While it’s still technically “early 2010” by our arbitrary standards, we’ve reached the point where Battlefield 1943’s absence on the PC is starting to grow more conspicuous by the day. The BF 1942 reimagining has been out on consoles since last July, after all.
Fortunately, the wait may finally be coming to an end. “Soon our PC fans will also be able to get in on the action that Xbox 360 and PS3 users have been enjoying since July 2009,” said DICE while pinning a medal on its downloadable title for becoming the fastest game ever to reach 1 million units sold on Xbox Live.
Will the game retain its hotcake-esque allure when it makes the jump to PC, though? Well, we’re thinking that depends on whether or not PC gamers are able to muster the sheer strength of will needed to pull themselves away from the multiplayer narcotic that is Battlefield Bad Company 2. And honestly, why would they want to?
With colossal mega-publishers like EA and Activision, it’s rare to hear a less-than-positive peep from even the company janitor, so we have to applaud EA for keeping the first amendment alive with corporate blogger Jeff Green. But you won’t see any standing ovations from us, because while EA’s taken a big step forward in that regard, its Command & Conquer 4 DRM counts as a few hundred steps back. Don’t believe us? Then just ask EA blogger Jeff Green!
"Booted twice—and progress lost—on my single-player C&C4 game because my DSL connection blinked. DRM fail. We need new solutions," Green tweeted. “Welp. I've tried to be open-minded. But my 'net connection is finicky--and the constant disruption of my C&C4 SP game makes this unplayable."
“Yeah, Steam's ability to have off-line play is the clear, better model when talking about SP games," he added. "However, C&C4 experiments w/what a 'single-player game' is--given it's constantly uploading progress/stats for unlocks. It's complicated. I think if we think of C&C4 as an 'online-only' game--which it basically is--then maybe we'd adjust our expectations accordingly."
For the uninitiated, Command & Conquer 4’s DRM functions similarly to Ubisoft’s recent digital rights management disaster in that it requires a constant Internet connection to function.
So, videogame publishers of the world, do we have this “always-connected DRM” phase out of our systems yet? Because if you’re expecting our anger to cool while we warm up to your DRM over time, it’s not gonna happen. It’s like when little kids are playing, and one of them adds a series of increasingly ridiculous, self-serving rules to the game. You know what the other kids do? They find a new friend.
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.
Battlefield Bad Company 2 may have suffered from one of the rockiest starts in recent memory, but that didn’t stop gamers from flocking to DICE’s latest frag-fest in droves. In fact, the overwhelming weight of millions of players is what crushed Bad Company 2’s servers to begin with.
"In the first 48 hours we had such a tremendous rush to multiplayer gameplay that our servers experienced overwhelming demand," said executive producer Karl Magnus Troedsson. "This is a testament to the massive response players have had worldwide for the extraordinary action experienced in the Battlefield sandbox."
Better still, if you’ve been waiting on the sidelines to dive in, the coast is now officially clear.
“DICE and EA have brought more servers online," he explained. "We now have enough capacity to handle all BFBC2 connections seamlessly and we continue to monitor online play daily."
Hey there, beleaguered Battlefield Bad Company 2 players. Feel like you’ve been tricked into paying to be part of an extended beta test? Well, sad to say, the storm’s not over yet. At 12 PST tonight, EA brought the servers down yet again for more maintenance. This comes, of course, after a weekend of more ups and downs than a botched entry of the Konami Code. But, if it’s any consolation, there is a silver lining to your sufferings.
“PC currently has more people playing and are in game servers than both the consoles,” said associate producer Gordon Van Dyke.
Don’t break out the confetti just yet, though. We’ve won the battle, sure, but we haven’t quite won the console war.
“The PC had more players than either console not more than both consoles combined,” Van Dyke added. “You'll need to work to beat both consoles’ combined effort.”
Still though, that’s certainly something. See, publishers? If you build it with PC gamers in mind, they will come. So learn from EA and DICE’s example – well, minus the server part, obviously. And speaking of servers, maybe Ubisoft might be willing to take a few pointers from DICE once it gets out of this DRM-heavy rebellious phase. We sure hope so, anyway.
EA recently released its Q3 fiscal statement, and it’s a magnitude seven doozy. Not to be a downer, though, but first on the release schedule is The Waiting Game, as most of these titles won’t be out until the second half of 2010.
First up, Crysis 2’s positioned itself deep within the overgrown jungles of 2010’s holiday season with an October-December 2010 release window. Medal of Honor and massively multiplayer cops ‘n’ robbers sim All Points Bulletin, meanwhile, are both dropping between the months of July and September. As if three whole games weren’t enough, EA also announced a new Dragon Age title for early 2011.
It’s not all good news, however. For some mystifying reason, the mega-publisher’s decided to release Dead Space 2 on every platform under the sun – even handhelds! – except the PC. Well, whatever. We don’t need the pants scared off us. We’ll take off our own pants. That’ll show ‘em.
In what appears to an ill-advised attempt to save a few bucks, Electronic Arts has decided to pull the plug on 25 game servers. EA was forced to cut 1500 jobs back in November, but apparently that wasn’t enough to put their house in order. This new method of cost-cutting, though, comes at the expense of their customers.
While it might make sense to shut some of these down (i.e. Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 07 for PC), a few are fairly recent games. One game about to lose its servers is Madden 09 on all platforms. That’s a bit of a shocker seeing as it’s just over a year old now.
Could Madden 10 see a similar fate in a year’s time? What if a game doesn’t hit sales goals? Maybe EA will do a quick cost analysis and shut it down. These are certainly questions EA’s prospective customers will have to ask themselves from now on. The shut downs will come in waves with the first, and largest, coming on February 2nd. Hit the jump for the full list.
As part of a restructuring plan that involves – among other, less heartbreaking things -- laying-off 1,500 employees, EA recently placed nearly all of Mercenaries developer Pandemic on the chopping block.
Studio founders Josh Resnick, Andrew Goldman, and Greg Borrud are leading the mass exodus, with roughly 200 former staffers in tow. Pandemic’s still-twitching remains will be moved to EA’s Los Angeles studio, where games under the Pandemic brand name will continue to be developed.
If it’s any consolation, though, the development community is doing a great job of making sure Pandemic’s fine folks land on their feet. Among others, Gearbox is inviting former Pandemic employees off the cold streets and into the perpetually warm state of Texas.
As always, we wish the best of luck to everyone affected by this unfortunate turn of events.
The original Mass Effect rocked our socks. Its DLC, though? Not so much. Fortunately, if a Microsoft Expert Zone retailer quiz is to be believed, BioWare’s making up for Mass Effect’s DLC deficiency in a big way with Mass Effect 2.
According to the quiz, planned content includes “episodic combat via DLC, weapon and armor packs, new downloadable characters for the campaign experience, new downloadable worlds, as well as full campaign expansions for download.”
Here’s hoping that BioWare doesn’t also take the EA Renegade route and peddle things like cheat codes and cosmetic upgrades for exorbitant prices.”Exorbitant,” in this case, meaning “anything other than free.”
Looks like Spore knows how to take a hint. PC gamers weren’t quite ready to herald the game as the second coming of The Sims, so it’s jumped gaming’s ship and gotten into show business. And fortunately, thanks to a little common sense on EA’s part, someone not named Uwe Boll is walking Spore down the red carpet.
Chris Wedge, who birthed the $1.9 billion-grossing “Ice Age” film franchise, is set to be the intelligent designer behind Spore’s big screen debut. Meanwhile, Greg Erb and Jason Oremland, who recently wrapped up writing Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” are penning the script. Twentieth Century Fox is partnering with EA to produce the whole thing.
"I'm always looking for unique worlds to go to in animation," Wedge said. "From every perspective -- visually, thematically and comedically -- the world of 'Spore' provides the potential to put something truly original on the screen."
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll probably learn a bit about yourself in the process. What’s not to like?