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EA's Soderlund:  Dead Space, Mirror's Edge  Will Be Seen As Successful
EA's Soderlund: Dead Space, Mirror's Edge Will Be Seen As Successful
March 4, 2009 | By Staff

March 4, 2009 | By Staff
More: Console/PC

Electronic Arts' holiday portfolio underperformed, increasing the scrutiny in particular on new IP Mirror's Edge and Dead Space. But EA Games Europe senior VP Patrick Söderlund believes the titles' lifetime performance will prove them to be hits.

Industry analysts have suggested that EA's disappointing Christmas means that the company's push to drive up quality and innovation wasn't useful, but Söderlund calls that "simplistic."

"I think if you analyze games like Dead Space and Mirror's Edge for their lifetime performance, I bet you'll find them to be seen as successful," he says, as part of a new Gamasutra feature interview.

"They're both new IPs; it's hard to break new ground with new IPs, especially in that Q3 window, when you have games like Gears of War 2, Call of Duty 5, and a bunch of other really strong products with a 2, or 3, or 4, or 5 on it," he says. "So, I think that we could have done a better job as far as ship timing on, probably, both of those."

"I think that in the case of Dead Space, I think that we executed well on our quarter targets; probably better than we could have hoped for. I love the game; I think it's an awesome game, so kudos to the team for putting it together."

Although on Mirror's Edge Söderlund says "we did a lot of things that we set ourselves up to do," he concedes: "Is it perfect? No. Are there things in there that we will address for future versions? Absolutely. Was it a good first attempt? Yes! That's kind of how I summarize it."

"What I'm saying is that I think that as long as you learn from your previous product, and you learn from what worked and what didn't work, you're ultimately going to be okay."

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John Ingrams
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If you tell a lie often enough, (some) people believe it to be true. And the media (especially gamesultra) needs to be better than this. The No.1 thing Dead Space and Mirror's Edge have in common is lack of gameplay, with both titles having just a dozen or so hours of gameplay! Way back is the number two reason of them being 'new ISP's'. EA is always going to put a positive swing on things, and will use this as a reason for just bringing out copies of copies and saying 'well, look at when we try to bring out new ISP's?' And all those fooled people (and media) will say 'oh yes, that's right!'.

Please work it out Gamesultra - before it's too late!

Reid Kimball
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I wonder if the industry has reached a milestone where a game doesn't have to be a huge hit in a month or two and then it's a missed opportunity. Instead, a game can now have a slow start in sales but have a longer shelf life and make up the costs later. I think this is possible due to more people buying games, not all at the same time.

Warren Currell
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blah. not a fan of either game. neither do anything for me. will a sequel appeal to me? highly unlikely.

Gregory Austin
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A lot of people (myself included) would disagree with you about Dead Space.

The length of a game is not the sole metric to determine its quality. Dead Space was fun, scary, and made some great UI innovations. It wasn't perfect by any means, but I consider it superior to (the very well received) Resident Evil 4.

E Zachary Knight
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I think the main issue that the games industry is learning that for new IP to be successful, you cannot expect it to be a hit in the first month liek established IPs. Also, you cannot expect it to be a hit at a price point equal to established IPs.

In order for new IP to be successful you need a lower price point and gauge its sales over a longer period than 1-2 months. Instead of releasing it for $60 you could instead sell it for $40. Get people's attention. Then monitor sales for at least 6 months before declaring it a success or dud.

John Ingrams
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Gregory Austin, you and a lot of people may disagree with me, but sales number for these titles are abysmal and so I feel i am in a huge silent majority of people that did not buy the game because it was not worth $60. How many people would pay $10 to go and see a great (according to you) 12 minute movie? How many people to pay for a 28 page novel, however (in your opinion) great it was? So it is with games. There is a reason the peak of PC gaming was in the very late 90's (in terms of sales) and that period is also the same period when the average gaming time was over 30 hours, with sub 20 hour games getting marked down in the (then) gaming media for 'lack of gameplay value'. Back then one magazine had a bar chart for 'lasting interest' and included that in how it marked the game. Now, we have the media saying because games are now 12 hours, a 20 hour game is a 'long game', but once again it is the media selling out to the publishers. Like with Dawn of War 2 reviews saying no one likes base-building in RTS's - well did anyone ask you? No one asked me - and I doubt no one asked any RTS gamer. It was just about making a simpler, quicker game that was cheaper to make. And I bet you Dawn of War 2, because of that 'dumbness' will not sell even 75% of what the first Dawn of War sold, even though Dawn of War had that 'terrible base building' in it!!!!

Chris Melby
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I'm with Gregory, even on the RE4 comment and I love that game on the Wii. These games were both similar and neither was lacking in gameplay at all and are both highly re-playable. I've played through DS twice and will be playing it again after I finish The Witcher.

I plan on picking up Mirror's Edge, but I'm waiting for a price drop. I know this game was enhanced for PCs, but whenever a game is released on the console, then the PC much later, I always tend to loose interest, and this is a game I 'would' have bought the first week.

E Zachary Knight
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I must disagree. While some really great games have been made that have 40+ hours of gameplay built in, that does not mean that all games with 40+ hours of gameplay are fun and have great gameplay. I have played many great and fun games thatt lasted

E Zachary Knight
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less than 12 hours.

Gameplay != play time

Eddie Vertigo
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Having played and beaten both Dead Space and Mirror's Edge multiple times, I can honestly say they are both fun games to play. I think releasing them during the holiday season for sixty bucks was a mistake, though; releasing them for roughly fifty dollars during a slow part of the year would have made a huge difference. That being said, they both have huge potential to become cult-classics, spawning some better sequels.

MichaelVaughn Green
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I'm going to have to back up Dead Space. In an already crowded Fall 08 market, gamers are going to choose titles and properties they are familiar with. I.E. Gears of War 2, Rock Band/Guitar Hero, Lego Batman, Star Wars, the list goes on.

A game's play period can be a crucial element to its success, but it shouldn't demerit a game's successful design. Which is, Dead Space. This has to be one of the most successfully scripted-event games I have seen in awhile. Especially one that was able to pull off horror and suspense so well. Halo 3 has a shorter campaign, but the stellar multiplayer makes up for its campaign. I suppose it is a give and take.

A wouldn't expect a new I.P. to have a 20 hour gameplay experience; financially it is difficult. I believe Dead Space's success is in its design, not in its sales.

Roberto Alfonso
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"Now, we have the media saying because games are now 12 hours, a 20 hour game is a 'long game', but once again it is the media selling out to the publishers."

John Ingrams, there is a reason about why, out of the $3.5b gaming market growth in the USA last year, $3.3b were for Nintendo. The market has changed, and you are staying in the past. Epic 80 hours games were common before, but they are not anymore. This Nintendo recognized and therefore enjoy a very good growth, while other companies are laying off personal and just trying to survive.

For every Metal Gear Solid 4 game that sells 3 million units in a 20 hour length there are several Wii Fit/Wii Play/Nintendogs/etc that sell twice that for just a few hours of entertainment.

"It was just about making a simpler, quicker game that was cheaper to make."

That is the key nowadays. You don't need to press five buttons to turn a DVD player on now, you just insert the DVD. Simplification is what is driving industries forward, and keeping old paradigms (just like I keep mine by playing MUDs and dungeon crawlers/roguelikes) will end you in a niche.

Gregory Austin
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I understand what you're getting at, but I think your examples are a little extreme. A better comparison would be an 80 minute movie to a 200 minute movie, or a 100 page novel to a 400 page novel.

You're right that being a shorter games hurt sales, but at the same time longer games cost more to develop. And if a game is made too long, it stretches itself thin which hurts quality.

From the numbers I've seen, I think that Dead Space is on track to make back EA's investment in it. If you add in the somewhat intangible value of the IP, I'd say that qualifies as a success.

Mickey Mullasan
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I think there is room for Cavier Elite games that are 100+ hours and are priced at some insane price point like 120$. Why not have upscale products for upscale crowds? It's not like this crowd is going to pick it up and put it down and then complain that there's nothing else out there. No, this crowd will eat through those $120 dollars deconstructing every last piece, savoring every last part like fine wine.

But yeah, games that are short should be better valued at a lower price. This flat price model is a bit of a con on consumers.

Jerome Russ
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Dead Space is a great game! I hope they count it a success, because I want to play more!

Dead Space for Wii is already on my radar!

It is nice to see a company stick up for games that aren't blockbusters as well.

Peter Park
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I am with a lot of people who backs Dead Space, and that length of a game does not define its quality.

While we would love never-ending stream of content with great gameplay to occupy our time, the audience of today's games is growing up. More and more are getting jobs and starting families. And thus, shorter games that packs tight and deep content are thriving over ridiculously (in my opinion) long games of the past.

For instance, I used to love playing RPG games like FF series that took above 40~50 hours to finish. But now, with a job, I just don't have time for games like that. It's taking me months to finish Lost Odyssey right now. And do I think that drawn-out-to-death playtime necessary? Absolutely not. They could've cut so many parts and end up with much much tighter and cohesive story, and ultimately, overall fun.

I think Dead Space got it right. It's pace, playtime, everything was right on the target, and I hope more games like that comes out.

Chris Remo
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I could not disagree with you more. I had some issues with Dead Space and particularly Mirror's Edge, but neither had even the slightest thing to do with how many hours they took to complete.

I would be very surprised if you had any data to back up your assertion as to that being the reason for these games' performance (which is certainly not "abysmal" as you characterize it), and I can't even begin to imagine how you think it reflects poorly on Gamasutra's reporting.

Ian Uniacke
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Do people forget that back in the old days the average console length for action games (eg Metroid, Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog etc) was only 6 to 12 hours? Obviously length of time to play equalling quality is a myth that arose during the 90s.

I agree with the comments above a good game is not necesarily a long game. One of the best games of recent times is House Of The Dead Overkill and that's only approximately 3 hours long.

As for the movie analogy it is completely flawed. They already 'did' shorten the length of movies and more people watch movies now then ever. Do you remember the early film industry where a movie couldn't be less than 3 hours? (eg My Fair Lady) That's the exact same thing, and a movie such as The Lion King at 80 minutes long is an all time favourite.

That being said, in my humble opinion, Mirror's Edge was just a boring game. Dead space on the other hand I would expect to be successful in the long run.

Ruslan Shestopalyuk
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Both of the games were among the best experience during my past gaming year.

Both of them were long enough to keep me entertained for a couple of weeks each.

I think buying the boxes was a good investment.

Ted Brown
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Personal commentary on the games aside, I think the larger point being made here is that we must be patient with new IPs before they are judged to be successful or not. Remember when God of War came out? It was not a massive success at first (it was released in March), but by the time Christmas came calling, it snowballed into epic numbers.

I think it's fair to judge sequels by their sales out of the gate, and I'm guessing their sales curve trends downwards from there. New IPs, however, don't need to start strong. They just need to trend -up-.

The "break new ground" tidbit is an excellent metaphor in that regard: from underground and little-known to outdoors and recognized.

Wii Fit
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Wii Fit has got the most impeccable features that a fitness device can ever possess. Take a look at them.

* Wii Fit comes along with the wireless and powerful Wii Balance Board which is a must have to play a Wii console. Remember Wii console is sold separately.

* Wii Fit players really work in a determined manner to fulfil their personal fitness goals as they block soccer balls, swivel hips to power hoop twirls, and go big on ski jumps to get them there. It actually delivers a perfect fitness regimen to you.

* Wii Fit combines fitness with fun in the most glorious way and is designed for everyone, be it young kids or old geeks.

* With Wii Fit you can check your daily progress, set realistic goals and then check your Wii Fit Age and decide the future exercising strategies on it.

Matthew Oztalay
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In high school my teachers always required a page number on papers, saying that if we reached that page count, our papers were successful. Oftentimes I found the opposite to be true, because in pushing a sufficiently succinct paper to reach that page count reduced the quality.

Portal, a well-designed and well-executed game made its point in about three hours of gameplay. Had the game been longer, the quality would have suffered. The same with Deadspace. If the game had lasted longer the quality would suffer. Kudos to EA Redwood Shores for a wonderful game.

Brent Mitchell
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Dead Space has no gameplay? HAH. I hope someone videotapes my reaction to someone telling me that to my face.

And I don't know about you all, but I began Dead Space on Hard. And WOW. It was more than double your dozen hours of gameplay, and they were all amazing!

Now, I will agree on one point, even if it wasn't explicitly mentioned. I did not feel that Dead Space warranted $60, only because the bar for $60 games has risen in recent years. At that price, DS is a rental, but one of the best rentals you can ever get. If it was $30-40, I would have kept my copy, and suggested to all my friends to buy it, rather than give the same advice as the previous sentence.

Yannick Boucher
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I'm sorry but I'm also gonna comment that I'm really, really tired of people judging game quality in number of gameplay hours. (also, looks like the new comment system is susceptible to spam.. :P )

Roger Joseph
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I think a game like Mirror's Edge has an enormous potential to be something big later on down the road. Not ever game makes a huge splash when it first enters the market and this is especially true for games trying some thing new but the ripples effects of it can be made felt for a long time to come if the developers take advantage of what they have started with ME.

ME gave gamers a glimpse of something they hadn't seen in a long time. It showed that developers aren't afraid to do something new for a change instead of making another WWII shooter because that's what sells.

Yeah it wasn't as big a hit as they were hoping for but now they are doing into the development of ME2 with a lot more knowledge and experience of works and what doesn't. I really hope that EA and DICE sees the hide potential that they have in Mirror's Edge that goes far beyond the initial sales figures. They just need to keep building on what they have and not lose sight of what made ME unique. DICE, you guys read did great job and I have faith in you guys that part 2 with be twice a cool. :]

Matt Cascio
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Time for my two cents. =]

Ok so, I read through most of the comments, I'm not going to bother trying to get names right, but I will say i agree with any of you who say that it should quality we judge, not quantity. First up, Mirror's Edge. In my opinion, this game was fantastic, albeit flawed. In a market flooded with First Person perspective games that jam down your throat to get a weapon, this game urged you to put the weapon down and run. That underlying concepts was something very fresh in the market today. Also, even though it fits into the story in a different way, the idea of the game world being very bright and clean, is something new as well. Most FPS's nowadays are trying to be "gritty" and "hyper-realistic". Mirror's Edge went for the opposite approach, a bold move and innovative move. The gameplay could have been tweaked to perfection (i.e. less forced fights, as the object of the game is to run away), however it was a great first attempt at a new IP. Yes it was short...incredibly short actually, I beat it on hard in a little over 5 hours I think? But that doesn't mean I didn't go back and beat the game 3 more times, and then continue to play the time trials like hell. All in all, this game was a success in my eyes. Worth 60 bucks? I'll just say I don't regret buy it.

Now to Dead Space. For anyone who has not played this game I say, nay, dare you to play this game on an HDTV with the lights off and surround sound cranked up. It is the scariest game I have experienced in some time, far surpassing the Resident Evil franchise (and this is the first in the series, not a bad showing to stun the survival horror king, which is up to its...7th iteration, all told?). I agree with Brent on his remark. Playing through this game on hard was a chore, and had me reaching the solid 12 hour mark. I didn't feel like I was playing forever, and I didn't feel cheated. The game was paced, balanced, and concluded perfectly. The game's achilles heel was variety. Many of your objectives were simple "go here, push this button, repeat" goals. There was some slight variation at times, but ultimately this is what you did most of the time. Other than that, I can't find much wrong with the game, as far as survival horror games go, it did almost everything right. To call this a failure for the sake that isn't long enough is a sin...well maybe not a sin, but you get the point. Worth 60 bucks? You betchya.

Overall recap.

Dead Space = worth your $60

Mirror's Edge = worth the buy to encourage developers to innovate in ways seen in Mirror's Edge. (if no one buys these games, publishers see this as a failing idea, and let it go, think about it)