August 7, 2022

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DICE leader Rebecka Coutaz interview: How EA’s Battlefield studio is bettering high quality and tradition

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Rebecka Coutaz has a large task forward of her as the brand new vp and normal supervisor of DICE, the Stockholm, Sweden-based studio that has labored on Digital Arts‘ giant franchises corresponding to Battlefield, Celebrity Wars Battlefront and Reflect’s Edge.

The studio has simply became 30 years outdated and has been presiding over Battlefield shooter video games for twenty years. However the studio has long past via a painful length of worm fixes and apologies to its Battlefield lovers for the sorry state that it shipped Battlefield 2042 in when it introduced the sport in October and November 2021. Battlefield lovers stated the sport was once just about unplayable, or even I encountered insects like touchdown in swimming pools of water beneath the battlefield in a multiplayer fit. I’d have put the sport at the record of my favourite video games of the 12 months had been it no longer for the insects that I encountered.

That took place even if there have been a complete of 5 studios running at the Battlefield franchise, together with the racing sport studio Codemasters. The corporate underestimated how exhausting it will be to send a sport when the groups may just no longer come in combination on account of COVID-19.

Nonetheless, they were given it achieved, and Coutaz helps to determine the place DICE is going now. Coutaz changed Oskar Gabrielson, normal supervisor of DICE, in December, whilst the Battlefield team (which additionally comprises Ripple Impact Studios and Business Toys) is now overseen by way of Byron Beede, normal supervisor of Battlefield, and Vince Zampella, head of Respawn and senior vp and team normal supervisor at EA. Or even with all of its sources, EA is outgunned in shooter video games by way of builders with a lot larger groups, together with competitors corresponding to Activision Snowstorm’s Name of Responsibility, Garena’s Loose Hearth and Krafton’s PUBG.

Born in Sweden, Coutaz has been within the gaming business for over twenty years, beginning her profession managing first celebration certification for PlayStation 1, and maximum just lately on the Ubisoft Annecy studio as managing director main groups running on Murderer’s Creed, The Department, Steep and Riders Republic.

I interviewed her and she or he stated she is doing what she has all the time achieved, specializing in evolving DICE whilst emphasizing inventive tradition and empowering groups for the sake of high quality, variety and inclusion. We lined numerous floor in our interview and her pleasure about the way forward for video games, tech and the Battlefield franchise itself.

Right here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Rebecka Coutaz is the overall supervisor of DICE in Sweden.

GamesBeat: How lengthy have you ever been at the task now?

Rebecka Coutaz: About six months at DICE, on the studio in Stockholm. I got here aboard in November, proper after the release of Battlefield 2042.

GamesBeat: Are you able to fill me in for your profession and what led you so far?

Coutaz: I’ve been within the business about twenty years. I began off my profession at Infograms, which later modified names to Atari, the place I labored within the publishing aspect of manufacturing and building. I had two essential positions. One was once heading up the Ecu building aspect’s–what on the identical we known as post-production services and products, so QA, certification, localization, manufacturing portfolio making plans, and so forth. In the second one place I used to be in control of positive exterior builders. I had a workforce of manufacturers running on such things as Unreal Championship, Civilization III and IV. I spent about 11 years of my profession over there. Then I jumped to a startup, as a result of I sought after to be at the floor ground with a brand new developer and find out about other gear. I had my very own corporate for a 12 months and a part with 3 different companions within the business.

Then I moved directly to Ubisoft, the place I used to be managing director for one among their studios in France, founded in Annecy. It’s a studio that I had checked out for a few years, as a result of they made multiplayer video games. They did the multiplayer for Splinter Mobile. They’d simply shipped the multiplayer on Murderer’s Creed Brotherhood. I favored making multiplayer video games, and naturally I liked making video games which can be on-line. Once I were given the chance to enroll in them I took it. Along with the workforce there we constructed it from a studio of 71 other people to about 300 other people. We had the risk to paintings on video games like The Department and The Department 2 with Ubisoft Huge right here in Sweden, and we persisted to paintings on Murderer’s Creed. We additionally created two new video games for Ubisoft, Steep and Riders Republic.

I spent a large a part of my profession in France, after which I were given the risk to enroll in Digital Arts and DICE. Being Swedish, I checked out DICE with an excessive amount of admiration for a very long time. They’ve been in a position to create nice video games — Battlefield, Reflect’s Edge, Celebrity Wars Battlefront. It’s a particularly proficient workforce. Getting the chance as a way to lead them into the longer term is one thing that I simply couldn’t go up. So right here I’m. It’s been a fascinating starting, a fascinating adventure for the previous six months.

Hazard Zone is a new mode for Battlefield 2042.
Danger Zone is a style for Battlefield 2042.

GamesBeat: Whilst you began, there will have to no longer were that many ladies within the business. Was once your access into video games a fascinating enjoy in that manner?

Coutaz: Sooner than I even had an actual time contract, I began out doing localization trying out. I’d simply completed college and I needed to pay for my lifestyles, so I went into trying out. That’s after I actually found out video video games. After all, being born within the ‘70s, I performed such things as Sport and Watch and Nintendo. I performed RPG video games like D&D. However gaming wasn’t my major house of hobby. Coming to the business in 1999, running in localization trying out and having the ability to see these kinds of other people with their hobby and dedication and engagement, their willingness to create leisure — that was once their lifestyles.

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In localization trying out there have been if truth be told slightly numerous ladies after I got here in. Then, after I began within the publishing sector, in fact there have been fewer ladies than these days, however there have been nonetheless some ladies. The largest exchange for me, if truth be told, was once when the Nintendo DS got here in, and there have been video games popping out like Nintendogs and one of the vital very talked-about puzzle video games. To me that was once a pivot level within the business. After which in fact you had cell gaming, as the following giant pivot. Extra ladies got here into the business.

We’ve made numerous development within the final 20 to twenty-five years. But it surely’s nonetheless no longer excellent. As you’ll be able to consider, it’s a subject that’s very just about my middle. I’ve attempted to take each and every alternative I’ve needed to mentor, to make ladies needless to say this business is an improbable business to make a profession in, as a way to proportion your hobby. It’s an inclusive business. Any one can paintings right here.

GamesBeat: Gaming has had its personal model of the #MeToo motion in the previous couple of years. Is it exhausting to have that dialog with ladies, about whether or not or no longer it’s a excellent position for them to paintings?

Coutaz: As I stated, I labored at Ubisoft. At Ubisoft we encountered the #MeToo scandal in all places the sector. However there have been no allegations in my studio, no room for that more or less habits. For me, it was once essential to have that as a part of our core values. When I used to be in industry faculty, you will have the ones courses about values, and it sort of feels very summary. However actually, when I used to be a pacesetter, the ones values are essential. I paintings on the ones values and the habits of the ones values. Admire is a worth, however what does it if truth be told imply in the best way you behave, in the best way you deal with your colleagues, in the best way you communicate for your colleagues, in the best way that you just act at the ground whilst you’re developing video games?

We need to recognize that this can be a state of affairs that exists, but it surely’s additionally a state of affairs we can not settle for. We will exchange it, and we’re converting it. It will also be–as we proved within the studio I controlled for 10 years, we didn’t have that more or less habits. The online game business could be a protected position. You’ll categorical your self like you might anyplace else. You’ll be as you wish to have. It doesn’t subject the place you come back from or who you’re. So long as you wish to have to create nice video games and you’ve got a keenness for that, there’s a spot for you.

GamesBeat: As you come back into DICE, the studio has had some well-publicized issues and demanding situations. How do you have a look at your task and what it’s a must to do given a few of these contemporary demanding situations round transport Battlefield and getting the insects out?

Coutaz: There are two aspects to the query. The primary one is that, sure, Digital Arts and DICE have had difficulties. However there’s been a super task ongoing, since manner earlier than I joined, to make stronger studio tradition. No longer simplest the DICE studio is concerned, but in addition the opposite industry devices. There were audits ongoing. There was a real product control relating to converting the tradition, relating to making other people perceive the values which can be essential to us and what’s the habits of the ones values. That section was once ongoing lengthy earlier than I got here right here.

I’m wearing that paintings, as it’s paintings that is essential to me. I proceed to paintings with the groups right here at DICE and at Digital Arts Stockholm to guarantee, as I stated, that we’re a typical position the place everyone feels protected and everyone can paintings. That’s ongoing. I haven’t encountered any difficulties since I began, in those first six months.

0 Hour shipped in June for Battlefield 2042.

As in any leisure business, if you select to regulate via a stratification gadget, you’ll come upon difficulties. I by no means did that. I controlled via teamwork. A sport is made by way of a bunch of other people. It’s no longer made by way of one or two. Everyone contributes to that sport. That’s the best way I’ve led groups up to now and that’s the best way I’ll proceed to guide. I’ll proceed the paintings that’s already being achieved at DICE relating to tradition.

On the subject of Battlefield 2042, sure, in fact, it was once a disappointing unencumber. Our lovers had been disillusioned and the workforce right here at DICE had been disillusioned. It was once a hard state of affairs. However we have now moved ahead since then. We made some tricky selections. We determined to concentrate on the well being of the sport, bettering the sport mechanics, earlier than we’d unencumber new content material. That was once the focal point of the replace we simply driven out. We felt it was once extra essential to make stronger the basics of the sport. Computer virus after worm, patch after patch, just a little extra each and every time, we’re bettering issues for our avid gamers and for the workforce. It’s some distance from absolute best, however we’re assured in our dedication and engagement. We’re utterly taken with Battlefield 2042. Nearly all of the workforce right here, plus our colleagues over at Ripple Impact, are taken with Battlefield 2042. We owe that to our group, to our avid gamers, and to our groups.

GamesBeat: I simply got here from some occasions at Summer season Sport Fest. There have been different executives I talked to who mentioned how tricky, rapidly tricky, it’s been to regulate via far off building. That’s been cited as one among Battlefield’s demanding situations. Do you’re feeling just like the groups are being used to this in some way that doesn’t result in those surprising delays and demanding situations in maintaining the standard point up?

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Coutaz: Like several sport studios, we had been taken by way of marvel. We needed to transfer everyone house in 24 hours. I’d say {that a} benefit of the pandemic, despite the fact that, was once that the versatile running fashion was once sped up. Within the final two years we’ve constructed such a lot of new gear, such a lot of new processes as a way to paintings in that more or less atmosphere, simply as a way to continue to exist. The extent of innovation in connectivity, on a private point, for me was once very spectacular. I feel we simplest did it in two years on account of the pandemic. If we hadn’t had the pandemic, this sort of innovation would have almost certainly taken us a decade. That’s the great section.

After all, having groups world wide that had been in several time zones, no longer having the proper processes, the type of processes that had been tailored for far off paintings, and the tailored conversation processes, that was once devastating. I will be able to talk as a pacesetter throughout the business, as a result of I hung out at Ubisoft all the way through the pandemic, and I’ve hung out at Digital Arts as properly. It’s merely in every single place. It’s the similar throughout the entire business. It’s other, and we wish to adapt.

Rebecka Coutaz spent numerous years at Ubisoft and EA in her twenty years in video games.

Now we’re in a versatile global. We have now some other people on the studios and a few other people nonetheless running remotely. After all we’re adapting on a daily basis. The wonderful thing about the versatile fashion, despite the fact that, is that we will be able to recruit skill that we couldn’t earlier than. Let’s say we have now a passionate Battlefield fan in Australia or Vietnam or Canada. Prior to now we almost certainly would have stated, “Neatly, you’ll be able to’t paintings from there. You need to be founded in Stockholm.” Now we understand it works, despite the fact that. We will draw skill from in all places the sector now. When you’re Battlefield, come and sign up for us. Right here at DICE we have now 20 task openings. At Ripple Impact in Los Angeles they’ve extra. We’re developing a brand new studio in Seattle. Regardless of the place you’re on the planet, you’ll be able to paintings on Battlefield.

However in fact it calls for a distinct manner of running. Some other people don’t like running from house. They wish to be within the studio. Perhaps no longer on a daily basis, however they want that social facet. They wish to be extra hands-on. They would like as a way to play the sport at the ground with their pals and their colleagues. We’re finding out as we move. In any case, we’ll be capable of create higher video games on account of the skill, on account of the versatility that we permit for each one among our other people as a way to adapt. I’m hopeful. With the entire difficulties we’ve been via, it’s nonetheless been a excellent factor, as it’s sped up our development towards what we wanted.

GamesBeat: For this task, I don’t know if the lovers be expecting you to have esports-level skill taking part in Battlefield your self, however is that–whilst you interview for this sort of task, do it’s a must to display that more or less hobby for Battlefield? Or is there one thing else about operating building for your point that’s possibly extra essential than that?

Coutaz: My force is video video games. My force is leisure. In an effort to paintings on some of the largest leisure manufacturers within the business and give a contribution to that–for me it’s like having the ability to paintings on Celebrity Wars within the cinema. That’s my hobby. I’ve to confess, despite the fact that, that I’m an excessively deficient participant of Battlefield. My two sons kill me in no time. I steer clear of going out and being humiliated like that. However for me it’s some of the largest manufacturers in the market.

The function we have now for DICE is to be the powerhouse in the back of Battlefield, to be some of the powerhouses in first-person shooters international. DICE is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary this 12 months, and Battlefield the twentieth anniversary. DICE merits to be the powerhouse that it must be in FPS. Along with the workforce right here at DICE and the Battlefield franchise, with Byron and Vince and Marcus and Alex, that’s what we’re going to do.

GamesBeat: Do you’re feeling like there are distinctive demanding situations for Battlefield amongst first-person shooters given the place the aggressive marketplace is? It’s astounding what number of studios EA can convey to Battlefield, what number of people can paintings on it, and but it’s no longer the most important sport in the market. There’s nonetheless numerous pageant available in the market. How do you have a look at how EA can make stronger in a marketplace that’s as aggressive as this one?

Coutaz: As I stated, Battlefield has been round for twenty years. We have now a faithful group and a faithful participant base. Once we don’t ship, they criticize us and we listen them. We attempt to make stronger and we focal point on what’s essential to them. Sure, there are firms in the market which can be additionally excellent at this, however now we have now the entire basis. What we’re doing now with Battlefield along side Byron and Vince and Marcus and Alex — it’s what the workforce right here at DICE has been dreaming about for years, they usually couldn’t do it. Now Digital Arts is rolling out this plan along side DICE. After all it’s a aggressive marketplace, however I love being the underdog. I love that state of affairs. We received’t be there for a long time.

It's an open, beautiful world.
Murderer’s Creed: Valhalla.

GamesBeat: It sort of feels like Ubisoft led the best way with regards to a couple of studios running at the identical mission, like with Murderer’s Creed. Is that one thing you’ll be able to convey with you, serving to these kinds of studios paintings in combination?

Coutaz: Sure, sure, evidently. As you stated, Ubisoft has been running on this collaborative fashion for a very long time — no longer simplest with AC, however video games like The Department, Some distance Cry, and Watch Canines. That’s some of the talents I’m bringing to Digital Arts, sharing the ones perfect practices. It’s some of the talents we want for Battlefield, as a result of we’re running throughout a couple of studios.

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GamesBeat: Is a scarcity of skill turning into a large problem for you? What do you assume the scope of that skill scarcity is like for the sport business presently?

Coutaz: Sure, there’s a skill scarcity, however on the identical time there isn’t. I will be able to give an explanation for. As building studios we paintings carefully with establishments in our international locations to ensure we will be able to assist construct systems at universities. We assist make certain that those systems are tailored to the longer term gear we want, for example, for such things as procedural technology. Once we know that one thing like procedural is coming, we’re calling universities and sport building faculties and announcing, “Whats up, you wish to have to show your scholars about those gear and applied sciences, as a result of we’ll want them in 3 years.” I will be able to simplest talk to Europe very carefully, as a result of I’ve been in building right here for a long time, however right here we have now this very shut collaboration in order that everybody can also be ready.

2d, this can be a query of variety and inclusivity. We need to dare to head and recruit out of doors our personal business. We need to dare to recruit those who aren’t like us. We need to dare to recruit individuals who don’t have the similar enjoy as us. We’re doing that, and you’ll be able to do this in positive disciplines. Engineering, for instance, device engineering, on-line engineering, netcode engineering. Even sport design, you’ll be able to move and to find other people from TV, from cinema, from animation. We simply have to do this, and that’s what we’re doing these days. We need to paintings very carefully with what we name skill acquisition, and we need to get ready our managers and our leaders not to be scared of going out of doors the place they’re used to having a look. The extra we will be able to recruit from different industries, the extra we’ll be informed as properly. These days we’re doing positive. We have now a super rhythm of recruitment at DICE, if truth be told. We dare to head out of doors.

GamesBeat: We mentioned how advanced sport building has grow to be, but in addition, there are some attention-grabbing issues being layered on best of video games that stay converting the business. There are new sport engines. There’s the metaverse. There’s blockchain and new industry fashions that include it. What do you take into accounts how DICE will probably be adapting to what’s taking place within the business?

Coutaz: It’s tremendous thrilling for me. I bring to mind after we went from PlayStation to PlayStation 2. It was once a query of who may just be informed the era the quickest, the training curve. On the time you had been 8 other people creating a sport. But it surely was once only a query of spending time at the finding out curve as a way to make nice video games.

As of late, as you stated, we have now new applied sciences, new platforms, new industry fashions. We have now cloud engines. We have now VR. We have now new actors coming in from China and different portions of Asia which can be very sturdy. For me it’s tremendous thrilling, but it surely’s additionally tricky. We need to make the proper possible choices, however we additionally need to be bold. We have now as a way to innovate and take dangers. In an effort to innovate and take dangers, it’s a must to have a lean, agile group, with the intention to take a look at and fail rapid. I’m hoping we don’t fail rapid, in fact. However you take a look at and construct on what’s excellent, and if you wish to have to fail you fail rapid.

The skill we have now right here at DICE, they’re very spectacular. The era we’re running with in Frostbite may be very spectacular. I’m very longing for the longer term. We need to be bold. We need to take dangers. We need to innovate very rapid. This is among the groups that may make that occur. I’m very proud as a way to give a contribution and lead this workforce into the longer term.

Battlefield: Portal
Battlefield: Portal

GamesBeat: I’ve spent numerous time chatting with Brendan Greene in regards to the ambitions he has for extra metaverse-like video games. One in all his major concepts is that this mix of human sport design, user-generated content material, and AI in combination goes to be wanted in an effort to create those huge worlds that everyone needs, or turns out to need.

Coutaz: My dream is as a way to supply a spot-defined gameplay enjoy, a gameplay enjoy that’s tailored to each and every participant. When you’re a super sniper at 150 meters, or possibly you’re a foul sniper like me at extra like 36 meters, we all know that and we’ll supply an enjoy for you. That’s my dream, that we will be able to make that for you. The query is, who will probably be first, and when?

GamesBeat: What number of people do you will have throughout DICE now? Have you ever gotten into the hundreds, or are you continue to within the loads?

Coutaz: We don’t give out precise figures, however we’re nonetheless within the loads. However we’re additionally nonetheless recruiting.

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