We mostly loved Mirror's Edge, and – given the chance to iron out the kinks (read: tell the combat to take a long, particularly unpleasant hike) – we were certain DICE would knock a sequel right out of the park. Unfortunately, it looks like the Mirror's Edge franchise didn't look before it leaped, and now it's down and out for good.
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.
Nvidia stands at a crossroads, with two closed, proprietary APIs that have mainstream potential: the general-purpose computing CUDA API, and the PhysX physics-acceleration API, which sits on top of CUDA. These are both promising technologies, but only owners of Nvidia hardware can harness their power. Meanwhile, there are two emerging open standards that mirror what Nvidia is doing with its proprietary development. One is OpenCL 1.0, and the other is a general-purpose GPU computing API, which Microsoft will include in DirectX 11. There are a relatively small number of consumer applications that use CUDA, PhysX, or OpenCL right now, but the possible applications for the tech are endless—grossly simplified, these APIs let graphics chips perform CPU-like functions.
The question Nvidia needs to be asking is simple: Will developers write their general-purpose GPU computing apps using a proprietary API that works on only a subset of PCs—those stuffed with Nvidia hardware—or will they use an open API that will work on every PC on the market?
Mirror's Edge may not be wall-running onto PCs until January, but at least it's sticking the landing. Today, DICE announced that -- if your machine has the cojones to run it -- Mirror's Edge will support PhysX's Newtonian prowess, giving Faith's PC adventure console-eclipXing effects.
"With the NVIDIA PhysX physics engine, the world of Mirror's Edge comes to life with real affects of wind, weapons impact, and in-game movements. Every-day objects within the game become part of the overall experience. Cloth, flags, and banners can now impact weapons and players; ground fog interacts with the player's footsteps; explosions fill the air with smoke and debris; and weapon impacts are enhanced with interactive particles," read the press release.
But how's it look? Well, GameTrailers has a new trailer if you'd like a tantalizing taste of the eye-candy.
So then, MPC readers, now that DICE is sliding a few pieces of realistically billowing cloth under the table, are you cool with the seemingly arbitrary delay? Or is your rage simply too fiery -- fueled by your 143rd run through Mirror's Edge 2D and the completion of our your stark white Mirror's Edge skyscraper case mod, complete with custom Faith action figure?
Slow and steady wins the race against piracy? That's probably the mantra that came of EA and DICE's recent mind-meld, in which the publisher-developer duo decided to keep lithe heroine Faith from tip-toeing across PC rooftops until 2009 -- at least two months after consolites get their fix.
Now, today, after an almost conspicuously lengthy session of nonchalant whistling and faux-confused shoulder-shrugging, EA has announced a release window for its totalitarian twist on the formula Mario laid forth.
"The PC version of Mirror’s Edge will ship in North America in January 2009," said the press release. But that's not all.
"To keep the action coming after launch, DICE is currently developing downloadable content that will be available at the beginning of the year. More details to be announced shortly."
A late release to keep pirates from affecting sales figures? A spot of DLC to make players think twice about dumping Mirror's Edge in GameStop's used games section? Sounds like EA's really playing things safe with this franchise. It's just a damn shame that we all have to suffer for it.
Actually, "damn" isn't quite potent enough to describe the shame stream that currently plagues this situation. Jump past the break to see a more fitting phrase.
EA has certainly taken a turn for the less-reviled as of late -- a sudden change that can be attributed to risk-taking, trouble-making CEO John Riccitiello. However, even creative greats like Picasso, De Vinci, and Batman were only human, and all humans have breaking points. For Riccitiello, that point was seemingly first-person run 'n' rebel Mirror's Edge.
"I was totally convinced that game needed to be third-person and not first-person, because I wanted to see Faith," Riccitiello said.
“I was really wrong about the third-person thing,” he continued, citing the highly anticipated title's finished form.
But even with titles like Mirror's Edge under his belt, Riccitiello's heart is clad in a business suit, and some "creative risks" -- like Tim Schafer-Jack Black collaboration Brutal Legend -- give him palpitations (the bad kind; not the blood-pumping, required-to-survive kind).
"I have seen it," Riccitiello replied when asked if EA has considered publishing Brutal Legend. "I am well aware of what the game is. It’s a very significant creative risk."
"Sometimes significant creative risks end up being some of the world’s best products. Spore was also a significant creative risk. So was The Sims. Portal, BioShock. But so was [the relatively poor-selling, high quality Tim Schafer title] Grim Fandango."
Allow us to paint you a picture: It's non-denominational politically correct holiday morning. You burst free from beneath your covers, quivering from a mix of the wintery chill meandering through your room and sheer, unbridled excitement. With each successive footfall, your speed builds; the world around you is a blur. Chairs, tables, and boxes impede your path, but it's no matter -- you've been practicing. Bathed in the glow of your fireplace, you shatter the brightly colored paper that encases your gift.
However, within the box's ruins, you find only a small scrap of paper. Obviously composed by your parents, it tells you to check Maximum PC for the sad truth that sullied what should've been your finest day. According to your parents' note, the MPC post is dated 9/16/08.
After hurriedly booting up your PC and searching the article, your eyes shift immediately to a bolded bit of text near the middle of the page. "GameStop's website now lists Mirror's Edge PC's release date as January 6, 2009," it reads. "Additionally, Amazon users who preordered the title have also been notified that the game will be launching on that day."
Disheartened, but willing to wait, you decide to read the rest of the article to pass the time. But the article -- its contents -- seem a little too accurate, you soon realize as your eyes grow wide.
We know everything about you, unsuspecting reader from Applewood, Colorado. Your past, future, and present are an open book -- a brittle-paged tome for our amusement. You can't escape; we will always know where you are.
We just arrived at the EA press conference at the Orpheum theater. Lots of news being released, including the announcement of Sims 3, coming out in 2009. EA demos Dead Space, Spore, Mirror's Edge, NBA Live 09, Dragon Age: Origins, Left4Dead (characters redesiged), and id's Rage! Click through for our liveblog!