Grading the EA Press Conference

As pretentious as this sounds I would like to start this off with a quote from the opening stanza of Macbeth.  “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, this is how I felt after watching the EA conference.  There was noise, they said a lot but none of it really meant anything.  Little of it was actually impactful or informative for the viewers watching from Twitch or YouTube.

After the opening sequence with an Athem 3-D hype piece, it immediately went to DICE for more information on Battlefield 5.  Here we got another teaser and the announcement of Battlefield Royale which will be DICE’s take on the battle royale craze.  Honestly, there isn’t much of note here and just seemed to be cliff notes of the Battlefield 5 presentation from a couple week ago.  Fans wanting a deeper look at the franchise will have to wait until the Microsoft presentation as DICE has promised more information will be at that show.  Overall the DICE segment was a letdown.

EA Sports were intertwined between the segments, though unlike previous years they kept it predominantly to trailers.  With a few exceptions where they brought out the Madden e-sports champ, and when they announced that UEFA Champions League will be in FIFA for the first time ever.  This was an odd departure from previous years where larger segments of their press event were devoted to talking about their sports games.  Though we did get confirmation that Madden NFL will be on PC for the first year in a quite some time.  They also showed that new NBA Live title will be launching.

There were two indie games that were on display at their show, the first being Unravel Two, which is available today.  This follow-up to the first game works either singleplayer or in co-op where player(s) take control of a red and a blue twine being that have become intertwined.  Going on a platforming adventure trying to recover their lost spark.  The other indie game showed off was Sea of Solitude, which is coming in early 2019.  Sea of Solitude appears to be a surreal narrative driven game which explores emotional themes through the eyes of a lonely protagonist.  This game is the third game in the EA Original program which is striving to get more indie games on their platform.

Andrew Wilson came on stage to discuss how important subscriptions and streaming are to their brand.  From here he announced a new tier of Origin Access and an upcoming cloud-based streaming service.  Origin Access Premier will be $14.99 per month or $99.99 per year and will give users access to all new EA games as well as the EA vault.  Honestly, this feels like a bit of hard sell unless you’re a die-hard EA fan.  If you’re the type that buys the EA Sports games every year, then this is a good deal, spending $100 per year instead of $120 or more.  This just seems like such a niche case though that the price is hard to justify.  There was little information given on the cloud streaming service, the segment mostly focused on Origin Access Premier

Unlike previous years there was little to no buzz about Star Wars, there was no mention that Star Wars: The Old Republic is rumored to be receiving a new expansion and a 6.0 release.  There was confirmation of the Clone Wars season for Battlefront 2, which brings Grievous, Obi-Wan, Dooku and Anakin.  As well as the Geonosis map, and a new multiplayer mode coming out soon.  We also heard from Vince Zampella that Respawn is working on a new Star Wars game titled Star Wars Fallen Jedi Order.  Set between 3 and 4 , from what little could be gathered this game will focus on the hunt for the Jedi that survived Order 66.

A mobile Command and Conquer game was also shown with a cringy attempt to cast the game.  They really tried to sell the game as deeply tactical and more exciting than it really appeared.  It may have been a case of the game being more exciting to play than to watch being played.  Though this didn’t seem like the correct way to sell this game to the viewers.  People can register and enter the alpha for Command and Conquer Rivals today on Android.

Bioware closed the show with Anthem, but again we got very little on a game that has been announced to be coming on February 22nd, 2019.  They attempted to reassure fans that this game is not an MMO, not a game where the story is secondary or tertiary to a multiplayer experience.  They have also stated that customization will be deeply important in Anthem, that there will be cosmetic microtransactions.  However, they promised no loot boxes and no pay to win elements.  There was also tragically little gameplay shown of Anthem, and what was shown was full of poorly edited jump cuts.

At the end of the day, EA was underwhelming, despite having multiple studios under their belt that haven’t been closed yet we got nothing unexpected.  Nothing that really wowed, which in a creative industry is a great shame.  Despite EA vowing that every studio they own is working on Star Wars, all we still have to show for it is two subpar Battlefront games that initially showed promise and one mobile cash grab.  Ultimately I give the EA press conference a grade of D.

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