NEWS - Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Model of Entirely Offline Games is Over Says EA

One of the trends we’ve been seeing in recent years is that of online-connected single-player games. It’s not often you see a single-player game that has no online functionality whatsoever, and it sounds as if you’ll definitely not be seeing anything like from Electronic Arts in the future. EA Games president Frank Gibeau said in an interview that he believes the model of "fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out" is "finished."
Speaking with Develop, Gibeau called online "the place to be" and suggested that it’s critical that games have some sort of connectivity in order to be blockbusters. "[EA’s studio heads are] very comfortable moving the discussion towards how we make connected gameplay -- be it co-operative or multiplayer or online services -- as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out. I think that model is finished," he said. "Online is where the innovation, and the action, is at."

Gibeau also recently spoke about how he felt the movie-game business is falling apart, at which point he also mentioned that one of Mirror’s Edge’s major deficiencies was its lack of online support.

Besides simply adding the aforementioned online connectivity, he also discussed what other things EA will continue to play around with in the coming years: "Looking ahead into the next three years, we’re going to change a lot of ideas in regards to content delivery mechanisms. We’re going to try out new price-points, and we’re going to try free-to-play models within my group -- things like we did with Battlefield 1943 (pictured above), which was a $10 XBLA game that did extremely well. So we’re going to focus more on content delivery models."

And although Gibeau didn’t go into it in this interview, we know EA is also high on the social and mobile gaming scene, including Facebook games. That position stands in stark contrast to Activision Blizzard, as CEO Bobby Kotick recently declared Activision wasn’t interested in social games or selling games on Apple’s App Store

Single-player game fans may not be too psyched at this news, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that every EA game is going to be multiplayer-focused; Dead Space 2, for instance, looks to have a strong single-player component (which you’ll soon be able to try in the upcoming demo) and EA has supplemented that with a new multiplayer mode. EA isn’t the only publisher looking to provide multiplayer and online connectivity for games that have been single-player-only in the past -- just look at Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. It’s hard to blame publishers for being interested in providing online, especially when you consider that it can both make the game in question look more attractive to prospective customers and help to keep it in gamers’ hands for longer -- and away from GameStop’s used games section.




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