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Experiments and Innovations: The EA Approach
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Experiments and Innovations: The EA Approach

March 4, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

DICE is a pretty interesting studio right now -- not that they haven't been in the past, but it seems like right now is a little more of a ripe time for DICE splashing out with Mirror's Edge and Battlefield Heroes as well. There's been a lot of talk about Battlefield Heroes, but things have been a little bit quiet recently; how do you feel about the progress that the title's making?

PS: Well, we just reopened the beta. We had a beta open about four or five months ago; we then had to go back home and get some back-end work fixed. We [just recently] reopened the beta. Actually; it's done really well for us. You can now the game as the game is meant to be played.

So, you can buy stuff; you start out with basically nothing, and you have to work yourself up into the levels and ranks to progress. You'll earn points; you can buy points. I'm playing it, personally. I know Frank Gibeau, the President of the label [EA Games], is; we're both having a great time.

I have high hopes for that game. It's a very interesting... call it "experiment," for EA. It's a free-to-play game; it's a very different approach than what we're used to. I personally think that we're going to do really well with it, and at least we'll learn a lot from building it; on that segment of the market that is going to be huge in the future. It's huge in Asia.

There are so many problems with pirated PC products out there that, for us, as game makers, we're actually thinking about whether we should even build PC games today, or whether we just do online-only PC games, because that's the only way that we can keep people in sync so that they're not playing pirated products.

If you ship a single-player-only game on the PC, you're going to have a hard time today. It doesn't matter what security system you have, within days it's cracked, and you have a hundred thousand people playing it, but tens of thousands that will buy it.

The kind of flak you can take over DRM has gotten really severe. Especially, well, Spore was a huge controversy.

PS: Yeah. And ultimately, if you look at that, I think people are completely overreacting... I think that we could have done a better job explaining why we're doing it, and making sure that people understand that unless we do something like this, we won't be able to build games for you on PC.

Unless we go to a different model, like the free-to-play model, which is lower fidelity, and then microtransaction-based for the people who want to spend the money. And whether that model is going to work in the Western world or not, it's still... We don't know yet.

That's going to affect, also, the genre of the games that can be created as well. It's a freeing model in some ways, but it's also a limiting model in other ways.

PS: Yes. Without a doubt. And it's interesting, because it's industry-shifting. There's a lot of stuff that's happening right now in the world that we're going to have to maneuver through -- which I am excited about, but it is challenging, without a doubt.

That's why Battlefield Heroes -- and we're getting closer to full commercialization, and we're going to go live with Heroes -- that's going to be a good learning for us as a company.

EA DICE's Battlefield Heroes

I saw a really fascinating look at the technology that drives Battlefield Heroes at Austin GDC. Because some parts of Battlefield Heroes are reusable parts of a back end that can be used across potential other projects, which is pretty valuable as well.

PS: Yes. That's exactly the point. So, this is our first experiment, but the learning that we draw from this will be applied to other games, and the back-end tech that we'll be creating will be used in other games.

So, basically, we'll be much faster to market with other products; we'll be cheaper to make them, which ultimately gives us the chance to make more of them. So that's right.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

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