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Published by AndrewD 14 years ago , last updated 1 year ago
April 23, 2004 - After years of discussions, Electronic Arts and Microsoft are putting the final touches on a partnership enabling four of EA's sports titles, and possibly three non-sports games, to go online with Xbox Live this fall, IGN learned today. The Redwood City, Ca.-based publisher will announce its strategy at the annual Electronic Entertainment Exposition this May, but it may reveal plans earlier to investors this April 29, during its upcoming fiscal announcement. "They're psyched," a former EA employee, who asked not to be identified, told IGN. "EA is going to bring its games to Live this year. It's finally happening." Madden NFL 2005, NCAA College Football, NASCAR Thunder 2005, and NBA Live comprise the sports package for Xbox Live this fall. The non-sports games are less concrete, but as IGN has learned from several sources close to the company, Battlefield: Modern Combat, EA's new GoldenEye game, and perhaps Burnout 3 are first in line for Xbox online compatibility. Other investigations point to EA's long-awaited move on two of these titles. Two Wall Street analysts (UBS Warburg Equity Research and Banc of America Securities) reported in their weekly newsletters that EA will bring its games to Xbox Live, one specifically naming Battlefield as an Xbox Live candidate. "We do expect that to change this year, with Battlefield 1942 for Xbox expected to have Xbox Live capability," said a UBS report. "The popularity of Xbox Live, which is likely to be supported by Electronic Arts for the first time in 2004, also contributes to our confidence in strong Xbox hardware sales this year," reported Banc of America Securities. Criterion told IGN in 2003 that Burnout 2 would have been Xbox Live compatible, but Microsoft was late delivering critical information, so Burnout 2: Point of Impact only had minimal support. The representative added that the next game in the series (Burnout 3) would fully support Xbox Live; this was prior to EA's announcement to publish Burnout 3. Digital Illusions CE (DICE) said in 2002 it planned to make a second Battlefield game for both PC and Xbox. It quickly re-worded its statements to include only PC. The games have never been the problem, as EA has publicly stated its issues with Microsoft's successful online strategy: content control and cash. Xbox owners must pay $69.99 for a starter kit (and $49.99 to renew) to play online Xbox games on centralized servers run by Microsoft. EA wants both control over its content and money for gamers to play its titles. Unlike Sony Computer Entertainment America's laissez-faire setup, which is determined by independent publishers themselves, Microsoft gathers and controls everything. While full fiscal details were not revealed, IGN believes that EA was able to strike a deal with Microsoft to lower the manufacturer's licensing fees for those particular games. Another possibility is that it's working on a new monetary package to pay for online play. As for content, IGN believes Microsoft will share its data with EA. Recently, Microsoft's move to create Live Server Protocol (LSP), which enables publishers to set up their own specialized tournaments and leagues on sub-servers, has made the move easier for EA to swallow. Sega revealed its plans to bring its sports games online (check the story on IGN Sports, detailing the LSP's flexibility, and EA is likely to follow suit. A Sega representative told IGN, "We expect EA to go to Xbox Live this year, and we would be shocked if they didn't." EA and Microsoft firmly deny their change in plans. "EA and Microsoft do not have an agreement for including online capability in EA titles for Xbox," said an EA representative. "We have a solid partnership with Microsoft and many titles in development for the Xbox. Discussions are ongoing." She added: "Competition from other developers is one of the dynamics that made EA SPORTS produce so many great games. We expect these teams will be reassigned to make more great games for the Xbox." Microsoft was less imaginative in its response. "We haven't made any announcements and we don't comment on rumors or speculation." IGN will have more details on EA's Xbox Live plans soon. Check back on April 29 and during E3. -Douglas C. PerryWow, thats alotta information! This is great for you X-Box fans who are mad about all the fun being hoarded by PS2. Haha, anyways, thanks for the Article IGN, and we will be looking forward to seeing this happen at E-3! See ya on the battlefield soldiers!
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