EA Borgifying All Brands Into ‘Online Universes’
EA gets called a lot of things. Most recently, Consumerist labeled them the worst company in America. That was… a little harsh, I admit; as Jim Sterling pointed out, their brand of evil is rather banal compared to the super villain level stuff the truly monstrous companies get up to. But their business model, which seems to involve purchasing, then slowly absorbing smaller companies, until all of their products work on a clockwork schedule like Madden, is troublesome. “But!”, you say, “they have many subsidiaries, all of whom seem to run things as they mostly see fit!” That’s technically true, straw man I just made up. But also technically true is the charted decline in user satisfaction with some of their recent games being particularly excoriated.
Mass Effect 3′s Galactic Readiness and Multiplayer features are particular evidence that EA seems to put a lot of pressure on their subsidiaries to make their games as broadly appealing as possible regardless of whether it suits the game (and sometimes, it does!). And statements by EA’s Keith Ramsdale at the company’s UK showcase made this week indicate that this will not be abating in the future. EA, Ramsdale says, intends to turn all of their ‘brands’ into what he called ‘online universes’, by which he means playing ‘the brand’ on more than one device.
Describing the concept, Ramsdale said “Imagine a player gets up in the morning,” he said. OK, I’m imagining. So what happens? “[He] plays an online match on his 360 before going to work. On the bus, on his way to work, he practices his free kicks on his tablet. At lunch he looks at the transfer window on his PC. On the way home he chooses his kit on his smartphone.” In essence, further development of Mass Effect 3′s Galactic Readiness system, which made use of an iPad App and an iPhone game in addition the multiplayer included in the main
The chief benefit, Ramsdale said, is that the player gets to experience the
game brand, “how he wants, when he wants and on the device he wants”. “[W]hen he gets home to play again on his 360 that evening, all those achievements and upgrades will be alive in his game.” So what happens if he only wants to experience it on console or PC without having to login to a stupid iPhone app in order to earn a crucial victory condition? Or if ‘he’ is named Sally or Jennifer? “We’re very focused on transforming all of our brands into these online universes,” he said. “That gives the consumer full control of how and when they play in a rich world of content.” Oh.
So, be warned. In the future, all EA
games brands will have a ton of what you loved about Mass Effect 3.