That would make Black 2 awesome and possibly a hit, having an online multiplayer. They had a great story for single player in the first one and I am sure they could do it again, I mean, a new story.
In the second half of GameSpot's interview, Frank Gibeau talks about his WOW habit, refusing to green-light single-player games, the Wii, the next Medal of Honor, and the possibility of a Black comeback.
Last month at the E3 Media & Business Summit, EA president John Riccitiello casually shattered the wall of secrecy surrounding BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic massively multiplayer online role-paying game. Unfortunately, his lieutenant, EA Games president Frank Gibeau, is more disciplined when it comes to speaking the press. In the second section of a two-part interview, the affable executive deflected any questions about the KOTOR MMORPG with a polite "no comment" and a brief laugh.
But just because Gibeau was tight-lipped about the BioWare Austin-Lucasarts collaboration didn't mean he didn't want to talk about MMORPGs. That's because the executive will be overseeing two massively multiplayer launches in the next two years: Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning on September 18, and The Game Which Will Not Be Spoken Of in 2009. Both games are aiming to lure away some of the near-12 million subscribers of World of Warcraft--a game Gibeau himself has played extensively.
Indeed, online gaming as a whole is central to EA's strategy. In two weeks, the company will launch Spore, Sims creator Will Wright's highly ambitious evolution-civilization-space-exploration simulation. The game takes user-created content to a whole new level, letting players create their own race of creatures and upload them to EA's servers, where they can wander into other players' games. Unsurprisingly, the Spore Creature Creator's dizzying array of options has led to the spawning of thousands of X-rated monsters since its release in June.
How will EA keep kids from inadvertently encountering rampaging penisauruses and genitaliarachnids? What will it take to take a bite out of WOW's massive user base? What's going on with the Medal of Honor series? Is Black coming back? GameSpot sat down with Gibeau to get some answers...again.
GameSpot: So the launch of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is fast approaching. What groundwork are you laying to take on World of Warcraft?
Frank Gibeau: Well let me back up and say that core to the strategy of the company--and very specifically our label--is that we want to be online with everything we do. I'm no longer green-lighting games that are single-player only, even console products. They have to have deep online modes because that's where our fans are spending a lot of time and, frankly, that's where a lot of the value in the IPs we create can really take hold.
We already have two operating MMOs. We launched a game called Ultima Online in 1997, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and that's still in business. It's still got hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Then there's Dark Age of Camelot, which we picked up when we bought Mythic; we also have a situation where we have well over 100,000 subscribers. Both are highly profitable, but they're old world.
The new world happened when WOW shipped. I've got three level-70 WOW characters, and a couple [level] 65s. I've put a lot of hours into it. I love the universe, I love the game. Anything that Blizzard makes, I really dig, and I really respect what they've done. They came in with a design that broke open an entire new market. Madden did that a long time ago for sports games, and the Sims did that for the people-creation games, and Doom a long time ago for shooters.
There's always that ultimate killer app that comes out and creates a mass-market opportunity, and WOW is that for the MMO category. And what they've done is create millions and millions of players who are now comfortable with the way MMOs play, they're comfortable with the models, and they're looking for more.
Our job is to go after that new market and really grow a business. If it's a situation where you're directly competing with WOW, so be it. The key is to make sure that your product is different from theirs and bring something fresh to the equation. Something that fans will find exciting, and we think we have that in Warhammer. It's also important for us to come out with new concepts and different IPs.
GS: An IP based on a popular science-fiction franchise, perhaps?
FG: No comment [laughs]. So, we look at the models in Asia, where there are bigger games than WOW. Now, no MMO is bigger than WOW globally, but the market is growing here in North America. And it's not just with high-end MMOs. You've got a lot of lighter titles like Runescape and, hell, even Club Penguin is a bit of an MMO.
So I see it as much more diverse market than simply, "I must beat WOW." I thank WOW for a great few hundred hours of gameplay as well as making a market. But we're gonna compete there and we're going to succeed there in a lot of different ways by coming at it from a lot of different angles. I see it as a very lucrative, long-term part of our business.
One other thing, the MMO space is a great place to design games. You can come up with some really killer universes and experiences there, and a lot of my teams are really fired up about not only doing it on the PC, but also on consoles.
GS: So you think a console MMOG would be viable?
FG: It can be, yeah. You can get a mix of different price points and levels of content. You could put one set on the shippable version and have a lot more you pay for on the back end, which you could buy in a microtransaction manner versus a subscription. Now I think this console cycle is going to have a very long life, if you look at the PS3 and how strong the Wii has come on. I think this is going to be a really big, long cycle and I think there's a lot of room to innovate through that connected console with different price points and methods of delivering content. I mean, look what we're doing with Burnout--we're delivering an entire, full game directly to your PS3. If you play that, you know it's got a fairly robust online mode.
GS: Now you mentioned the Wii...
FG: In general, I think the talent inside the EA Games label is really excited about two things: The Nintendo Wii and the online opportunities connected consoles afford. That's where I see a lot of our bets going right now. I'm trying to dramatically improve and expand our Wii development, and think you're starting to see that with Skate It and some of the other titles.
GS: Well it seems like some of those bets haven't paid off as well as you've hoped. I mean you guys hyped Boom Blox pretty heavily, but it was only kind of a hit, selling under a half-million copies...
FG: I think it's done well. It's just a different curve. When you look at Boom Blox or Cooking Mama, they have a different sales curve that what you'd expect with a day-one event. Different types of games, such as puzzle games and more casual games, have flatter, longer curves, and stuff like licensed movie games and even shooters are much sharper and they spike differently.
For our label, the Wii is important, and we're building quite a few games for it. We've expanded development for it. We believe that as the market expands on the Wii, there's going to be a large segment of that market that are going to be core gamers that want to have traditional experiences with the Wii innovation tied in. And we've made games like that. Medal of Honor [Heroes II] was very successful for us, we've got Need for Speed, and Skate It coming out.
GS: Now you mentioned Medal of Honor. Over the past few years with Call of Duty, Activision, and Infinity Ward have reinvented the World War II shooter genre that Medal of Honor basically created back in 1999. Now, they've taken the series to new heights by bringing into the modern era with Call of Duty 4, which outsold Medal of Honor: Airborne many times over. Do you foresee a similar transformation in store for the Medal of Honor series?
FG: [Pauses] We're definitely looking at Medal of Honor, and we're working on some ideas against that franchise. I've worked on Medal of Honor from the very first game, so I know when it was spectacular and when it wasn't so spectacular. So we have some ideas about how we're going to bring that back and really compete there.
This is a really good example of where we created a category--World War II shooters--and someone else--Call of Duty--came in and did a really great job of taking over that market. But the cool thing about technology is that you do have this ebb and flow between categories and key franchises, and you'll hear more about Medal of Honor in the future. I can guarantee you that.
GS: So it will be a modern military shooter?
FG: [Laughs, shaking head] Well, right now, we are very proud of Battlefield: Bad Company. If you look at the multiplayer piece of that game by itself, the online stats are just amazing. There are tens of thousands of people playing today right now, and have been every day since launch. It's our first 85 game on Metacritic, and it's our first single-player experience built by [Swedish developer] DICE. In the shooter category, if you line up the EA guys we've got with [EA Partners] Epic, Valve, id, and Crytek and our properties like Medal of Honor, Battlefield, and if you go back a few years, Black, there's a great stable of shooter franchises in our group.
GS: I remember a few years back during an EA earnings call you guys said there would be a new Black...
FG: I've got nothing to announce there.
GS: So, "no comment" again, eh?
FG: [Laughs] Well, I can speak more generally. Am I looking at it? Absolutely. But the most important thing to look at when you bring something back is whether or not there's a reason to bring it back. Road Rash is example of a franchise which everyone and their grandmother has said, "Hey, you've got to bring this back!" But when you sit down and try and think up a new concept, you've got to add something fresh to the equation as opposed to bringing back the old formula. That's typically how we challenge ourselves, because that's what we need to do to blow the fan base away.
GS: Now we've talked a lot about original IP. Now I'd like to know what's going on with your licensed IPs, specifically the Batman film license. There have been rumors that a Dark Knight game was in development at Pandemic but it stalled. Is that the case?
FG: In terms of licensed IP, in our label, we want to strike the right balance [of] licensed and wholly owned. In the past, it had heavily been weighted to licenses, much to the [detriment] of our new IP development. What we tried to do was flip that, because frankly, the guys in our studios want to build their own IPs. And they're pretty good at it. And in the online world, it's good to wholly own it, so you don't run into license restrictors which effectively make you pay rent for the IP. If you get the balance right, you end up having on one side a few really powerful licenses, like The Simpsons, Godfather, and Lord of the Rings. On the other side, you've got a whole bunch of original IPs like Spore, Battlefield, Need for Speed, and Medal of Honor.
The thing I've learned while running this portfolio is that you need to strike that balance, because these games aren't getting any cheaper to make. And you also have to have that long tail with the online connection to kick up the business a notch or two. So going forward, we're going to be very strategic when picking our licenses, and very good partners to the people on the other end of those licenses. But we're going to be very fickle.
GS: OK. Now regarding the Dark Knight game...
FG: We have nothing specific to announce today on that.
GS: Now I recently read that Will Wright was talking about the possibility of a Spore TV show or movie...
FG: In my old job as general manager of North American publishing, we launched a show called the Madden Nation on ESPN, and we had unbelievable ratings. [The next season will air this fall--ed.] What we found was that gamers want to see more of the universes and the worlds and stories and even the players of gaming. So what we thought about now, more strategically than we did in the past, was how we take what we have and bring it into other media forms. In the case of Dead Space, we've got an animated feature that'll be on air this fall, and we've got a comic book that we're doing.
In terms of Spore, we've got a ton of feelers from film and television and others that we're evaluating. It has to be very high quality, though. We don't make a lot of money off these things, and if you just dump a bunch of garbage out there, you could risk killing the IP. What matters most to us is the IP in an interactive form, but if it makes sense and it's a high-quality organization, we'll partner with them to make a movie or to do a television show. I can tell you there are multiple properties inside our label which are attracting interest. In the interview, I think Will was just talking about some of the feelers that we've had.
GS: Well, after it bought the Tom Clancy brand, Ubisoft said that it wants to go into the business of making films and television shows itself. It even bought the special effects company that worked on 300. You guys, however, are still doing limited projects with other media partners. Do you see EA expanding into other forms of media more than it does now?
FG: I do. But I think having two or three great projects is better than having seven or eight average ones. So when you look at the IPs that we have like Spore, there's clearly something else we can do with those.
GS: How high are your expectations for Spore?
FG: Well, it's like opening a movie or a Broadway show, you never really know until the box office comes in. So until you see the results, you just try and keep your head down and try and look at how to get the demand going. Is the game good enough? Are we going to make our dates? Are the ads running? So I sweat the details all the way up to the 11th hour, and then I like to see what my day ones [sales] are. So my answer is I'm not going to give you an answer, since I don't ever make forecasts. [Laughs.]
GS: Nice riposte. Now one of things you must know about is the large number of X-rated, anatomically correct "Sporn" creatures that have been made with the Spore Creature Creator. Are you guys cracking down on that?
FG: Ah, sporn. Well, we have filters and parental controls, so if people are of age, they can see it if they want to see it. On our servers, we've got very vigorous controls and are going to keep it out. But you can create whatever you want and upload it to YouTube. That's the beauty of Spore, in a way--it goes where your creativity takes you, and isn't limited to a game design. Basically, publishing Spore is like selling crayons. What you draw with them, I can't help.
Hey c'mon no news about Black 2 yet, how much more do we have to wait for this game, the knowledge about current gen consoles is at it highest, look at Uncharted, and i think now is the time for a true Black successor with better graphics then any shooter out there, like the original back in 2006.
Black(1) was the best game for ps2. i cant imagine what it will be like on the next-gen systems!!! i really really hope they didn't cancel it! please give us Black 2 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If they would create a solid multiplayer and continue on the story from the first game I would buy Black 2.
Black was easily the most visceral and exciting FPS I've played on a console. I loved how simple it was (in terms of your dude not carrying twenty different weapons and a pile of gadgets), and the AMAZING and immerseive atmosphere the game created (crossing the cemetery under sniper fire, crossing the multi-lane bridge on foot, and the final fight are some of my favorite and the most intense video game memories I have!)! Black is really under-appreciated in my opinion, and I'd love to see Criterion pull something else out of their creative little hats, hopefully with as little EA involvement as possible, and WITHOUT THE LIVE ACTION SEQUENCES!
There NEEEEEDS to be a Black 2. Black 1 on original Xbox was soooo very toyte!! I still pull out Black 1 and play it on both original Xbox and Xbox 360 (since it's backwards compatible). I'd buy Black 2 in a heartbeat, no-brainer!! CodeSe7en
black has e very odd ending lyk the main guy lennox is still alive and tht shld do for a second black and i defo wnt it out i still play black it never ends i love it
was i the only one that thought he dodges alot of questions by talking about something else? :p i mean, he knows the guy isnt gonna ask the same question again because that would be kind of rude, so he basically tells a whole story about something else and goes on to the next question :p
@ Grugg: In this particular news interview they were talking about using microtransactions INSTEAD of a subscription for MMOGs. I'm pretty sure most ppl would prefer to get something from their money. Also, please, PLEASE stop giving EA credit for spore. EA is the publisher, and publisher =/= developer. @agentzero23: I just hope they put more effort into it than they did with BF2142. I would have liked it if it didn't run so badly. honestly, I put the settings down so low that it looks like HL1, and it STILL runs choppy at times (btw, I can run UT3 on medium settings with about the same performance).
Spore TV kinda reminds me of the Viva Pinata tv show. Viva Pinata makes an aweful cartoon, and I think EA should seriously take a look at this show if they are thinking about making their own (and back out of the deal).
"Basically, publishing Spore is like selling crayons. What you draw with them, I can't help. " Crayons shouldn't be sold to children. They're evil!
EA started to care about originality when the new direction kicked in. noticed the Left 4 Dead, Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, Warhammer Online ... come on, why the hate?
People who bash on EA have to play EA games in order to be able to bash on them, otherwise they don't know what they are talking about. In turn, almost everyone on this comment board has played EA games... ...which means you fed them money... ...leading to the problems you whine incessantly about. GG, guys, GG. In other news, complain all you want, but EA makes a bevy of quality titles. They may not be breaking 9s, but they are holding consistent ratings. Don't worry. I'm sure that when Warhammer, Spore, and Dead Space are thoroughly saturated into people's homes the same way that Madden, Crysis, and Need for Speed are, everyone will complain about those games too. I think it's even funnier that a ton of the guys commenting on here have expressed massive interest in either Spore, Warhammer, or Dead Space. lol
"But the most important thing to look at when you bring something back is whether or not there's a reason to bring it back. Road Rash is example of a franchise which everyone and their grandmother has said, "Hey, you've got to bring this back!" But when you sit down and try and think up a new concept, you've got to add something fresh to the equation as opposed to bringing back the old formula. That's typically how we challenge ourselves, because that's what we need to do to blow the fan base away." ---------------------- Dude, are you kidding me!? I'd rather have a full fledged Road Rash game then some add-on for Burnout. Even if it uses the same exact formula as Road Rash 1 on the GENESIS. And since when did EA start caring about bringing "originality" to its games?? Why doesn't EA listen to the fans.
The problem with 'not greenlighting titles which are single player only' is it causes single player games to have a token multiplayer mode tossed in to appease the corporate shills and drains away development resources from the actual game. With this 'winning' strategy EA will pass on high-selling, critical acclaimed titles like Bioshock and Assassin's Creed; while producing me-too Halo-wanabe cookie-cutter shooters like Haze and Turok. Hopefully this strategy will at least send them into financial ruin. Nothing but good things can arise from the ashes of EA.
I have and will always prefer games with a strong single player component. With multiplayer games, lag is going to be an issue for a while yet, and playing online often means playing with a least a couple of &*$holes you normally wouldn't associate with. If you look at EA's portfolio you'll notice that most inhouse EA games are rubbish. All the good stuff is released by subsidiaries that have been (recently) purchased like Bioware and Pandemic. So if EA really want to revive their brandname they should: 1)Stop with their yearly franchise reiterations that are often nothing more than roster updates. 2)Release QUALITY titles regardless of whether they are single player only or have a "deep" multiplayer component. 3)Quit making rubbish games based on film licenses. 4)Release a proper sequel to the previous 2 KOTOR games. None of that MMORPG crap :P.
EA Sux, they are a power hungry money grubbing game publisher. All they care about is the $ sign. Their last few big titles have been flops, aside from battlefield: Bad Company, which was ok. Army of Two was one of the most hyped games ever, only to meet an epic fail. The only game of EA's that I am considering purchasing is Dead Space and only because I love surival horror and it actually looks great.
I don't trust EA these days either, I really lost trust in them when they passed off Army of Two as a game, after that it's just not getting better IMO. Otherwise I am watching Warhammer and hoping they won't mess this one up.
Anything with EA on it makes me cringe now days. I'm interested to see what happens to WAR in the long run with EA pulling the strings apparently. I can see them just spew out expansion after expansion milking it until its dead and rotting in a ditch, then milking the dust, Ugghh. But I could be wrong, I hope I am.
With this push towards online gameplay, you would think they would finally put together some decent servers. But no, they didn't. They always use some archaic design for the online portion of their games too. Stuff that was great in the 90's, but just doesn't cut it anymore. Its like smashing your head against the wall repeatedly just trying to get into a server that doesn't suck. Come on EA, if you are going to push something you should at least actually throw some SUPPORT at it.
I just thought about this. How is EA's position on increasing online presence in games, and minimizing singleplayer importance going to bode with the massive ISP push to limit bandwidth? This could be a fatal mistake in their business strategy, as all of the major ISPs are jumping on the "limited bandwidth bandwagon". There are some countries that are limiting users to a paltry 3 - 6 gigs per month. There's no way anyone with that kind of allowance is going to be able to play an MMO with any sense of depth. The most generous in the plan USA is Comcast, with 250gig per month - but that's PER HOUSEHOLD. The average family can have 4 or more connections, which have to be shared. Even that is not enough to justify playing MMO games with any sort of depth. It's setting up to look like another fatal SEGA move. If I were EA, I'd reconsider what games get the green light, at least until the lines are clearly drawn in the bandwidth issue. On another front. I saw the concern about having a quality MMO exxperience in games that get the green light. But what about a quality, and COMPLETE singleplayer experience? One where a player can go through the entire game without having to think about the online component? When you play online, you aren't being bombarded with pressures to get offline and play the singleplayer game - why should you have to suffer the same thing when you are playing a singleplayer game, or the SP mode? How about making all components complete and autonomous - and if we feel like switching over, well let us make that decision without hampering our gameplay with nagging and spam?
"I'm no longer green-lighting games that are single-player only, even console products. They have to have deep online modes because that's where our fans are spending a lot of time and, frankly, that's where a lot of the value in the IPs we create can really take hold." I'm very concerned about this statement. I don;t know about anyone else, but for example - NFS:Pro Street, was rendered unplayable in the single-player mode because EA keeps spamming you and unashamedly trying to force the player to sign up online. All of the vital stats were online (they could have made some generic ones like in past titles - but why not spam the player instead?). Some of the race modes which could have been AI generated would try to force you online. It was like playing a demo game! Is this what we can expect from the future of all of EA's games - since they made it clear that the singleplayer is not important anymore? This MMO thing - ehile it may be fun or preferable to some, is taking a nasty turn. People who are sucked into it are not aware that it is destroying another genre of games. EA and other companies are not interested in MMO because it is "more fun" - they are pushing it because they want to use it to extract more money than what you are paying for the game. What's real sweet is that the game prices are getting higher - but your not getting a full game. Half of the content is online, and if you don't have a connection - you don't have play. You basically have a wasted investment. So keep on investing in these companies - I'm sure you will. Those subscription and content prices are going to make your wallets bleed. And if they aren't bleeding yet, don;t get too happy - that;s where it is headed.
I wish EA would make a new Rumble Racing game. One of the best racers on ps2 up with Burnout 3 and NFS: MW
Now we're going to be getting people complaining about how much EA sucks, and how they ruin everything etc etc... But come on guys, they.ve published alot of good games lately (The Orange Box, Crysis, Command and Conquer etc.) and they're development seems to be improving as well (Army of Two, Dead Space etc.). I think they're now away of the negative stigma they have created for themselves and are now trying to something about it, I think they deserve a chance...
Earth & Beyond used to be good until EA starts pulling developers away. That's when the game crumbles. When the forum community manager becomes the developer, you know it's bad.
That's cuz Earth and Beyond wasn't that good. For a space MMO it was interesting, but after a few days I was pretty bored. They could do better in terms of a space rpg.
EA bought Westwood Studios acquiring the rights to Earth & Beyond MMO and cancelled the game shortly after. That's an original IP right there. It's amazing to hear EA executives hype about their strategy when their company action & history is pointing the other way.
I must say, the fact that they wont release titles with single player only is making me really angry. Often single player only games will provide a much better experience by focusing on one thing, rather than trying to make decent multi AND sinlge player, for example Bioshock, Oblivion, Fallout 3 etc etc. And on the other hand, focusing on multiplayer tends to yield a better experience, for example WoW, the Battlefield series etc. Banning people from making singleplayer only games is just stupid and obnoxious in my opinion.
I like the way they're not touching the sporn. I just wonder if it gets filtered out or included in the large online galaxy that you conquer in the game.
I really hope they make a new Black, and not forgo it for lack of "originality". Black is one of the best-looking, fun and most realistic FPS's I've played in a long time. My only complaint was that the final battle was absurdly tough.
Less talk about the misnamed "WOW" and more about the next KOTOR game, please. "I've got three level-70 WOW characters, and a couple 65s" in a "few hundred hours of gameplay"? That would be several hundred hours each - unless he's only thanking Blizzard for the hours of gameplay that he felt were great, as opposed to the majority of hours he'd have spent playing the game. Or is it unrealistic to expect a busy executive not to pay to have his characters power-leveled by someone else?
EA is narrowing their market so they have less stuff to lose their arse over. Bad Company is the first thing they have done right in years. Not going to make go buy Merc's 2 though after reading about the slew of bugs that game has. How with a Q & A team can basic things get past developers?
#1 KOTOR MMO is a horrid idea and should never be spoken of again. (Just like a new Sims Online should never be spoken of again.) #2 Them milking Spore for every penny they can with TV shows and so on is insane and typical EA BS that should never happen.
Sporn? Come on, everybody knew it was going to happen at one point or another, that's to be expected out of everybody, instead of saying " It was unexpected that any of this would ever happen at all."
9/10 EA multiplayer games are either suck, or are good but they only support them for a month or 2 then they get bored and make the sequel. Luckly, BF:BC is not looking like its taking that road, but you never know
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- Medal of Honor: Airborne
- Warhammer Online
- Ultima Online
- Black 2
- Ultima Online: Mondain's
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- Ultima Online: The Second Age
- Ultima Online 7th Ann
- Ultima Online Eighth
- Road Rash
- UBO 2006
- Road Rash
- Ultima Online: Reborn
- UBO 2007