It’s no surprise that Electronic Arts is expanding its Battlefield franchise by setting up a new studio in Los Angeles. After all, its arch rival, Activision Blizzard, makes its Call of Duty video games in Southern California. If EA can steal a few of those folks, it could both strengthen Battlefield and weaken Call of Duty.
But Fred Loving, head of the new DICE L.A. office, isn’t yet tipping his hand on why he is expanding DICE, which is based in Stockholm, Sweden, into Activision’s backyard. In some ways, this is a big change in management at EA’s Los Angeles offices. It was in L.A. that EA’s Danger Close studio worked on the Medal of Honor series. But that series saw weak sales last fall, and EA trimmed back the staff at Danger Close and announced that it was taking Medal of Honor “out of rotation” for a time.
Meanwhile, EA has secured the rights to build new Star Wars games, and DICE will play a role in creating those games. So Loving is beefing up the headcount at DICE L.A. We caught up with him in a recent interview in Los Angeles. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview with Loving.
GamesBeat: What is your background at DICE?
Loving: I have been at DICE almost seven years now. I started on the Battlefield: Bad Company series. I came in as the development director and I got stuck on the Battlefield brand. I love it.
GamesBeat: What initiated all of this change with you coming here and DICE expanding to L.A.?
Loving: A lot of things. We wanted to expand Battlefield as a brand. We know there is a lot of talent in the Los Angeles area. We want to expand not only the brand and the studio but attract more talent. We want the rock star developers that we know are here. They might not want to move to Sweden to DICE. We want to give them the opportunity to work for DICE in the Los Angeles area.
GamesBeat: It seems DICE has a lot of autonomy. Danger Close was here at EA LA. They were doing Medal of Honor here. You’re moving here and starting something brand new?
Loving: Yes. We want to attract the most talented people around this area. We want to start something new. We want to bring the DICE core values here. We really treasure them. We treasure how we work. We treasure quality. That is something we want to bring here. We bring something different to the table in Los Angeles. It will be a lot of fun.
GamesBeat: Are you picking up some Danger Close employees?
Loving: Yes. We are picking up some of the most passionate people. They have joined us, and I am really happy about that.
GamesBeat: Do you still have to hire?
Loving: We are growing. We are still looking for people. We are looking for more rock stars.
GamesBeat: Does Danger Close still exist?
Loving: Medal of Honor is on hiatus. This is bringing Battlefield work here.
GamesBeat: Will you do some Star Wars work here?
Loving: As we are part of DICE and DICE works on Star Wars, we will. We are like an extra level to Stockholm. We are in a different geographic location. We will be working on everything that DICE works on.
GamesBeat: Do you have your own titles to do, or will you work on those that are going in Stockholm? If Battlefield 4 is driven out of Sweden, will you help?
Loving: We are one studio. We are just in a different geographic location. We are working on Battlefield 4. We are working on a couple of other things as well. It’s not us or them. We are working together.
GamesBeat: Do you start and drive your own games?
Loving: Right now, it is not like that. We are working on Battlefield 4. As DICE takes on new work, so too will DICE L.A.
GamesBeat: Is this new office a reward for DICE?
Loving: I don’t consider it a reward. It is an additional location. We have an office in Stockholm with one type of culture. We will try out new things here.
GamesBeat: Are you bringing others from Sweden to L.A.?
Loving: We have already. The senior leadership team is from Sweden.
GamesBeat: Is mobile on your horizon? What platforms are interesting to you?
Loving: We are DICE. We are looking at everything that Frostbite can bring to the table. We’ll look at what platforms we can support going forward. But for now, we are double-down focused on Battlefield 4.
GamesBeat: It’s unusual to start a new studio. Many have been closing.
Loving: It has a lot to do with Battlefield’s success. It is going extremely well. We want to give it the attention that is needed to keep it successful. We are really proud. It comes down to the passion. That’s why we can stay lean.