A Global Vision From the New Man at EA Sports
By SETH SCHIESEL
EA Sports is one of the most powerful, lucrative brands in the video game business. That’s not enough for Peter Moore.
Two months ago Mr. Moore stunned the game world with the announcement that he would step down as head of ’s games operation to be president of the sports division at , the No. 1 game publisher. He started his new job yesterday, and today in a presentation to journalists at the company’s headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., he is to share his vision for moving EA Sports beyond video games to a global sports and entertainment enterprise.
“There is a great opportunity to take EA Sports and turn it into a general sports brand that can compete not only with Take-Two and Konami and the other usual suspects in the video game world,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday, but also “to look at ourselves in a different way and compete with the likes of and ESPN to win the hearts and minds of a very desirable demographic group, which is the 14-to-34-year-old male worldwide.
“That could mean broadcast sports, sports camps, the ability to license consumer products around the EA Sports brand,” he continued. “That means technology that brings sports to life for coaches, players and television viewers, and it means services online for sports fans to connect with one another.”
Ben Schachter, an Internet and video game analyst at UBS Securities, agreed that Mr. Moore’s big challenge was to find different ways to compete for the time and eyeballs of young men.
“They have certainly been successful in areas like football, but the big question going forward is whether they can actually grow the user base and get these young male consumers to buy more EA Sports products,” Mr. Schachter said. “They are competing not only against nonsports video games but also the MySpaces and Facebooks of the world, and they need to find new ways to bring in those potential customers.”
The company’s cornerstones — Madden football, FIFA soccer and Tiger Woods golf games — continue to sell millions of copies each year, but both and its sports operation have grown sluggishly, if at all, in recent years. John Riccitiello, who took over as ’ chief executive in spring, has pledged to reinvigorate the company and seems to have brought in Mr. Moore as one of his prime agents of change.
“It may sound like heresy, but I’m not here to just sell more Maddens and more FIFAs,” Mr. Moore said. “Protecting our base is very important, but I didn’t come here to just maintain the status quo and build the business 5 to 7 percent a year.”
In particular, Mr. Moore said, there could be an opportunity for to set up a global news and social networking service for sports fans.
“As a sports fan, for the information I have to collate every morning, I have to go to 8 to 10 to 13 different sites just to hit my favorite bookmarks,” he said. “Yahoo has a lot, and ESPN too, but ESPN is very North American. I think we have an opportunity to aggregate information and bring it to life with video technologies.”
In general, he said he would push his operation to develop more online products and to pay more attention to the PC, which is the dominant gaming system in outside of , especially in and .
The overall concept, Mr. Moore said, is to focus on opportunities to use technology and the EA Sports brand to connect sports fans. As an example of his intended direction, he said he planned to unveil today EA Sports GameShow, a live online trivia game to be made available free for PCs this fall.
In GameShow, which will be advertising-supported, players will log in to compete in live trivia contests, both individually and as part of teams. Mr. Moore said if the initial game was a success, it could potentially move to the online services associated with major game consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3.
“We continue to talk a good game about online, but we as publishers have not taken full advantage of that opportunity,” he said. “In some ways GameShow is a pilot for what we hope to be a much more substantial online presence going forward.”
Mr. Moore’s background may be particularly suited to the challenge he has set himself. Before working in the games business at and as president of Sega of America, he was a senior marketing executive at Reebok and president of the United States operation of Patrick, a French sportswear company.
“If we look at this connected world we’re entering, sports is a sort of social and cultural glue that reaches across the globe,” he said. “There is an opportunity for EA Sports to evolve beyond a games brand to become a true global sports and entertainment brand, and I think we can compete there.”