EA: The Road to Success?

So it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Happy belated Thanksgiving to all of my loyal readers! I love you, mom!

I haven’t had the chance to play many games over the “break.” Work, composition, coding… it’s all kind of taken precedent over my “leisure” activity, though I do try to keep current with what’s up.

New consoles! Yay!

See? I’m current. I’m hip.

Jokes aside, I’m excited to see the new era of console gaming come in. I haven’t been a big console gamer for a long time, but every 5 years or so I’ll steal a friend’s system, play the best games, and give it back after my game-art-awesomeness binge. It usually works if I’ve been keeping up with the PC releases (aka not Skyrim… I missed the boat on that one). So, the new Final Fantasies, the new Maddens and FIFAs, the new Halo (?), the new franchise and non-franchised games that will innovate the next half decade or so are pretty exciting to me! They should excite you, too. Motion technology is going to be making a big comeback. The reason I say “comeback” is because it happened with the Wii, and then Kinect and the PS Move tried to keep up with a trend that took the world by storm. However, it was kind of a… stopgap measure to keep them from falling too far behind, and it didn’t catch on with the monster-truck force that the Wii’s tech provided.

But now XBone and PS4 both were created with motion capabilities in mind. It means there’s an added element to the tired controller scheme of the original PS and Xbox. It means there are new opportunities for innovation and for change in the way we play games. THAT’S why you should be excited. Of course, I can understand if you’re stoked about the idea of a new DoA: Beach Volleyball game in stunning HD, but still. We’re about game design here.

Speaking of game design: let’s have a chat about EA. As you know, the general opinion of EA’s games is positive, but the opinion of their PR is… not so great. I’m not going to mention all of the nonsense that went on with Mass Effect 3, Battlefield, SimCity or the new NBA game. It’s all said and done, and a quick Google search will tell you all you need to know. They’ve gotten for two years in a row the “Golden Poo” award for the worst company in America.

Hm.

Not an investment bank? Not an oil company? Not Fox News?

Well, whatever. Point is, EA took notice. GameRant just recently posted an article about EA’s grand aspirations to be voted the BEST company in America. I’m not altogether sure what that means or if EA could ever be in the running for it (how does one judge that sort of thing anyway?), but the fact that the higher-ups at EA said such is an indicator that things are changing for the better. They’ve already discontinued Online Passes, and are probably going to be making a lot more DRM changes that will allow a little more freedom in the way their customers can play their games.

But here’s my take on the whole thing. EA makes great games. I’m not even going to argue this. I cursed, I laughed, I (almost) wept, I marveled in awe at the complete experience that was Mass Effect. If we are looking at video games as a genre of art, ME was the Lord of the Rings. Not unbeatable, but it sets a standard that sci-fi games will be stealing from for many years. In pure craftsmanship, science, depth of lore and variability of experience, it’s as yet unparalleled in the game industry. Dragon Age? Not quite as impressive, but it hit like a semi into the fantasy action RPG genre and is one of the only real competitors of Elder Scrolls for that open-worldy type game.

The point is, nobody makes games like them. Nobody can. SimCity is pretty much alone in its genre. People loved that game, people still love it. There are a couple games that forayed into the “city management” simulation game genre, but SimCity is miles above, even if we only consider how long it’s been a brand. Mirror’s Edge is another example. You thought the world was 3-D before? Just because Master Chief could jump super high (and Link STILL CAN’T)? Mirror’s Edge took that old, tired control scheme and turned it on its head (at some points, literally). It said, “You know all those gorgeous 3-D environments we’ve been making for you? Time to start really interacting with them.” It took a world that was always rich in its graphics and turned it into a masterful parkour playground that felt dangerous and exciting all at once. It wasn’t as successful as it should have been because it wasn’t horribly plot-driven. Excitement and a learning curve only take a game so far… the rest of the masterwork has to come from how the game holds together as a whole and how it tells the player its story.

And that’s why the new game in the Mirror’s Edge series is going to be totally awesome. That’s why I see it as a step (a big step) on EA’s road to being the best company. It’s not as long of a journey as some people might think. They already can make games that take the industry by force, again and again. All it takes is an open ear to the many fans (of which I am one), and EA will truly live up to its name: a maker of electronic art.

~AG

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About Isaac Smith

I write about music, technology, video games, and probably many other subjects that don't bear mentioning here. Either way, most of it's worth reading, and you may even enjoy yourself!

Posted on November 29, 2013, in Miscellaneous and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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