LOS ANGELES – Blood and gore. Sci-fi fantasy. First-person shooter.
Stepping away from its comfort zone, the world’s leading video game publisher unleashed a surprising lineup of titles Monday at this year’s E3 Media and Business Summit.
At a press conference at LA’s Orpheum Theatre, leaders from 12 Electronic Arts game studios including Maxis, BioWare, EA Online and EA Redwood Shores presented a very different lineup than just “next year’s Madden” and “the next Sims game,” that some in the gaming industry have come to droningly expect out of the games giant.
Instead of flash and cinematics, EA went back to basics at E3 this year, doing little things like producing trailer videos from 100 percent in-game footage.
“No Powerpoint, no statistics, no reference to market share or how we’re actually bigger than the other guys,” said CEO John Riccitiello. “[We’re doing] something extremely simple. We’re going to have the people that make the games show you the games that we’re making.”
The lineup included not one, not two, but three potentially “M-for-Mature-rated” action games, as well as convincing, encouraging and entirely unsurprising early response numbers for the Spore Creature Creator and an incredibly impressive-looking action/adventure title called “Mirror’s Edge.”
EA Sports was there, but they chose to show off new ways to play their basketball and golf titles. There was almost no mention of the 20th anniversary of Madden NFL, the popular yet stagnant football title.
The action started when EA Redwood Shores chief Glen Schofield took the stage to talk about their upcoming sci-fi survival horror action thriller, “Dead Space.”
“This is a departure for EA,” Schofield said, calling his studio’s game “Very, very M rated.”
The game casts you as unsuspecting engineer Isaac Clarke, who, on a routine mission, finds the space station he was visiting ravaged by evil, disgusting aliens.
“We pushed extremely hard on the horror elements,” Schofield said. “The core gameplay mechanism is ‘strategic dismemberment’ – the clinical term for ‘you have to tear these creatures apart limb by limb in order to kill them.'”
Gabe Newell, co-founder and managing director of Valve later discussed another upcoming EA action horror game called Left 4 Dead, a heavily multiplayer title, where the game’s artificial intelligence changes the storyline and difficulty based on how poorly or how well you play.
At the end of the briefing, Riccitiello announced that EA was partnering with id Software, the company that invented the first person shooter video game genre with the game “Wolfenstein 3D” and later made “Doom” and “Quake.”
The partnership ushers in a new open-world game called Rage, which combines elements of action and driving, in a “Grant Theft Auto” meets “Mad Max” motif.
Attention was also centered around Will Wright’s upcoming “Spore” game, where players make and control their own creatures in a virtual world. Wright’s Maxis division of Electronic Arts released the “Spore Creature Creator” a few weeks ago to let fans start to dabble in the game and make up their own sets of creatures before the game’s official release in the fall.
“I was hoping we could get around 100,000 [creatures] by September,” Wright said. Within 22 hours, they had surpassed that number. There were over a million within a week.
Within 18 days, there were over 1.7 million “Spores” created. That’s more than the 1.589 million actual species known to exist on earth, Wright pointed out. And that says something about the anticipated impact “Spore” will have when it’s released in September.