July 12, 2011

EA Acquires PopCap for $750 Million

EA is buying PopCap games for $750 million dollars.  The publishing giant is yet again purchasing another company to add to it’s lineup of developers. PopCap games is the developer of massively popular games like Plants vs Zombies and Peggle.

“EA and PopCap are a compelling combination,” said EA CEO John Riccitiello. “PopCap’s great studio talent and powerful IP add to EA’s momentum and accelerate our drive towards a $1 billion digital business. EA’s global studio and publishing network will help PopCap rapidly expand their business to more digital devices, more countries, and more channels.”

“We picked EA because they have recast their culture around making great digital games,” said David Roberts, CEO of PopCap. “By working with EA, we’ll scale our games and services to deliver more social, mobile, casual fun to an even bigger, global audience.”

There have been rumors circling for a few weeks now that PopCap was going to be purchased it just hasn’t been confirmed until today.

June 6, 2011

E3 2011 – EA’s Game Changers

EA just finished their press event and heres what they showed us:

Mass Effect 3 – March 6, 2012 – The live demo showed some great graphics and really showed off a much larger scale for the action and fighting. It was also said that if you played the previous Mass Effect games that your decisions in them would all come together in this installment.

Need for Speed: The Run – This new NFS title will be a race across the USA. They have added the auto log feature to this one and it will also feature action out of the car as well. The live demo showed this feature to be a simple button timing excercise but it will be an interesting feature. With stolen police cars, fighting, and helicopter chases this NFS seems like it will up the action element.

Star Wars the Old Republic – Giant disappointment. No release date and the trailer that was shown was the previous two trailers mixed together along with only a few new scenes. Like is said, disappointed.

SSX – Jan 2012 – SSX will have three modes: Race, Trick, and Survive. You will be able to hit the slopes on any major mountain range in the world.

Fifa 12 – It will have better defense systems, ball control, and a new impact engine for tackling. Fifa will also get Football Club. It’s a social hub for stats, leaderboards, and challenges at no extra cost.

Madden 12 – Aug 30 – As with every year, new AI, new collision system, and new player performance system. It’s Madden people. You play one, you’ve played them all.

Sims Social – Sims on Facebook…..yea…..

Reckoning – 2012 – This is a 3rd person fantasy/ action rpg style game. It has your typical magic and regualr fighting system. Can’t say it really was anything great.

Over Strike – Set in the near future, Over Strike has you play as one of four mercenaries in a group with futuristic style weapons and tech. If this turns out to be a four player Co-op, this could be a fun one.

Battlefield 3 – Beta in Sept – Full game Oct 25 – BF showed off the new Frostbite 2 engine with a few scenes which looked great. There was a multiplayer trailer but it was very quick and didn’t really show much. Like the Auto Log for Need for Speed, Battlefield will introduce the Battle Log which is their social hub for stats and leaderboards etc. They showed a live demo from the PC version which looked nice but it was all in a tank. Never showed anything on foot. It was an open field tank battle that eventually turned into a small base assault with the tanks.

All in all EA showed some interesting things. More to come from E3!

May 4, 2011

BioWare Gives us the Good with the Bad

The Bad – Mass Effect 3 was pushed back until 2012. Bioware released a statement saying:

‘ Today we have confirmed that Mass Effect 3 will be released in the first three months of 2012. The development team is laser foucused on making sure Mass Effect 3 is the biggest, boldest, and best game in the series, ensuring that it exceeds everyone’s expectations.’ – Casey Hudson ( Exec. Producer on the Mass Effect series)

So bummer for fans of the Mass Effect series, however it could turn out to be a good thing ensuring we get a quality game.

The Good – Bioware says that Star Wars: The Old Republic will release late this year. Frank Gibeau ( Pres. of EA) refused to give the exact date and gave two reasons why: ‘ We don’t want to tip off the competition and we want more data from the beta test.’ The beta testing currently has over one million testers. EA went on to say they are fully prepared for a 2011 launch in Q2 or Q3 of the year which doesn’t discount a January release.

This piece of news has me excited. Finally some kinda time table! Hopefully Santa thinks I have been a good boy this year and Star Wars will be under my tree.

December 13, 2010

EA Shying Away From Single Player

According to EA Games label president Frank Gibeau says the company’s new business model, which includes shying away from single-player games.  This will be sad news indeed for those of us who do not enjoy the multi-player model.

“We’re very comfortable moving the discussion towards how we make connected gameplay — be it cooperative or multiplayer or online services — as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out,” Gibeau said. “I think that model is finished. Online is where the innovation, and the action, is at.” says Frank.

This comes on a tail of the announcement that EA will be cutting it’s release lineup by 50%.

“I firmly believe that the way the products we have are going, they need to be connected online,” Gibeau said.

“We’re going to try out new price-points, and we’re going to try free-to-play models within my group -– things like we did with Battlefield 1943, which was a $10 XBLA game that did extremely well,” he says.

If you read what has been said I don’t think it necessarily means that EA will stop producing Single-Player titles.  It most likely means that they will not be producing Single-Player only titles.  This does, however, bring up some interesting questions.  What will EA do with it’s currently popular Single-Player IP’s such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age: Origins.  Both of those franchises are incredibly popular and the games are driven on excellent story telling.

It’s fairly clear to me that this is simply a business move.  By reducing or completely removing the Single-Player component from their games it removes a lot of the development costs.  You then cut out scripts, voice actors, cutscene artists, story lines and many other things that go into developing a game and you cut a good number of development costs out of the equation.  Furthermore, if you cut out Single-Player, it makes it far easier to prevent piracy as you can’t get online without having an authentic version.  I suspect this is most likely the case.

There are several games already out that don’t feature a Single-Player component such as Sins of a Solar Empire.

I personally think this comes down to greed.  They want more money and if they can cut a good portion of development costs out of the equation they will ultimately make more money off of the $60 price tag that gets attached to new releases.  What do you guys think?  Good riddance or a tragedy in the works?

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