This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
INTERVIEW: JOHN EARNER, PLAYFISH The one that didn’t get away

When EA landed Playfish, using $400m as bait, the move signalled its intent to be a major player in social gaming – and see how its heavyweight brands would have in a market that has always had more than a whiff of the Wild West. A year later, Dave Roberts caught up with Playfish Europe Studios’ GM John Earner to see if the partnership worked

Playfish Europe Studios GM Earner was one of the key speakers at last month’s London Games Conference

JOHN EARNER was undoubtedly one of the stars of this year’s London Games Conference. As part of a panel that wasn’t exactly short on smarts or lacking in gravitas (it included luminaries such as Q Entertainment founder Shuji Utsumi and was chaired by games industry legend Phil Harrison), he spoke confidently and convincingly about significant shifts in play patterns and business models. The delegates (mostly heavy hitters from big companies themselves) were nodding and note-taking like students. Well, students who actually work and want to learn, anyway. A few weeks later at Playfish’s fun and funky Sloane Avenue office he tackles some of those issues in a little more depth.

It’s almost exactly 12 months since the firm was acquired by EA, but Earner joined two and a half years ago to open its US office

24 December 3rd 2010

(Playfish is a European success story, remember). He now heads up the London studio, which created and manages two of the firm’s biggest games, Pet Societyand Restaurant City, and, earlier in the year, launched FIFA Superstars. That product was the first fruit to be borne of EA’s $400m swoop. Much was made of the price tag, but Earner says that EA wasn’t buying to bulk up, but to sharpen up: “EA recognises, more so than other major publishers, that there’s a tectonic shift taking place. It’s not a shift that will happen overnight, but it has started, and is irrefutable. “EA is making a lot of moves to disrupt their business before someone else does. The deal wasn’t about adding immediate, significant revenues, because the reality is that today, if you’re sitting on a series of triple-A franchises and a bunch of sports IP, your revenues are

There’s a tectonic shift taking place. It’s not a shift that will happen

overnight, but it has started, and is irrefutable.

John Earner, Playfish

massive. But five years from now the way we do business is going to be entirely different. Not just on Facebook, but on platforms like Xbox or whatever becomes of it.” He summarised the change as “from products to services, from standalone to social and, most importantly, from money up front to money ongoing.”


The amount EA paid for Playfish last year

MAKING A SPLASH So buying Playfish gave EA a beachhead that would protect it from a business tidal wave, to understand how to engage millions of consumers wanting games every day and get them to pay for the fun. What Playfish gets is slightly more immediate: global brands in an environment where standing out is more and more challenging. So far, FIFAand Maddenhave been utilised, and more will follow, with The Simssurely top or close to

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60