All Together Now: EA’s “Online Universes”

By Adam Smith on April 20th, 2012 at 11:30 am.

A: You didn't play the smartphone game for long enough to declare your love to me. B: But...

Eurogamer bring the news that Keith Ramsdale, EA’s Northern European boss, has declared that the company wants all of its brands to become “online universes”. That doesn’t mean everything will be massively multiplayer, but rather that each player will never have an excuse to stop playing EA games. Play Battlefield, for example, on a console in the evening, a PC in the midnight hours, a smartphone on the commute and a tablet while at the office. All the data, all the progress and achievements, will carry from one device to the other, allowing the player to play “how he wants, when he wants and on the device he wants”. Let’s have a think about that.

First of all, this isn’t something entirely new. Eurogamer point out the transference of Galactic Readiness between app and game in Mass Effect 3, and the use of a persistent profile, perhaps living on a cloud somewhere, will allow for more and more crossover between devices. However, just because it’s allowed doesn’t mean it’s necessarily beneficial. Freedom of choice is good, so “how he wants, when he wants and on the device he wants” is an admirable goal, but what if I’m only interested in playing on my PC, enjoying a standalone piece of work with no incentive to look outside that work for extraneous information or stat boosts?

I’m reminded of Ubisoft’s recent announcement of the relationship between the new Ghost Recon titles and the Facebook iteration, Commander. Playing the Facebook game can lead to benefits in the console and PC games. I performed a big ol’ verbal shake of the head when I heard about that.

Casting my mind back all the way to 2011, I recall earlier talk of persistent profiles creating an RPG-like experience in EA Sports games. The magic of the internet shows that my memory was correct, however I was quite startled to find I’d actually written about it back then but have no recollection of that whatsoever.

To me, it all seems part of the same business process. Create games with a competitive edge, even adding a certain level of point-scoring to the narrative of Mass Effect, and hope that people will invest their time to improve their profile, hope that they’ll want to better themselves. The example given is this:

“Imagine a player gets up in the morning, 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. Here’s the thing: when he gets home to play again on his 360 that evening, all those achievements and upgrades will be alive in his game.”

The transfer window idea works for me but the idea of practicing free kicks on a tablet bothers me somewhat. Not because I object to the cross-device functionality but because I don’t see how it’s possible to practice a skill when using a completely different input method, and therefore I assume that “practices his free kicks” means “invests time to boost his free kick stat”. There’s a huge difference between those two suggestions and it brings me back to the problem I have with the idea of persistent profiles in general: they too often become grindstones against which to plant our noses.

Perhaps I’m being a Luddite. I do enjoy connectivity and gadgets, honest I do, and I’d be delighted if I could boot up a tablet while on a trip and have access to my latest Football Manager saved game or something of the sort. But sometimes all those connections don’t make for a larger world, they end up feeding back on themselves and diluting that thing at the centre; the game itself. There’s been an increasing fragmentation of games since the days when everything was in a big box, stored on physical media. As long as the game remains the most important part of any ‘online universe’, rather than becoming subservient to the profile or the pursuit of perfection, then let the good times roll.

I’m avoiding issues of ‘always online’ and the possibility of subscription-based networks because, right now, I’m more interested in how this could affect development rather than what happens post-purchase. My feeling is that the experience of play, whatever the brand, shouldn’t be assumed to fit a model of this sort. If there’s a match between the desire for online persistence and a game, great, but as a necessary feature of every brand, it could interfere with aspects of design that should be left well alone.

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143 Comments »

  1. Icyicy9999 says:

    How about focusing on the actual games and not on marketing and gimmicks?

    • Acorino says:

      Now that’s a radical concept!

    • Premium User Badge

      felisc says:

      No, the world would be at risk if people were just, say, reading a good book on the bus. Better have all of us saving shepherd’s grand son by unlocking minigames on iphone.

      • iniudan says:

        Which grandson ? Asari, Drell, Turians and Quarians partner kind of make it hard to have a grandson. =p

        P.S.: I refuse to acknowledge the human, except Chambers (need someone to take care of my fish) and Traynor (why did you have to be lesbian, male Shepard is sad =( )

        • westyfield says:

          Pretty sure Shepard is sterile anyway after all the crap s/he’s been through.

          • Mobius says:

            If Mordin can make and modify and fix Genophage, he could have fixed Shepard’s ovaries.

        • Grey Ganado says:

          Asari are actually the easiest to have children with.

          • iniudan says:

            Yes, they might be able to procreate with anything that has a nervous system, but the grandson part will still be an impossibility. =p

          • Dozer says:

            Surely you can just keep adding more Asari until grandchild result?

            Asari: the divide-by-zero of Mass Effect biodiversity.

            Or so I assume from this one comment. I’ve not played any of the Mass Effects. I have a Massive Attack album but that’s not the same thing.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I like how all these “extras” they add don’t actually add to the games, just ensure that you’ll be missing out on stuff unless you participate.

      • FluffDaSheep says:

        This is my main issue with this whole idea too.

        • Furtled says:

          There’s some fairly cynical psychology behind this because EA know a certain part of their audience have completionist tendencies, it’s the same sort of thing that drives crappy DLC and £6 virtual pets.

          • Fanbuoy says:

            Of course, but I don’t see the money in this. I mean, surely no sensible person would pay extra for this, right? … right? Do they benefit from people spending more time with satellite services for their products?

          • Furtled says:

            @Fanbuoy
            The more time you spend in this stuff the more data EA gathers, gameplay data is used for future product planning and advertising, that’s ignoring the sort of data that can be gathered by mobile apps such as location info. That data is incredibly valuable for monitising their customer base, user metrics will help them determine pain points, places they can get away with charging etc. – well worth throwing a few free games people’s way.

          • sinister agent says:

            @Fanbuoy

            I’d like to say I share your thoughts, but:

            surely no sensible person would pay extra for this, right?

            Pause for a moment and consider this: How many people have you met in your life who were not sensible?

      • SanguineAngel says:

        I quite like the mail & Codex on the datapad for ME3. The war asset part is not so good – I used it a little but found it detracted from my experience with the central game. Although this is diminished by any readiness gained on the phone simply deteriorating straight away.

        The mail is really nice touch though – like the conversations you stumble upon as you wonder round the ship, they add a little depth and colour to the universe and having the game interact with me rather than the other way round is quite gratifying from an RPG.

        The codex also provides colour and depth but I am frequently too busy cramming in actual gaming during my gaming sessions to actually read them extensively. Which is a shame as during ME1 & 2 I really got into the universe a lot more by reading the entries as they cropped up. But I have less time at the moment.

        If anything I would like the codex on the datapad to be linked to my account too. Currently it’s just the entire thing so I end up reading about stuff I’d not necessarily encountered yet. It would also be nice to read about the various war assets I had unlocked on there.

        • Premium User Badge

          soulblur says:

          I agree. The war assets minigame (was it a minigame?) had potential to be a lot more. Instead of dispatching generic fleets, you could have used the war assets you’d actually unlocked or discovered in the main game (a little like how Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood did it). The rewards of failure of that would then be presented to Shephard in the main game. That would have tied the iOS game much better into the main game than the war score business, which just felt a bit frustrating.

          I can see something similarish for Skyrim. An iOS app that tracks your progress on a map in the main game: basically, an enhanced map (with roads, even) and the ability to take notes (I’m aware there are mods for such things, but I refer here to our console-playing brethren).

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      FhnuZoag says:

      Publishers have to compete in a competitive market. They need to think up ideas to get you to buy games. It’s all well and good saying ‘focus on the games’, but if that means you fall behind in marketting, your games don’t sell, and your studios go out of business, then everyone loses. I suspect the main impetus here is that people are worried that ipads and iphones are taking away from traditional gaming, and want to find ways to get people to see the portable platforms as a complement to their other gaming, than a replacement.

      It’s a pretty old idea really. Same deal with the Dreamcast, with plugging your GBAs into your Gamecubes, with remote play on the PSP/PS3, and so on.

      • Mirqy says:

        …and unfortunately it’s harder to measure when gamers stop buying your products because of this relentless grind, so they won’t notice or care when that happens.

      • shizamon says:

        It’s all just higher ups trying to micromanage in order to squeeze out the money they “think” they’re losing (ala piracy).

        Demon Soul’s did just fine with basically no advertising, focus on the game, word of mouth will sell it. And you’ll also save 50% from not doing the marketing hype machine horseshit.

    • akeso says:

      Pretty much this.

      If they put as much effort into making good games as they do into marketing games they might actually be a brand people would care to follow like they are wanting us to.

      Maybe they should reinvest in longer development times instead of always needing a new AAA title or new gimmick to reinvigorate their dying brand and bring back investors.

      While their idea are interesting E.A. isn’t a house that is capable of creating the customer loyalty through quality such a strategy would require. It seems they instead believe they can feign quality through market saturation; this has never worked for anyone.

  2. Timberfox says:

    Bad example with Battlefield 3; i’ve played tons on PC, and unlocked everything. My console favoring brother, who i bought a pc for , but cant trouble shoot problems with it, convinced me to play with him on Xbox 360. Despite my xbox achievements being posted along side my PC achievements on battle log, i still need to unlock every single simple item again, including basic annoying class specific stuff, such as the defibrillator. Its almost like they want me just to pay them so i dont have to go through all that trouble again… someone should tell the marketing department about that…

    • Dark Malady says:

      Of course it would be nice is this EA universal thing meant that consolers and PCs could play together… i mean I find a mouse far superior to a thumb stick for FPS aiming, but it would be nice to be able to play with friends across all platforms.
      I can understand that each platform has a different version of the game (why did the dragons go backwards in Ps3 skyrim but not PC?) but the kind of connectedness they are proposing here makes me dare to dream of a multiplatform server day.
      I honestly hope that Windows will connect to the next Xbox properly in such a fashion to allow game communication, and a single service of LIVE for both.

      • frenz0rz says:

        I very much doubt there’ll ever be a popular online FPS where PC and console gamers can play together, because a mouse is far more precise than a gamepad when it comes to aiming. Its a hard topic to breach without sounding all elitist, but I honestly think all but the most experienced console players would get their asses handed to them. Imagine if Tribes: Ascend were on console. Can you imagine trying to play that thing with a controller?!

        • wuwul says:

          Why can’t console games just require an USB mouse?

          I find laser mice for $5-10 so they could even bundle one with the disk.

          • malkav11 says:

            My understanding was that the console manufacturers won’t allow them to.

          • Ragnar says:

            How will I use said mouse when sitting on my couch? There’s no flat, stationary surface around. If I, a PC and mouse advocate, won’t use a mouse with a console, what makes you think that console users at large would?

        • sharks.don't.sleep says:

          IMHO more competitive shooters like Tribes Ascend or Battlefield 3 wouldn’t work well with the cross-plattform idea, but how about something like Borderlands?
          I think co-operative games aswell as sports games (FIFA, NHL, etc) would benefit from cross-plattform playability.

        • shizamon says:

          Doesn’t sound elitist at all, PC gamers are the ones taking the handicap. Except for the crappy console shooters with auto-aim that you can’t disable.

          • frenz0rz says:

            Its always amusing when one of those shooters gets ported to the PC with the auto-aim feature left on by default. I recall playing Call of Juarez and laughing my ass off when my pistols immediately snapped toward enemies’ heads whenever it got within 10 feet of one.

  3. Sirbolt says:

    I can’t imagine this making the experience better. Sounds more like they want to monopolize my time as to better cement their brand in my conscious. I just wish that publishers could die already, i’ve had it with this shit.

    • greenbananas says:

      “I just wish that publishers could die already…”

      Soon, me dearies, soon… HA HA HA HA… *strokes cat*

  4. ninjapirate says:

    On a side note (and only “remotely” related to this article), is the “GW2 Extended Experience Mobile” app still something that’s happening?

  5. Bedeage says:

    This is why I will end up playing more indie games. Ideas like this grow from committees and marketing departments, not from game designers.

  6. jellydonut says:

    Here is what CCP does: they make apps for phones and tablets that are actually useful. They let you do things there that the hardware allows for.

    Making idiotic Farmville-type sidegames that boost the main game.. not so much.

    They need to learn from CCP.

    Either that or EA can stop fucking existing. Better that way.

    • Goomich says:

      When did that happened?

    • Lycastus says:

      Yes, I love that I can fiddle with ship fits, check market orders, check my ingame mail, etc, on a phone/tablet in EVE. That works well, and makes sense. These aren’t extra things I have to do to get the most out of the game – I could just as well do these things when I got back to my PC, and the effects of doing or not doing them are the same regardless of whether I use the app – it just makes it more convenient. But the whole vision CCP have for EVE is it being a living, breathing universe, so it naturally lends itself to these things.

      “Play this facebook/iPhone game for exclusive bonus stuff!”, however, would be, and is, bad.

      Maybe if EA had actually put the galactic map part of ME3 in a tablet game, synchronised with your main save, so you could fly around and do the system-scanning fetch quests while on the train, then I might have approved.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    May I take this opportunity to proclaim Social Media features in gaming to be analogous to the Nineties obsession with FMV games? I estimate that in 10 years time we’ll all be pointing and laughing at the trend-chasing idiots who tried to force Social Media features on the audience.

    • PearlChoco says:

      I liked some FMV games.
      I don’t like ANY social media feature though.

    • codename_bloodfist says:

      I doubt it. Essentially the FMV games were very limited and quickly replaced by 3D, simply because we could do more with it. Now I do hope we rid of the whole Shepardville thing, but there’s nothing inheritingly wrong with having your achievements/rank/whatever tracked and displayed to your friends. Essentially it’s just RPG progression on the meta level.

    • Ragnar says:

      I’m laughing at them now: “What, you want me to tweet about this? You’ve got to be joking!”
      Sadly, some indie games seem to have contracted this infectious disease.

  8. sharks.don't.sleep says:

    “Imagine a player gets up in the morning, enjoys breakfast with his girlfriend/wife/family before going to work…On the bus, he offers an elder lady a seat and has a nice conversation with her until he gets off the bus.. At lunch he reads an interesting article about sky diving in a magazine. On the way home he chooses a different route to visit his old neighbour and stays for tea and cookies. Here’s the thing: when he gets home to play again on his 360 that evening, all those achievements and upgrades will mean nothing to him and he will still be happy.”

    Fixed.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Indeed.

      One could almost argue that they don’t go far enough. Why haven’t they tried to capitalise on the time that I’m sleeping (all three hours of it, given that I feel completely disconnected from reality as it is). Or during sex? Hell, what about when I’m actually working, purely for the sake of paying for all this shit?

      In fact, why not go to the ultimate extreme? Play Battlefield whilst playing Battlefield!

      • Vorphalack says:

        That’s so meta it makes my head spin.

        • Dozer says:

          Yo dawg, I heard you like battlefield, so we put battlefield in your battlefield so you can play while you play.

    • Toberoth says:

      Totally. What’s the point in gaming as recreation if it’s not recreational anymore? The appealing thing about games, for me, is that they’re a break from everyday life, not an extension of it. And yeah, by sitting and tapping away on smartphones all the time, people are missing out on lots of other rich cultural and social experiences.

    • f1x says:

      You sir are right,

      when did they decide that the time we invest in videogames “has to be useful” instead of “has to be fun”

      • Belua says:

        I may be cynical here, but that idea is not uncommon for a lot of “hardcore” players, who treat their online shooter or MMO grindfest of choice like work (and/or religion), where no fun is allowed because it might decrease overall efficiency.

  9. Xari says:

    The baffling and frightening thing about these gimmicks is that people actually buy them.

  10. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    They really won’t stop until they harvest our very souls, will they?

    • NathanH says:

      They’ve already harvested your soul, they just haven’t sold you the DLC that tell you they’ve done it, yet.

  11. Maldomel says:

    That doesn’t sound like a bad idea actually. I mean, porting you progress and investing yourself in a game like never before on different mediums in different sounds fantastic.

    The main problem is that it will probably end up with the issues you are avoiding, and with more gimmicks than actual things to improve the gaming experience.

  12. Drake Sigar says:

    Does the example provided terrify anyone else aside from me? I’ve protested at some of the design choices of MMOs which increase addictiveness, and now we get a publisher openly attempting to get players to live and breathe their games. Yeah we’ve got free-will and all that crap, but there has to be SOME reasonability on their end too.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Thank you for saying this. I have long argued that, while not inherently addicting on their own, many features of online and MMO games exist not so much to entertain as to increase the odds of player addiction. Zynga and even Blizzard are adept at these sorts of features. I have long wondered whether or not the developers of some major online games employ psychologists in order to help them make games more addicting.

      The trouble being, of course, that at some point, someone prominent in the right fields will notice the intention increase of features in games that are intended to or which do noticeably increase the potential for addiction. And once that happens, it gives those who would regulate gaming into the dirt – and they do exist, in droves – a pretty good excuse to get back on their admittedly worn out soap boxes.

      For this reason I would love to see developers consider this fact and stay one step ahead, but avoid decisions to consciously or intentionally increase addiction or the potential thereof in games. I realize its not easy. I realize different people become addicted to different things for more reasons than we have stars in the sky. I get that, I really do.

      The point is: I would prefer the gaming industry self regulate on this matter, at least to some degree, as opposed to giving outsiders a potential excuse and somewhat viable platform to regulate for them.

      for me on this, see also: tobacco industry and gaming (gambling).

      • WickedBaggins says:

        Yeah. Games might not be psychologically/physically addictive in the way a drug is, but I can’t see any entertainment or artistic value in introducing Skinner box elements into anything or everything. Players should want to keep playing because it’s fun, not because if they press enough buttons on enough devices, they might get a treat.

  13. Furtled says:

    This is a massive data grab for EA, they can track user activity across multiple platforms in order to aggregate and section off for advertising and other uses, that and more opportunities for micro-transactions.

    As for multi-platform, this is the company that produced a tie-in app. for ME3 and saw no problem with only releasing it for iOS despite Android being the more popular platform…

    Maybe I’m being old and grumpy, but I just want to buy a game and be left alone to play the damn thing in peace.

  14. bill says:

    I assume that they make money from this, or they wouldn’t do it. But is seems rather illogical to me.

    If i spend my every waking moment involved in Mass Effect (for example) then I’m not going to be buying any other EA games. I already don’t have enough time to play the games I buy now, if i spend even more free time involved in each one over multiple apps and interfaces then I’ll have no actual time to play at all.

    then again, i’ve been REALLY wishing i could play my current game of Baldur’s Gate from my phone / browser during quiet periods recently…. so maybe they have a point.

  15. Prime says:

    I’m already horrified by the idea that to get the best ending out of Mass Effect 3 (if indeed there are any) I’m forced to participate in the multiplayer. To my mind that’s ludicrous, and reason enough to make me reconsider my decision to purchase the damn thing. It’s as bad as chaining the game to Facebook and being told that I won’t advance until 50 of my friends have been advertised at. There’s a real danger here that the core game experience that this industry is built upon is now being chopped up to serve different – usually monetary – interests. I really can’t see this being of much benefit to gamers; it seems designed exclusively to help line EA’s bank accounts.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      You aren’t forced to participate in the multiplayer, stop saying things that aren’t true.

      • Unrein says:

        3800 is roughly the max EMS you can get without multiplayer or shitty app game bullshit. 4000 and some persuasion or just 5000 EMS are required for the arguably ‘best’ ending.

      • mondomau says:

        Except they are.

      • caddyB says:

        Yes you are, maximum you can get is 3800 or so, just short of 4000 you need for a chance for the best ending and miles away from 5000 for the surefire way of getting it ( if you miss the persuasion option that is )

        So, yeah.

      • Furtled says:

        The files have been datamined to death and have confirmed there’s no way to get all versions of the ending (‘best’ is a bit nebulous) without playing multi-player/playing one of the iPhone games or fiddling with the files somehow – devs have confirmed as much in PMs to players.

    • MordeaniisChaos says:

      You don’t have to play multiplayer, it helps, but you can also just go through all the content that the game has to offer, which if you’re a fan of Mass Effect you’ll probably do anyway.

    • iucounu says:

      The multiplayer is excellent, and I *never* play multiplayer. I’m addicted to ME3MP to the extent that I haven’t touched single player for weeks now.

      • caddyB says:

        Not disputing it’s good, the fear here is that we’ll be forced to do it to get more out of our games we’ve bought for our platform of choice.

        Maybe I don’t want to play a silly grind game on my phone while in class to get unlocks for the game I play when I get back home in the afternoon. It would have to be really good to be worth playing over multiple platforms, and I don’t believe anyone can get it right at this point.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Ok, I think that, realistically, we need to let go of the soapbox platform about corporations and profits. Do some executives in some corporations make “too much” money at the expense of their employees? Yes, I will grant you they do. Can we tax and regulate or bitch and moan this sort of behavior out of existence? No, we cannot. Not now. Not ever.

      Unfortunately, the recent rhetoric about corporations and their “fair share” (which is actually paid not by the corporations, but by their consumers through increased prices and fees) has lead to a constant bemoaning of profits as a bad thing. Guess what? Without profit, your favorite game maker, no longer makes games. (See also: THQ.)

      We need to calmly move away from such heated rhetoric as “just another money grab” and “just doing it to line pockets.”

      Of course it is; of course they are. And in the process, some gamers will be entertained by the move. Those who are will purchase the product. If you are not one of those, feel free not to buy the product, service or game. But lets please stop painting profit – aka, the incentive to make the things we enjoy – as some evil achieved at great expense to the “common man.”

  16. Lemming says:

    I ga-vomitted.

  17. Unrein says:

    Maybe those New Dark Age endings like in Deus Ex and Mass Effect wouldn’t be so bad after all.

  18. nasenbluten says:

    I don’t care about achievements or that supposed social interaction in games. I see them as a distraction instead of the enhancement or incentive they want them to be.

    They want to force this crap down their customers throats? They can try.

    I don’t bother buying EA products since the Origin exclusives.

    • Dozer says:

      Have you played Portal 2? What was your impression the first time you began Chapter 9 (“The part where…”)? Because when I first played through, I didn’t see achievement notifications due to a glitch, so I missed out on 25% of the humour at one of the funniest bits of the game. Assuming a linear scale.

  19. Dominic White says:

    Keep in mind that EA are the company that have permanently shut off multiplayer servers for games that aren’t even a year old. Games that were under their new Online Pass policy, where second-hand owners couldn’t play online without putting down an extra $10.

    EA are literally charging extra to support online infrastructure that they’re not supporting. At all.

  20. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    Yeah fine, as long as I only need to buy the feckin’ thing once and can play it on all my devices. And as long as to progress in one I’m not compelled to play on another device.

    • Goomich says:

      Yeah, sure. In the age, when to buy1 game on 1 device you have to pay multiple times.
      They’re not Valve, they have business to run.

      • Barlk says:

        Last time I checked Valve were in the business of making money too. And doing so quite successfully, actually. Huh.

  21. Milky1985 says:

    You may avoid issues of always online but thats the first thing my mind went towards :P

    It may have been the reading of the new info about the new sim city, where it was first always online, then online only to start up but theres a news story of them defending the need for always online, so guess its back to always online!

    Anyway back to point linking between consoles and stuff is all well and good and a good idea as long as content on your prefered platform (i.e the one you got your game on) is not effectivly walled off to people who DON’T use facebook or peopel who don’t have a iDevice etc. The moment you do that it stops being cool and starts being purly marketing and money grabbing and basically git like.

    Also if its all linked i want a discount for getting it on a different platform if i own it on one already. You KNOW i own it on PC so if theres a 360 version i want it for a highly discounted price if i get a different version (one which has differnet content like the andriod companion stuff etc)

  22. Iain_1986 says:

    I suspect most people here are saying this is a bad idea because it is EA.

    Someone tell me why having my progress appear on multiple versions of the game is a bad idea? Or any different to storing saves on the Cloud in Steam, or iCloud saving on iOS devices?

    • Adam Smith says:

      My concern is that it won’t be multiple versions of the game at all, but progress across a game, a minigame and a couple of connected apps that all link together in the profile. Persistence across the same experience in different places is excellent; persistence across several different experiences isn’t the same thing.

      It suggests a design philosophy that’s focused on unlocks and leveling of various sorts, which isn’t suitable for every game.

      • Iain_1986 says:

        If we don’t give things like this a chance then we just shoot it down before it’s begun.

        We’ve seen the various quotes go around stating how gaming is shifting to become more of a service, I personally don’t see an issue with that and this seems like a logical, potentially good, step in that direction.

        Yes it *could* go a way “we” don’t want to see it go, and I don’t like the arguements of “Well its EA so it will”…

        Colour me….intrigued/interested

        • Adam Smith says:

          I know you weren’t specifically addressing me but I purposefully avoided “Well it’s EA so it will…”

          The moment I see something along these lines that impresses me, I’ll rattle off some excited words about that.

        • Monkey says:

          Right on brother, i say lets see what happens.

        • Nethlem says:

          Gaming being an “service” is the worst thing that could happen, if you see the current gaming industry as just an huge business that sells an “service” then you end up turning gaming into gambling.

          It shifts the whole focus of the media from an “creative unique experiences” to an “routine” you have to participate regulary to keep up.

          And that’s an bad/evil thing to happen, no matter how “smart” and “educated” we consider ourselfs, humans are also just animals and as such very predictable. Videogames are getting better at predicting these very basic human behaviornal patterns and as such they improve on exploiting them.

          I don’t want a future where “gaming” is an business driven by addiction that leads people into ruin, you know like the huge, established and global gambling industries already like to do. I want my gaming to be a circus, a theme park of wonder and adventure. And not some cheap copy of Las Vegas that turned “entertaiment” into “calculated exploiting of the weak minded”.

        • D3xter says:

          You do realize that they don’t really care about how “good your gaming experience” is though, but about the money? Unlike certain other companies like CDProjekt or Valve they don’t really have business ethics or morals.

          What they are actually talking about is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZR6-u8OIJTE
          And Marketing is thinking of the best possible way to “explain” it to all the people out there, how the “added value” of being allowed to pay for a dozen other products instead of you know just buying one and being able to enjoy a complete experience is “beneficial” to them, just look at Mass Effect 3: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/02/27/all-the-mass-effect-3-dlc-costs-how-much/

          They want to further increase that dependency and they are aligning their business model to be closer to the likes of Zynga in “core games”.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      Yeah, like I said, this is also the exact thing Sega tried to do with the VMU on the Dreamcast, and Nintendo tried to do with e.g. Pokemon Colosseum. Maybe EA will get this to work, maybe not, but it’s not inherently a terrifying idea. It’ll depend on what sort of promises they make re: followup support, and the creativity of the developers in the various studios.

    • InternetBatman says:

      The possible bonuses like cloud saving are far outweighed by the potential for abuse.

      And yes, the fact that it is EA is a concern. EA tries hard but it lacks the subtlety that makes Steam successful.

    • Furtled says:

      Because:
      1) I’d rather the devs spent their time on the game I’m being asked to pay £40 for and not working on ways to tie it into facebook or what have you.
      2) I personally don’t give a monkeys about achievements etc. so that adds no value for me.
      3) I’m an old, anti-social single player gamer (did my time in WoW) who’s happy to stay that way.
      4) I’ve no faith that publishers like EA will make this optional, so it’ll be tied into games in such a way that it negatively impacts my gaming experience.

  23. Lanfranc says:

    I assume that the grind-a-tastic Mass Effect 3 iPad app that lets you increase your ‘war readiness’ (or whatever it’s called) is an implementation of this idea? If anything, I’d suggest going back to the drawing board and doing something that actually adds extra value for the player.

    • Goomich says:

      They’re interested only in adding extra value to their pockets.

      • Lanfranc says:

        And that is perfectly understandable, since they’re a business – but it just seems that the best way they can do that is to add extra content or other value to their products, because people are willing to pay for that.

        The readiness rating mechanic in ME3 just doesn’t work, on the other hand, because it doesn’t add anything new to the game; it ust forces the player to waste time on multiplayer or apps or other things they may not be interested in at all.

        • S Jay says:

          In the end what really brings in the profits (in the long term) is making good games and not pissing your fans with DRM and stuff like this. EA is clearly going for the Zynga approach – which is unsustainable if they intend to keep hardcore gamers on their side.

          I did not buy Mass Effect 3 because of the Origin nonsense – and now that I know that the ending is crap, I just will make my own story and let it slip.

    • iucounu says:

      It is rather grindtastic – a completely boring gameplay experience that does almost nothing in the wider ME3 game terms. However what is rather nice is the Mail section – as you progress the single-player story you get little messages from NPCs, many of which are mildly amusing or interesting. For something to check out for 30 seconds in a bus queue, it’s not the worst thing ever.

  24. kikito says:

    Valve announces its “wearable computing” stuff and EA craps on its pants.

  25. MordeaniisChaos says:

    Also I love how anti-EA this site is. This isn’t a BAD thing you guys, and I doubt you’re going to see BF3 on a tablet anytime soon. It’ll be the stat tracking of BF3, Halo, CoD Elite, some silly tie-in apps like the ME3 app that helps your war readiness, etc. You aren’t going to get a watered down experience just because they want to expand the number of things you can access some part of a game from. And that app wasn’t at all required for you to “experience the true Mass Effect” (which died the moment they started down the ME2 “lets make a dumb shooter” path), in fact it let you experience LESS of the core game if you didn’t want to go through all the extra side stuff. So did the multiplayer. It wasn’t a “YOU HAVE TO DO ALL OF THESE THINGS TO GET COOL STUFF” it was “hey, wanna do this? cool, you could also do this or this, which do you prefer?” Sorta like the different “modes” the game offered. Wanna just shoot stuff, go ahead! Wanna RPG it up? Sweet! Wanna focus on the story and not worry about combat? Enjoy!
    Calm the fuck down folks, you all sound like a bunch of sheep following the “wise word” of 4chan idiots who troll internet polls because they think they mean jack shit in the grand scheme of anything but stupid forums.

    • caddyB says:

      Read the article again. It doesn’t say anything about being “anti-EA”. Maybe you should work on that reading comprehension before posting walls of text, huh.

    • D3xter says:

      How much is grorious EA paying you? xD

    • Milky1985 says:

      ” And that app wasn’t at all required for you to “experience the true Mass Effect” (which died the moment they started down the ME2 “lets make a dumb shooter” path), in fact it let you experience LESS of the core game if you didn’t want to go through all the extra side stuff.”

      So if i wanted to enjoy the side stuff of a game i purchased, but didn’t have an iDevice then how would i go about it if the extra app is aimed at a section of hte market?

      My choices are limited by not buying into the church of jobs. This is the side i don’t like.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      And this, ladies and gents, is what we call “indoctrination”.

    • YourMessageHere says:

      Every time EA do anything controversial, you get these posts. Consider:

      Valve foisted Steam on all HL2 players, to mass protests. Since then they have stuck with Steam, provided a consistent user experience while improving it over and over again, added feature after feature, and improved usability. They’ve opened it up to other companies, they’ve been transparent with customers (more or less), they’ve been quick to adapt Steam to new ideas like free-to-play or community features. They are not perfect by any means but they are both well-liked and massively successful, a neat trick.

      By contrast, EA have had an online marketplace for some time, a dreadfully overcomplex and incoherent shop that was hugely user unfriendly. In fact they’ve had several, rebranding their old store at least twice and totally altering user experience, before abandoning it entirely in favour of Origin. They’ve then foisted Origin on all BF3 players, to mass protest. Since then they don’t appear to have improved the service or usability at all, they’ve not had any new ideas and the functionality they’ve added is poor. They continue to refuse to play nicely with anyone else, have pulled out of Steam and apparently have no interest in listening to or maintaining a good relationship with their community and customer base (cf. the long-running forum/game ban saga that’s been covered extensively here). EA have lots of money but are also The Most Hated Company In The World ™.

      Is it really that surprising or that unreasonable to not be particularly impressed with anything EA says, based on their track record?

  26. D3xter says:

    No thanks, ZyngEA, I don’t want that in my games, take your “Achievements” and “Incentives” and put them somewhere else…

  27. Disreputable_Dog says:

    I’m not sure if I’m alone on this, but does anyone else feel like this is exactly the type of stuff that lead to the collapse of gaming before? Marketing and profits being placed over game play and quality. Not to say at all that what’s being put out is crappy, but its starting to feel like the market is getting over saturated. Not with low quality crappy games, but with gimmicks and DLC, where in many cases is obvious that the only reasoning behind these actions is profit. I fear for the future of gaming if major publishers like EA keep following this profiteering trend of DLC that is with-holding portions of the game, or DLC thats so highly over valued that the price one pays for such a small piece of content can be a sizable percentage of the cost of the original game. I’m happy to pay $5 or even $10 or $15 for DLC that gives jolts life into my game for another few hours, but It doesn’t feel right if that DLC is important for a significant point in the plot. and it feels even less right to pay these prices for content thats simply not worth it.

    But onto a more important aspect in this article, why are game companies trying to drag all our lives into games? I can understand having optional bits and pieces available to me online. I wouldn’t mind being able to check my friend’s stats on BF3, but the idea of trying to induct these outside applications into a game for console or PC feels absurd. Its breaking up your gamers ability to play, drawing lines between who can do what, and really does smell to strongly of profit-hunting rather then user-enjoyment. Who wants another ME readiness app, or a facebook game that you NEED to play to be able to achieve objectives in your regular game. This is what feels wrong to me, like were heading down a road that leads to a bad end for us. A bad end for Games. and a bad end for Gamers. The idea of gaming across multiple platforms is interesting, but the way i feel like Publishers like EA are going to implement it is very bad. nothing about EA has screamed “We love our customers” as it has “We love their money” and though this idea is interesting and should be further explored, I DON’T feel it should be in the hands of groups like EA.

  28. DogKiller says:

    This makes me uncomfortable. It also makes me uncomfortable about the way games are going in general. My life does not revolve around gaming. It did when I was fourteen, but not any more. I want to buy a game, and then play it occasionally in my spare time to chill out. I don’t want to have a FIFA or Battlefield 3 experience creeping into my life at every turn, and I don’t want to have to use their crappy apps to get the best ending in their games. I am not interested in a ‘consumer experience’, online interconnectivity, or having my gameplay tracked and harvested by EA (Or any other company for that matter) for market research.

    It makes me thankful that there are still some really good independent developers about who are more interested in making good games without this crap tacked on.

  29. Monkey says:

    I don’t see the problem, and i think you’re using worst case scenarios to bash on EA. If this came from Valve everyone would be gushing.

    Its the future, and right now these are the first steps. Yes missing on content because you don’t have a smartphone is stupid, but give it time.

    • DogKiller says:

      It’s a future I don’t want any part of. And I’d be just as annoyed if Valve did this.

    • Disreputable_Dog says:

      The main problem is that it IS being rolled out by EA. And I’m trying to say this not to bash EA, but because this is a moment that will have a large affect on the market and how people do things similar, and unfortunately EA has a track record of profits being top of their list. Your right, if Valve was doing this, people would gush, because it would be in the hands of a company that’s consistently tried new things and put their users first, but instead its in the hands of a publisher who’s shown us that the user is not who they are trying to help.

    • Milky1985 says:

      EA have a bad rep in users eyeys, valve have a good rep in users eyes.

      I don’t see why this is confusing to some people, yes if valve said the same thing peope might be more receptive (considering the fact they basically do this anyway cause everything is done via steam and tracked via steam :P), because the way they work and have worked in the past makes them less likely to screw it up and do anti consumer things.

      Like shut down the servers, cause i hazard a guess when said servers shut down for these new EA things its no more games.

    • Shooop says:

      He didn’t say the concept or who was behind it was a problem, he said he could see it having pros and cons.

      Which it does. EA being behind it just means those cons could end up being a lot worse. But the concept itself can definitely go places.

    • Dozer says:

      If it’s actually a bad idea, people will criticise it for being a bad idea. If EA want to make many more bad ideas than Valve, that’s their problem!

  30. NathanH says:

    Sounds like orc-mischief to me.

  31. thegooseking says:

    What could happen is interesting. If a game must include a balance of fun stuff and boring, administrative stuff (which isn’t a given, but becomes a much higher likelihood as the game gets more complex), then you spread out the administrative stuff here and there, which means that in your game time, you’re doing concentrated worthwhile stuff. It could increase the value of the time you actually sit down to play. Your play time isn’t wasted on the administrative stuff.

    Not that that necessarily will happen. I’d hesitate to say it’s even likely. But that possibility is the reason we shouldn’t dismiss the idea out of hand.

    The other reason is the intriguing possibilities for multiplayer. When you have two people playing different games on different devices, but with convergent goals, you suddenly have a whole load of other possibilities of what multiplayer can do.

    “But it’s EA, so…”

    On the other hand, even if EA do it terribly (which I’m loath to assume, but acknowledge the possibility), that doesn’t mean no-one else will ever do it well.

  32. S Jay says:

    EA has to get the “most inflexible company award”. People hated the damn galactic readiness, which was a clear test of this concept, but instead of backing away, they say “yep, they loved it. CHARGE!”

  33. malkav11 says:

    Hey, EA. A radical idea: how about. instead of making sweeping requirements across your entire game portfolio, you actually examine each game on an individual basis and decide what makes sense for that game and that universe? Not every game needs multiplayer. Not every game needs mobile app functionality. And so forth. This might not be a terrible idea for certain games, depending on implementation, but it seems fairly guaranteed that if you force it on all of them, you’ll hit some clunkers along the way.

  34. Kartoffeln says:

    This can not end well…

  35. TheWhippetLord says:

    I strongly dislike this homogenisation of multiplayer and single player gaming. If I fancy playing a game, most of the time I’d like it to be a local, private experience on my PC. If I feel sociable, which is not unheard of, I shall load up an MMO. Am I so unusual in wanting connectivity to be confined to the ghetto of multiplayer? Does anyone really want to spend their day on Facebook and Twitter boasting of how many kobolds they killed this week?
    Preferring non-networked play sometimes make me feel like a dinosaur. Which is OK I guess, because dinosaurs are *awesome*.

  36. Kartoffeln says:

    This can not end well. (get it…?)

  37. Shooop says:

    It’s an interesting idea on paper, but like you said it can lead to giving people who buy more similar products an in-game advantage over everyone else.

  38. serioussgtstu says:

    I own neither a clever phone nor a tablet devise, just a PC for gaming. But then again I also don’t play EA games, so the two problems just cancel each other out really. Blissful ignorance triumphs again!

  39. Adventurous Putty says:

    Wow. Extra Credits just did a show about this sort of thing a few weeks ago. Those guys really know what’s up.

    I’m ambivalent about it, to be honest. Depends on how it’s implemented. Given EA’s recent annoying decisions concerning Origin, there’s little to be confident about — but one can hope, at least.

  40. Premium User Badge

    jezcentral says:

    It would be nice in some ways. I’d like to be able to use my TOR mobile app to send my companions on missions. That would be actively useful.

  41. Ratchet says:

    Oh but there’s a serious flaw in that thinking! Serious, because clearly they never thought that then we consumers would need to buy multiple copies of our games to be able to play in that…

    …I very nearly got through that with a straight face.

  42. Vorphalack says:

    Must have blinked and missed the bit where we are now expected to own all of those devices. I don’t have anything on the EA reps list other than a PC, not even a Facebook page. There is no foreseeable scenario where I will need any of them either. I’m pretty sure i’m not a modern day luddite, so I can’t help but feel that right now this move will only have somewhat limited appeal. Having seen what tablets and smart phones have to offer in comparison to the PC, i’m not suddenly going to rush out and buy one, and will almost certainly avoid and PC game that tries to tie itself to a platform I don’t own.

  43. woodsey says:

    I just want to play the fucking game on the platform I buy it for. I want everything packed into that. I don’t want to earn extra XP by playing some piece of shit game on my phone.

    Thank you.

  44. Joc says:

    “how he wants, when he wants and on the device he wants”

    Why aren’t they playing the pronoun game?

  45. kud13 says:

    this is gonna get annoying fast. I’m also one of those single-player only PCgamers who doesn’t a smart phone, a playbox, or a tablet.

    by adding more “peripherals” you are actively diluting the content i’d be willing to pay for, EA.

  46. Iskariot says:

    I am not interested in online universes and online competition. I never play online. Last time must have been 15 years ago.
    Just give me good, beefy, immersive single player games and I am prepared to pay a lot for them. All the online shit I am not prepared to pay a single dime for.

  47. FataMorganaPseudonym says:

    I hate EA so very much.

  48. Dozer says:

    Will this lead to an underground network of dummy Facebook profiles for game manipulation?

    I hate all Facebook apps and refuse to allow any to access my real Facebook profile. But if there was a game which benefits significantly from crass social media tie-ins, I could just create a dummy Facebook profile for the game’s app. Problem solved: I get my perks in the PC game, without spamming my real friends and without leaving evidence of the time I waste playing games on my real Facebook profile. And EA et al can enjoy learning they have a 102-year-old Antartican enthusiastically playing their game.

    If everyone did this, we could friend our dummy accounts with one another and play along with the social media crassness, Liking and Sharing and Commenting and Joining and whatever to get the perks in the real game. A cooperative underground pseudonymous peer-to-peer network of gamers hosted on Facebook!

  49. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    I love the idea in an abstract sense.

    Unfortunately, everything that comes out of an EA executive’s mouth basically means “Here’s some more shit that will sell you some of our other shit and make you feel like shit if you’re not using it while you shit.”

    So, you know, not a fan.