end at Microsoft, with the way the company is structured, that you weren't able to pursue this goal there, as you can now?
Peter Moore: Microsoft has different motives for getting into the business. We saw it as a way of being in the living room, being a major player, building some great games, but really looking to a consumer that was more technically able. Linking in MSN Messenger, Zune, all of the things we felt would provide a much broader experience.
It's two different companies. You've got the hardware, software, services mentality of what Microsoft needs to do, and then you've got us who are pure software play, but are also gravitating to a service-oriented company. But our consumer segment is so wide, and the industry is changing enormously. We really were feeling about six moths ago that we needed to do a completely different job on the Wii. We needed to build the games from the ground up, and we needed a more approachable face for the brand - at the same time not dumbing things down.
I saw a number of stories today: 'EA Sports is dumbing down the experience'. I must have said three times yesterday, we're not dumbing down the experience. As you've seen in the games, there are ways to help you along. Tiger Woods is a great example with Hank Haney [your mentor in-game].
The key is, it recognises how good you are pretty quickly. If you're a hardcore Madden player, you don't need a lot of help. But if you're like me and you jump in and you're not very good, the game helps you along. And that's the key.