Posted By Robert G. about 8 months, 1 week ago
Editorial: Fiction Over Fact, or Why EA is Destined to Lose (Deserving or Not),
A sort of disclaimer before I begin: It is not every day that I throw myself out there with the purpose of starting a conversation on more general issues in gaming culture, but with the calm before the holiday storm and little news to really report at the moment, now is as a good as time as any to really sink my teeth into something that has been troubling me for a while now. As a pseudo-journalist, I tend to over-value truth and integrity to the point where I am sometimes gobsmacked at the reactions of the general gaming audience. Take today’s example for instance, as we go down the road of discussing the merits of Electronic Arts.
Yes, good old EA, the “cancer that is killing gaming,” according to the internet. Not that they are, mind you, but because the belief is so widespread, it has become a sort of universal truth based on a perpetual myth. As is such a case, it is quite easy to stack the house of cards against the corporate entity and erode its image by spewing hatred ad nauseam. It’s hip to be a hater of a game company on the internet, and because of that perception, EA will always be fighting a losing battle.
What do I mean by this? Well, wind the clock back a week, and you see what I mean. It was recently reported that EA was under fire for promoting the idea that single-player games were no longer going to be developed under their label. At least, that is what the spin doctors of sensationalist titles took from the comments by EA Games President Frank Gibeau. For example, Destructoid’s own Jim Sterling ran with the quotation and used it to call doom and gloom for the company based on the singular sound bite, which is as follows below:
“We are very proud of the way EA evolved with consumers,” he said. “I have not green lit one game to be developed as a singleplayer experience. Today, all of our games include online applications and digital services that make them live 24/7/365.“
Sterling thus penned the article titled, “EA Boss Proudly Refuses to Publish Single-Player Games,” and in an instant, EA loses. Just like that, they no longer have credibility or clout to counteract any dissenting voice on the internet.
Of course, upon closer examination of the quote and the context it was said, things are not as dark as Mr. Sterling, and other journalists in the gaming-sphere, would lead you to believe. For starters, the remarks were taken from promotional materials for a cloud-gaming conference, a place where the talks would likely reflect the discussion of online applications and digital services, as described in the quotation. It also doesn’t distinguish what digital services are considered “non-singleplayer.” Not that my opinion matters so much in this case, but non-single player can have several meanings, from online leader boards found in score games like Rock Band, to applications tracking single and multiplayer progress like Halo 3. Of course, multiplayer and co-op modes have also made appearances as well, some correctly implemented and some not. But does this truly lead to the death of all single-player games?
To be fair to Gibeau, this is not an earth-shaking stance for him, as he has spoken in similar terms since 2010, discussing how social interactions and connectivity are the way to go. In fact, EA as a company has been fairly vocal about this idea of social interaction. COO Peter Moore has stated his opinion on the future of gaming as it transitions into the more lucrative free to play model for everything out there. See, the trick is to differentiate the multi-player aspects, something that looks to be in the forefront of Gibeau’s mind when he replied to the criticism made by his comments on Kotaku.
It should also be noted that Gibeau’s stance on social interaction is nothing new in the industry, since several high profile leaders in the industry have described similar ideals in different ways. Essentially, Gibeau is discussing gaming as a service over a commodity, echoing the stance of giants such as Nintendo’s Satoru Iwata that having a critical social component is mandatory for the future of gaming. Valve’s CEO Gabe Newell also is a proponent of this ideal, having said that, “the needs of gamers and developers are evolving. Specifically, it‘s not just about chips rendering pixels or calculating nav meshes, it‘s about giving gamers a complete, social connected experience.”
No wonder EA wanted to buy Valve–they think alike on this issue.
This new development philosophy may also be the reason why Half-Life 2: Episode 3, is never going to come out, since Newell once said back in 2011 that Valve has finished experimenting with episodic content. And we can see this “gaming as a service” model used by Valve without much penalty. Team Fortress 2’s entire Manconemy is emblematic of this change, creating a drop system, a barter system, and an online store in the blink of an eye to add to the service model, and longevity, of Team Fortress 2. It offers microtransactions and interactions with players, all of which adheres to the service model Valve has adopted. This has all been met with pure praise by fans.