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Electronic Arts Consigned To Online In 2011 Sam's avatar
Crysis To Have DLC?
Electronic Arts like being online. In fact, they like it so much that during the announcement of their financial earnings for the third quarter 2009, they casually mentioned that every single game they intend to release in 2011 will have "online play" and "downloadable content". Chief Operating Officer John Schappert opted not to embroider on the definition of "online play", but common sense dictates that this should turn out to be a combination of cooperative and conflicting multiplayer action.

In an equally brash attempt to confuse anyone without a degree in accounting, 2011, in the context of the announcement, actually refers to the fiscal year, beginning on April 1st 2010 and concluding next year on March 31st. A quick skim over the games Electronic Arts are planning to release during the period doesn't reveal any big surprises, with the majority consisting of sports franchises or war simulators, both already bedfellows with online modes and copious amounts of downloadable content. Depending on their final release dates however, this could be the first suggestion that Dead Space 2 will have a multiplayer mode and Crysis 2 will be supplemented by DLC.

Editor Opinions
Sam's avatar

Oh EA, you certainly do have a penchant for making a song and dance when stating the bleeding obvious. As a stand alone statement, I fully support an increased reliance on multiplayer online support, primarily because I love displaying my superiority against angsty teenagers while they scream at their parents to let them play one more game before bed.

This being said, I'd like to clarify this is only the case when the multiplayer element fits with the game and is integrated properly. Too many games, such as Red Faction: Guerilla and Uncharted 2, have underdeveloped online elements that feel like they were tacked on as a marketing ploy rather than as genuine improvements to the experience. I hope this won't be the case with EA's 2011 offerings.

With regards to downloadable content, as someone with a limited amount of disposable income, I'm quite happy extending the life of games by purchasing new levels or features, especially if it means publishers and developers claw some money back from the greedy retail sector.

However, I get the distinct feeling that someone at EA happened to leave a list of games coming out in 2011 in the photocopier, when Gary the work experience boy happened to come across it notice that all of them had online support. It seems that the industry has embraced DLC with open arms due to the financial reasons mentioned above and so the whole statement smacks of opportunism rather than a dedicated attempt to support online play.

Ian's avatar

While I’m probably not the person with the most balanced opinions about multiplayer modes, I definitely agree with you on that. The multiplayer in Uncharted 2 (almost typed Unchartment there) was really heavily promoted as the real thing to do in the game. They put out a multiplayer beta, and I listened to a lot of excitable journalists going on about it like it was finally the PS3’s multiplayer dreams made manifest.

The mode was definitely a decent attempt at multiplayer, and had all the modern tropes that you’ve come to except in a post CoD4 world, but here I am sitting staring at the number of players online at 7pm, and it’s meagre 8236. I can’t even get into a game, and it’s been trying to find a match for the past 10 minutes. Just checking how many people are playing Modern Warfare on the Xbox 360? Oh, just 738317 currently online. That’s nuts.

I think developers need to do a lot of weird maths to work out if the number of people who bought the game purely for the multiplayer (and wouldn’t if it didn’t have it) would generate greater profit than the extra sales that putting all the resources used to make it into a DLC plan, or extra polish on the single player to ensure great reviews would make. I keep staring at the Multiplayer menu on Bioshock 2 whenever I fire it up, and can’t help but feel that if I don’t try playing it within the next couple of weeks, I never will be able to play it. Considering the almost-there level of polish from the single player game I’ve seen so far, I think they might of better spent those resources.