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E3 2007: EA Press Conference

Electronic Arts held a press conference at this year’s E3. It opened with a video montage of games that are announced and on the way, such as Playground, Boogie, and a couple of others. Tammy Schachter then came out to introduce Kathy Vrabeck, President of EA Casual Entertainment. EA is going after anyody that doesn’t identify themselves as a “core” gamer on a global level.

Pogo’s subscription level is over 1.6 millioin, with over half being women. This division of EA was the first to “get” the online casual push. There will be a bigger presence in the coming months and years.

Boogie was shown, both the dancing and singing portion, but what was really special was a new effect for the playback – 3D. This new feature will be available for players to use when recording their performance, and the 3D effect is used in “post-production” and shows quite a bit of promise.

Playground was shown with a dodgeball multiplayer – three commands are only needed, and the whole game is playable with only the Wiimote. It’s a type of party game where playground style games are what is on offer. Another game was Kicks, where players were passing the ball with the B button, and kicking the ball by slashing the Wiimote.

Smarty Pants for the Wii was shown, a Trivial Pursuit style quiz game where the Wiimote is used to raise hands to answer the questions, as well as spin the spinner. Neil Young then came on to show one of the titles EA is working on with Steven Spielberg. Players use the Wiimote to clear blocks, much like a cross between stacking block game enga and the carnival milk bottle toss game. Some of the blocks have different properties, such as blowing up or disappearing. 20 original characters each with their own gameplay characteristics. The game will have both multiplayer co-op and competitive play with user created puzzles with the in-game editor

Alec Rigopoulus (I’m sorry about the spelling – I know it’s wrong) from Harmonix then came out to talk about Rock Band. After the launch of the game, every week a new batch of music will be released. Within the first year, hundreds of songs are planned to be available. He talked about the music advisory board that Harmonix formed to help pick the songs – and Little Steven Van Zandt came out. “It’s going to be important” and it’s fun. There are going to be families playing together, and the level of music awareness will only increase, and this could very well be a major piece of revenue for the music industry.

Currently there are plans to offer singles and multi-song bundles but the big news was that full albums would also be available. The Who’s Who’s Next album will be available to download. Metallica’s Enter Sandman will be on the disc, but the band’s back catalog will be one of the offerings where select artists will have extensive career spanning offerings online.

By Daniel "Monk" Pel... - 07/11/07

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