Publishing behemoth EA is now willing to swallow its pride when its games go wrong and makes a point of listening to feedback from the community after years spent ignoring them, EA Sports president Peter Moore has said.
Moore, who joined EA three years ago after time spent at Microsoft and SEGA, takes forum posts from core gamers "very seriously".
"When I first came here we set upon a mission to improve our brand image," Moore told Eurogamer.
"There were a number of things we knew we needed to do. We needed to be a lot more open, forthright and communicative at the development level. Not the marketing level, where we do that very well, in fact as well if not better than anybody else in the industry, but allowing our developers to be able to speak openly and sometimes saying things maybe PR feels uncomfortable with, but we got over that.
"EA had not transformed into a community-based company. There were guidelines saying what you couldn't do, and you weren't media trained. Those days are behind us. When you look at our community boards, we have people now who deal with them as their full-time jobs.
"Just recently on Madden we had an issue with the control mechanism. We decided we'd listen to the community and we're going to fix it, we're going to patch it. Last year with Fight Night we did the same thing.
"You've got to swallow your pride, and say, 'We thought this was the right thing to do. But it isn't, so we're going to give you the ability to play it this way.'
"You just react. It's no longer you ship the game out then move on to the next year."
The public perception of EA as a brand has improved markedly over the last few years.
There was a time when gamers considered EA public enemy number one and suffered constant accusations of milking franchises with soulless, annual releases.
But following the appointment of John Riccitiello as CEO in 2007, EA's brand image has improved.
The company has invested heavily in new games that have scored well in reviews, such as Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, Mass Effect and Dragon Age.
The turnaround in culture has been so drastic that even high-ranking executives like Moore spend time looking at comments on the internet.
"The 12 angry men on the internet, as I call them, it's enough of a sampling size," he said.
"You read fifty, sixty, eighty of them, and you filter out fifty per cent of it just as noise.
"But then there are enough people there that have reasonably articulate and intelligent points of view – for and against – I really don't care. It just allows you to form an opinion. It gives you enough of a sampling size to get a feel for what's going on out there.
"There are people who are just flat out haters. There are people who like to stir things up and be the devil's advocate. And there people who just don't like EA. And there are people who don't like the capitalistic nature of the videogame industry.
"But overall, if I see a story I'm interested in, I read the story quickly and then I go see what the reaction is. I always do that."
Moore provided a recent example: EA Sports' gamescom announcement that gamers will be able to play as the goalkeeper in 11 versus 11 matches in upcoming footie game FIFA 11 drew some criticism in forum threads.
"I was online last night and reading the naysayers," Moore said. "I guess if you go back to PES a decade ago there was a manual play as a goalkeeper mode then, but it was very primitive and it wasn't involved in 11 versus 11.
"Yes, it's probably been done before. You could always play as a manual goalkeeper. But in this 11 versus 11 element of it, that's real interesting. It's fabulous.
"But then as I got deeper into the thread, more rational people came in and said, 'This could be a lot of fun.'"
So there you have it: Peter Moore is watching.
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