Electronic Arts CEO: We're not just about sequels

The video game giant showed its first entirely new game since Andrew Wilson was named CEO in 2013. It won't be the last, he says.

Ian Sherr Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
3 min read

EA's latest title, Unravel, is also the first entirely new game in years. Electronic Arts

LOS ANGELES -- Electronic Arts is investing in new, original games.

That's the message its CEO Andrew Wilson delivered at a press conference the company held here for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the video game industry's biggest confab of the year. That's when the company introduced a new title called Unravel, a puzzle adventure game made by a 14-person development team in Sweden.

It's an unusual looking title coming from a company best known for its blockbuster Battlefield war simulation games, Need for Speed racing titles and Dragon Age adventure franchise.

But the choice to promote Unravel during the company's most high-profile presentation of the year speaks to players, investors and analysts who had begun to worry whether EA could launch entirely new games. That likely won't be the only one either; the company has another two games it's looking at as well.

"I think blockbuster games can be blockbuster games, but these other games should be made as well," Wilson said.

EA has been through dramatic change in the nearly two years since Wilson was named CEO. He's shifted the company's culture and operating structure to focus on customer service and quality, be that through working together more or delaying a highly-anticipated game to give it more polish. The company, however, still has work to do repairing its reputation with gamers who are frustrated by past mistakes, like the botched launch of its Sim City game in 2013, and business efforts like selling additional game storylines and features after they've launched, as well as the company's efforts to market its online store and gaming service, Origin.

Wilson is preparing to bring together EA's leadership later this year to discuss the company's next act. "Now that we've gotten to a place where we're building great games and focused on the player, and doing what we need to be doing, now we need to lead," he said.

Part of that is creating entirely new games, an effort Wilson has devoted about 25 percent of EA's research and development budget toward. But it also means responding to the flood of game-playing devices arriving on store shelves.

In the past decade, devices ranging from smartphones and tablets to smartwatches and virtual-reality headsets come into the market, each demanding their own games.

Wilson wants EA to begin building its games with a common underlying technology. The company is already on its way, he said. Titles like its PGA Tour golf game are built using the same game-making tools as its Battlefield war simulation game. EA is slowly shifting more of its game development to this one set of tools, called Frostbite, which he said can work on nearly any game-playing device.

Using those tools will also free up game developers to spend time to make better games.

It's all part of Wilson's attempts to answer the question of how EA will continue to innovate. "It speaks to the puzzle we need to solve," he said. "The world we live in is more complex than even two or three years ago."

Follow all the latest news from E3 2015 on CNET and GameSpot.