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The Electronic Art

This morning I thought I’d use my post to share a happy sentiment I’ve felt slowly unfurling inside my usually gnarled and withered innards. A happy thought, rather than the kind of pessimism, negativity and criticism I tend to spew out from my brain. And here it is: EA’s got kind of good, hasn’t it?

Remember when everyone hated EA? It feels like a million years ago now, but the company’s yearly rehashes of established (and boring) franchises used to be the target of spite for gamers across the globe; gamers who saw a money-grabbing and aggressive devourer of creativity insistent on driving its titles into the ground. But then Activision became the number one publisher in the world, commenced its plan of pulverising Guitar Hero into a bruised and battered submission, and the focus of hate shifted from EA.

In the interim period EA has slowly built itself outwards, becoming one of the most forward-thinking, robust publishers out there, developing its online strategies and stable of developers while also creating and innovating within its own walls. You could criticise EA for popularising the concept of the Online Pass, but it’s also the company that made inventive use of the analogue sticks within its sports titles, and redefined genres with its subsidiary companies.

Let’s consider the games of note published by EA in this year alone; Dead Space 2, Mass Effect 2 (PS3), Dragon Age 2, Fight Night Champion, Bulletstorm and more. In the coming months we’re getting Crysis 2, Battlefield 3, Portal 2, Alice: Madness Returns and Mass Effect 3. Late last year we received games like Rock Band 3, FIFA 11 and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. EA is pumping out great game after great game.

It must be noted that out of all the games listed only one is an original IP. It would be good to see EA become a little more daring in its publishing of new, triple-A IPs, and Bulletstorm is likely a cautious first step in this risky direction. But still, there’s no game in that list that we’re not prepared to heap with praise or anticipated excitement.

So, when reading what EA Games label head Frank Gibeau said to Industry Gamers in a recent interview, we can’t help but find ourselves nodding along with his words: “It’s what we’ve been trying to do in the EA Games label over the last couple years – get our mojo back in terms of quality and great IPs,” he said. “A long time ago, Medal of Honor was the dominant brand and created the shooter category, frankly, for consoles. I think it’s our turn to start to get that back. It’s going to take time and versions, and they [Activision] are on their, what, ninth version of Call of Duty? I’m a believer in under-promise, over-deliver, and we’re going to compete, we’re going to be there.

“We’re here to compete. Everyone loves a heavyweight battle. It’s good for the industry, it’s good for the customer – there’s a lot of energy and hype and fun and comparisons. … It’s always good to see how you can energise a market by looking at how one guy can up the other. That’s kind of what we’re doing here.”

Right on, EA. Right on.

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