E3 2012 Electronic Arts Press Conference Coverage

Electronic Arts
Electronic Art’s E3 Conference followed the Microsoft conference. A general rundown of the presentation is as follows:

* EA CEO John Riccitiello took the stage and announced EA will present ten developers who will, in turn, present their games to the audience.

 

* First up was Visceral games with a demonstration of the new Dead Space 3. A cinematic trailer and demo showed the new industrial and winter locations in the game as well as co-op play with the second player controlling a soldier, John Carver.

* A trailer featuring Baltimore Ravens linebacker, Ray Lewis, introduced us to Madden ’13. Cam Weber, GM of American Football at EA Sports, then took to the stage and was joined by Hall of Famer Michael Irvin to showcase the new Infinity Physics Engine. Also showcased was the new connected leagues mode, which combines all the aspects of manger and Become a Pro modes in previous titles as well as all new PC, iPhone, and tablet integration.

* Lucy Bradshaw, Senior VP of Maxis, announced SimCity Social for Facebook, hot on the heels of The Sims Social.

* The other new title, SimCity 5 (called just SimCity in the conference) had its first in-game trailer featuring the new Glassbox Engine. Multiplayer is in the game but optional for those that prefer single player.

* John Riccitiello gives a shout out to Jason West and Vince Zampella, founders of Infinity Ward and creators of Call of Duty, who are now partnered with EA in their new venture: Respawn Entertainment. After the quick acknowledgment, the show goes on.

*EA COO Peter Moore and Battlefield 3 Executive Producer Patrick Bach took the stage and provided some stats on the popularity of Battlefield 3 before announcing the details of the already known Battlefield 3 Premium, which offers several unique features such as customization options in addition to free early access for all expansion packs (which, when bought individually, would cost $75) . The game would not havea yearly price but a one-time fee of $49.99.

* Dr.Ray Muzyka of BioWare was up next to talk about Star Wars: The Old Republic. After proudly talking about the success of the launch, he showed off the new updates coming to the game: PvP Warzones, High Level Content, Nightmare mode, a new planet, new player races, new companions, and many fan-requested features such as Group Finders, Ranked PvP, and character transfers. The end of the trailer reveals that you can now play for free until level 15.

* Greg Goodrich, Executive Producer of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, showed a trailer for the new Medal of Honor running on DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine and some multiplayer info with twelve different elite spec ops countries to choose from. The release date is revealed as October 23.

* Andrew Wilson, Executive VP of EA Sports, came on next to talk about more Madden. This time, it’s Madden NFL Social with more Facebook and smartphone/tablet integration.

* Matt Bilbey, General Manager of Soccer at EA Sports, talked about FIFA Football Club and the upcoming FIFA ’13. Like Madden, there will be smartphone and tablet integration as well as specific ports of FIFA ’13 to those platforms.

* UFC President Dana White appeared on stage and announced a multi-year deal with EA for the UFC franchise. No screenshots or gameplay footage were shown. The previous owner of the UFC license was THQ.

* Criterion delivered a trailer for Need for Speed Most Wanted, showcasing the open world mechanics and the new Autolog feature with more social media interaction.

* The first in-game trailer for Crysis 3 was shown and given an estimated release date of February 2013.


Analysis: In contrast to other developers, EA went with a more professional and calm E3 press conference, which is for the best if you don’t want to make a fuss or a fool of yourself like so many companies seem to do.

The tone also matched the content of the conference. There were no real big surprises and it was what everyone expected. EA is doubling down on its established franchises and hyping up social media interaction as the next big thing. There wasn’t a single original IP on show.

Dead Space 3 is looking quite iffy. Co-op play in a winter landscape? To many people, it just seems like the worst parts of Resident Evil 5 and Lost Planet. It could be done well, but the co-op feels a bit like the forced multiplayer in Dead Space 2.

Madden ’13 and FIFA ’13 look like business as usual for EA Sports as they dominate the market share in the sports video game section. The new Infinity Physics Engine looks impressive, but we have to see it in action before we judge it. The physics in FIFA ’12 were buggy and weren’t really on show in NHL ’12, so it’s best not to swallow any promotional bullshit. Besides, having physics didn’t make Backbreaker any good.

The Sims Social was huge for EA, so I’m not surprised they made SimCity Social; but SimCity 5, or whatever they’ll call it, was my personal favourite from the EA conference. The graphics are detailed and colourful, which makes the game look like an interactive model city. Multiplayer being optional is great as well.

Before they announced Battlefield 3 Premium (which everyone already knew about), John Riccitiello mentioned that West and Zampella were in the audience. The whole point of this exercise seemed to me like EA wanted to scream, “Hey, Activision! They’re with us now!” As for Premium, it’s a better deal than Call of Duty Elite. For one, it’s a one-time fee rather than a subscription. Even if you take away all the Premium benefits, you’re still getting all the expansion packs for 33% off. The only thing I don’t like about it is how you’re basically jumping the server queues when you have Premium, which negatively impacts the experience for non-Premium members.

As for Star Wars, despite all the optimism that Ray Muzyka showed on stage, the fact the final piece of info showed that you can play for free up to level 15 speaks volumes about how seriously the problem player retention has become for the fledgling MMORPG.

I’ll skip Medal of Honor: Warfighter because it’s looking as bland as its name suggests.

Dana White, President of the UFC, does a massive about face and doesn’t renew the UFC license with THQ and instead jumps ship to EA. This is surpring because of comments he made earlier about EA insulting MMA and THQ putting their business on the line for him and the UFC. Et tu, Dana?

The final two games are Need for Speed: Most Wanted and Crysis 3. More sequels for the sequel throne! But in reality, both titles showed off impressive trailers. Criterion and Crytek are both top class developers that always manage to make great titles, so even though these games might not be as exciting as a fresh new IP, they’ll be worth giving a shot.

So the over all feel from this conference is just how risk-averse Electronic Arts has become. They’re banking on a few key franchises and introducing so much social media integration that it almost becomes a parody of tired marketing reps harping on Web 2.0 and Corporate Synergy.

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Mohamed Al Saadoon

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