“People do their best work when they are excited about what they do.” Such is the thought of Samantha Ryan, Senior VP and Group GM at Electronic Arts. She oversees studios such as BioWare, Full Circle, Motive, and more, and after a structural change at the company, she is the direct link between the teams and EA CEO, Andrew Wilson. In a recent interview with gamesindustry.biz, Ryan explained why she found it so imperative for studios to work on what fills them with passion.
When discussing the upcoming returns of franchises like Dead Space and Skate, Ryan revealed how the decision to bring them back was directly influenced by the teams making them. She explained that EA has a lot of IPs under their umbrella, and how it was not possible to bring them all back, but that “when a strong group of developers has a particular passion, and we see that fans are equally passionate… the fates converge.” She affirmed that when she sees these convergences, it’s her job to make them happen. But it goes beyond these two titles. Ryan claims that in general, EA is now giving studios “more autonomy” when it comes to the games they want to make.
“Passionate developers generally make better games,” she stated simply, going on to describe her meetup with the creative leader for Star Wars: Squadrons, and how awed she was when she saw the pictures he’d drawn as a child of being inside the cockpit of a starfighter. It’s her opinion that having developers handle any type of project was plausible in the earlier days of the industry, but now, as games become more complex and specific, the devs’ interests and backgrounds need to match what’s being made.
An example of this may be the recent announcement of a single-player Iron Man game that’s in development at Motive. Producer for the game, Olivier Proulx, told gamesindustry.biz how important it was for this to be a single-player narrative-driven game, in order to take advantage of the “complexity and charisma” of Tony Stark’s Character.
Ryan went on to speak about community engagement, and how she’s been changing the perspective on this with the studios under her umbrella. She emphasized the importance of fan feedback and believes it’s now smarter to be as transparent as possible, as early as possible.
“Gamers have become incredibly sophisticated,” she states, so they understand how games start off with unfinished and rough-looking textures. This way, Ryan says game development has a more collaborative approach with its player base and feedback can be implemented as early as possible. We’ve seen examples of these with early development live streams of EA’s upcoming Dead Space remake, and the closed playtest of the Skate reboot.