One of the first things Laura Miele did when she became chief studios officer of Electronic Arts Inc. three years ago was to gather 19 video game influencers in a conference room. “What do you want me to hear? Lay it on me,” she recalls asking them. “One guy sitting at the corner of the table, he just said, ‘I don’t understand why you don’t give players what they’re asking for.’ ”
It’s something many gamers have wondered about EA for years. The $40 billion company, one of the biggest in gaming, is responsible for Battlefield, Madden NFL, and other megahit franchises. But many gamers have long seen EA as a necessary evil, resenting the direction in which it took some games and bristling at its aggressive attempts to extract money by charging extra for digital items in games that cost as much as $70 upfront. This dissatisfaction was no secret in 2018: Gamers spent their days filling up Reddit and other message boards with free advice for EA—but many felt its decision-makers weren’t listening.
EA’s leadership knows it has to improve that relationship, and Miele is a key player in its efforts to do so. Her focus group asked for new content for Star Wars Battlefront II and requested new types of games. Miele quickly assigned 70 people to the Battlefront development project, which dramatically improved its net promoter score, a measure of how likely people are to recommend the game. She also prompted EA to create a skateboarding game and committed to reintroducing its college football franchise, the two genres at the top of the influencers’ list.
In a sense, the guy at the meeting became a stand-in for all of EA’s long-suffering customers in Miele’s eyes. “I wanted to do right by this player,” she says.
As chief studios officer, Miele manages 6,000 staffers and thousands of contractors globally. She oversees EA’s 24 studios, where she makes personnel decisions and sets strategy, and she’s reshaped how the company uses analytics to create and market its games.
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