5 Times Electronic Arts Didn’t Suck – Why I’m Reading This.
Ugh, Electronic Arts! Why do you still exist? Stop existing !!! But wait a minute, hasn’t EA done a few things right over the years? In this Feature PeterKoelewijn looks at 5 moments that Electronic Arts didn’t suck!
I wouldn’t say that Electronic Arts is the most hated game company. That is of course Nintendo because it still has not shown any gameplay from Metroid Prime 4. But EA certainly also belongs in the list of least popular game studios and they mainly owe that to themselves. Their games are qualitatively hit and miss, the leadership is very profit-oriented with its decisions and therefore only focuses on genres that score. And lootboxes… lootboxes everywhere!
Still, the company has certainly seen creative heydays and stuck its neck a few times to give new talent a chance. Hence I dedicate a Feature to 5 Moments EA Didn’t Suck!
Dead Space came at an interesting time for EA, when they weren’t known for their lootboxes but for their huge list of sequels of shaky quality. For that reason they decided to greenlight some new IP and Dead Space is the one that garnered the most success.
Originally started as System Shock 3, after the success of Resident Evil 4, Dead Space transformed into a more action-oriented horror game. Shooting limbs from the monsters made the gameplay fresh and the rest of the elaboration also showed that Electronic Arts could make more than football games and racing games.
It took a while for Dead Space to become a hit because EA’s reputation was in the gutter at the time. By word of mouth, the game sold enough a few years later to get a sequel. Dead Space 2 was a big improvement in almost every way. There was also a Dead Space 3 but … let’s focus on the positive, okay?
Hiring Peter Molyneux
Hear me out! Peter Molyneux may now be known as the games industry’s Don Quixote, but under Electronic Arts he got his big shot and made some of his most successful games. In 1989 Molyneux chose EA as the publisher for Populous, and Theme Park and Dungeon Keeper would follow later.
Bullfrog Studios was bought by EA in 1995. Molyneux was promoted to vice president, but in 1996 rumors abounded that the godgame maker was not happy with the publisher. In a drunken mood, he wrote his resignation letter and his equally drunken friend Tim Rance sent him to EA’s CEO. The hit the fan from that point on, and while Molyneux was allowed to stay on to finish Dungeon Keeper, he mostly had to do it from home. At EA they were too afraid that he would recruit people from his team for a new venture. It was called Lionhead Studios.
Although the relationship with EA had soured, Molyneux still got back to the publisher when he unveiled Black & White. The game was so successful that multiple expansion packs and a sequel were ordered by EA. Microsoft bought the studio in 2006, but EA certainly helped with Molyneux’s rise to fame.
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – The Video Game
Nowadays movie games are (fortunately?) Mainly found on smartphones. In the days before the iPhone, however, 10 square feet of shitty movie games were released annually for consoles and handheld. Hence, it was so refreshing from EA that they really put effort into the Lord of the Rings games. It started with the Two Towers, which got a hack-and-slash action game crammed with cinematic scenes that (for the graphics of the time) flowed effortlessly into gameplay.
The games were also packed with exclusive behind the scenes footage from the film and interviews with the cast. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – The Video Game added a little extra with even more extras. For example, do you want to know which hobbit can play best? There is an interview of that!
Or do you want to know what Christopher Lee thinks about having to record Saruman’s voice for a computer game? There is an interview of that!
And so it turns out that EA sometimes really does its best to deliver a cool game.
Immediately become the publisher of Respawn Entertainment
It was the battle divorce of the century! Infinity Ward bosses Vince Zampella and Jason West, responsible for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, were fired on the spot by Activision in 2010. The duo would have committed a breach of contract, but there was no time to argue because less than a month and a half later they founded Respawn Entertainment. This new studio was also looking for a publisher and Electronic Arts immediately stepped in to offer them a contract.
Zampella and West have since made Titanfall and Titanfall 2: 2 excellent multiplayer shooters that unfortunately do not match the commercial success of Call of Duty. Yet EA continues to have faith in the studio because in 2017 they bought the entire store.
Now the team is working on a VR FPS for Oculus Rift and a Star Wars game. The latter will be a third-person action game entitled Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
Bringing back FMV cutscenes to Command & Conquer
Command & Conquer is now on its hole and the question is whether it will ever return. But the series already made a glorious comeback in 2007 with Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. Including FMV cutscenes with real actors, which was a smart way to differentiate the series from competitors.
The high B-movie content came to its peak with Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3. Check out these historical images in which actor Tim Curry laughs halfway through. And still leave it in the game!
EA, sometimes you are awesome.
Is Electronic Arts teaming up with Activision and Konami bosses in a hollowed-out volcano to devise nefarious plans to destroy the games industry? Most likely not. First, it’s expensive to hollow out a volcano and build a James Bond base in it, and we all know by now that EA is on the run.
But in recent years, extensive research articles have also appeared, for example about the closing of Visceral Games and the problematic development of Mass Effect Andromeda. They paint a much more nuanced picture: of a publisher that does indeed push multiplayer and loot boxes, but also tries to keep as many developers on board as possible and has a lot of confidence in the capabilities of its game directors and development teams.
The truth is, games – even with the best of intentions and an abundance of talent – sometimes just don’t turn out well. It is beyond dispute that EA can play a better role in this. Let’s hope they suck a little less again in the near future!
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