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Author Topic: E3 Hype and Buzz  (Read 938 times)

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  • Tetris Master
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E3 Hype and Buzz
« on: May 04, 2006, 06:59:50 AM »

From The New York Times.

A Limited New Lineup From Electronic Arts, the Video Game Giant

May 4, 2006
When Electronic Arts, the world's No. 1 video-game publisher, announces its lineup today for next week's gargantuan E3 game convention in Los Angeles, you could be forgiven for thinking that football stadiums and quasi-modern war zones are the only places gamers know how to have fun.

Then again, gamers planning to attend the show could be forgiven for questioning whether they will need more than one hand to count the number of games for Sony's eagerly awaited PlayStation 3 that they will actually be able to play on the floor.

Next week's convention, formally known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is the most important event each year in the video-game industry because it begins the drumbeat of hype that publishers and makers of game systems try to build in advance of the all-important holiday season, when the industry does the lion's share of its annual business.

This year many of the biggest questions revolve around the prospects for PlayStation 3, expected to hit store shelves this fall. Before the machine is introduced, Sony needs top third-party publishers like Electronic Arts to demonstrate to fans, retailers and journalists that they can deliver a wide range of innovative games for the new console.

But judging by the limited roster planned by E.A., there may still be a lot of work to do in that vein even after the expo. In an interview yesterday, Frank Gibeau, an executive vice president and general manager for Electronic Arts' North American publishing operations, admitted as much.

"We want to have a strong lineup in the fall, and that is more important to us than having playable demos across the board of all our titles at E3," he said. "In terms of really building the buzz for the PlayStation 3, I think it's really going to be a late-summer, early-fall proposition from a timing standpoint."

"We're feeling very confident that we have a very strong lineup," he added. "We're excited about our strength and breadth across all technologies and we're excited about learning more about what Sony has planned."

Surprisingly, E.A. plans to make only one PlayStation 3 title — the inevitable Madden football sequel — available for the public to try at the show. (It appears that other major game makers — including Ubisoft, the top European publisher — will have no publicly playable PS3 games at the convention.)

Electronic Arts will be showing off a new Nascar game for Sony's hand-held PlayStation Portable and the company will demonstrate rough elements of coming basketball, golf and soccer games "behind closed doors" to groups of journalists and analysts. But except for Madden, the only other sports game that E.A. plans to reveal publicly is NCAA Football 07 for Microsoft's new Xbox 360 and for the older PlayStation 2, PSP and Xbox systems.

Outside the sports arena, the new property that E.A. is hoping to build the most buzz around is Army of Two, the game that its executives have cryptically referred to for months as the "Montreal Project," after the boutique internal studio that the company is trying to build in Canada.

Based on private paramilitary contractors like Blackwater that have come to public attention in war zones like Iraq, Army of Two is meant to set a new standard in artificial intelligence by making the player's machine-controlled buddy behave more intelligently than in past games. The game is also meant to focus on two-soldier cooperative play over the Internet. E.A. will be showing Army of Two, which is expected next year for PS3 and Xbox 360, only in private sessions.

But Army of Two is far from the only modern combat game that will be on display at the E.A. booth. Later this year the company also expects to deliver two first-person shooters for Windows PC's that are set in dystopian versions of the near future.

In Battlefield 2142, the third installment in the successful Battlefield series, the year is, naturally, 2142, and the world has erupted in conflict at the beginning of a new ice age. As in previous Battlefields, the emphasis is on intense yet precise multiplayer games with dozens of simultaneous players. Only this time, instead of tanks and airplanes, players can drive two-legged robotic combat machines and advanced hoverships.

And if you were waiting for a smashup of science fiction with plausibly real storytelling, the forthcoming Crysis, from Crytek, developer of the innovative Far Cry, is set in 2019 and begins with the United States and North Korea wrangling for control of an asteroid-impact zone. (It will come as a surprise to no gamer that the asteroid turns out to be infested with aliens.)

These are other games that Electronic Arts plans to show at E3:

¶Spore. This game from Will Wright lets players guide a species through billions of years of evolution. The game will surely dazzle, but E.A. introduced it at last year's E3 and still no release date has been announced. Expect it late this year or perhaps even in 2007, for PC.

¶Command & Conquer 3 Tiberium Wars. Another science-fiction combat game, this is a new installment of one of the original real-time strategy franchises. Expected next year for PC.

¶The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II. The innovation here is that E.A. is trying to make a traditional PC genre, the real-time strategy game, work on a console, the Xbox 360. If it works, it would be a triumph of game design. Expected this summer.

¶Superman Returns: The Videogame. The bar has been raised recently for movie spinoff games, so fans will be expecting E.A. to do right by the Man of Steel. Expected for a slew of systems when the movie comes out this summer.

¶Def Jam Fight for NY: The Takeover. A PSP-only game that lets players beat down some of their favorite rappers. Expected this summer.
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