Electronic Arts is going into E3 2018 this year with some controversy.
That's the sentiment every year with EA at this point, but with E3 just around the corner, why buck tradition too hard? EA is once again doing their patented EA Play Event right before E3 to bring in fans before the event officially begins. Combine that with their annual presentation, and you pretty much have the standard, play-it-safe rigmarole that we have come to expect.
On some level I feel bad for EA, as their lineup is perhaps the most predictable out of the whole show this year, making it perhaps the least interesting to cover. That doesn’t mean we will not get a few curveballs, however.
The Obvious – It’d be more surprising if these didn’t show up
The backlash that EA took for Star Wars Battlefront II has certainly been taken to heart, if Battlefield V is any consideration. Although it is once again seeing players sharpening their pitchforks against it, as the trailer for Battlefield V was derided for its unrealistic tone by some and for including women on the front line by others. Regardless of the complaints, the focus of the trailer was clear – the game has customizable options for you to buy if you wish.
This is the response to the charges of loot boxes and gambling that fueled the Battlefront II debate last November. Instead of loot boxes and premium packages, all DLC will be free to access and customizable options will be available for purchase. Pretty mundane when compared to the randomized loot boxes last year. Gameplay will of course be a focus at EA play, most likely showing off the new grand operations or the Combined Arms mode in more detail. A few new trailers and videos of the more historical side of Battlefield V will likely do the game some good too, especially considering the anger over what has been shown thus far.
It is somewhat ironic in a sense that EA once again changes its strategy for online play, only to have it buried under new complaints. This is pretty much the tone, isn’t it? It is hard to get excited about something that everyone is determined to hate.
Sports Titles and The SimsThis extends to the rest of what we know will be at E3 this year by EA. Their annual lineup of sports games that sell like hot cakes to the gaming audience. The Maddens, NBAs, FIFAs, and the like are of course going to be there and be highlighted heavily. We will have updated rosters and tweaks to the graphical engines and physic models, perhaps a story mode or two to throw in for good measure.
We will likely see what the next installment of long-running franchises such as The Sims, UFC, and Need for Speed as well. While not massive sellers in comparison to the Sport counterparts, these franchises, good or bad, offer another piece of the market for players to enjoy. A lot of them also tend to be critically underrated when it comes reception as well, especially UFC games. If there is one thing EA does well at least is it offers a variety of games to its player base.
The only real X factor of what is known to be at EA Play this year is BioWare’s Anthem. We know the game was delayed to early 2019, and it is likely that the online components in Battlefield V will be continued into Anthem in some form, meaning a ton of customizable options for players and their Javelins. The hope is that Anthem showcases narrative beats and deeper gameplay to try to recapture some of the magic seen in the first trailer. It will be a tough sell regardless, as we have seen since the stigma over EA is always the biggest hurdle. Of all games at E3 this year, Anthem has the most potential of what we do know will be showcased.
We know the game will get the 5-star treatment by EA. Plans to show off customization, characters, new gameplay, and a ton of features will saturate Anthem's exposure this year for sure. It may also be EA's only really hope at this point to win some goodwill back from players. Even those who have problems with BioWare, for valid or invalid reasons, have to admit that the work put into Anthem has been impressive thus far. Hopefully, they keep on the right track, and the recent changeovers with Battlefield V are a good sign.
The Maybes – High risk, potentially high reward
EA Originals, Star Wars, and MobileThe biggest curveballs can come from their indie promotions with EA Originals Program. The success of A Way Out, selling over 1 million copies in two weeks, is worth taking notice from. EA is likely going to capitalize on the Originals Program a bit harder than usual, courting smaller developers with a chance to publish their indie game across multiple platforms. Sea of Solitude is the next game on that list, and it will have a nice showcase. If EA was smart, they would also look at the success of the Nintendo Switch and consider porting indie titles on that front as well, while giving Sea of Solitude and maybe another indie game or two some love this year.
Another curveball can probably come from the Star Wars license. While the falling apart of the untitled Star Wars game from Visceral Studios is well documented, something was in the works in the aftermath that was promised to salvage the project assets. EA also needs to rebuild some goodwill on the Star Wars front thanks to the massive backlash over Star Wars: Battlefront 2.
The question now is what else can EA showcase that has not been announced? Outside of indie games or something new and Star Wars-like, it is hard to say. EA tends to play it conservatively when compared to other companies, but their library of IP is so large they can literally pluck anything from their vaults and revive it any way they like. Sometimes that leads to disastrous results - the Dungeon Keeper mobile game comes to mind – but there is always a chance for a fan favorite franchise to make a comeback.
The Don’t Hold Your Breaths – Better grab your good luck charm
IP RevivalsWhile there is no indication of what can be revived, if I had to run down my wishlist two games that I would love to see again are Dead Space and Command & Conquer. EA was planning to release a new Command & Conquer five years ago, but it was cancelled by the company and has been looking for a development studio to revive it ever since then. After the closure of Visceral games, it put the hopes for a new Dead Space game on ice, but it would be another title that is ripe for a re-do, especially as we see more horror-style games such as Resident Evil 7 achieve critical acclaim.
There is unfortunately not much to say about EA this year. EA Play will of course be a success for the company, their games will be out in the wild for hands on impressions, and the company’s strategy thus far has not wholly deviated as it did for the past two years. Only time will tell if the games are any good and knowing EA they likely will be good on a technical level. It really is more of a question of them managing the hate towards the company, so people play their games. That is the biggest question of all going into E3 this year.
So the question now is, will EA be able to deliver something exciting while managing the hate?
What do you think? Please leave your comments below and be sure to check out all of our E3 coverage here.