EA’s press conference – the opener for E3 2017 – was, well… average. It seemed to be just a platform for the company to prove just how out of touch they are with their audience. Again.
A great example of this is how they divided their time between games. Like most years, a large amount of time was spent on their sports division. Countless details were relayed about new systems for FIFA 18, NBA Live 18, and NFL 18 – I’d say roughly half their conference time. EA claimed to be pushing games as the best platform for media. Why, then, do they spend so much time on games which come out nearly every year? Yes, there is an audience for these games but that audience will buy them every year. I strongly believe EA could have spent more time on the games which are new and innovative.
One of these games is called A Way Out by designer Josef Fares (maker of Brothers: a tale of two sons) which is on the EA originals program, supporting smaller indie studios. This is a purely Co-op game about two men escaping prison together. This brings a complete change from most modern games as it actively encourages couch co-op and seeks to bring new ways to approach multiplayer narratives. When Fares came on stage he quite rightly hyped the game up. It was highly refreshing to have a designer on stage who you could see truly believes in the game he is making, and is also trying to push the boundaries and try new things. I think this is great in a press conference full with emotionally detached men in suits who don’t seem to care about what they are talking about. A Way Out is set to be a highlight in this coming year of games.
Apart from a lack-lustre presentation of a new Need for Speed, and a snippet of a new game from Bioware – the main attraction for this conference seemed to be the upcoming Battlefront 2. This seemed to be one of the only games in which EA had listened to their player base and improved on the previous entry. This was pin-pointed by a tweet John Boyega made about the lack of a story mode in Battlefront 1 – the developers want everyone to know loud and clear that they are listening to them. The game will not have paid additional content; it will have a story mode and it will be set across all Star Wars eras. Essentially what all fans were looking for.
What was jarring about this presentation however was the weird and somewhat unnecessary ending to it. Many people have already picked up on this – but why have EA started treating it’s press conferences like E-Sports tournaments? Sure, this did indeed show the gameplay of Battlefront 2 but it seemed rather drawn out and awkward. EA’s big thing this year was player interactivity but at the detriment of having its conference fall flat on its face. The good parts did shine out, but after all these were only diamonds in the rough.