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Riccitiello hip to EA's social failings: 'I'd say we're a distant number two'


EA's embattled CEO John Riccitiello isn't above admitting his mistakes, nor is he above admitting those of his company. That honesty was in full swing during an episode of NPR's Morning Edition today where he spoke to EA's social business. "We would like to be number one in every possible area, in every geography. That's a grand ambition. We're not there yet," Riccitiello said.

But then he got much, much more honest. "When it comes to Facebook, while we're number two, I'd say we're a distant number two. I mean, the other guys have lapped us three times," he said, referencing major social player Zynga. Riccitiello said EA is in the entertainment business, while his competition in social is in the data business, which he's had a hard time cracking. But he may not have to, according to his predictions.

"They're not really in the entertainment business. I think that will eventually die. Consumers want to be entertained, they don't want to be data managed," he said. Rather than model EA's future social business on that of the data-driven giants, Riccitiello hired up EA's first chief technology officer, Rajat Taneja, and is trying to get ahead of the Zyngas of the world before they take their next steps.

He told the Morning Edition that EA is planning to "apply techniques like machine learning and neural nets, to figure out what will happen next so that we can tailor the game and experiences to delight our customers." Wait ... what? In reality, this means using data for predictive modeling, which can help figure out what you'll like before you, er, like it.

Also in the report: Riccitiello wouldn't confirm or deny his company's plans to axe approximately 1,000 jobs in the near future, but he did say the company's internal statistics will see a shift from one of every eight employees being an engineer to one in two. Sounds like a bad time to be a concept artist at EA.

[Thanks, Curtis.]

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