For fans of the Electronic Arts franchise Command and Conquer looking forward to the spinoff game, Tiberium, I'm afraid I have some bad news.
According to a story in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, EA has decided to shutter production of the new first-person shooter, citing quality issues.
Tiberium was "not on track to meet the high quality standards" EA sets for its games, a spokesperson told the Journal. "A lower quality game is not in the best interest of the consumers and would not succeed in this market."
The Journal article calls the move a setback for EA, saying the company "has been working to turn itself around under (CEO) John Riccitiello (who) has made moves to help boost the game publisher's growth and lower development costs that have contributed to six straight quarters of loss."
But to me, I think it's a good move by EA to yank the cord on games it sees as sub-standard. To be sure, it would have been better for the company to have Tiberium be a big commercial hit; short of that, however, it shows a bit of maturity on the part of management to make the decision to cut short development of sub-standard games that would, in the end, water down its brand.
And that's because one of the reasons the company has seen quarterly losses piling up is a sense in the marketplace that its games have stagnated a bit. Of course, it has its regular stable of big hits like Madden football and FIFA soccer, and new games like Spore. But one big criticism of the company over the last few years is that it has relied too much on low-quality franchise games that have ceased to get the faithful worked up.
In a recent interview, EA Games label president Frank Gibeau told me that, "We (had) lost faith with our customers because we were churning out games that might have made sense from a financial standpoint, but frankly we had walked away from the art of making games and offering breakthrough creative experiences. There weren't as many games in our lineup that I wanted to play anymore."
Tiberium was a new game, but it was a spinoff of the Command and Conquer series, and so I suspect that the quality bar for it was very high. So I think it's good to see EA realize that it's better to lose a year's worth of development time than to keep throwing good money after bad, especially on a game that was not an entirely new experience.
Hopefully, the design team behind the game can now put their energies and efforts to work on something new that will excite them, the company as a whole, and the market down the line.