Nothing is set in stone just yet, but according to analyst Michael Pachter, Electronic Arts is planning to charge gamers for what he describes as very long game demos.
"The PDLC would be sold for $10 or $15 through Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, and would essentially be a very long game demo, along the lines of 2009's Battlefield 1943," Pachter explains. "A full-blown packaged game would follow shortly after the release of the PDLC, bearing a full retail price."
The revelation came during an analyst visit to Electronic Arts' Redwood City headquarters, in which Pachter met with EA Group General Manager Nick Earl. According to Pachter, Earl describes the extended demos as a "low-cost marketing tool."
"EA's view is that the PDLC costs a lot less to develop (essentially, it's the first few levels of the full-blown game), and they have the opportunity to fix whatever needs to be fixed in the packaged product that is released a few months later, whether than entails doing more of what people like or doing less of what they don't like," Pachter said. "It sounds like a brilliant strategy to me."
And to us it sounds like paying to beta test a product, which we suppose would be brilliant if EA manages to pull this off.
In addition to squashing a number of bugs and shining up the game’s UI, a recent patch stripped Battlefield Bad Company 2’s Steam version of its – most would say – unneeded SecuROM DRM. After all, Steam’s a big PC gaming platform now. It can take care of piracy protection itself.
Sadly, if you didn’t acquire your copy of the game from Valve’s storefront, consider yourself stuck in the bad company of SecuROM for the time being. But hey, here’s this nice list of changes and upgrades to take your mind off that depressing reality. Better than nothing, we suppose.
After an exceedingly long tour of duty in World War II, EA’s Medal of Honor series has finally that it’s time for a change of scenery. So, where to? Well, we hear modern times are pretty nice this time of year, and evidently, so did EA.
"EA has always been an advocate for telling the soldiers' story. The new Medal of Honor follows that tradition. We felt it was important to tell the story of today's war and today's elite soldiers via today's most relevant medium--videogames," explained EALA general manager Sean Decker. "We are so proud to bring together two powerhouse development teams to make this game a reality; EA Los Angeles and EA DICE. Medal of Honor promises to be an unforgettable entry in the modern shooter genre."
Battlefield developer DICE on multiplayer duty? Yes please.
If you’re afraid EA might be attempting to ape the 800 lb. gorilla that is Activision’s Modern Warfare series, though, fear not. While Modern Warfare has all the trappings of a (good) Michael Bay film, the new Medal of Honor’s shooting for something a bit more grounded in reality.
“Medal of Honor, an all-new first-person shooter game, will introduce the Tier 1 Operator: a relatively unknown entity directly under the National Command Authority who takes on missions no one else can handle. The development team has been working closely with Tier 1 Operators from the US Special Operations Community since the earliest stages of development to create the most authentic modern war experience,” said EA.
Battlefield Heroes, DICE’s “free-to-play” browser-based installment in the Battlefield franchise, has declared war on gamers’ wallets with a recent update. In a nutshell, the update ensures that Valor Points – an earnable in-game currency – get you far less bang for your buck, while all microtransaction-based “Battlefund” price tags have seen a significant reduction.
Whereas before, upping your arsenal on skill alone was a perfectly viable option, now the best weapons are virtually out of you reach unless your outstretched hand contains some cold hard cash. But it can’t be that bad, right? Fans – who’ve officially hit the boiling point on the Outrage-O-Meter – say differently.
"So, 450 VP a day... at a maximum of 7 VP a game, that's 50 games a day. About 4 hours worth of playing," one fan explained. "Now, when you lose a round you can only get 5 VP, making the amount of rounds you need to play each day to keep ONE weapon about 60, which is about 5 hours playtime, every day, for one Uber/Super weapon."
"Now it's impossible for me to play the game for free. I can't even afford the long ranged pistol anymore, let alone bandages. Let me make this clear: now it takes 22 wins for us to earn enough VPs to rent a weapon for a day. If each match is 10 minutes long, that means I'll have to play for 3 hours and a half with a stellar team just to afford the weapon. This is not a casual game. I can't even be a knife + pistol commando anymore," wrote another fan.
To be fair, calling EA’s financial fortunes of late a “disaster” would be charitable, with the publisher ultimately deciding to lay-off 1,500 employees, including Mercenaries developer Pandemic. Our guess? Battlefield Heroes needs to get profitable in a hurry, or else it might be next in line for the chopping block.
At first glance, you might think the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 PC beta’s last-minute leap into early 2010 is just another example of PC gamers getting the shaft. After all, PS3 owners are taking the beta for a spin right now, so what’s the hold up on PC? Well, as it turns out, DICE is merely saving the best for last.
“With the huge success of the PS3 Beta we decided to drastically increase the PC Beta's capacity to insure as many people as possible could participate. Unfortunately this meant we had to delay the Beta to very early next year giving us more planning time to make it happen and implement more optimizations,” producer Gordon VanDyke wrote on the Battlefield blog.
Oh, he is so cruising for a boycot-- wait, what'd he just say?
VanDyke also emphasized that Bad Company 2’s PC iteration will come loaded with an increased multiplayer count, dedicated server support, extra graphical settings, and tons more. Basically, the whole thing’s a spicy love letter to PC gamers, peppered with all the fixings we like best. Is this what it feels like to be… acknowledged?
With Star Wars: The Old Republic making such lofty claims as being the Death Star to World of Warcraft’s Alderaan, many people forget that the upcoming MMO is actually BioWare’s first. Fortunately, the renowned RPG factory is no longer orchestrating the colossal space opera all by its lonesome. “Yeeeehaw,” we can only imagine Mythic screaming, shortly after the two developers’ recent merger. “BioWare, let’s blow this thing and go home!”
“Oh yeah, without a doubt,” BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk told Eurogamer when asked if Mythic would be lending some of its considerable MMO know-how to Star Wars: The Old Republic’s development.
Moreover, Zeschuk added that the two merged-but-still-somehow-independent companies have a lot to gain from swapping notes – not just for The Old Republic, but for Mythic’s games as well.
“I think we always have lots of opinions to share, Ray and I,” he said. “We've both played Warhammer, and actually I've still been playing it on and off for a while, so I think for us it's not too much a popularity boost as just the fact that we can probably bring perspectives to the table that will be new and perhaps helpful to the guys from Mythic in the same way from an online perspective they can certainly share with us.”
And so, the two companies lived happily ever after, developing games about endless slaughter in pursuit of loot and power. *Sniff* Brings a tear to the eye, doesn’t it?
Here’s the thing about Mirror’s Edge: It’s 85 percent awesome, and we’re as surprised as anyone that the part that’s awesome is the first-person parkour. The running, jumping, and climbing bits are utterly engaging and even transcendent. There’s something liberating about leaping fearlessly from rooftop to rooftop while fleeing from a nebulous anti-freedom force. Unfortunately, for every high you get while soaring through the sky, there’s a painful low in the form of a combat sequence.
And therein lies the rub. The rooftop chases, where the designers were free to build many-pathed courses through the map, are sublime. By confronting the player with a constant stream of risk-vs.-reward decisions—do I take the risky jump to shave some seconds off my time, or the safe jump to avoid death?—and increasing your players speed as she successfully strings together long combos, the game is elevated from the run-along-a-path-on-the-rooftops experience it could have been into something emergent and amazing and wonderful.
Sure, everyone’s heard of OnLive when it comes to gaming in the cloud, but few have heard of OTOY.
OTOY is a small company that’s looking to bring server-side 3D rendering to any client. Sure, this sounds pretty standard, but where it differs from OnLive is key – it allows you to play these games from any browser, and any platform with no plugins or downloads. And, thanks to two big partners that go by the names AMD and EA, it could become a reality.
All that’s required of the gamer is a broadband connection and a computer, and you can get games at up to 720p graphics (again, with no plugins or downloads). There’s reportedly also a way to get 1080p graphics, but it’s a bit more intensive.
No word yet on how much this service will cost or when it’ll come to fruition, but it’s looking pretty slick. You can see two videos of it in action here and here.
It would appear that EA’s latest Sims title has fallen prey to the piracy that they so desperately tried to prevent for Spore, and only a few weeks before the game’s official release.
Now, while we won’t officially report on the game leak’s status (because you can’t confirm news like this without engaging in illegal acts), reports have stated that the files are real and working fine. A note included with the torrent is said to read, “Support the software developers. If you like this game, BUY IT!” Seems a like a strange place for morality to come into play, but hey, why not?
Unfortunately for EA the game doesn’t require any type of online activation to play, due to its disc-based copy protection, so pirates will be almost impossible to stop. They have stated on their official site “We feel like this is a good, time-proven solution that makes it easy for you to play the game without DRM methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future.”
What a refreshing change of pace to have a major videogame publisher step forward and not only refrain from ringing the death knell for PC gaming, but to annoint the PC as the platform for games moving forward. That's what Electronic Arts (EA) has done, almost in as many words.
"In terms of distribution, the way we look at a lot of what's happening in the future is, we've got probably a billion PCs out there in the world," said Eric Brown, CFO for EA. "Very rapidly the PC is becoming the largest gaming platform in the world, just not in a packaged-good product."
The comments came during a quarterly earnings call in which EA talked about the digital download market. According to Brown, the online portion of EA's business model is seeing growth by as much as 60 percent year over year.
In a time when it's become vogue to diss on the PC as a gaming platform, EA's comments to the contrary almost makes you forget about the whole SecuROM/Spore debacle. We said 'almost.'