Exclusive Interview with Kevin Flynn, Product Manager – EA

Posted By | On 15th, Mar. 2011 Under Interviews | Follow This Author @GamingBoltTweet

GamingBolt.com’s very own George Reith got a chance to meet up with Kevin Flynn, Product Manager at EA

Reith touches on various points surrounding various games from EA. Check the full interview below.

George Reith:  Well, the list of nominee’s has just come out. What did you think of it? You’ve probably been asked this a million times before.

Kevin Flynn: (laughs) No, no… Maybe only four!  But balanced, brought in and recognised a lot over the last year. Not too many surprises, doesn’t feel like there’s too many omissions, so good.

George Reith: What about the EA side of things up there? We have Need for Speed…

Kevin Flynn: Well I was the UK product manager for Need for Speed, so to see it in the ten is sensational. I’m really, really pleased by that. Totally deserved, I thought it was the best racing game of 2010. I’m happy to stick my neck out and say that. Loads of fun, just a brilliant video game from Criterion  and ‘Autolog’ was genius, I think.

George Reith: So that’s the one you want to win then?

Kevin Flynn: From an emotional perspective, yeah. But on the other titles: Mass Effect 2, as a gamer and not from a work perspective, is probably my favourite game ever. I think it’s brilliant.

George Reith: How do you think Mass Effect 2 compared to the original Mass Effect?

Kevin Flynn: It’s a little bit different. I suppose if you are a proper ‘core RPG nut…

George Reith: Well I’m one of those guys who played D&D as a kid, so I was like ‘where is the inventory system!’

Kevin Flynn: Yeah, the levelling up of weapons was a little bit different, but I loved flying the spaceship around the galaxy, I didn’t get bored of that! The characters were great, I loved it, I loved the epic-ness of the game, the way it just started out epic and carried on and finished epic and that was all amazing. I loved Mass Effect 2, I loved the way my decisions impacted my game play; brilliant.

George Reith: What do you think of the Bioware/EA merger?

Kevin Flynn: I mean…I didn’t play Dragon Age very much, maybe it’s a little too ‘core for me, but I loved Mass Effect. Star Wars is looking… it’s going to be a great concept. Mass Effect 3 is going to be amazing, Dragon Age 2 is close and that’s looking pretty hot! I love the trailers; love the assets for Dragon Age 2. So, it can’t be a bad thing.

George Reith: In comparison to last year’s nominations, what do you think the list of nominee’s says about how gaming is going? Do you think it’s getting better?

Kevin Flynn: I’m robbing this line from somewhere; I don’t know where it’s come from, but I think we’re ‘inundated with excellence’ and I think that summarises it perfectly. I mean, there are games like Vanquish, Enslaved, Rock Band 3, Dead Space 2… Dead Space 2 is probably 2011, but… There are a lot of games that are really excellent but aren’t anywhere near the ten and I think there is more every year. In that space, 2011 is looking phenomenal and Dead Space 2 has got the year of to a fantastic start for gamers. So yeah, I think it’s a continued evolution of people getting to these excellent levels and just every week there is going to be a game that is worth your time. Back in the day, 7/10 was a good game and 8/10 was something you should seriously look at and blah, blah, blah… but actually, nowadays; if it’s not 9/10 then do you think about it? (pauses) ‘Assassins’ isn’t in the ten, is it? Oh, that’s quite a miss. I loved Brotherhood. But yeah, we’re in a good place, we work in a good industry.

George Reith: Nine seems to be the magic number. In the list there seems to be a good split: FPS titles, action titles and games that might be more ‘artistic’, i.e. Limbo and to a lesser extent Heavy Rain. What do you think of ‘games as art’?

Kevin Flynn: The question is ‘will one make you cry’, that’s the one they often ask. Yeah, why not; why isn’t it art?

George Reith: Do you think we are getting more artistic creativity in gaming?

Kevin Flynn: Yeah, it comes with the excellence. It’s all part of it. I think it is an art form, I think the people who made these games are, in a way, cleverer than I am. All of those guys in the studios who make these games are so excellent at what they do and then you have these other guys pulling all of that excellence together, so it definitely feel like an art form these days, more and more so. Heavy Rain is a good reference point, but Mass Effect 2’s a reverence point, lots to be excited about.

George Reith: With Limbo making the list, what do you think of the whole ‘indie game scene’? Do you think these one man or small developer titles can compete with the big boys? Do you think it’s getting to the point where the gap is begging to close?

Kevin Flynn: No, I don’t think the gaps closing at all.

G: You think the big developers will always have the power and the assets behind them?

K: Well yeah, maybe. I think the gap isn’t necessarily closing but I think the gamers are switched on enough that when something comes through which is enticing, enjoyable and exciting, like Limbo was, then they’ll jump on board and they’ll play it and they’ll spend their money on it. I think that’s the good thing about gaming people; you don’t have to be blindly loyal, like maybe some people are to maybe a pop act or a move franchise or a TV series, people are loyal but actually there is always an option, there is always something else.

George Reith: Lots of sequels have made the list of nominee’s; do you think they are a boon for the industry or do you think they are a bad thing?

Kevin Flynn: I think sequels come from successful IP launches. We wouldn’t be doing Need for Speed games if they hadn’t sold 100 Million across the world, we wouldn’t be doing more FIFA games if they didn’t sell however many it does a year, same with call of duty. So, there is definitely space for franchises but, again, EA has shown there is space for new IP. Dead Space 2 has just launched, but that because as an IP…

G: 2008 was great year for gaming, Mirror’s Edge as well. Do you think we are going to see any more stuff in a Mirror’s Edge 2?

K: I don’t know… I’d love to, personally, because I loved that game. I really enjoyed so, who knows? But we did Dante’s as well last year, I think that’s got potential, it’s got the fiction. We’ll see… But, as EA, as a company, we certainly haven’t given up on the IP. We’ve got other stuff coming this year, but you need a balance. I think the big franchises give you the opportunity to look at a new IP.

George Reith: Assuming by ‘Dante’ you meant Dante’s inferno; turning a work of literature into a game hadn’t really been done before. Do you think there is more room for it?

Kevin Flynn: Of course there is!

George Reith: Are there any books you would like to see turned into a game?

Kevin Flynn: The BFG. It would be amazing.

George Reith: What kind of a game do you think that would be?

Kevin Flynn: An action game, you would be a massive friendly giant. It would be awesome.

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