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?
Have your grains of salt at the ready, people, because this one’s a doozy. According to a bit of Wall Street chatter, Microsoft’s got its sights set on none other than gaming giant Electronic Arts.
“There’s talk that Microsoft might be interested in acquiring Electronic Arts,”said Frederic Ruffy, options strategist at WhatsTrading.com. “It’s unsubstantiated chatter, but it’s out there.”
As such, analyst Trip Chowdhry is cautioning investors from counting their chickens before they’ve hatched, and is preemptively declaring this rumor hogwash.
"Our contacts just don't see Microsoft buying Electronic Arts, no synergies whatsoever, and also not Microsoft's corporate primary focus right now," Chowdhry told Reuters.
Shame, that. We were hoping to see Faith from Mirror’s Edge leaping improbable distances with Master Chief. Or maybe a scrimmage between the Cogs and Locusts from Gears of War in Madden? You know, Mutant League Football style?
BioWare recently released some spankin’ new Mass Effect DLC, but, uh, it seems like they forgot to tell everyone. Titled “Pinnacle Station,” the Mass Effect DLC made a minimal impact upon landing, mostly because there was little-to-no pre-release hype associated with its launch. Oh sure, there were some hints – a wink, a nudge, and even a leak – but not a(n official) word from Microsoft or BioWare.
You’d think it’d be in your best interest to promote a new addition to your two year-old game, seeing as how most people have probably shelved it at this point. But then, we’re not marketing experts, so what do we know?
Anyway, the DLC costs five Washingtons – or one Lincoln – and gets Shepard and co. back in shape for Mass Effect 2 with 13 brand new combat missions.
Another week, another game calls in sick for 2009. So, Battlefield 1943, what’s your excuse? After all, it feels like you’ve been out on consoles since, well, 1943. What’s the hold up? Said producer Gordon Van Dyke:
“We haven't released a Frostbite [DICE's game engine] built game on PC, so going into this project we lacked a starting foundation we had on Console. There are also many different and unique only challenges to the PC that has lead to us pushing the release even further to Q1 CY 2010 [early next year].”
“This was a hard pill to swallow, but it was absolutely needed to ensure the features and functionality that PC Players have come to expect from Battlefield on PC are not missing. Things like support for DirectX 9 and 10, higher player count (up to 32-player matches), wide peripheral support i.e. Joysticks for flying, VoIP, and ranked server provider hosting. So it was and still is the absolutely right decision, for quality sake, to not release until it is ready.”
Disappointing as it is, you can’t really argue with that. See you front-and-center in 2010, Battlefield 1943. Until then, at ease, soldiers.
Ever have one of those moments where you said something completely inappropriate – like, say, any number of four letter words – while strolling through a locale where things like that just don’t fly – like, say, your kindergartener’s bring-your-parent-to-class day or a nun convention? You know how it is; seas of chit-chat part, as though diving out of the way of the approaching eighteen-wheeler that is the crushing realization that you just screwed up big-time.
Electronic Arts recently found itself caught in the sizzling headlights of a similar situation. In promoting upcoming hack ‘n’ slash ‘n’ totally ignore the source material Dante’s Inferno, EA thought it might be fun for gamers to take pictures of themselves performing “acts of lust” with its already swamped staff of Comic Con booth babes. The winner of this competition would then get a night on the town with said babes, and some other odds and ends. Yeah. Predictably, the entire gaming community immediately ceased to jabber about other topics, crossed its collective arms, and sent a damning glare in EA’s direction. “Oh, haha, we didn’t mean it like that,” EA essentially said in reply, backpedaling. But obviously, that didn’t undo the damage that’d already been done.
Clearly, EA – in this situation – had its audience pegged incorrectly. Despite our apparent love of some of life’s baser aspects (shooting, explosions, and John Madden, for instance), gamers don’t take too kindly to blatant misogyny. Big whoop, though, right? In many gamers’ eyes, this is just another dark mark on a record already stained by countless instances of greed and sloth. Throwing in lust just rounds out the roster, right? It’s EA, after all. And as we all know from previous experiences, stereotypes and generalizations are always right.
We don’t just mean PC games, either. Even console games couldn’t stand against the shockingly legal substance that is The Sims 3. And we’re talking retail sales here, too. That’s console turf! Guys in the audience, we’re sure you once told your younger sisters that playing with fake guns was way cooler than fiddling around with dolls. Well, based on the way The Sims 3 (820,000 copies sold) trounced console best-seller Prototype (419,000 copies sold), we’d say you were dead wrong.
The full PC game sales list is below:
The Sims 3 (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
The Sims 3 Collector's Edition (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
The Sims 2 Double Deluxe (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (Blizzard Entertainment)
World of Warcraft Battle Chest (Blizzard Entertainment)
WarCraft III Battle Chest (Blizzard Entertainment)
SimCity Box (Maxis, Electronic Arts)
Diablo Battle Chest (Blizzard Entertainment)
The Sims 2: Apartment Life (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
Prototype (Radical Entertainment, Activision)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion GOTY Edition (Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)
Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Terminal Reality, Atari)
Sickening, really. EA’s Simpire continues its conquest, and even Reel Deal Slots Adventure couldn’t stand in its way. So, how long do you think The Sims 3 will hold its position in the PC sales top ten? For brevity's sake, we'll take the liberty of adding a "billion" to whatever number of months you go with. As a conservative estimate, obviously.
Command & Conquer 4, recently announced as a PC-exclusive, isn’t an MMO. However, if your PC isn’t connected to the Internet, playing the game’s a no-go. No campaigns, no single-player bot matches – nothing. So what gives? Well, apparently, it’s all part of an ambitious new game feature called “player progression.”
“As of right now, you need to be online all the time to play C&C 4. This is primarily due to our ‘player progression’ feature so everything can be tracked,” the game’s community manager wrote. “C&C 4 is not an MMO in the sense of World of Warcraft, but conceptually it has similar principles for being online all the time. While some may be taken aback by this, we’ve been testing this feature internally with all of our world-wide markets.”
He also added that relative Internet speed won’t throw a wrench into non-multiplayer gameplay, so if your connection’s a dial-up dinosaur, its lackadaisical lumbering won’t cause your game to lag or anything.
And while we’re sure this all-seeing player progression feature has the potential to be the backbone of some ambitious new game mode, we can’t help but notice the light scent of piracy protection wafting from this one. Will gamers complain about it? Probably. But will they finally stop pirating games forever? Nope. We can’t in good conscience, then, sling too much vitriol at EA – especially if the developer’s at least trying to give us an interesting game feature for our troubles.
Sometimes, crying is ok – like when a loved one dies or it’s your party. Bawling like a little girl, though? Well, that’s only permitted when Tim Schafer’s involved. Typically, of course, Mr. Schafer’s games turn on the waterworks by sending players into fits of laughter thunderous enough to awake even your newly deceased loved one. But now, he’s finally got us blubbering out of sincere grief. Why? Because Brutal Legend is a console exclusive.
Eurogamer asked Schafer why he’d make such a glaring omission, to which he replied:
“Well it's really an action game, that when you play it you'll see that it was meant to be on a console."
However, all hope isn’t lost just yet. While a PC version may not be in development at the moment, Schafer neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of such a port in the future.
“We are really focused on the Xbox 360 and PS3 version right now,” he said.
Pray to the rock gods, people. It’s all we can do at this point. And if you think that’s sacrilege, well, look at it this way: The normal gods didn’t give you Brutal Legend on the PC. What have you got to lose?