It’s Christmas in June for gamers, as the annual E3 Expo ramps up and announcements come pouring in about the software and hardware due to arrive over the next year. I was able to attend the Electronic Arts press conference yesterday, and while the action staples like the new, Afghanistan based Medal of Honour and the tongue in cheek Bulletstorm look cool, it’s the work EA is doing in the casual space that has the most future potential.
EA Sports is taking on the MMA franchise, but while that’s interesting in and of itself, the infrastructure they’re building around it is the real story. EA Sports Live Broadcast will allow gamers to record their taunts and boasts, but unlike other online networked play, their rants will be seen by an audience of thousands and their actions as players will be commented on by actual sports broadcasters. In effect, EA has reproduced Wide World of Sports using user generated content and their own game as a platform.
EA also showed off a revised version of EA Active, their foray into fitness gaming. A bevy of personal trainers from EA’s Vancouver campus took the stage at the Shrine auditorium to bob, weave and punch their way through a series of mini games ranging from biking to boxing. Using Microsoft’s new Kinect (formerly Project Natal) hardware peripheral, Xbox players can simply use their arms and legs to interact with the games.
Of course it wouldn’t be E3 without giant, genre defining games, and EA rolled out Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit as a ear-crunching, pedal-smashing example of what they’re capable of in the racing game space. They also showed footage from Dead Space 2, furthering the already sterling reputation of the sci fi survival horror franchise. Star Wars: The Old Republic was saved for last, with a stunning trailer depicting war between the Republic forces and an army of Sith on an alien world. Why is it that the games look so much more interesting than the prequels?