EA Delays Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield Hardline

Battlefield Hardline

One of the ongoing punchlines regarding Electronic Arts’ E3 press conference this year was that it would be a pretty solid one…for 2015. Maybe the conglomerate is taking that criticism a little too literally.

In the span of two days, Electronic Arts made statements that both Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield Hardline would be delayed. While Dragon Age: Inquisition will still make the 2014 Fall lineup after being delayed six weeks to November 18, Battlefield Hardline is being pushed all the way back into 2015, with no timetable given beyond “early 2015.”

Dragon Age: Inquisition

This is a particularly big sting for Electronic Arts as Battlefield Hardline was one of their tentpole franchises they have used to stay competitive with Activision and UbiSoft. Without Hardline in its Fall lineup, EA really has no action games to rely on for the remainder of the year.

Battlefield Hardline had come under a bit of scrutiny following its pre-E3 leak and subsequent E3 showing. Perception was that despite the game’s new twist focusing on a cops & robbers dynamic, it looked no different from any other Battlefield game and that it lacked the sheer mass and scope that Battlefield has become known for. With the additional pressure that Battlefield Hardline was facing following both the disastrous launch of Battlefield 4 and the lukewarm performance of Titanfall, losing Hardline for 2014 has to be a blow to a Fall slate only lined with EA Sports titles, Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Sims 4.

Battlefield Hardline

Hopefully Visceral Games and DICE will be able to tighten up the game for its 2015 launch as they have made multiplayer the development priority. DICE Vice President Karl Magnus Troedsson wrote about the delay on the Battlefield blog, citing a desire to make the multiplayer experience more innovative, create story depth and ensure the stability of the game.

Battlefield Blog – Why Battlefield Hardline will launch in 2015
Dragon Age – Dragon Age Inquisition Update

The EA Backpedal Continues, Adding Offline Mode to SimCity

SimCity

Back when SimCity came out early last year, critics and audiences ripped Electronic Arts and Maxis for being less than forthcoming about the game’s online requirements. What was visioned as a world of user controlled cities interacting symbiotically with one another in a persistent world was seen by players as an always online crutch, forced down their throats for a game that always crashed because the game’s servers were shot. Upset about not even having the option to build cities in the peace and quiet of their own office space, players clamored for an offline mode, which EA shot down as something that would require significant engineering to pull off.

Well nearly a year later, it seems that Maxis and EA have been up to significant engineering as SimCity is expected to be patched to include an offline mode soon. The move goes hand in hand with EA and Maxis seemingly attempting to extend an olive branch to their splintered fanbase as they had announced the addition of mod support earlier this week. Citing the long running positive community involvement of modders with Maxis games, the studio and publisher are desperately trying to save face for the once pristine SimCity brand.

As much as I believe that the addition of an offline mode will make SimCity an curious game, the constant fires being put out by EA and Maxis have essentially destroyed this iteration of SimCity. I’d be curious to experience the game in the controlled confines offline, but the entire time I would be thinking of how terrible the post launch handling was by the company. It will take a lot of time for audiences to forget the catastrophic launch of SimCity, here’s to hoping the legendary franchise makes a triumphant return.

Polygon – EA adding offline mode to SimCity

Criterion Games Co-Founders Leave Studio

Burnout Paradise

Two of Criterion Games’ co-founders have left the Electronic Arts studio famous for creating the Burnout franchise. According to a statement released by Electronic Arts, vice president and creative director Alex Ward and studio director Fiona Perry both decided to part ways with the company. Executive producer Matt Webster will assume leadership of Criterion Games.

Criterion Games was seen as a bit of a golden child within Electronic Arts. Burnout Paradise was one of the best racing games of the past console generation and their first entry into the Need for Speed series, Hot Pursuit, was seen as invigorating for the stagnant franchise. In 2012, Criterion was given creative control of the Need for Speed franchise and saw the release of the well received Most Wanted.

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit

But just a year later, confusion began to swirl around Criterion Games. Development of the next Need for Speed, Rivals, was given to the new studio Ghost Games. While Electronic Arts had historically tossed the Need for Speed franchise between multiple studios (recently Black Box and Criterion), the announcement of Ghost Games taking the point was followed with the startling news that a large number of Criterion staff were transferred to Ghost Games, seemingly to assist with development of Rivals.

Fast forward to August, just months after the announcement of Rivals, and Electronic Arts dropped the news that Ghost Games would assume creative direction of the Need for Speed franchise moving forward. It seems that Criterion Games had lost favor within the EA conglomerate.

Need for Speed Most Wanted

Criterion’s fall from grace is startling, especially considering the studio has never created a truly terrible game. The Burnout games consistently improved upon themselves and their Need for Speed entries were top notch. Even EA acknowledged the talent within the studio, by moving the vast majority of the company into Ghost Games.

I sincerely hope the Burnout franchise doesn’t die as a result of Criterion’s potential crumble. But it wouldn’t be the first franchise to fall victim to studio mishandling.

Need for Speed Rivals

As for Ward and Perry, the pair have decided to branch off on their own and create a new studio together. Here’s hoping they bring back crash mode in their spiritual successor to Burnout.

Polygon – Co-founders of Criterion Games, creators of Burnout, leave studio

Top Ten Tuesday E3 2013 Edition – Biggest News to Come Out of the Pre-Show Presentations

E3 officially begins today, as the show will open to denizens of reporters (not named Theory Flaw) ready for terrible food, hourly deadlines and product demos galore. But while many games will get their moment of glory in the coming days, the major players have already opened their hands for heads-up poker. Franchise reboots, new exclusives, new consoles and product strategy highlight this list of the biggest news to come out of the pre-show presentations.

10. Crimson Dragon

I had to try my hardest not to write Dragoon because this is clearly designed in the vein of the stellar dragon riding series Panzer Dragoon. Even bringing back Panzer Dragoon series director Yukio Futatsugi this Kinect based Xbox One game features massive bosses and gorgeous dragon-borne aerial combat. While I fear it may play a little too closely to Child of Eden, this is clearly a bold move by Microsoft.

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Battlefield 3: Single Player Review – Follow me this way to the review!

image credit: battlefield.com

Electronic Arts and DICE have managed to pigeon hole themselves into a little problem. For years, the Battlefield franchise has built a reputation for large scale battles and scenarios that rewarded teamwork. That and the series also allowed you to pilot tanks and planes. It was a successful formula, but one area that Battlefield was known to completely avoid was the single player aspect, something that rival Call of Duty built their franchise upon (with a very stout competitive multiplayer included).

Between the recent success of Call of Duty, the decline of the Medal of Honor franchise and Battlefield’s nearly non-existent campaign, EA sought to at least emulate the success that Call of Duty possessed. Continue reading