Their Best: Battlefield 3, entire Skate series, Mass Effect 3, Burnout Paradise, Dragon Age Inquisition, Dead Space 3
Their Worst: SimCity 2013, The Sims 4, Battlefield 4, Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, just about every EA mobile game
E3 2015 is almost here, and even though there’s still 10 weeks to go, those 10 weeks are going to fly by fast. There’s a lot to look forward to when this year’s biggest gaming convention comes around. We’ll undoubtedly see major game announcements, big bombs from Sony and Microsoft, and the typical showing of Call of Duty. But what about Electronic Arts? What will they likely show?
EA Games might seem like the most predictable publisher out of them all, since they generally show the same sports franchises and new iterations of their hot, go-to franchises. Electronic Arts isn’t exactly the biggest risk-taker, and that might be one of their biggest problems. But in order to properly predict what EA will do at E3 2015, we have to take a look at what they’ve done in the past and where they are now.
I’m not going to necessarily get into the deep history of Electronic Arts and how they were formed and yadda yadda yadda, but we do need to take a look at EA’s past to help determine their typical patterns. EA is over 30 years old, and the company has certainly had its ups and downs in the video game industry. They’ve gone from beloved sports game publisher to being voted the worst video game company in America — a title which now belongs to Ubisoft. Now, EA feels more like the money-hungry machine that keeps churning out the same games every year with little to no innovation. But, gamers KNOW what EA is about. We know that EA tries too hard to get our money. We know we’re going to see rushed-out yearly iterations of their big franchises like Madden and Battlefield, even if that means sacrificing quality (which it undoubtedly has meant in the past). And, that’s why EA’s image has been rightfully dragged through the mud over the past decade.
But EA has always been known for buying out smaller developer studios and rushing their games out, even in the earlier days. They rushed out new iterations in the Ultima series that weren’t well-received, they rushed one of Peter Molyneux’s games (although, in retrospect, the game might have been awful simply because, well, Molyneux is awful). Regardless, this is nothing new by EA.
EA’s biggest titles in the past — at least according to sales — has always been Fifa and Madden. I can’t speak much on Fifa since I can’t tell you the first thing about soccer (although reviews and discussions say that Fifa 15 is a great game), but as far as Madden is concerned, I’ve been playing it since the 90s. Every year, Madden gets better and better, but only slightly…very slightly. The only reason Madden is so successful is because EA has a monopoly on the NFL licensing, and gamers don’t have a choice on what NFL games to play; there’s only one. EA is frequently accused of making grand promises of new Madden features that don’t quite turn out to be so new after all. Unfortunately, Madden is the only professional football game available to console owners. And, you know what they say about companies with no competition, right? (They remain stagnant).
The Sims has also always been a big seller, but EA’s latest iteration, The Sims 4, is a hot mess of what should-have-beens. The game shipped as an extremely barebones package that stripped away a lot of what made The Sims 3 so great. This was obviously an attempt by EA to create opportunities to nickel and dime consumers with DLC packs later on. We can equate what EA did to a crack dealer: let them sample it so they fall in love with it and need it, and then take it away and make them pay for it so their thirst is even greater.
EA has seen a great deal of success with unique takes on genres that have been beaten to death beforehand. For example, it’s safe to say that EA Skate franchise was a critical success (even though it wasn’t exactly a huge seller). And, that’s because EA took a different take on the skateboarding game genre that wasn’t just about mashing buttons like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was. EA’s roots pretty much begin with a skateboarding game: Skate or Die!. They’ve had their toes in the skateboard pool for 30 years, but as it stands right now, there is no Skate 4 or a re-branded skateboarding game in development. With that being said, it seems glaringly obvious what EA needs to do to regain some fanfare.
EA had a big year in 2014, and redeemed themselves quite a bit by publishing the game of the year: Dragon Age Inquisition. Dragon Age Inquisition was a new, bigger take on the franchise that worked how it was supposed to upon its retail date (which is something EA struggled with in the past..coughcough SimCity coughcough). Dragon Age Inquisition turned out to be one of EA’s top games to date, but EA will need to cherish their win and treat it carefully as to not rush out a sequel. Please, EA, for your own sake, let it breathe.
EA still isn’t out of hot water though, and they’re going to be one hot mess of a game release away from taking the crown back from Ubisoft. 2015 is a pivotal year for the publisher, but we won’t know how they’re going to handle it until their E3 2015 conference.
EA’s E3 2014 press conference was pretty stellar. They broke out the big guns with a Star Wars Battlefront teaser, Dragon Age Inquisition trailer, Mass Effect 4 teaser, all the sports stuff, a PC Moba (Dawngate), and Mirror’s Edge 2. They’ll likely follow the same formula for 2015.
As it stands right now, Electronic Arts has three console games in development for a 2015 release: Rory McIllroy PGA Tour, Fifa 16 and Star Wars: Battlefront. Of course, that’s just games that have been confirmed, and we can undoubtedly expect the typical yearly sports games like NHL 16, and Madden 16. However, those haven’t been confirmed to be in development. So, what does that tell us? We’ll learn about all three of these titles at E3 2015, and possibly a new NBA Live if EA dares to go that route.
E3 2015 Predictions for EA
Predicting E3 for EA is a tough thing to do, because we’re not exactly sure where the company’s head is at right now. I can see them salivating over how well Dragon Age Inquisition did, and we know EA is greedy, but I don’t think we’ll hear anything about a Dragon Age Inquisition 2 just yet; that feels more like an E3 2016 announcement. I also don’t see them announcing a new Army of Two, since the series has hardly been bubbling at mediocre. A new SimCity is highly unlikely, but we’re likely hear about the next Sims 4 expansion.
Of course, we’ll see Madden, NHL, Fifa and likely NBA Live. We will probably also see the reveal of EA Sports UFC 2, since that was another game that was poorly received but has enough interest to warrant a new iteration. We’d be fool to believe that EA wasn’t already planning out the next Battlefield game, although I’d really like to see them take a year or two off and develop something truly exciting and worth playing (like maybe a Battlefield: Bad Company 3). It wouldn’t be a surprise if we learned more about Titanfall 2 and what it will have in store for gamers.
We’ll also likely finally get some details on Mass Effect 4, Mirror’s Edge 2 and that new game from Criterion Games that we know nothing about.
We’ve been told that there is a new Need for Speed game in our future, and we’ll likely learn about it at E3 this year. I also wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a new SSX game, since gamers seem to love it and there hasn’t been a new one since 2012. SSX for Xbox One/PS4? Count me in.
We might also see a Crysis 4 announced at E3 2015. Crysis 3 came out early in 2013, and a two and a half year gap wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect. I think the response to Crysis 3 was good enough that the series warrants a new game, and to me at least, a Crysis 4 would be welcomed.
Gamers will also likely hear about new additions to EA Access, and possibly see Sony come around to adding EA Access to the PS4. Originally, Sony noted that EA Access didn’t hold value for the PS4’s customers, but with their many additions to the vault throughout the year, Sony might’ve come around and made a deal with EA.
We also have to look at the markets that EA isn’t really prominent in at all, and there aren’t many. One of EA’s most notable vacancies is the zombie game genre. Sure, they had Plants vs Zombies, but nothing with a serious survival tone. Sure, those games might be beaten to a bloody pulp already, but EA could bring big budget style to create a standout. There’s also no EA fighting games (excluding their MMA attempts). I’m talking about Street Fighter-esque games. Other than that, I don’t see any genres smacking EA in the face with a vacancy.
Stay tuned to Heavy’s Gaming Section for more publisher spotlights leading up to this year’s E3.