No one is in a better position to capitalize off of hype more than EA at this year’s E3. Considering it’s on me to cover them, I thought I’d give a look back on what they may or may not have done wrong last year and compare it to their performance. But in my second viewing of last year’s conference, two things struck me.
It Was a Rollercoaster
Last year’s conference was all over the place. It went up and down with every other announcement. Unfortunately, looking back has made me realized how tinged with bad even the good moments were.
What EA did have that showed promise bookended the conference with very few remains sparsely littered throughout the presentation. Titanfall 2, a game notoriously praised but overwhelmingly ignored by consumers last year, opened the show on the right foot. There was a multiplayer trailer and then finally the confirmation of a single player component, a feature much requested after the initial games debut in March of 2014. It’s a shame that this segued right into the sports section of the show.
Madden NFL 17 was first up. Madden, unlike the game it’s simulating, is a relatively boring showpiece to watch being displayed on screen. Jammed in between Madden and FIFA 17, however, was a glimmer of hope. That glimmer of hope was everyone’s new favorite bastard child, Mass Effect: Andromeda. When all we got was behind the scenes at E3, everyone should’ve been on alert. Alas that was all we would have for quite some time and anyone who’s been keeping track of that game knows what happened there. That teaser looked so damn good too.
As I’ve already mentioned, FIFA 17 then took center stage. The promise of an actual narrative made it all the more exciting but it was still the same game. As per usual, EA brought in a sports celebrity to help sell people on the newest FIFA. That celebrity only sold us on the amount of money he was paid to show up. A whole section, the middle section of the conference, was almost completely dedicated to selling people on the latest iterations of Madden and FIFA. These games don’t need this much effort going into them because they sell themselves like crazy year after year after year. It was lazy and likely a move made to make up for the lack of a lot of heavy hitters.
EA Originals doubled down on what worked with Unravel and No Mans Sky before it. Which is, put a passionate but shy developer on gaming’s biggest stage and hope that sells people on their product. Fe looked like a promising little indie title that given a good marketing push, could be a relative success. Unfortunately, we’ve not heard anything since so maybe expect a release date or just a release come the end of todays conference. Double down on EA Originals more today.
A New Hope
The show ended on a tremendous note. There was Battlefield 1, obviously, which closed out the show. Unfortunately, that presentation led directly into a tournament littered with “influencers”, who aren’t evil or anything, it’s just their presence feels disingenuous. The idea that Snoop Dogg or Zac Efron are going to sell me on a game is ridiculous. That being said, hearing about Snoop, Wiz Khalifa, and Zac being high out of their minds while there was mildly funny.
What I really want to get to came just before that and inspired this whole piece. Two words:
It’s no secret that most of the known world, or probably just America, loves themselves some of the Star Wars. During her brief stint on the stage, Jade Raymond spoke about new games. This includes DICE and Motive’s collaboration on Star Wars Battlefront II, which releases later this year and is taking up quite a lot of a building in LA right now. Also, in this bunch is Visceral’s action game that you should expect to see more of tomorrow and Respawn’s game which has no release window and we know next to nothing about except it’s exploration of a different era.
With the lack of a big Battlefield game this fall, Battlefront II is surely going to carry the show. And do I think it’ll deliver: Hell yes!
The added eras helps pull in the poor lost souls who like the prequels and bring in the newcomers who just jumped on with Episode VII. If I remember correctly, even Episode VIII things are working their way in there. All of this appeal, plus the addition of a full single player component makes Battlefront II EA’s biggest game of the year. I think the team behind it is totally ready to deliver. It’s the perfect excuse to capitalize on the success of something outside of games to propel them.
A few of the moves EA has made in the last year haven’t worked out quite as intended and it may have cause people to have some ill will towards them. However, their success is almost directly tied to the success of one of your favorite franchises and the fun you’ll have on and offline over the next year.
EA’s got a lot to do today. But their hope for a brighter future may not necessarily be in boots-on-the-ground warfare, or football or futbol. No, I think it lies in the stars.