Connect with gaming and metaverse leaders online at GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse 3 this February 1-2. Register here.

Jade Raymond has been making games since she was 14, and she’s just getting started. While other veteran game developers are settling into their routines, Raymond is changing just about everything she can with her life and career.

Last year, she left Ubisoft after playing key roles in the creation of video games such as Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and Watch Dogs. She had built Ubisoft’s Toronto game studio from scratch, but felt like she wanted a chance to create something new. When she couldn’t do that at Ubisoft, she left to go out on her own.

After a nine-month period of soul-searching, she took a job as the new head of a brand new Montreal studio at Electronic Arts. Patrick Soderlund, her new boss, convinced Raymond she could play a big role in one of entertainment’s most iconic franchises — and get a chance to create an original intellectual property. He hired her without even knowing what particular game she would make for EA at her new Motive studio.

She’ll spend her time creating Motive, the new studio, from scratch. But she’ll also manage Visceral Games, the Redwood City, Calif., studio that is making a new Star Wars game under the creative direction of game veteran Amy Henig.


GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse 3

Join the GamesBeat community online, February 1-2, to examine the findings and emerging trends within the metaverse.

Register Here

I caught up with Raymond and Soderlund at EA’s headquarters in Redwood City, Calif., last week.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Battlefront is giving us a whole new look at the Battle of Hoth.

Above: Battlefront is giving us a whole new look at the Battle of Hoth.

Image Credit: Electronic Arts

GamesBeat: I wanted to hear about your journey to get here. Could you start with the closing days at Ubisoft? What were you running, and what was your thinking about a year ago?

Jade Raymond: It was an amazing opportunity, starting the studio at Ubisoft, growing a studio so quickly, being able to hand-pick everyone. I feel like when you’ve been at a company that long, it’s great, because you get to know everyone, and you can do things like that. You get to know how the company works. I’d had a lot of great opportunities at Ubisoft, but I felt like it was time to challenge myself and find the next big thing.

I had some discussions with Ubisoft. There were some interesting opportunities, but I had already been able to do a lot of these things, like creating new IP. I’d been in a situation where they wanted me to continue growing that studio. I felt like it was time for new challenges, to have a bigger focus on creating the next big IP.

GamesBeat: Did you feel like you wanted to be more hands-on with your projects, to be able to start something new yourself?

Raymond: I didn’t have a clear, set objective as far as what context. But I’m passionate about the game industry. I’ve wanted to be in the game industry since I was 14. What really excites me is the fact that our medium has changed so much, that there’s so much potential to define what’s coming next. The most exciting thing I’ve been able to do is be part of creating the new IP I’ve been lucky enough to work with — working on Assassin’s Creed and growing that franchise, doing the same thing at the beginning of Watch Dogs. When you get to work with a team and figure out how to push the medium forward and do new and exciting things that are relevant to players, that’s the most exciting thing.

Right now I get to work on Star Wars with Amy Hennig, which is sort of a dream come true. The goal is there. That’s a new type of game, a game with a ton of potential to do something exciting and move the action-adventure genre.

GamesBeat: What about the in-between time you had? It was about nine months.

Raymond: Patrick and I started talking at a point in that time. I also explored doing some startups. We talked about some of that. I met with a few different publishers, different investors. I was working with indie developers who needed some help and advice on how to grow their business and get funding. I was just exploring different opportunities.

Ultimately I’m not the kind of person who wants to be driving everything, necessarily. I get the most satisfaction out of working on a team and succeeding as a team. What made it clear that I wanted to be at EA — I’m not going to get satisfaction out of building a new studio and selling it for a lot of money. I’m going to get satisfaction out of working with a great team and making amazing games.

When I looked at different opportunities and talked to Patrick, where EA is at with Frostbite, with the solid financial situation, with all the great talent around the world, with the new focus that Patrick and Andrew have been taking for the company, with the new product direction in general, with the desire to develop more games in the action-adventure space, it was clearly the best opportunity. I want to be able to work with great teams and have the means to put out great games. This was the best place to do that.

GamesBeat: You tweeted about helping some indies along the way during that time off. Did you pick up a perspective on the indie life at the time, learn something about what your life would be like if you went down that road?

Raymond: I did. It was a good way to help people and see what that was like, what the challenges were. In some cases there’s a lot of creative freedom, which is great. The risk is that you potentially spend a lot more time talking to investors and focusing on the financial side of things and worrying about how to pay salaries rather than worrying about making a cool game. That’s a big factor I saw, speaking to a lot of people who had done startups. They were very concerned about paying the rent, when’s the next funding coming, stuff like that.

GamesBeat: From talking to investors, it seems like they’re not interested in console games. They’re maybe interested in mobile. But they’re really excited about VR. That’s all you’d be able to do. You couldn’t go and start a new company to do triple-A console games.

Raymond: There are very few places you can make the big blockbuster games and have the means that you need to make a new IP, to make that big game that is going to have a cultural impact on a broad level. That’s what’s exciting to me personally.

Jade Raymond of Electronic Arts' Motive studio.

Above: Jade Raymond of Electronic Arts’ Motive studio.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: Patrick, you found the Unravel crew. That’s an interesting opposite case. How do you go about finding something like that?

Patrick Soderlund: We have a department called EAP, which deals with external partners. They handle the relationships with Respawn and others. We have a good sourcing crew. I got an email with a link to a video of a game in development, and I watched it and said, “Oh, wow.” I called them up and said, “I want to see this developer.” They happened to be in the north of Sweden, and we’d worked with them in the past. They built the PC version of Bad Company 2 for us. They had this game in development that we literally — four or five days after I saw the video they came down and showed it to me, and a week later we signed the deal. It was almost just coincidence.

When you see something that you like, something that you believe in, if you have the means to — historically it would have been a different process to get that signed. But there’s a lot of trust in me and my team from the rest of EA. We can make a decision, sign it, and then there it is. It’s been a great story for us. We’ll see how the game turns out. It’s fun to play.

GamesBeat: Was it clear to you that it was a console game, as opposed to a tablet game?

Soderlund: It was always a console game. We’ll see what happens to Unravel and Yarny, whether they appear on other platforms long term, but for now we’re focused on console.

GamesBeat: Was there something attractive about the new EA, as opposed to the old EA? Did you have a set opinion of the EA from five or 10 years ago? It had a certain reputation in the industry — a very corporate company, not necessarily a creative company.

Raymond: I worked at EA about 15 years ago. I had a good experience. I enjoyed my time at EA. I’ve continued to have conversations with some people throughout the years. I kept in touch with Lucy Bradshaw, who still runs Maxis. I knew Peter Moore from when he was at Xbox. Every once in a while I would talk to people. I’m especially excited about EA right now, though, Patrick’s vision for EA Studios and how he’s driving the portfolio and their objectives. I’ve had conversations throughout the years, and to me, now, this is a time where it’s clear I want to be here. Their objectives, the EA objectives that Patrick and Andrew have put together, fit in with the opportunities I’d want to have.

Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts.

Above: Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: Did you have a chance to talk with Andrew Wilson about philosophies or other things?

Raymond: Less so. Most of my contact’s been with Patrick. But I spoke to Andrew a bit.

GamesBeat: Did you already have an impression of him or know him before going into this?

Raymond: I was familiar with FIFA Ultimate Team and all of the success there. I followed, externally, the story while EA was looking for the next person to take the reins. But I didn’t have much background.

GamesBeat: How did you guys all know that you could work together? How did you figure that out?

Soderlund: Jade and I bumped into each other over the years, as you do with people in the industry. One of the things we set out to do with EA and EA Studios was to expand our portfolio more into the action segment, where EA historically hadn’t been that prevalent. We realized that in order to do that, both with Star Wars and with new IP, we needed the best people in the industry to do that. We managed to get in contact with Amy and she came over to work for us. When we realized that there was a potential opportunity with Jade, it was a relatively simple conversation for me at least. We want people who have a history of making new IP. We want people who know the genre well and have made good products.

GamesBeat: That’s a short list.

Soderlund: Yeah, it isn’t that long. I want the best people on our team. I want the company to have them.

Raymond: I also knew Amy throughout the years. Amy’s just great. She’s always been very generous with all developers in her time. I remember when I was still working on — maybe it was Assassin’s Creed II? She just invited me down to Naughty Dog and gave me a tour, introduced me to all the people on her team and explained how they were going about things. She’s very generous with people in the development community. She’s always been saying, making games is so tough. Let’s not make it any tougher on each other. So we’ve kept in touch throughout the years as well.

GamesBeat: Was there any particular person who was your entry point into your discussions with EA? The first person to say, hey, maybe you should work here?

Raymond: I guess it was with Patrick.

Soderlund: We got connected by Peter Moore.

Raymond: Peter Moore, yeah.

Peter Moore, chief operating officer at EA, at the company's E3 2015 press briefing.

Above: Peter Moore, chief operating officer at EA, at the company’s E3 2015 press briefing.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: Did you already have an idea in mind, a project or anything like that? Or did you just come in cold like that?

Raymond: As a game developer, everyone has a lot of ideas that they want to see. It’s what I put in my letter when I was talking about joining Motive. That’s what I love about the industry. You talk to anyone in the industry — it doesn’t matter if they’re a concept artist, tester, programmer, audio lead — they’re in the industry because they love it.

I have a huge number of ideas that I’d love to pursue. There’s one specific thing that I think has the potential to become a big new IP. But I think you also have to find the right people to shape that idea together. I don’t believe in games where it’s like, “[X Person]’s [Game].” Great games come from the visions of a great team coming together. My first focus on the new IP is, yes, there’s something I want to do, but I want to get the right people on board and evolve that idea together.

Soderlund: We didn’t start with a game idea. We started with the notion that we had a mutual desire to build a new development team. We had a mutual desire to go into the action segment. Sometimes you can start from a game idea, but having been in this industry for so long, it doesn’t matter what game idea you have unless you have great people leading it.

You’ll find great developers all around the world, but what separates a lot of them is how well they’re led, how well the people running the thing understand the notion of a team and bringing out the best in people. That’s why we got together, more than a game idea or something.

I actually don’t really know. We haven’t spoken about what game she has in mind. We came from a Star Wars meeting, but I don’t really know what you’re thinking right now.

One of the big employers in video games.

Above: One of the big employers in video games.

Image Credit: Electronic Arts

GamesBeat: That’s revealing.

Raymond: We haven’t spoken about it. It’s true. We have the same philosophy on that. Great teams are what make great games. Getting those people in and making sure that we shape the right idea — a great idea can become a terrible game if it’s badly executed.

GamesBeat: That speaks to a high level of trust there.

Soderlund: We have to. We’re building entertainment. Any entertainment industry is built on ideas and how well they’re executed. With that comes a lot of trust. You have to surround yourself with people you trust. We just came away from a four-hour meeting with the team here building Star Wars. The last thing we told them was, “There’s a lot of trust in what you guys are doing.”

All the meetings we have that involve product reviews, there’s a bunch of positive discussions, but then there’s always, what about this and this and this? That goes into the creative process. Before we left, I wanted to make sure they understood that there’s trust in what they’re doing. They’re here to make exceptional products. There’s a big belief in what they’re doing. Trust sounds naïve, but it’s such a big, important part of what we do and how we operate.

GamesBeat: Were you already planning to go to Montreal? Was that a big life change?

Raymond: We discussed different places. There are a lot of reasons why Montreal makes sense. It’s a very creative city. It has a lot of people who spend a lot of time indoors in the winter, and therefore know how to program. [laughs] There are a lot of great schools in the area. We discussed a few different options as far as places where it would make sense to start a studio.

Star Wars Battlefront by EA

Above: Star Wars Battlefront by EA

Image Credit: EA

GamesBeat: Ubisoft to EA, Toronto to Montreal, starting a new studio, and then managing Visceral. How many changes can you stack up here?

Raymond: I like change. People are always talking about disruption in the industry. “Oh my God, this year it’s VR.” That year it’s Facebook. That other year it’s social games. That’s a great thing about our industry. You have to embrace it. You have to keep yourself challenged, because there’s no such thing as resting on your laurels and repeating the last recipe you had.

GamesBeat: The IGDA had some unbelievable stat about how often game developers change jobs. Something like 80 percent had changed jobs in the last three years. I forget the exact time frame.

Raymond: I was at Ubisoft for 10 years, though. That’s a decent amount of time.

Soderlund: I’ve been here since 2006.

GamesBeat: How did you then figure out, okay, now I want to work with Amy? Is that why the Visceral end of things made sense? Or was it that you wanted to work with both Star Wars and Amy? What made managing that studio a logical part of your job?

Raymond: The great thing is, what I want to do and my dream job happen to fit very well with the strategy that Patrick’s been developing, and where EA wants to invest in the portfolio and make new opportunities. I’d be less excited to come to a company if what I want to do doesn’t fit into the company’s strategy. You feel like they’re trying to make room for you. You want to be doing something that adds value.

What’s great is, what I love doing and what I was hoping for in an opportunity, you couldn’t define it better than Star Wars and getting to build a studio and work on new IP. But also, the fact that those things really do fit into a strategy that EA has in place and has been developing for a while is what makes the opportunity make sense.

GamesBeat: You had thousands of resumes coming in?

Raymond: Yeah, we had a lot. In the first three days it was more than 600, just through the email list. We haven’t even posted any jobs yet. That’s just the CVs coming in. Really talented people. I’m quite impressed. We haven’t had a chance to go through them. That’s one thing about starting something from scratch. Right now there’s me looking through all those CVs. I’m kidding — there’s a full infrastructure at EA and a great resource in all the recruiters. But we haven’t had a chance to follow up on all those people.

GamesBeat: Does the studio have anything like a core team yet, or is it just you?

Raymond: We’re in the process of building that, but it’s all being built from scratch. It started with just me.

GamesBeat: And then you get to look at some kind of multi-year time frame to get this going?

Soderlund: The game is shipping next year. I hope?

Raymond: Yeah. We have to call the game elves to work on stuff. But yeah, it’s part of a longer-term strategy.

GamesBeat: Star Wars seems like a big responsibility.

Raymond: It is. It’s a lot of pressure.

Soderlund: It’s a big responsibility for us as a company. But it’s more toward — it’s a bit scary, because Star Wars is so well-known and so loved by so many. You want to make sure that you don’t screw it up. You have to make sure that whatever you do is what people are looking for. Staying true to the brand and respecting the brand, the idea of what Star Wars is for many people, is the one thing we have to pay attention to in the long term.

We have a good dialogue with Disney and Lucas. The closer we get to the launch of Battlefront, the more nervous I’ll be, obviously. But for now it feels good.

GamesBeat: You’re getting used to the idea of having a billion hardcore fans here?

Raymond: It’s pretty cool. It’s obviously a big draw for people in the industry. It’s a dream project. In terms of being able to build a studio and work on Star Wars as our first project, it’s a pretty great way to get a passionate team rattling around the same idea.

GamesBeat: What about the idea of EA and women in leadership?

Raymond: It seems like there’s a pretty good balance. Laura Miele I’ve met a couple of times. She’s amazing. She has a big role in the publishing division. Samantha Ryan is here now. I’ve met her at different times. It’s great to finally be working together, because I’ve heard great things about her from other people in the industry who’ve worked with her. Lucy Bradshaw I remember from when I worked here before, when she was running Maxis. We’ve already worked together. It’s a pretty good bench of women in senior positions — doing production roles and other different roles across the organization.

Amy Hennig

Above: Amy Hennig

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: If you could excerpt the last year’s worth of stuff going on, do you feel like the situation is improving for women in leadership roles in the industry?

Raymond: At Ubisoft Toronto, half of the senior management team reporting to me were women. I don’t think it’s so difficult to find qualified women. It’s getting better. As games become more and more mass-market — I was just chatting with Peter and he was telling me how the latest figures for GTA were 54 million copies sold or something. It’s not geeks in their basements playing games. To get to those numbers, it’s a big portion of the population playing games.

I thought about a career making games because I played games when I was a kid. The more it becomes a mass-market medium, the more women will think of it as a career, and the more our industry will reflect the numbers that exist out in society at large.

Soderlund: In general, I’ve seen a change in the last few years. Not only women in senior leadership, but if you look at our studios, we have more and more women in general. Gaming as an entertainment form is speaking to a bigger market. If you look at mobile gaming, I’d assume that 50 percent of the players there — at least — are women. I have two daughters who play a ton on their phones.

We’re seeing a lot more women engineers, as well as artists and employees in general, in our development studios. It’s a slow process, but there’s absolutely a change compared to five, six, 10 years ago.

GamesBeat: Does it feel unusual, still, to be making the hardest of the hardcore games as a woman?

Raymond: Any time a woman is doing something that doesn’t make you think, “Oh, that’s a woman’s movie” or “Oh, that’s a woman’s game,” I guess that gets a little bit more attention. But what can I say? That’s what I like. I like the most cheesy, ridiculous action movies. I like survival horror games. My favorite games when I was a kid were fighting games, because I liked winning against whoever I was playing against. It was fun to challenge my friends.

I guess that’s why, on a personal level, it does bother me when we talk about “women’s games” as a category — like, “Let’s make a game for girls.” A good game is a good game. Is Mario a game for girls? If you look at Nintendo’s games, they’re great games and they’re played by boys and girls. Anyway, it’s still surprising because we do have certain ideas about what games girls play. But that’s becoming less and less the case, that it has to have pink ponies in it or something.

GamesBeat: I went to the women’s panel at GDC, the “Reason to Be” one. There was a lot of talk about hardships on the panel. Amy Hennig had some interesting comments, though, basically saying, “Come on in, the water’s fine.” She’s wanted to encourage more women to consider games as a career, because she’s been doing it for so long and so successfully.

Raymond: We talk about that too, because we’re friends. Being a woman in the game industry, you do get the question a lot — “What’s it like?” Our experiences are similar. The one thing is, maybe we would be less likely to — she doesn’t necessarily take the spotlight so often, or as much as she could. Maybe she does that because of the feedback she gets from women, that it’s nice to have an example of a woman creative director out there. We agree that’s a great, positive way to go about it, to just be more visible and show women that this is a great industry to work in. You can be successful. There are other women doing it.

GamesBeat: Is Amy a good example of the people you want to gather into your studio? Her type of veteran who’s been around for many years?

Raymond: Amy’s amazing. It’s not just her craft, how well she’s mastered making these kinds of emotionally rich narrative experiences. She’s also a great person to have on a team. She rolls up her sleeves. She’s very humble. So yes, as far as values, she’s great.

As far as the types of people we’re hiring, it’s great to have a mix of young people and veterans. Then you get the right balance. It ties in to your question about women in the industry. What’s important isn’t just women. It’s diversity in your game teams in general. If you have a team of people who are all 35-year-old guys wearing the same T-shirt, you’ll make a game that appeals to only them. To sell 54 million copies, you have to make a game that appeals to a broad range of people. You have young people, old people, people from different parts of the world, people who play different types of games. That’s how you make great entertainment.

Battlefield Hardline has scenes in Florida's Everglades.

Above: Battlefield Hardline has scenes in Florida’s Everglades.

Image Credit: EA

GamesBeat: Are you happy with the level of creativity you see around the industry? Do you feel like everyone’s reaching the bar that they could?

Raymond: There’s always something interesting to me as far as new innovations going into games and where people setting the bar. You have to do that, because that’s what gamers expect. When you make a game that’s sort of a clone of the last game, it doesn’t find the success you’d want. Our audience cares about innovation. People making games realize that.

Obviously making games is hard, so it doesn’t always end up the way you want it to. But I’m still excited to play all the new games coming out.

GamesBeat: Patrick, how would you look at making sure that EA doesn’t take any wrong turns and potentially lose that creativity?

Soderlund: For me it’s about fully understanding that we’re an entertainment company. We’re not a financial institution or a platform company. Our job in the world is to entertain. Right now, EA is a place where the creator in general has a lot of respect and a lot of gravitas. That comes not only from Andrew, but from the publishing teams and everything else.

I’ve been here a long time, and I’ve never seen the different parts of EA collaborate so well. The publishing teams and development teams, how involved our marketing and publishing teams are in the early stages of development — it’s not up to one person to decide that we’re going to be creative. It’s in the culture of the company.

EA has always been a creative place, I think. Otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed here. I’ve been able to do so many great things here with so many other people. Maybe it’s how we present ourselves, how we position ourselves as a company. You can’t just say, “Today we’re a different company.” It starts from the top. It’s building a different culture and it takes time.

That’s what we’ve tried to do, to put forth the fact that we’re an entertainment company, that we’re never better than our last game, that we have to push boundaries and keep doing new things. In the cases where we’ve built sequels or yearly iterations, that’s all fine, but let’s make sure we challenge ourselves and our teams to push what it means to build those types of games.

GTAV sold 54 million units. It’s one of the best games this industry has ever created, and it’s a sequel. We have to have a similar approach to what we do. Whether we’re building FIFA or Battlefield or Star Wars or something new, we have to come to it with the approach of — in order to get people to buy what we build and continue to play our games, we’d better be innovative. We’d better push boundaries. We’d better make the game they want. And once they’ve bought we’d better make sure they want to keep playing it.

Andrew and the executive team have put the notion of “player first” as a key mantra for us at the company. People may look at that and say, “That’s just a buzzword.” It’s not. It’s a true way of thinking. I’ve been in so many meetings where Peter Moore or someone will say, “That’s not a player-first initiative. We can’t do it that way.” If you view everything through that lens and say, “We have to do what’s right for our players,” and understand that’s the right thing to do — sometimes it’s not the easy thing in the short term, like delaying Hardline or giving the Dragon Age team more time. Even something like investing a ton of money in building a new studio up in Montreal. We have enough studios, one could argue, but I don’t think we have the right talent yet to build another GTA, another game that can do 54 million units in the action space. We want external talent for that.

It’s not as simple as just what I want. The whole company needs to have that viewpoint. Will we always have that? Who knows? But right now we do. I see people aligning around that.

Soccer star Sydney Leroux of the U.S. women's national soccer team, in EA's FIFA 16.

Above: Soccer star Sydney Leroux of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, in EA’s FIFA 16.

Image Credit: EA

GamesBeat: There are interesting signs of creative things here, smaller things. The golf game was pretty crazy. We have women in FIFA now. We have Unravel. These are things we wouldn’t have always expected EA to do. Is that the kind of thing you want to see more of?

Soderlund: We made the decision to put women in FIFA. To me it was just obvious. I have two girls who both play soccer. They asked me, “Why can’t we play women in the game?” “I don’t know. That’s a good idea. We should fix that.” I’m with Jade here. We need women in the game industry because we need diversity. We need input from different people and different cultures.

If you come to Sweden, every single meeting at our studios is held in English. All the communication is written in English. 30 or 40 percent of our employees are not Swedish speakers. They’re from everywhere. Diversity, both gender-wise and ethnically, is key. It just makes the work better.

For us as a company, how creative we are is about doing the things that we believe in. Having women in FIFA — people look at it and act as if it’s controversial. It’s not. It’s completely natural. Why wouldn’t we have women in FIFA? We’re just doing things we want to do. To me, Unravel is another example. Unravel stems from a desire to build something new and support something we believe is not only a good game, but also a beautiful little tale told by a great team. Same with Motive and what Jade’s doing. It’s taking some of the funds we have an investing in different things.

I look at EA Studios and we’re almost like portfolio managers. We have certain things generating money, whether it’s FIFA or Battlefield or something else. We have up and coming games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. But we have to take those things and say, let’s reinvest some of that into new things. Whether that’s an indie developer from northern Sweden or a new studio in Montreal or some other way of doing it, they’re all viable options. Doing that will give us, hopefully, a breadth to our portfolio. We’ll be seen as people who want to do something different. We’ll be seen, hopefully, as a company that pushes the industry forward.

We have a responsibility, as one of the biggest publishers and game developers in the world, to help push this industry forward. The only way to do that is to push ourselves creatively. Whether it’s a sequel, a new IP, or an external partners, we need to make sure we do all we can.

Part of why we had this discussion today — a lot of people still look at EA and say, “They’re all about the money.” We’re not. The fact that we’re in a position where we do make money allows us to invest in other things. That’s a way for us to push the industry forward. That’s my mantra, something I’ll do everything I can to push. So far EA seems to like that. The day they don’t like it they’ll find someone else who gives the company a different direction.

GamesBeat: Does Hardline now fall under your oversight?

Raymond: Yes, it does.

Battlefield: Hardline was one of EA's big releases last quarter.

Above: Battlefield: Hardline was one of EA’s big releases last quarter.

Image Credit: EA

GamesBeat: Did you have a particular postmortem on that game and how it turned out? It seemed to get good reviews, but not great ones.

Soderlund: That’s fair. Hardline is absolutely a successful product for us. No doubt about that. It was a bet we made. We believe in the bet. The team has done a good job. It’s selling well. But as with any creative process — this is an industry where you have to understand, with the portfolio approach, that not everything you do will sell 25 million units. That’s how it is.

I’m not suggesting we’re not happy with the performance of the game. As a whole, Hardline has been a good experience for us. It’s helped that team become familiar with the Frostbite engine and reach fidelity levels they previously couldn’t get to. You look at this from so many perspectives when you run an organization. Will we do more Hardlines in the future? Who knows? But for now we remain happy with it.

Raymond: I think it’s a brand that has potential, personally. What’s exciting to me is that there’s still a significant community of people playing it. We’re coming out with expansion pack two, with a whole new mode for heists. The fans were excited when it was shown at Cologne. It has a big community of players who are having a good time and the team is still creating new content to support that community. It’s great, for me coming in from the outside, to see that kind of dedication to the community. There are people down there watching what the community says and continuing to tune the experience in the game.

GamesBeat: Do you have to figure out how to encourage that team to go up to another level on their next project?

Raymond: They’re super passionate. They don’t need any more encouragement. Every day they play what they’re working on. They don’t just play it because that’s a best practice and they want to make sure they’re seeing the new stuff. They play it because they love playing the game every day at 4PM. I’m going to go play with them today. But yeah, they do not need encouragement.

GamesBeat: Do you have any closing comments?

Raymond: I’d love to talk to you in a few months when we have more details to talk about as far as Star Wars and we’ve gotten the initial stuff for the new IP. But from my perspective, this is a huge opportunity. We’re going to be able to make an impact.

GamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. Discover our Briefings.