EA Says C&C: Generals 2 Focusing On Multiplayer, E-Sports In F2P Launch

Electronic Arts announced that they have plans to launch Command & Conquer: Generals 2 as a free-to-play game. The game is planned as the first in an online series known simply as “Command & Conquer“.

BioWare Victory general manager John Van Caneghem also noted that the game will not have a story mode, with “co-operative and competitive” skirmishes serving as the core of the game. He noted that a single-player campaign could be added later, but “it is something we haven’t announced yet how we’re going to do it.”

Van Caneghem detailed that the goal is to “really want to get back to the roots of what made Command & Conquer great.” Thus, expect a lot of base building, harvesting and creating lots of units to “go out and kill all the bad guys.”

“As a live service I think the exciting part is you can try things,” said Van Caneghem. “You can see what the community wants, you can give it a shot, you can put it up for a weekend and see how it goes, develop towards what the fans like.”

“We decided to choose Generals as the first set of games we build under the universe, but we’ll be expanding after that, like Tiberium and Red Alert as well as some others as well,” he added, explaining the reason why they’re launching this new series with this game. “But Generals 2 was the first one, and it was one of the biggest sellers, as well as the fanbase has been asking for it for some time.”

Generals 2 will be tied to an online account that can be leveled-up the more you play. The plan is to add new maps and modes as time goes on as DLC, both free and paid-for.

When asked if the Red Alert and Tiberium entries in the series will share that same account, Van Caneghem said, “We’re obviously open to the concept. I know another person asked me the other day if they’d be able to fight games between factions. I guess that’s something we can look at at some point.”

There will be e-sports features built in along with the multiplayer deathmatch and co-operative modes. “We’re really going to run the gambit of what people enjoy in a multiplayer environment,” he said. “I don’t think we’re making a list of the features yet, but I think you can basically make a list of the assumed ones that you’d need to be an e-sports game, and it’s definitely part of the plan.”

Source: PCgamer.com

iPad Mini Suppliers Ramping Up For Holidays: Report

Reports are that Apple is looking to supply 4 million units each month starting in September of the upcoming 7.85-inch iPad. This is being done to prepare for demand from year-end holidays.

Most think that the new 7.85-inch iPad will launch in October with a thinner screen frame to allow the device to feature a larger display area than its competitors with a resolution similar to that of iPad 2. It is believed that the supply chain already started supplying a small volume of 7.85-inch iPads in June with a monthly volume at around several hundreds of thousands.

Source: DigiTimes

Nintendo CEO Says Customers Still Want Rich Portable Gaming Experience

Smartphones and tablets are widely available and used as gaming devices in today’s market. However, the 3DS has managed to sell 19 million units and Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata thinks that the market for dedicated handheld consoles can exist alongside that of smartphones/tablets.

“I think a lot of this discussion is based on the premise that the handheld gaming device market is shrinking or vanishing and I don’t think that is true and I’d like to address that,” said Iwata. “Something that [Nintendo of America president] Reggie [Fils-Aime] said at E3 was that the Nintendo 3DS hardware was selling more or faster than the DS, and I think that’s something… that a lot of people are aware of. But something that Reggie also said is that the 3DS software sales were exceeding DS software sales.”

He notes that the 3DS sold 10.5 million units of software in its first 14 months, greater than the DS sold in the same period of time. “I think this is proof that even though we see an increase in smartphones and tablets and whatnot and there’s obviously a huge flood of games in the market, I think the software sales that Reggie alluded to and pointed out really prove that these people, even with this flood of free games and whatnot for these portable devices-[these] non-game-centric devices-are not keeping people from purchasing software for dedicated hardware,” Iwata said.

“I think within games you have two needs that people fill. One is the time-filler need. The other is that it’s a very important time for me and I want to have a rich experience. Those are two separate needs, I think,” theorized Iwata. “The other thing is how much are consumers willing to pay to play. I think that consumers who are willing to pay money for a gaming experience are looking for something that is more rich and are willing to spend some of that valuable time on that experience. I believe that as environments change and as the world progresses we’re going to have different ways in which people want to spend their time. That being said, I don’t think we’re going to see the desire to have, again, rich and deep sort of gaming experiences… we’re not going to see that vanish. That’s not going to go away.”

Source: Kotaku

PopCap Announces Layoffs In Seattle

PopCap has confirmed that it is laying off about 50 workers in North America and possibly looking to shut down its office in Dublin. PopCap co-founder John Vechey took to the company’s blog to put the layoffs in context.

“In the past year, we’ve seen a dramatic change in the way people play and pay for games. Free-to-play, social and mobile games have exploded in popularity. The change in consumer tastes requires us to reorganize our business and invest in new types of games on new platforms. It’s a completely different world from when we started,” he said. “We’re growing quickly into new areas of mobile and social, and are expanding in new markets like Japan and China. And there are many more great games to come from PopCap.”

“The decision to reorganize was 100 percent made by us, with no pressure from EA,” he noted.

Source: Blog.PopCap.com {link no longer active}

Wayne Rooney Out As FIFA Cover Athlete

Electronic Arts has announced that Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney, FIFA cover athlete since 2005, will not appear on the front cover of this year’s edition of the game. He will be replaced by FIFA player of the year and Barcelona FC striker Lionel Messi.

The many covers with Rooney.

“After seven successful seasons working with Wayne, we have mutually agreed not to renew our partnership,” said EA in a statement. “During this period, both Wayne and the FIFA franchise have achieved phenomenal success but the time feels right for both parties to explore other avenues. We wish Wayne the very best of luck in the future and we look forward to him accomplishing even greater success for both club and country.”

Source: CVG {link no longer active}

Ubisoft CEO Talks Advantages Of Free-To-Play

Ubisoft recently announced that they’re launching Uplay, a download service akin to Origin or Steam. While this demonstrates Ubisoft’s commitment to more traditional PC gaming, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot also emphasizes that free-to-play is important as well.

“We want to develop the PC market quite a lot and F2P is really the way to do it,” said the French CEO. “The advantage of F2P is that we can get revenue from countries where we couldn’t previously – places where our products were played but not bought. Now with F2P we gain revenue, which helps brands last longer.”

“It’s a way to get closer to your customers, to make sure you have a revenue. On PC it’s only around five to seven percent of the players who pay for F2P, but normally on PC it’s only about five to seven percent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated. It’s around a 93-95 percent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage. The revenue we get from the people who play is more long term, so we can continue to bring content.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

EA VP: Physical Game Sales Might Be Gone In 10 Years

Digital sales for games have increased from practically nothing a decade ago to making up a large part of the industry in 2012. Given that, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Electronic Arts executive vice president Patrick Soderlund thinks that retail might be an outdated way to sell games before 2022.

“I think it’s going to be sooner than people think. I think it’s going to be sooner than 10 years,” said Soderlund. “That’s my personal opinion, and might not be what EA thinks.”

“We know that packaged goods work, and the majority of our current revenue comes from that. That’s still a viable business model,” he added. “In the long term, we’ll see more and more people gravitate to downloaded content. I happen to think that there’s something about physical content, like books, that’s collectable and satisfying to own. I still want physical content but I’m not part of the new generation of gamers. I remember a time when I bought a cartridge and excitedly read the manual on my way home, imagining what the game was going to be like. Maybe kids don’t have that anymore.”

Source: CVG {link no longer active}

Dead Space 3 Limited Edition Suits Issac Up

Electronic Arts has announced that those who pre-order the Dead Space 3 Limited Edition before the launch on February 5, 2013 at certain retailers will receive two bonus suits and weapons. The Dead Space 3 Limited Edition provides first access to the game bundles “First Contact” and “Witness the Truth”.

First Contact Bundle

  • First Contact Suit: This unique EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) suit was built by the SCAF (Sovereign Colonies Armed Forces) for encounters with “foreign entities.” It sports a flamboyant golden finish to provide protection from long-term space exposure and thick armor for… unspecified reasons. The suit was given the nickname “First Contact” by the scientists who made it.
  • Negotiator Weapon: While technically classified by the SCAF as a “scientific instrument,” the gold-plated “Negotiator” is loaded with some surprisingly aggressive hardware. The overclocked, top-mounted Tesla Beam is capable of bursting a man-sized organism into several pieces with a single shot. The bottom-mounted Linegun appears to have been built with the sole purpose of cleanly dismembering organic tissue from a distance.

Witness the Truth Bundle

  • Witness Suit: These insulated suits were worn by a SCAF deep dig team assigned to exhume the darkest secrets of Tau Volantis. Whatever they found locked deep in the ice changed them forever. When they emerged weeks later, they were covered head to toe in strange graffiti and claimed to be “Witnesses to the Truth.”
  • Evangelizer Weapon: A modification of the standard AL-2 used by the Sovereign Colonies Legionaries, this version sports a souped-up AL-2g assault rifle on the top with an Emerson 2100 “Big Boy” tactical shotgun on the bottom. The surviving “Witnesses” of the SCAF deep dig team dubbed it the Evangelizer and decorated them top to bottom with strange symbols.

EA’s Moore Sees Zynga Lawsuit From Larger Industry Perspective

Electronic Arts is now locked in a legal battle with Zynga over similarities between The Sims Social and The Ville. EA COO Peter Moore described the battle as one not just for the developers at EA, but also for other developers around the industry who have had similar problems with Zynga.

“When we looked at The Ville we felt somewhat affronted by what we saw as copyright infringement,” said Moore. “We also feel from an industry perspective that a number of these things have happened before related to Zynga, but there’s never been a company that has the wherewithal and the resources to take it to the next level. We do.”

“We’re defending our Maxis studio, and we’re standing up for the industry,” continued Moore. “The roots of what we do as an industry is creative, from the minds of people who sit there and build storylines and characters and mesh it all together and work hard to do it. You take years to do that. And when you see somebody, quite frankly, take months replicating what you’ve done, you’re upset. We were upset. We were upset for Maxis. And we’ve seen enough of it from an industry perspective, with smaller publishers and developers who also put their hands up and said, ‘this is not right, but I don’t know what to do about it.’ We do.”

Source: Eurogamer

Political Conventions Prime Social Media

Democrats and Republicans are both planning to use social media extensively during their national conventions. The Republicans call theirs a “convention without walls,” while the Democrats say their gathering will be “the most open and accessible in history.”

Democrats will stream caucus meetings and the council discussions of the party’s platform and ideals along with prime-time speeches live. Meanwhile, the Republicans have hired a full-time blogger and a full-time digital communications manager to engage people online.

The conventions’ Facebook and Twitter sites are pumping up the events, with photos of the Republican stage under construction in Tampa and profiles of Democratic volunteers and delegates. To show the growth of social media during this time, Twitter said number of items posted on Election Day 2008 is equal to about six minutes worth of tweets today.

Republicans have social media team with its own “Social Media War Room” in the Tampa Convention Center, pushing out videos on YouTube. “Our goal is to leverage these technologies, to reach every American, whether they are in Toledo, Ohio, the convention floor in Tampa or a forward operating base in Afghanistan,” he said.

The Democrats will have a similar setup at their convention September 4 – 6 in Charlotte. “We’re able to expand it even further and invite the whole country to participate in a more interactive way then you might traditionally experience by tuning into a television,” said Nikki Sutton, director of digital media for the 2012 Democratic Convention.

Convention organizers will use social media to emphasize themes that might get lost in the traditional media’s limited coverage. “There’s just not a lot of convention coverage that is going to be offered by the major networks, and this becomes a way that individual figures’ speeches get publicity,” said Daniel Kreiss, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Democrats have also released a smartphone app that provides one place for videos, blog posts and photos. The app also includes an interactive map to help visitors to Charlotte find convention locations or restaurants.

Donna Chen, the director of marketing and communications for the Tampa Downtown Partnership said more than 15 tourism and convention groups are setting up their own “Social Media Command Center” for the convention. Tampa Bay and Co., the area’s tourism and marketing agency, is coordinating the effort using the hashtag “TampaBay” to curate the posts.

Source: AP