We last caught up with the flamboyant president of EA Sports in Vancouver almost a year ago, at his division's first major public showcase since he quit Microsoft's Redmond mothership for a Liverpool FC-themed office in San Francisco.
Last week, the British exec who describes himself as a "hybrid Scouse-American", was at London's Emirates Stadium, home to the consistently trophyless Arsenal, for the unveiling of FIFA 10.
Moore used the occasion to update everyone on the performance and philosophy of EA Sports, assuring us, somewhat unnecessarily, that "we drip with testosterone", while outlining the "five pillars" of the company: "Expand the brand; Globalise; Digitise; Capture the core; Captivate the masses". All the while oozing manly sweat.
The details of EA's latest kickaround are strictly embargoed for the time being - stay tuned for an in-depth preview - but Eurogamer went pitchside with an ever-candid, engaging and thoughtful Moore to talk us through the rest of his squad.
Eurogamer: One of the things I liked in your opening presentation was when you were almost glowering at Dave [Rutter, FIFA producer], and talking about the Metacritic rating. FIFA 09 is right up there [a rating of 87 on PS3 and 360], but now you want 90?
Peter Moore: I want 90! It's a challenge, and as I said in the presentation, it's not easy with sports games to continue to raise the bar every single year - and it's half tongue-in-cheek as I know how difficult it is. FIFA 09 has been spectacular and we've got a high bar for FIFA 10. So yeah, Rutter's got some work to do, but yeah, I'd like a 90 this year.
Eurogamer: Speaking of innovating more generally in sports: MotionPlus. You're bundling it with a couple of titles - what does it mean for the Sports division?
Peter Moore: It's great. As we've said over the last 12-18 months, the Wii is both a challenge and an opportunity for us and I think having both our golf game in Tiger Woods PGA Tour, and of course our brand new tennis game, coming at the same time as MotionPlus gives us a great opportunity really now to take advantage of the Wii.
Grand Slam Tennis we're excited about, because it's the first time ever we've been able to bring tennis to the EA Sports portfolio, and what better time when now we're able really to play with the level of sensitivity like a real racquet. And then Tiger's always done well on the Wii and I think now the added touch and feel you have with MotionPlus brings it to life in an even greater way. Those two titles couldn't come at a better time for us, nor for Nintendo quite frankly.
Eurogamer: One sport that I can see would benefit enormously from MotionPlus is cricket. This is something you've commented on in your blog recently...
Peter Moore: Yes!
Eurogamer: And in response to all the rumours doing the rounds... If I can quote you, you said: "If and when we have an announcement to make about a title, we will do so in a timely and structured manner". Perfectly reasonable position to adopt. You also said: "No amount of persistent pushing can create a game that does not exist." Which sounds pretty definitive. Are you absolutely saying there is no cricket game, there has not been a cricket game in the works?
Peter Moore: I'll be very clear. Obviously, there's always rumours abounding for what we're developing, what people would like, and they think that if they say enough and they mount a petition...
I can't create games. Particularly right now when we look at the more difficult business decisions we have to make, and unfortunately EA had to let 1,100 people go as you saw before the holidays. And so the decisions I have to make as a business leader are based on: how do I make sure I'm generating the revenue that I need to keep my people employed, and keep putting capital back in the investments we do in sport? So I will just reiterate the words you read just then from my blog. And the announcement thing I'll deal with separately, but there's no plans to announce anything right now about cricket.
Eurogamer: Is cricket important to EA?
Peter Moore: We've done it before. We've done rugby before. I don't want to call it a second-tier game, but it's a regional game. We're not going to sell a lot of cricket in the US. At the same time, if you'd asked me maybe three years ago, if I'd been in this role, will you have the ability to take some risks, I might have been more bullish on taking more risks with games of maybe a regional nature that can't drive the global business.
You saw one of the strategic pillars we have for EA Sports is to globalise the business. But that doesn't mean regionalise, that doesn't mean sports that are only impactful in certain countries. And so we have to make difficult decisions every single year about where we put our money and where we don't put our money, because I have people's jobs in my hands. And if a game doesn't pan out the way we expected it to then jobs are in jeopardy, and I take that very, very seriously.
Eurogamer: What are the criteria for selecting who goes onto the cover of one of your games?
Peter Moore: Well, we talk about a product's 'X' for every single game. When we develop a product, our teams think about what is the 'X'. And the 'X' is the positioning of where we want that product to be. For our NFL game this year, our 'X' is 'Fight for every yard'.
But the criteria is pretty simple - who are athletes that people respect, who are players that we know will drive sales obviously, who fits into the EA Sports criteria of being a great player, or an authentic player to the game, somebody we feel proud about? You look at the skill of a Ronaldinho, you look at the never-say-die attitude of a Wayne Rooney...
Eurogamer: Well, on that note, in terms of someone people can respect and are proud of: Mike Tyson is on the cover of Fight Night Round 4. Is it an issue that this guy is a convicted rapist? Are you entirely comfortable with him being on the cover of an EA Sports game?
Peter Moore: He is on the cover of Fight Night Round 4 because he's one of the greatest boxers of all time. He's on the cover because what our fans have told us and the feedback we got since Fight Night Round 3 is, what is the ultimate boxing match you would want to see if you could take a fighter in his prime versus another fighter in his prime? And overwhelmingly it's Iron Mike Tyson - the Mike Tyson I remember as a kid out of New York - versus Mohammed Ali in his prime.
Clearly you've seen those are the two fighters on the cover. We respect Iron Mike for who he was as a boxer, and we certainly respect Mohammed Ali for who he was as a boxer as well.
Eurogamer: But do you understand that people might have an issue with that?
Peter Moore: I fully understand people's issues with that and you know, the challenge you have with athletes is that they're human beings and you look at what you do, and you make some hard choices. I actually made that decision because of the respect I have for Mike Tyson as a boxer.
Eurogamer: Is there anything, then, from a sportsman's past that would prevent them from becoming a cover star? For instance, if they were active again now, would you put a former drugs cheat on the cover of an EA Sports game?
Peter Moore: You know, it's an interesting question because you look at it, and right now - I don't know how much you follow baseball - but there's a period where performance-enhancing drugs were not tested for, or the testing was kept private and so there is clearly a large percentage of baseball players from a particular era that used performance-enhancing drugs. And many of them have been exposed, some of them have admitted to it, and it's really difficult to pick through all of that. Athletes are human beings. You look at some of the decisions we have to make and they're not easy to make, so it's a case-by-case situation for us.
Eurogamer: EA Sports Active - I tried this out yesterday, Jen [Riley, EA PR Manager and punishing fitness freak] put me through my paces. Trying to do lunges in jeans was an interesting experience. You've done the '30 Day Challenge'. How did that go for you?
Peter Moore: You know, it's interesting. I love it and I've been doing it... The Wii Fit phenomenon was something that caught our attention a while ago. Almost when I first came on board, we started to talk about how can we take advantage of this very unique game input. And with Dave McCarthy [EA Sports exec producer, also annoyingly healthy] we started to look at ways we could attach the Wii remote to the body.
It's been a steep learning curve for EA Sports to go talk to a woman - talking to a girl for goodness sakes! - and bringing in consultants, bringing in trainers, really getting the balance and the personalisation right, and [we're] delighted with the final product and couldn't be more excited about the launch of this.
As I said in my remarks earlier, 'games for good' is something we should take with some seriousness around our gaming industry and I think Nintendo's taught us the opportunity with fitness, health and wellness, and who better than EA Sports to take advantage of that?
Eurogamer: And the medical community is now turning to games as a useful tool in the fight against obesity, particularly childhood obesity - it's just getting that message across that games is a socially responsible industry.
Peter Moore: Yeah, as you probably remember, I'm a former P.E. teacher and I can remember the difficulty of getting kids out on a cold day to play rugby or whatever it used to be in those days, and I see more and more, how do you make physical exercise more relevant to the modern lifestyle? And tying it to a videogame seems like the obvious thing to do to get kids more interested in it.
I think we have a huge opportunity to impact change, and boy do we have a childhood obesity issue in the United States. And if you can make exercise fun, and you can make it more relevant to their regular lives, then job well done for us.
Eurogamer: With your wealth of experience of doing E3 shows, what do you think each platform holder needs to achieve this year?
Peter Moore: First of all, I think all three platforms in their own right are doing very well. I think the industry is incredibly healthy - if you look at the numbers, certainly the Nintendo Wii continues to bring new people into our business, and boy are we thankful for that. And we as an industry need to continue to take advantage of that and maybe make better games for the Wii, and make sure we're delivering entertainment that that consumer wants at that time.
The 360 and the PS3 are obviously in a slightly different space. I think online in both seems to be giving us a lot of business opportunities going forward for us to take advantage of, and it's going to be interesting. To your point, it feels like the old E3s again, and while it's not going to be as big as the 60-70,000 days, 45,000 sounds pretty big to me. And it seems like there'll be a little bit more of a consumer linkage this time.
Eurogamer: As a major publisher boss, but with your prior Microsoft connections, are you privy to the plans of Nintendo and Sony, as well as the Microsoft?
Peter Moore: Mmm, no.
Eurogamer: Are you anticipating new hardware - not in terms of new consoles, although we believe a new PSP is almost certainly going to happen - but in terms of new peripherals, that kind of thing?
Peter Moore: I don't actually worry about that. Our primary focus is making sure that we have our own press conference as well, which will be on the Monday, and we're focused on making sure we're delivering that. We look forward with everybody else to sitting in the audience of the Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo press conferences and learning what the future is with that. So no, I'm not privy to it, I've got enough to worry about. I think I understand what I need to do to be successful at E3 and get ready for the holiday.
Eurogamer: Is EA Sports working on any titles specifically to take advantage of any new hardware that might be unveiled at E3?
Peter Moore: No.
Eurogamer: So you're going to do your own show at E3. And that's one of the things EA hired you for, to be at the front and the personality. The other thing you're doing, of course, is your blog - how's that going?
Peter Moore: The blog is just a barrowload of monkeys. I thoroughly enjoy it; it's a great forum for having controversial subjects. You've got to have some thick skin, as you know, and you have a lot of critics which is perfectly fine, and you get a lot of feedback. Most of it is very valid and you have to pick through it, and our teams read it. I love the ability to interact directly with consumers. Most of them like the ability to interact directly back with me!
I get a bee in my bonnet sometimes. Maybe I'm sat there at Christmas watching Eurogamer every day unfold thinking, boy, FIFA must be in the top 40. No! It must be in the top 30. Wow! It's in the top 20! Oh my goodness, it's in the top 10! Wait a second! It's not in the top 50 at all?!
And then you sit there and you type away and you vent. And that actually was a lot of fun.
Eurogamer: We had the back and forth and we gave you that bonus entry in the Editor's blog as well.
Peter Moore: There you go! It actually got some really intelligent conversation about sports games and their role in these awards, and I learned a lot about World of Goo and Bangai-O Spirits that I probably wouldn't have [otherwise].
Eurogamer: Culturally, it's quite a change for EA - executives haven't normally engaged in this. [But] it's part of what you do - you've always wanted to engage the audience and be quite candid. Has that ruffled any feathers since you joined EA? I look back at the Guardian interview you did, and you were talking a lot about people and companies you used to work with, and we were hearing that there were a few raised eyebrows within 'old EA' about that?
Peter Moore: Yeah, the Guardian thing was unfortunate, because [it] was for a feature for a magazine and the journalist then took the notes and, as he admitted when he posted, there was no approval or intention that those notes should then be used to create an unfolding blog entry over five days. And that was unfortunate and I learned a lesson there, quite frankly.
But the culture at EA is a relatively open one. Not just me, but I now encourage every one of our development teams to have full open blogs, which they do. We were guilty a couple of years ago at EA Sports of having the development process be some closed-ranks process where we would deliver you a screenshot every now and then and maybe when we're ready to tell you about a game, we'll do that. We can't do that any more; our community's a passionate one and they call us out on this stuff and rightly so.
All of our teams now are very active. We've given our teams video cameras and not only do we sit and type our blogs, our teams are encouraged to sit down at the end of the day and talk about what they've been doing on video, and then post video blogs.
Eurogamer: When are we going to see you on Twitter, Peter?
Peter Moore: You know, I recognise what Twitter is and it's a lot of fun for a lot of people, but I don't think you'd find my life particularly interesting. I have enough to do without sending tweets out every... I'm not sure I can put my life in 140 characters per tweet.
Back to your original point, there's much more - particularly with John Riccitiello coming back - openness and candidness about what we need to do to be more open about who we are as a company, because I think we have a perception that we need to cure, quite frankly, of who we are. We are a very creative company. I've been in this industry 10 years now, and I've met in the last 18 months some of the most creative and hard-working people that I've ever met, and I don't think the outside world sees that with EA and that really is a shame. And certainly having that open interaction via blogs or Twitter is one way of maybe opening a little bit of our soul to the outside world, and I think people would appreciate that.
Eurogamer: What would you consider at the moment to be the weak areas of your portfolio that need the most work?
Peter Moore: Well, I think we need to continue to work on the Wii. When I look at the attach rate on the Wii of our software to where I think we should be, we're under-performing still, we need to do much better. I think we need to continue to increase our online presence - even though we're doing a lot of stuff, [which has started] to happen in the last six months. And the globalisation of our business - still to this day I need to make sure that we feel like a global company. I love coming here, but I end up talking about FIFA, FIFA, FIFA, FIFA; whereas when I'm in the US I'll talk about Madden, NHL, NBA, NASCAR previously, so I need to have a better portfolio that feels more global.
Eurogamer: That's why you need a cricket game!
Peter Moore: Apparently so! According to the internet.
Peter Moore is president of EA Sports. Johnny Minkley supports Manchester United, but he's not all bad.