Showing posts with label EA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EA. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Battlefield Heroes to close

Sad news; Battlefield Heroes is set to shut it's doors this July.

This is unfortunate news alongside EA's other announcements about shuttering the rest of their Pay 2 Win ... err... Free 2 Play titles.

Personally I felt that Heroes was one of the better games of the Battlefield line up right behind Battlefield 2 and the original Battlefield 1942.  Heroes was easy to get into and offered an amazing amount of game play for free.  Unfortunately that is likely what has done it in over the long run.

At it's peak Heroes had reported player numbers of 10 million (geez, remember when we thought 250,000 was A LOT when talking about online games), but I suspect many of those millions were non-paying entities.  Eventually more and more "pay 2 win" aspects crept into the game.  Before long and about the time I stopped playing players had to pay up or go home.

In my opinion I don't think free 2 play has much to do with this closure at all.  EA is well known for closing down old games and shutting off the servers.  Heroes will just be another on the pile of games long abandoned by EA.  The real question for us to be asking is what, if anything, EA will change in the future to mitigate their constant disappointments with maintaining games with online components.  As a regular player of free 2 play titles and other online games these moves certainly don't give me any confidence in EA's ability to provide any decent long term investment.

EA is basically death for most of what it touches.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hypocritical on Battlefield 3, Origin, digital distribution

I have drawn a line in the sand. I am a Steam user and I want my fucking games on Steam. Publishers should come to me, the consumer. I, the consumer, should not have to go to them. I have serious problems with Origin (and and Steam for that matter). I DO NOT want exclusive digital distribution platforms. However, I am an avid PC gamer; a very hypocritical and easily fooled by “oh shiny” gamer at that.
This brings me to my current dilemma. I’ve all but said that I refuse to accept Origin and EA locking their flagship games into the platform. Especially because I own a half dozen of their other games on Steam and I really like Steam as my digital distribution platform. I’m disappointed that Valve and EA can’t work out their differences.

The EA vs Valve spat was not terribly unexpected. This has been playing out in the movie/TV streaming market for years already. The content providers are unwilling to sell the rights to their prime content to players such as Netflix or Amazon. Netflix and Amazon then get stuck with the re-runs and B rate stuff. The content providers meanwhile are wising up to the fact they can just as easily distribute their own digital content and just like hardcore game fans, the content fans will come to them.

The content I’m interested in is Battlefield 3. I’ve played and paid for all but two PC Battlefield titles to date. I loved the last two iterations: Heroes and Bad Company 2. I’ve always picked the Battlefield series over the likes of Call of Duty or Counterstrike. Battlefield games have always given me, the very unskilled twitch player, an excellent chance to thrive in the not-focused-just-on-shooting aspects. I played one hell of a medic in Battlefield 2.

I’ve been sitting around today watching videos such as the one at the end of this post and I’m absolutely drooling at the footage. Battlefield 3 is exactly the type of game I want. It’s an upgrade of Bad Company 2 and flat-out impressive. And I’m missing out on it because of some silly line I drew in the sand.

The problem is: can I really by the hypocrite? Again? My mind says no, but my heart (ha!) says “who gives a fuck?”. So this is me signing off, unsure what I’m going to do. In the mean time, I need to stop watching videos.

Du du, du, dun duh. Du du, du, dun duh.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic Won't Require Origin

News today via a post on the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums that SW:ToR will NOT require Origin.

That's good news for anyone planning on playing the game.

That's bad news for EA that they can't even get their flagship title to promote their system, but at the end of the day maybe not losing sales is a better prospect.

That still means no SW:ToR on Steam (or any other digital distribution system other than Origin).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Friday, June 03, 2011

The straw that broke the SW:ToR camel's back? No digital downloads outside EA.

EA has announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic will only be available for download via through EA itself via their new service Origin. No Steam or Direct2Drive.
...highly anticipated MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic will be sold as a direct download only through Electronic Arts itself. In an interview with CEO John Riccitiello, the Wall Street Journal uncovered news of EA's new service, one it's calling Origin. This service will provide customers with a download service for all EA games, including the Battlefield games, the Need For Speed games, and the aforementioned Star Wars: The Old Republic.
This, my friends, is a travesty. Not only has SW:ToR been underwhelming in all of the previews, but now they are expecting gamers to pick up yet another digital distribution platform to get the game via a direct download? What is wrong with Steam? Steam has a massive catalog of other EA games, including MMOs such as Warhammer Online.

I didn't buy into Starcraft 2 because it was on the new  I've sworn off buying any Games for Windows Live games (that aren't on dirt cheap sales via Steam).  I've pretty much decided that if a game isn't on Steam, I'm probably not buying it (Minecraft being the sole exception).

I seriously hope this does not include Battlefield 3.  BFBC2 was a huge success on Steam.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Heartless_ View: Casualty of Warhammer

It all started, as so many things do these days, with an Internet news posting.
In 2008, after almost four years reviewing games and covering industry news and events, I lost my job. In my search for new work, I came across a posting for QA/customer service jobs at Mythic Entertainment for Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. I didn't have much of a technical background aside from being a lifelong gamer, but I had a few years of customer service experience, so I shot them a resume. I heard back a month later and started at Mythic a week after that.

I initially thought it might be some type of call center job, but my supervisors explained that I would be working within the game itself. The journalist in me thought it would be a fascinating look behind the curtain at a young MMOG. The gamer in me thought it would be awesome to finally have the powers of a GM. I would be like an agent in The Matrix.
So, for those that read the above article, we get a sad story about the state of a customer service position at a company who's product failed to meet expectations. The article is both revealing of what happened with Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) and a bit annoying at whats implied.

First, the article lays heavy blame at Wrath of the Lich King's feet for WARs collapse. Little is said about WAR's own shortcomings. Granted, this was a viewpoint looking out from the inside, so its understandable why they were looking for reasons or excuses that didn't point any fingers back at themselves. I'm not going to say that Wrath had nothing to do with WAR's faltering performance, but it was a minor footprint to where I lay blame: the fundamental design of WAR was a fragmented mess with no continuity.

Secondly, there is too much effort in trying to make everyone feel bad for the people losing their jobs. Wake up, customer service is a cruel mistress in any career field. I have no sympathy for the guy in the article. He set lofty goals in a volatile position. Strip all the names away (EA, Mythic, WAR) and this story can be sung a million times over for failed projects.

Lastly, I can count on my hand the number of game designers/developers that have come from the customer service realm. Big dreams are nice, but they lead to big disappointments. Goals need to be precise, small, written down, and most importantly, must be measurable. Thus, I have no illusions of breaking into the games industry.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Helping Hands

News from Eurogamer: Mythic will help Bioware with Star Wars The Old Republic.
BioWare has told Eurogamer that Mythic Entertainment will "without a doubt" help out on Star Wars: The Old Republic, as there are "absolutely opportunities to share and learn" within the newly formed RPG/MMO group.
Immediately, I don't see any issues with this. There is no doubt that SW:ToR has a lot of grunt work to be done and a lot of unrelated processes that can be delegated to teams at Mythic. And vice versa for Mythic's next project.

I still hold optimism that this merger was done by EA to create better games and get them to market. EA has changed over the past year, consolidating and refocusing, so maybe this new MMO group has a chance in this new refreshed EA.

However, if EA's history with recently acquired studios is to be a lesson, Bioware is only a year or so away from its own "turbulence". Let's all hope Bioware has found a magical anti-venom to the poison that appears to be EA.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sky IS Falling: Mythic and Bioware Merged By EA

Big news today, Mark Jacobs is leaving Mythic as EA merges Mythic with Bioware.
Today we have important news to share with the community. EA is restructuring its RPG and MMO games development into a new group that includes both Mythic and BioWare. This newly formed team will be led by Ray Muzyka, co-founder and General Manager of BioWare. With this change, Ray becomes Group General Manager of the new RPG/MMO studio group. BioWare’s other co-founder, Greg Zeschuk will become Group Creative Officer for the new RPG/MMO studio group. Rob Denton will step up as General Manager of Mythic and report to Ray. BioWare’s studios remain unchanged and continue to report to Ray.

Mark Jacobs, current General Manager of Mythic will leave EA on June 23, 2009. We thank Mark for his contributions at Mythic and wish him the very best going forward. Mark played a major part in the success of Mythic with his contribution as General Manager and Lead Designer of WAR.

Mythic retains a strong team led by Rob who co-founded Mythic in 1995. Rob played a critical role in the development of Dark Age of Camelot. In his previous role as COO, he was responsible for all day-to-day management of the studio including all development, operations and support.

Please join us in celebrating the union of these two award-winning studios.
By the way, don't say I didn't say so. From my Predictions for 2009 post.
5. WAR will still be around by the end of 2009, but who remains around to develop it may be drastically different.
This should serve as further historical proof that EA is poison for any company or development studio that it consumes. Give Bioware a couple years to ferment and we'll be right back here.

May Star Wars: The Old Republic rest in pieces, broken and abused.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Massively: Kicking WAR in the Balls since '08

Massively is at it again, kicking Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning in the nards.
In a recent article on Gamasutra, Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz discussed EA's disappointing performance of late, blaming the software giant's "inability to develop hit core-gamer console titles". This has led to him significantly lowering his estimates for their 2009 earnings. The analyst's reportings are fairly doom-and-gloom, but he did mention A New Hope for the company: Star Wars: The Old Republic.

EA acquired BioWare, the developers of SWTOR, back in October last year. Creutz is of the belief that EA has really messed up their console campaign this generation, and SWTOR could be the "best chance" they have to increase profitability -- that is, if it can hold its own against the reigning champ World of Warcraft. We have faith that BioWare will be able to bring out a quality MMO, and you couldn't ask for a better IP. It really all depends on how well the title will have to do to be of any use to EA -- obviously better than Warhammer Online, which did not even earn a mention in the analyst's report.
Well, not sure I can really blame Massively for including that info, but I still hold true that Massively is full of crap reporters. Get to the news, fuck the commentary on hard news, that's what comments are for.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Knights Of The Online Republic

One simple quote has brought the Internet to its collective knees:
“We’ve got two of the most compelling MMOs in the industry in development,” said Riccitiello. The first title, based on the Warhammer property, will launch soon. “And the one that people are dying for us to talk to them about — in partnership with Lucas, coming out of BioWare, which is, I think, quite possibly the most anticipated game, full stop, for the industry at the point when we get closer to telling you about it.”

Does Riccitiello mean the oft rumored Knights of the Old Republic Online? “Yes,” he said.
MMO gaming has NEVER looked better. Anyone that thought that the industry died with World of Warcraft was dead, dead wrong.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Failure To Understand DRM

Digital rights management (DRM) is an umbrella term that refers to access control technologies used by publishers and copyright holders to limit usage of digital media or devices.

A World of Warcraft account is NOT DRM. Tobold argues otherwise, but fails to use harsh language. An account to an online game is simply a means of accessing a service. When a player decides to play an MMO they do so fully understanding they are purchasing access to a service. If they don't, they should quickly learn.

An MMO, without DRM, can be pirated. Illegal servers can be brought up to provide the service portion "for free". Someone, who has stolen the game, could then easily log onto the illegal server and play. Requiring an account for the official service does not in any way stop piracy of an MMO and therefore the account CAN NOT be considered a form of DRM.

DRM, if it exists for an MMO, would be placed on top of the requirement to have an account to access the official service. For example: the game requires having the physical media in a drive while playing, or non-account-related authentication of the files installed on the computer. This is why I've commented before that online, subscription-based games somewhat defeat piracy in the first place by selling a SERVICE, not a "pile of code".

It is not a lack of understanding about DRM. It is an unwillingness to spend money, in essence voting, for a "pile of code" that is reliant upon a remote source for local authentication before it will run. It is complete bullshit and I will continue the harsh language and posture towards it until I see fit that it is not a detriment to LEGITIMATE purchasers.

In the case of Spore, where access to online content is a feature, the tried and true system of having an account to access the online service is the perfect solution. One purchase = one access key = money earned by EA/Maxis. I don't see how they would even think of using another system, especially with their plans to rank content and allow players to vote for their favorites. Mark my words: there will be some sort of control, outside of the DRM, to access online content. Therefore, the DRM is serving a POINTLESS role while accessing online content.

The accounts system is not perfect. Accounts can be shared, stolen, etc. etc. However, it ensures at some point that a copy was purchased and that players looking to play legitimately. Plus, with current technology, it is not difficult to sniff out and stomp out shared accounts. Sure, it takes effort, but so does maintaining an authentication server for years. Not to mention the ass whooping customer service will receive if that authentication server goes tits up on launch day.

This leaves only the initial installation DRM, which will be cracked within days of release. Personally, I have no problem with installation DRM that authenticates remotely or does some magic to ensure I have purchased a legitimate copy. Steam is a great example of properly implemented and friendly DRM, coupled with an account system to manage access to the digital distribution service.

DRM can exist peacefully, but it is obvious that is not the goal for EA. EA is trying very hard to present a show of force against the evil pirates. Unfortunately, it is resulting in further alienation of an already alienated PC gaming playerbase.

NOTES for Tobold: I do not play MMOs all the time. I play games all the time, MMOs some of that time. I just talk about MMOs more.

Spore can be installed three times total. Good luck having it installed on multiple machines for any length of time.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Fuck, Fuck, Fuck

I've talked up Spore around the Internet as possibly one of the most defining games of all time for the PC. My bravado for the game has taken a -50 DKP hit today with the following announcement:
All it’s taken is one little post and a landslide of others follow. At least that’s what’s happened when Bioware’s Derek French reveals that Mass Effect and Spore will be coming with a fairly hefty piece of DRM attached. It won’t just activate online when you first install the game - it’ll also have to check in to the server regularly to continue working. If ten days go by without a check-in working, the game stops working. In other words, major lengthy internet outage, no playage. Since RPS-comrade Rossignol is going to be having that kinda length of time offline shortly, this has to be frowned at.
DRM kills games for me. I have avoided weighty DRM, and promoted avoiding it, for a long time. I simply refuse to buy games tied down by DRM. What the fuck is EA thinking? DRM that checks in repeatedly, not just upon installation?

My stance on Spore, as a game, is taking a sudden back seat to this DRM issue. I will most likely NOT BUY the game if this DRM makes it through to the final release and there are no alternative ways, such as Steam, to purchase the game.

So, as my title states, fuck.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Another EA Studio Down

Another EA studio bites the dust.
EA Chicago has gone down for the count. I can exclusively report that EA is closing the studio effective immediately. Word is that EA is working hard to place many of the 150+ employees at its other studios around the world. What does this mean for the future of the Def Jam fighting franchise and the forthcoming Marvel fighting game? I'm still looking into that, but it sure seems like those games won't be coming anytime soon.
This doesn't mean very much for the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning fans, but it is another sign that change is occurring within EA. How all of the recent changes fit together is unknown officially, but it is definitely leaning towards the idea that EA has maybe grown a little too big for it's own good. Which, may be the best sign of all, as EA begins to specialize a bit more and produce a higher quality product. EA has franchises that have kept the company going, and where they don't have great game franchises, they are buying studios that do.

Hopefully they are buying and shutting down studios for the right reasons, and not just to perform a major manpower shuffle while snagging all the new intellectual properties that come with companies like BioWare and Mythic.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Sorry Hellgate

It wasn't bad enough that the recently released Hellgate: London demo sucked, but EA has once again gone and tried to make a buck off of unsuspecting gamers.
...people installing the newly released Hellgate: London demo have noticed that the game includes adware, advertising that is integrated into software. Here's the pertinent section of the license you have to agree to abide by once Hellgate is installed onto your system:

The Software incorporates technology of Massive Incorporated ("Massive") that enables in-game advertising, and the display of other similar in-game objects, which are uploaded temporarily to your personal computer or game console and replaced during online game play. As part of this process, Massive may collect your Internet protocol address and other basic anonymous information, and will use this information for the general purposes of transmitting and measuring in-game advertising.
This is the exact reason I did not buy Battlefield 2142 from EA. This is another reason I will never buy, own, or care about Hellgate: London. Don't get me wrong, the recent Hellgate demo didn't exactly win me over, but it didn't completely kill my interest in the game either. However, the coffin is closed now.

Vote with your wallet gamers, say no to Hellgate: London.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Battlefield 2142... broken again

EA has broken Battlefield 2142 again and it has only been out a couple of weeks! Whats sad, is the fact that people are still buying this game. The patch problems with Battlefield 2 were bad at launch, but this mess with 2142 is taking the cake.

From AggravatedGamers:
Earlier today EA released a patch to the EA Downloader which effectively uninstalled EA Downloader and then installed the new “EA Downloader” which is called EA Link. Due to the uninstall it deleted all of the information associated with the cdkey of the game you purchased making the BF2142 that you had installed useless. By useless I mean whenever ANYONE connects to a server they are greeted with the message “Invalid CDKey”. If you are one of the lucky ones to manage to be able to connect to a server eventually 2-3 minutes down the line you will be kicked from the server by Punkbuster telling you that you have a “duplicate key”.
Once again, EA forces something to be rushed out untested and screws a game over. How do I know it is untested? Because I can look at Xfire and see that play time for BF 2142 is down more than %50 today compared to the last week. That pretty much indicates there is a whole lot of people having problems, and that only happens when OBVIOUS bugs are missed.

BF 2142 remains in a sad state. I can't believe I wanted to play it. I am damn glad I didn't though, and I will continue my fight against this garbage as long as EA is dumping it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

More Battlefield 2142 trouble

Things seem to be getting worse for Battlefield 2142. It started off with the spyware and then tripped over the Microsoft security patch issues. Now there is a problem with Comrade, GameSpy's Xfire rip-off.

From Broken Toys;
"Apparently, during the configuration process of Comrade, a duplicate soldier is mistakenly created in the Battlefield 2142 account server and becomes the only soldier you can login to with that name. Of course, this pod-soldier is fresh off the vine and doesn’t know how to use things like, say, grenades, but hey, you can’t overthrow the Battlefield bourgeoisie if you’re sitting on a stat horde of your own now can you?"
Unfortunately the answer seems to be deleting one of the two accounts. Basically, if you gained a bunch of points on one they are gone. Forever. You would think that EA would FIX the problem instead of just diverting people around it. Unfortunately, this is another sad tale in the launch of BF 2142.

I don't know why gamers are buying this game anymore. The news has to have reached them now that this is a bloated, unfinished, and horrible game. Just wait, I know why gamers are buying this! Because they rationalize all the reactions to the bullshit by simply saying; "People are just overreacting and I will enjoy the game." The sad fact is that the majority of gamers are dumb and could care less what part of their soul they have to sell to play the latest game (ok, maybe not all of us gamers are dumb, but sales figures for games like BF2142 may indicate otherwise).

It is depressing that the gaming community is voting with two big thumbs up for BF 2142. It has only encouraged EA to take the next step. Not only is that next step bad for EA, but it is bad for the entire industry. These same dumb gamers that buy games regardless of the bullshit attached will be the same dumb gamers that just stop buying crappy products out of boredom and it will be the crash of '83 all over again.

Update: 2 May, 2009 - Edited post and labels. Removed broken links.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Another Reason to say NO to Battlefield 2142!

From the Dubious Quality blog:
EA released a patch for Battlefield 2142 today, and I noticed this while looking through its ReadMe: "Players who have the Windows security update KB917422 installed may suffer from an application error when running Battlefield 2142. This error can be solved by uninstalling the KB917422 update."

And what does the Windows security update KB917422 do?

From Microsoft: "A security issue has been identified in the Windows Kernel that could allow an attacker to compromise your Windows-based system and gain control over it."
First spy ware; now this. It is amazing what EA is trying to pull over on gamers with Battlefield 2142.

A lot of people are saying that gamers are just overreacting, but the truth is gamers never overreact as a whole. Gamers repeatedly buy bad games and continue to buy games where developers slip in such things as Starforce or the EA spy ware. This just promotes further bullshit from these developers. Starforce was only shutdown because of the Sony BMG DRM fiasco. If that didn't occur, I bet my best two cents that Starforce would still be in full force.

EA will weather this security patch storm and keep on marketing away the concern. They will make their money off the dimwits that haven't done their homework before buying. It's a sad tale that can be sung a thousand times over.

I only hope, with this and other posts, that we've somewhat slowed the advance of spy ware in games.

Update: 5 May, 2009 - Edited post and updated labels.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Can dreams come true? GDC rumors!

Grimwell has a laundry list of rumors from the Game Developers Conference.

Raph leaves SOE. Confirmed, see below.
Finally will give Raph a chance to get out and prove his theories right. He talks the talk, but needs to walk the walk.

EA is going to gobble up Mythic.
Unverified, but Mythic is small, lost a lot of money on Imperator, and is vulnerable to buyout. Lum can't tell us because he has work issues of his own so we must wait. Sounds sensible to me though.We've heard this one before. As long as EA doesn't mess with Warhammer Online!!!

The Cartoon Network MMOG. I call this almost verified. I sat in on a round table mastered buy a gentleman with MMOG experience who candidly said he was working on a MMOG for CN. Then I was introduced to a former UO dev who works there. Add in the fact that I received some 'Adult Swim' socks in my press kit and it's clear they are up to something.
Employing old MMOG devs is usually reserved for those who wish to make MMOG's. ToonTown for adults? Lots of interesting properties to mix up.Could be interesting, but doubt I would want to pay for a "ToonTown for adults". I don't like the industry shift towards "every game will be an MMORPG now so we can make more money."

SOE Loses SWG licence? Unverified. Would be a huge embarassment all things considered. Especially since the NGE went down recently, and burned the house.
Best thing that could ever happen. I've already talked about this here.

Wolfpack and Ubisoft not so friendly. Ubi dropped the price to "FREE!" and there is no SB2 announcement. Sat in on a PVP roundtable moderated by Damion Schubert and he didn't mention this, neither did the other WP friends. At the end of the day SB didn't bring the $$ on a large scale despite doing many things right for MMOG's and PVP. Possible, but not verified.
No Shadowbane 2 announcement makes me sad :( But there is plenty of other games on the horizon to make me happy. While Shadowbane was a great idea they failed on the business front. Failing on the business front almost always means failing on the game side of things.

Bioware Austin gets SWG licence. They did open that office, and there is a forum thread about the SOE loss part in which a Bio dev says to not decide either way until further data is in. Unconfirmed, but interesting. Would Gordon want to do that again? I hope they do something else like Jade Empire Online. I'd buy that six times!
Bioware + Star Wars + MMORPG = /drool!!! Grimwell may want an action-MMORPG, but I want a Bioware Star Wars MMORPG. This is almost too good to be true so I am holding back just a little.

Smedley Getting the Axe at SOE. This is a bonus entry, not from GDC. Something I was actually told last week and wanted to sit on and fact gather. At this point with Raph gone and SWG in question... it's hard to think this wouldn't be on the table.
Second best thing that could happen. That guy just doesn't "get it" and he confirmed it with his "We're going to dominate World of Warcraft" speach. I don't think this makes SOE any better, but Smedley just wasn't the man to make it better.

Those are some HUGE announcements that could be coming down the pipe in the near future and you heard them at first!

Update: 15 Nov, 2009 - Edited spelling, applied labels, and removed broken links.