After 12 years of printing money working in faithful service to EA, Sims and Spore’s resident genius has decided to call it quits. But just because Wright managed to create a virtual representation of all biological existence doesn’t mean he’s done making most other game designers look silly just yet – far from it.
Wright’s next endeavor, called Stupid Fun Club, is a think tank that has actually been bubbling around for a few years now. However, back when it was merely a side project, the most unfittingly named club ever seemed content to just manufacture cutting-edge robots – whereas now, it’ll develop new intellectual properties across multiple media formats like film, TV, the Internet, and of course, videogames.
Make no mistake, though: EA may have let Wright off the leash, but – much to the chagrin of some, we’re sure – Stupid Fun Club is still very much in the mega-publisher’s lap. As a result, EA owns just as much Stupid Fun Club stock as Wright himself and has the first right to develop anything the thinkin’-est tank in the business comes up with.
The rub of it all? Mr. Wright hasn’t exactly given EA his walking papers, but he’ll certainly have more wiggling room, at least in the conceptual phase, from now on. As for his first task as an un-tethered man, we’re hoping he’ll invent a few new words to replace “stupid” on the intelligence hierarchy, since he’s apparently laid claim to it. Really, it’s not even fair. If Will friggin’ Wright calls himself stupid, what’s everyone else?
Good news for Digital Rights Management fans, and particularly for those who take masochistic pleasure in filling their machines with SecuROM-protected titles. Electronic Arts, the company who caused an internet uproar over its custom SecuROM implementation on Spore, has released a SecuROM de-authorization tool.
"Certain EA PC games with SecuROM digital rights management technology allow users to concurrently 'authorize' up to five computers at the same time to play the games, EA states. "Users can then play the game on any authorized computer they choose. If your EA PC game was released after May 2008 and has a machine authorization limit, you can now manage your computer authorizations using EA De-Authorization Tools!"
The De-Authorization Management Tool scans your PC to automatically detect games released after May 2008 with machine authorization limits. You can then download the game-specific de-authorization tool(s) to de-authorize your PC and free up a slot. Alternately, you can skip the scanning and jump straight to the appropriate tool if you already know which games are eligible (see list here).
Thoughts on EA's new tool? Hit the jump and sound off.
Trying to decide whether to take another walk down the aisle with Warhammer Online or try your luck with a different MMO of equal value, but just can’t bring yourself to end this excruciatingly long game of eeny-meeny-miny-moe? Well, if giving you gifts can be equated with love – and we don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be – then Mythic loves you more. Always remember that.
Why? The developer is now offering a Call to Arms re-enlistment program which – if you’ve gone astray from Warhammer’s flock – never gives you up and never lets you down with 10 free days of playtime, all the rested experience you accrued while you were pursuing other options, and “a unique quest chain with bonus reward items.” We don’t see any reason not to at least give it a shot.
So, you’ve caught, like, 30 tigers by their toes now. What’s it gonna be?
When worlds collide, things tend to end badly. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning tried to send its ragtag, wax-on, wax-off-trained team of novices against WoW’s dojo, and it lost more than a few teeth. And now, Warhammer’s taking one giant leap right into a different world: its own.
Mythic recently announced (and presumably carried out) mergers between 43 servers on the first ever MMO competitor on The Biggest Loser. Characters and items stored on closed servers were apparently transferred to pre-existing, less corpsified servers.
If your old server’s now hosting TF2 matches for angels, note that all of your character’s items, friend lists, guild info, and ignore lists should have transferred to your new server, while items listed for auction, guild alliances, and in-game mail and attachments, unfortunately, will forever languish in the Internet’s lost-and-found box.
(On the bright side, though, we just discovered that "server merger" is really fun to say. Try it. Hey, don't judge us; we're bloggers -- not grief counselors.)
So, for those among you whose entire world was destroyed, how are the new digs looking?
Update: Looks like we (along with a few other websites) spent too much time losing ourselves in Hollenshead's beautiful blues and -- hearts full of hope -- skimmed over his real meaning entirely. Maybe if they'd stop making these alarm buttons so red and shiny, we'd be less tempted to press them so often.
“When it’s done,” you’re done. Go running back to Duke Nukem Forever. You knew what this was.
While speaking with GameTrailers TV at last month’s DICE Summit, id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead gave gamers the signal to look out over the horizon, because Rage is a comin’.
When asked whether his company’s latest monosyllabic murder simulator would blow its top in 2010, Hollenshead replied, “No, we'll be out this year."
Well, that’s good enough for us. Rage will be published by Electronic Arts and will probably aid F.E.A.R. 2 and Sadness in helping some website establish a “Best Game Ostensibly about a Vague, One-Word Emotion” award category for their best games of – take of whiff of that new release window smell – 2009. We can’t wait to hear more.
Six years after its original release, Command & Conquer Generals has – like a human-controlled competitor at a GameStop Mario Kart kiosk – finally crossed the finish line. Frankly, we would’ve just started a new race.
But we’re not nearly as generous as EA, who has decided to append Command & Conquer Generals with a level once considered too controversial to be deployed with the rest of the game. Why? Because of this little number:
“Players were given command of the Toxin Tractor, a slow-going farm vehicle modified to spray a deadly corrosive agent, and ordered to eliminate a town that had been ‘corrupted beyond salvation’ by the USA's propaganda. While the mission was ultimately removed from Generals, the Toxin Tractor was available in other campaign missions, as well as in multiplayer and skirmish modes.”
Murdering civilians? Detestable! Sorry, EA, but we draw the line at the undiscerning slaughter of friendlies who are actually packing heat, thank you very much. We pick on those who – to the near-sighted – are more or less our same size.
But how about you? Will you be picking up this tiny (and free!) slice of history? Were you even alive when C&C Generals first came out? God, we’re so old.
Update: GM Mark Jacobs confirmed that Mythic has seen a rash of lay-offs. However, he didn't dig into the who's and why's of this sad state of affairs.
Looks like the Fat Lady and Porky Pig are eying Warhammer Online as a possible next gig, though no contracts have been inked just yet. EA surreptitiously tossed Warhammer’s subscriber numbers into its recent investor call, probably hoping no one would notice the compact number’s squeaks and squeals. Unfortunately, the little tyke mumbled its way into an avalanche.
After announcing that Warhammer Online’s subscriber base has dropped from its rapid rise to 750,000, all the way down to 300,000, developer Mythic apparently axed 60-130 of its employees. Even worse, senior designers have reportedly been told to take a hike as well. Granted, this is only a rumor for now, but we’re seeking confirmation from Electronic Arts.
Regardless, though, things are looking grim for Mythic’s incredibly promising MMO. Here’s hoping the game’s upcoming series of live expansions can save this raid from completely wiping, but to be honest, we’re not hopeful.
See, economy? This is why we can’t have nice things.
Unlike its closest competitor, Activision, Electronic Arts broke its 2008 bank over original IPs like Mirror’s Edge, Dead Space, and Left 4 Dead, instead of the usual sequel-oriented fare. And at first glance, this risky strategy – akin to crawling when you already know how to walk, monetarily speaking – seems to have paid off.
During a conference call held earlier today, EA announced that Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space have roof-run and moon-walked their ways, respectively, to one million sales. Left 4 Dead, meanwhile, managed to pick the brains of 1.8 million retail customers. (Note: EA doesn’t have anything to do with the game’s Steam release, so it couldn’t provide any numbers on that.)
However, this tale of corporations, rebels, and zombies (of both the land and space varieties) doesn’t end happily. In spite of increased revenue, EA called its third quarter fiscal 2009 results “a clear disappointment.” The company posted an overall net loss of $641 million, mostly due to expenses and losses on investments.
Unsurprisingly, after taking such a beating, EA’s bleeding employees. The mega-publisher announced that it will reduce its workforce by 11% and close 12 facilities by the end of March. Roughly 1,100 people will be affected.
Good thing The Sims 3 and Dragon Age are landing soon, though, right? Oh. Never mind.
If your strict 2009 gaming schedule absolutely required that you give Sims 3 a day-one download and light tiny people on fire until Dragon Age: Origins’ “early 2009” release date, prepare to cancel that fake encounter with mononucleosis (followed by a string of extra long-lasting colds due to your “weakened immune system”), because the two games have run away together into the latter part of 2009.
“The June launch combined with the break-through game the team is building gives us the perfect runway to create awareness for The Sims 3,” said EA marketing boss Russell Arons.
Meanwhile, Dragon Age: Origins, as with any good BioWare game (the only non-delayed BioWare game, for reference) slipped big time and will be bed-ridden until EA’s third quarter, which runs from October 1 to December 31. Apparently, the delay will allow EA to more properly market to the Baldur’s Gate-esque RPG’s PC version alongside its console cousins.
"I'm really proud of our team, who are working very hard to make Dragon Age: Origins the biggest and most exciting BioWare game yet, and we will work to ensure it not only meets, but exceeds the expectations of our loyal audience," said CEO Ray Muzyka.
Kinda rubbing salt in the wound, aren’t you there, Muzyka? Something tells us this won’t be an easy wait.
Here’s the scoop: Battlefield Heroes, EA’s free-to-play, browser-based FPS, is just about ready for the big show, but needs your help in the make-up room. And get this! So does Relic’s massively anticipated RTS Dawn of War II. Who will you rescue? Now allow us to blow your mind: you can have both.
For Battlefield, you need only follow this link to the dank den of EA’s sleeping monster. Once there, simply create an EA account, fill out a sign-up form and wait. Doing these steps out of order is inadvisable.
Dawn of War II’s beta will officially brighten up PC gamers’ days on January 28th, but if you’d like early access (read: you could be playing it RIGHT NOW), you’ll need a copy of Dawn of War: Soulstorm. Luckily, Soulstorm just so happens to have been marked down to $7.50 on Steam. However, note that this sweet deal (75% off!) is temporary and will expire on January 28th.
Now go! Don’t worry about us; we only want your happiness!