The head of EA, John Riccitiello, told Kotaku this week that the 2008 first-person free-running game Mirrors Edge, not only merits a sequel, but explained the design conundrum its developers face.
"We're still working through things like how to best deal with Mirror's Edge 2," he said during a Wednesday morning interview in New York. "There are some things we learned about that [first] game. It was, I think, a massively innovative product. To be honest with you, I think it's a game that deserves to come back."
Riccitiello spent much of his interview with Kotaku affirming that his stated commitments to game quality and innovation made in 2008 were not shaken by relatively light holiday sales of original EA games such as Dead Space and Mirror's Edge last year. He considers both games, particuarly Dead Space, having set good foundations.
He also pointed to the company's 13% rise in revenues this year and said that it was directly attributable to efforts regarding quality and innovation.
Riccitiello is a gaming executive who believes not just in sequels — he was already saying, on the eve of EA's newest game, The Saboteur, that he's "hopeful for a sequel" — but is equally vocal about innovation and how the two so often go together.
Everything from recently improved EA FIFA games to some loved blockbusters of old, such as Grand Theft Auto IV, prove that successful sequels can and should house innovation. But, Riccitiello said, sometimes the sales success for an innovative game doesn't occur until a sequel or two, more polished than the predecessors, is released.
"Innovation doesn't mean it all works the first time," he said. "If it did everyone would do it."
And that kind of talk brought him back to Mirror's Edge and its future. He got specific about design decisions relevant to the original team at Mirror's Edge DICE and whoever is on the case — he didn't specify DICE or otherwise — who are pondering a sequel:
"I think Mirror's Edge was a fascinatingly original world.Fascinatingly original art direction. Music and sound design was great. I think the gameplay mechanic was a blast, but was intermittent and the levels didn't work. You found yourself scratching at walls at times, looking for what to do. Sometimes you had a roll going, downhill, slide, jump, slide, jump and then you just got stopped. It sort of got in the way of the fun.
"It was like we couldn't quite decide if we were building Portal or a runner. And I don't think the consumer was ready to switch it up quite that way. You could say it was a sharp and great innovation. I believe that it was. You have to figure out what to do from here if you want it to be a five million seller vs. a one-million unit seller.
"I've had several very lively debates with the dev team. And they are working on it. But there's a couple of different directions you could go.
"You could say: This thing needs to be more traditional. It's first-person game. There's a lot of successful FPS products out there that do really well. We could move in that direction.
"Or [you could say]: This was never about guns. It was about its stark originality. Maybe we can back away from some of those [older] things… and emphasize the smooth play and puzzles and move it toward, if you will, a Portal.
"And they're both valid. Innovation is a lot of times about getting so far, stepping back, assessing and then moving forward. And that's what I'm proud is happening at EA every day."
Potential fans of Mirror's Edge 2, you see the parameters of the design debate. Surely, you have some thoughts.