EA Press All The Right Buttons

I just wanted to quickly blog about EA, a publisher that I think has come leaps and bounds this generation.  Just a few years ago, all I would expect out of EA would be another bout of tired yearly sports games, a few safe-bet franchise releases such as Need for Speed, James Bond, a few Sims expansions and maybe a Burnout or SSX if we got lucky.

This year, in difficult economic times, where most publishers would turn to already established franchises to pull them through (Activision, I’m looking at you), EA have stepped into the unknown with brilliant new IPs.

Dead Space delivered the year's best survival horror this side of Left4Dead (which EA also had a hand in publishing) and love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Mirror's Edge was one of the most innovative games of this year and my personal favorite of EA's excellent bunch.  Looking further back, Battlefield: Bad Company delivered the fully destructible goods in June, it was a game I loved so much that I progressed the full 25 levels online (Hint:  M16 is brilliantly overpowered).  Although not one of my personal favorites, Spore set the mainstream on-fire in September, and broke new ground in the RTS/RPG/Evolution/God simulation genre.

Best of all, it hasn't just released the games and left it there.  Throughout the year it has supported Burnout Paradise with a river of brilliant new content and the river is still flowing towards the big surf island pack, which is looking to be a wonderful conclusion.  There has also been FREE content for Battlefield fans, with both trophies and 3 community selected maps costing the fans absolutely nothing and lengthening their experience.  EA are also releasing the promising
"Pure Time Trial Pack” for Mirror's Edge, this month, with one FREE map and the rest paid for.

Looking to the future, EA look like they will deliver in 09 as well, with Skate 2 on the horizon (demo out tomorrow for 360 and next week for PS3), Battlefield Heroes continuing the free-content that is fast becoming an EA tradition, and other games such as the Sims 3, Dante’s inferno and sequels to Mirror's Edge and Dead Space all promised.

Overall, I believe that EA has stepped bravely (even if they do have a cushion of capital to fall onto if they fail) into uncharted territory this year, and I hope they continue the trend.  They have also really progressed in the online space, delivering content users want, quickly, regularly and mostly for free.  The online components in the games themselves have also vastly improved (Battlefield used to be laggy as hell and Burnout has revolutionized drop in drop out “lounge” gameplay).  Oh and I’m a sucker for free stuff.