Visceral Games Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Visceral Games RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network The Impact of Microtransactions in the Video Game Industry Fri, 08 Dec 2017 16:23:21 -0500 JoeGilbert

With the recent controversies around Shadow of War and Battlefront II, the role of microtransactions in the video game industry has once again brought itself to the spotlight. This has been further highlighted by the patent granted to Activision on October 17th, which the publisher filed for back in 2015.

Activision’s patent suggests a model that utilizes matchmaking to encourage players to make in-game purchases. One example which was detailed in the patent is the possibility for each player to have a specific profile assigned to them, storing stats such as their playstyle and most commonly used weapons. The matchmaking system can then use this to ensure that each player is sorted into a game on a map that suits their playstyle, encouraging them to further develop this style and invest into weapons or upgrades, purchasable through real-world money, that can enhance their ability.

Similarly, a low-level player who commonly uses a sniper class could be intentionally sorted into a game with a high-level player who is very effective with the sniper class and uses a weapon that can be earned via microtransaction. The low-level player will then want to emulate the high-level player, purchasing the same weapon through in-game microtransactions. How well this concept works in practice is yet to be seen, as Activision has stated that it has not yet released a game with this method included. While this is likely true, it's also a distinct possibility that we wouldn't know that this system had been implemented unless we were told that it was.

Microtransactions, Loot boxes, and More!

So let’s have a look at a few examples of the current state of microtransactions in games, as well as their partner-in-crime, loot boxes. Take this first example with a grain of salt, as it is mostly based on rumors and we likely will never know the full story.

EA's Star Wars Blunder #1: Visceral's Star Wars

On October 18, 2017, Electronic Arts shut down Visceral Games with immediate effect. This came as a shock to many people considering the developer’s pedigree, particularly with single-player action games such as the Dead Space series. The key word here is single-player.

The marquee game currently in development at the studio at the time of closing was an unnamed Star Wars project, pioneered by Amy Hennig, former lead on the Uncharted series. While the only part of the game to be shown was a sub-30 second teaser trailer with no gameplay, it had been heavily assumed and suggested that the game would be a single-player action experience, building on Visceral’s specialty and taking inspiration from Amy Hennig’s previous work with Uncharted.

The project also continued on from some of the work completed on the previously-canned Star Wars 1313 project, another game that was heavily anticipated with a tumultuous development cycle. However, the Visceral Star Wars game did not fit into EA’s new vision of games-as-services. So if Visceral couldn’t make a Star Wars game that could work in EA’s microtransactions, then someone else would have to do it.

Upon the termination of the studio, the project has been moved over to EA Worldwide Studios. This is a group of EA’s best developers, who said in their mission statement from the CEO of EA, Andrew Wilson, that they were focused on games “in a networked environment”. Here's hoping that talented creators such as Jade Raymond, who left her position as managing director of Ubisoft Toronto to oversee Visceral, and Kim Swift, design director of the game and formerly lead designer of Portal, can be included in this next venture.

EA's Star Wars Blunder #2: Star Wars Battlefront II 

Elsewhere in the Star Wars/EA universe, the internet has been set further ablaze by the recent release of Star Wars Battlefront II.

To sum up the economy of the game, the purchasable loot boxes can provide the player with in-game credits and ‘Star Cards’. These Star Cards provide boosts to your character in multiplayer, allowing the player to get an advantage over their enemies. Star Cards are also available through traditional progression, which is always the excuse of the publisher despite however much of an advantage spending money provides to players.

Many gamers would have been outraged about this, if not for the even greater blunder of withholding the ability to play as major Star Wars characters behind either a paywall or tens of hours of progression. Just think about that for a second, EA made it extremely difficult to play as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in a Star Wars game. That’s half the reason why people play Star Wars games to begin with.

The in-game credits that can be found in loot boxes are used to unlock characters to play as in the multiplayer modes, and can also be earned at an incredibly slow-rate through regular game progression. Following fans discovering this, EA responded by reducing the credits needed to unlock these characters by 75%. Player outrage still refused to cease, culminating in a response from the EA Community Team to a Reddit post complaining about the state of the game and the difficulty in gaining access to classic Star Wars characters. That response from EA, which claimed that they wanted to “provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes”, has now become the most downvoted comment ever on the platform, sporting over -675,000 points at the time of writing.

EA has since put out a public statement explaining their decision to temporarily remove in-game purchases from Battlefront II, while keeping their guise as an evil corporation up by stating to investors that this action will not significantly affect the game’s profits. Either the company is just trying to save face with investors through this statement, or EA is just so greedy that they are willing to knowingly lower the enjoyment of the game just for a small cash bonus that is not significant to them. Battlefront II showed promise at E3 by claiming to be fulfilling players' wishes with the inclusion of a single-player campaign --which is only ~4 hours long and very half-baked-- but has merely become what players least wanted from one of the most hailed IP in all media.

2K Joins The Fray

Moving on from the Star Wars property, NBA 2K18 has received massive amounts of criticism due to its heavy inclusion of microtransactions throughout the entirety of the game. Take-Two Interactive have a clear history of success with microtransactions in games, proven by Grand Theft Auto V's Grand Theft Auto Online mode. The Rockstar-developed game had a player count of over 1.5 million in just the last two weeks on Steam, according to SteamSpy. To still have this amount of players over 4 years after the release of the game shows how effective games-as-services can be at keeping players interested, and the ability of Rockstar to still be releasing completely free expansions to the online game suggests that they are still making a significant amount of money from the online player-base. So why not transfer these successful practices to Take-Two’s other franchises?

That was apparently the thinking behind the production of NBA 2K18, leading to the inclusion of an abundance of in-game purchases. You cannot take two clicks through the menus without the advertisement of ‘VC’, the lazily-named virtual currency, being thrown in your face. Progress in the game is slowed to the point that purchasing VC is almost necessary to find the developer’s intended user experience. 2K claims that the in-game purchases only speed up the game’s progression, but what kind of message does it send that the publishers of the game offer you the ability to pay so that you can play less of it?

WWE 2K18, another 2K-published game, also has the same over-saturation of loot boxes that can be found in NBA. However, the interesting twist in the case of WWE is that the game has a clear environment designed to involve microtransactions, yet does not feature any form of in-game purchasing, excluding the usual DLC that comes every year. Many have speculated that the game will receive an update to make the loot boxes purchasable throughout the year or in next year’s entry, but the Yuke’s-developed game has been left in a form of limbo, both being slowed down and restricted by the introduction of loot boxes, yet not having any way for the player to take advantage of the implemented loot box system, even by providing money to the creators of the game.

Activision's Middle Earth: Shadow of War

Similar to the inclusion of NBA 2K18’s multitude of microtransactions that aim to “fast-forward your progress”, Warner Bros’ recently released Middle Earth: Shadow of War, a single-player Western RPG, has purchasable Loot Chests and War Chests that yield in-game items.

Monolith Productions, the developers of Shadow of War, claim that in-game balancing was completed without the use of any purchasable chests. However, multiple reports from players of the game have stated that Act 4, which is essentially post-game content, presents an insane skill gap from the rest of the game, and requires hours of grinding to reach the required levels, all for a single cutscene that reveals the true ending of the game. So it seems somewhat convenient that players looking for the true ending of the game can skip the excessive amounts that the game forces you to play by just purchasing loot chests.

To be fair, there are plenty of games whose post-game is extremely grind intensive. Final Fantasy XIII's post game comes to mind almost immediately, but FFXIII didn't have microtransactions. But in this modern era, it's hard not to feel cynical about a game that has such a significant post-game grind when it already costs $60 (£55) and features microtransactions despite being almost exclusively a single player experience. I can't help but feel that if Shadow of War did not have any form of microtransaction included, Act 4 of the game would either be nowhere to be seen or would be so radically different that it would not require such a grind for the player to finish. 

Activision's Call of Duty: World War II

Bringing the conversation back around to Activision, the recently released Call of Duty: WWII unsurprisingly has its own form of loot boxes. The franchise has commonly featured loot boxes throughout the last few entries, and not much has changed in terms of the form that the boxes take in the latest release. The change that is significant in this year’s release is the introduction of a new hub area, known appropriately as the Headquarters.

Headquarters is a non-PvP area that allows players to gather and socialise in between matches, much akin to the Tower in Destiny. This new feature has brought about a rare innovation in the loot box system, which brings with it both positives and negatives. Essentially, when a player purchases a loot box in the Headquarters, a literal loot box lands and the player can open it and see what they receive. The key to this is that it drops in the socialising area, meaning that any players around the area at the time can also watch and enjoy the opening together.

While I do applaud this implementation as it brings more entertainment to the overall experience of opening loot boxes and presents them in a way that can make them feel as if they are a part of the game rather than an unnecessary add-on, the ability to view other openings in-game is a clear ploy to tempt more players into making in-game purchases.

There is nothing stopping Activision exploiting this in opaque manners, through methods such as bots in-game who sit in the Headquarters area and occasionally open loot boxes around players, or increasing the odds of receiving rarer items when a player has more viewers watching their opening. The worrying part of this is the fact that loot boxes are becoming more and more entrenched as actual features of games, infecting them in a way that cannot be simply removed by removing the ability to make purchases in-game.

Gathering At The Table

Progression in many franchises is now built with microtransactions in mind, becoming a key factor in the production of games. The further publishers delve into this trend, the less willing they will be to not only give up on possible free income from customers, but also to spend money restructuring their games to be based around natural in-game progression without any extenuating factors. 

Because of this we, as an industry, need to have a discussion about the morals and ethics of in-game purchases. Many questions need to be asked about the subject: Do they have a place in Free-to-Play games vs full-priced games? Are they okay if they’re only cosmetic? Should they be allowed in games aimed at children?

The outrage culture on the internet has begun their discussion, as usual. In the UK a petition against microtransactions has garnered over 10,000 signatures, requiring the UK government to respond.

In the past, the video game industry has avoided the involvement of governments in the management of games through self-policing boards such as PEGI and the ESRB. Groups such as these ensure games are created and sold ethically and morally, removing the need for situations like Australia, where games such as Saint’s Row IV and South Park: The Stick of Truth have previously been banned for their "maturity", or lack thereof.

It is likely that the government response to the petition will simply be a blanket statement that does not really address the issue, similar to the majority of online petitions that reach that threshold. However, government action is being considered in other locations, specifically Belgium and the state of Hawaii. 

The State Representative of Hawaii, Chris Lee, has announced an investigation into the practices of publishers who include microtransactions in their games, and whether or not they cross the line of gambling. Surprisingly for a government representative, Lee seemed very knowledgeable on the subject, describing Battlefront II as a "Star Wars-themed online casino designed to lure kids into spending money."

The gambling authority of Belgium took less than a week to complete their investigation and the result was resounding - microtransactions are a dangerous form of gambling. Following the investigation, the Belgian Minister of Justice stated that "mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child." Belgium has now begun the process of executing a total ban on microtransactions in the country through European Union rules.

If these two actions have a knock-on effect to the rest of America and the EU, we could be seeing a major shift throughout the industry in the next few years.

Closing Arguments

As for now, in the moment, what can you and I do? Well, we can sit and play our games as normal and hope this all blows over in a couple years, but realistically that isn’t going to happen. We need to make ourselves heard. We need to continue to let our opinions and vocies be heard on Twitter and Reddit, but we also need to speak their language. Not morals and ethics, but money.

Looking for a third-person open-world adventure game to play? Forget Shadow of War and pick up Horizon: Zero Dawn in order to play one of the best games of the year, whilst also going against microtransactions and supporting new IP. Instead of buying a loot box in an AAA game, pick up a Mike Bithell-developed game in a sale, and enjoy an innovative experience, while supporting indie developers, the real source of progression in our industry. Enjoy quality games, find new experiences, and vote with your wallet.

Will We Get More Info on Visceral's Unannounced Star Wars Game on May the Fourth? Wed, 03 May 2017 08:00:02 -0400 ThatGamersAsylum

Star Wars Celebration came and went and there was still no news about the upcoming Star Wars game in the works over at Visceral Games. In fact, ever since the game was confirmed to be in development we have not really heard anything about the game. So what exactly do we know, what do we still need to know, and how likely are we to even hear about this game on May the Fourth?

What We Know

There’s not a whole lot that we know about the game. But the few things we do know are promising. For instance, we know the game has a star-studded development team. There is Amy Hennig, who worked at Naughty Dog for a number of years as a creative director on several series', namely Jak & Daxter and Uncharted. Then you have Jade Raymond, who has mainly worked as a producer for Ubisoft in recent years, particularly on the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Finally, we have Kim Swift -- of Portal fame -- who has also been announced to be working on the game. With a trifecta of highly talented and respected people working on this beloved franchise. Alongside their proven track record, this can only bode well for the game.

The studio itself, Visceral Games, is most famous for having worked on the Dead Space series. Which was a great trilogy set in a sci-fi setting, even if that setting was a little darker than Star Wars.

There were also 8 seconds of footage shown within a larger trailer which seemed to show a character walking out of Mos Eisley’s infamous cantina.

2:41-2:49 is the teaser.

This combined with the fact that we know the game takes place between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope has made some hopeful that we might get a game that heavily features Han Solo.

What We Don’t Know

There are a lot of things that we don’t know. Starting with the name of the game and continuing into major details about the game such as: where the game is set, who the main characters are, or what the gameplay style is.

There are some hints in the 8-second trailer mentioned above, but that really just connects the events of the game to Mos Eisley. It doesn't, however, tell us whether the game solely takes place on Mos Eisley or across multiple planets.

Nor does it tell you how much you can explore. Is this game linear, like Dead Space or Uncharted? Or can you expect it to be more open world Assassin’s Creed or even the Jak series to an extent?

The most likely bet for gameplay would be a 3rd person action adventure game, but that still reveals very little about the actual gameplay. Is it a 3rd person shooter, like the canceled Star Wars 1313, or is it a hack and slash, much like The Force Unleashed games?

As for the main characters, it would be safest to assume that the character portrayed in the 8-second teaser is your main character (or at least one of them). But we still don’t know anything about him. What’s his name? What’s he doing on Mos Eisley? Who is he affiliated with?

Basically, all we know is the general time period of the game and some of the developers. Everything else we can only make educated guesses about.

May the Fourth

There is a good chance that they announce something, even if it is small, on May the Fourth. But a lot of what they announce has to deal with timing. For instance, E3 is right around the corner. They could take the Nintendo strategy and jump ahead of E3 by announcing significant details now. This would ensure all eyes are on them as opposed to at E3 where you have a lot of attention in general, but it is spread out across many different games. EA could also choose to tease very little; hyping up E3 even more in the process.

The third option would be to just stay silent. Star Wars is like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, or a bank in this regard. It is too big to fail. They are the only franchise that can hire no name actors to lead their movies and reliably expect viewers to see it anyhow. They could literally come out and say,”It is available NOW!” come May the Fourth and it would fly off the shelves. (Make sure you have an extra $60 lying around come May the Fourth.)

Many hope to see Han in the game considering the timing and location.

To further consider the timing of announcing the game, however, you must think about the fact that we know Battlefront 2 is in development as well as a game by Respawn Entertainment. This could affect how they choose to approach teasing or announcing Visceral’s game. For instance, you do not want to have multiple games competing for attention, nor do you want to confuse consumers concerning the different titles.

In short, it makes sense to at least tease something for the new Star Wars game, but with several titles on the horizon and Star Wars being able to make an impact any day of the year I would not hold my breath. Particularly for something significant. All we can do now is wait and see.

New Battlefield 1 Teaser, features anti-tank dynamite Sun, 12 Jun 2016 10:20:38 -0400 CalendarV

Few days ago, new Battlefield 1 teaser was revealed. Today, another teaser was released, focusing on anti-tank dynamite used in game.

Although it is a brief video clip, it introduces new feature that players will be able to use in-game. As Battlefield 1 trailer is coming up tomorrow, June 12, this short clip serves its purpose as a teaser since many gamers are excited from this teaser and expecting a lot for the actual game. There's less than 24 hours are left for the real trailer, so there's not much time left to wait!

Battlefield is an FPS game series developed by EA DICE and Visceral Games. Over 50 million players have played Battlefield series, which mainly focuses on online multiplaying. Battlefield 1 is the coming-up title of Battlefield series, and many FPS gamers are looking forward to its release.

Star Wars: Battlefront 2 is coming sooner than you think Wed, 11 May 2016 09:18:20 -0400 Joshua Potter

Following last week's announcement regarding a new Star Wars game made by the studio that brought us Titanfall, EA's Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen recently discussed the sequel to the smash hit Star Wars: Battlefront.

Electronic Arts recently finished their fiscal year, and as such they are looking ahead to see what Fall/Winter 2016, as well as early 2017, has in store for their company. During an earnings call earlier today, Mr. Jorgensen made mention that the new installment to the Battlefront series will have, "bigger and better worlds," and feature content from "the new movies". With the exception of our sneak peek at the planet Jakku, most of the content from EA's first contribution has been from the original Star Wars trilogy.

Jorgensen confirmed during the call that the Battlefront sequel will be releasing sometime "next year". Due to the nature of the call, however, it is speculated by the community whether he means next fiscal year, or 2017. There's also the question of what Jorgensen regards as the "new movies". Note that he used the plural, signifying that he could either be referring to more maps from Episode VII as well as the upcoming Rogue One, or possibly including the 2017 release of Star Wars Episode VIII. If the latter is true, than we can most likely expect an early Summer 2017 release of the game.

This isn't even mentioning the other titles EA will be releasing, including the "third person action/adventure game" that Stig Asmussen, former developer of the God of War franchise, has mentioned working on. Amy Hennig, whose work includes Creative Director of the Uncharted franchise has also signed on with the former Dead Space team at Visceral Games to work on yet another Star Wars IP as well.

Electronic Arts is putting a lot of people with talent into this Star Wars games' production, and it shows just how serious they are about topping their performance from 2016. According to their financial report, they were the number one publisher for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles in the Western hemisphere this year. It is likely this should push them to work even harder at producing quality games so as not to lose momentum. As a Star Wars fan, it looks like we have a lot to look forward to.

4 highly anticipated games that EA could f**k up in 2016 Mon, 15 Feb 2016 10:59:11 -0500 BlackTideTV


Battlefield 5


Now don't go getting all excited, there hasn't been an official statement regarding Battlefield 5 yet, apart from various hints on a release date ranging from late 2016 to mid-2017. 


That being said, rumors on Battlefield 5's development are so widespread we couldn't leave it out of this list. Following last year's train wreck that was Battlefield: Hardline, hardcore fans are hoping to get back to the original theme of the series: military engagements.


If EA drops another Hardline on us, the Battlefield series might as well call it quits. Despite tons of sales and some surprisingly high reviews, all Hardline was, was a half-assed expansion of Battlefield 4 with no major gameplay changes, not even half as many weapons, items, maps, and game modes, and a ton of game-breaking glitches.


Players are hoping that EA drops Visceral Games as their new "Battlefield devs" and brings DICE back on as the sole creator of the series. If this happens, we can all rest easy. If not, well... I hope you Battlefield guys like Call of Duty.


Did we miss any?


Let us know in the comments section which Electronic Arts games you think could end up getting f**ked in 2016! 


Mass Effect: Andromeda


Not exactly Mass Effect 4, this game still has a huge fanbase anxiously awaiting its arrival. The "sequel" to the original trilogy takes place quite sometime after the events of the third installment, and doesn't feature the original cast, nor the original galaxy. Slated for release this holiday season, this reboot could change the entire nature of the Mass Effect series - and that, my friends, is the problem it's going to have to face.


There are some hardcore fanboys of the Mass Effect series out there; people who have dedicated significant portions of their lives to the games. If Andromeda wants to have a chance it will have to pay so much homage to the original series, they might as well have announced a legitimate Mass Effect 4.


Unless EA and BioWare can make this game as close to perfect as possible, fans will completely dismiss it and chances for further sequels will be trashed. 


Starting up a new series in the same universe as far as Mass Effect goes is a gamble. The reward could be outstanding, but is it worth the risk? I guess we'll find out this Christmas. 


Mirror's Edge Catalyst


Next on our list is one of my most anticipated games of 2016, so I'll be a little hurt if what I'm about to describe actually happens.


The original Mirror's Edge was a game changer (ha-ha). Paving the way for modern "advanced movement" shooters, Mirror's Edge was a totally unique title offering an extremely plain-with-saturated-splashes color palette, mostly peaceful gameplay, and simple, straightforward storyline. 


It was a fairly overlooked game during its time so I'll describe the basis of the game: parkour. The protagonist, Faith, would travel through a sparsely populated city, mantling objects, often running from mean guys with guns. That's about it - simple. 


As mentioned in the last slide on Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2, prequels and sequels tend to pile on too much to the simplicity of the original. It's not always best to pile on features, but developer/publishers seem to think it is.


Of the three options the devs could've taken on a Mirror's Edge 2 (prequel, sequel, different game - same universe), EA went with the hardest option: prequel (just look at how those Star Wars movies turned out). A general rule-of-thumb for a prequel is character expansion. The fans want to know how and why a character became the way they did, what's going on in their lives then versus now, and so on.


How the hell is EA going to keep their new Mirror's Edge game as simple as the original if they need to pile all of that storytelling on top? They probably won't. Let's pray that the writers for Mirror's Edge Catalyst have their heads on straight...


Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2


Releasing later this February, the newest addition to the Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare series has had a short but sweet rise to fame. The original game was praised by critics for being a suitable alternative to hardcore online shooters like Call of Duty. It gained a large "cult" following by turning what most people know about Pop Cap's PvZ mobile series on its head. 


How could the sequel be screwed up? Despite a widely successful beta, the Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare series is getting thick. By which I mean that the sequel is building directly onto the first game, making it more and more in-depth. There are more characters, weapons and abilities, maps, gamemodes, etc. There are cases where problems have arisen from games getting TOO full, something that might happen to this game. 


When a game - especially one directed towards a younger audience - gets so menu-complicated, it can be a turnoff and reduce from the silly PvZ fun that fans have come to expect from the series.


This one is a longshot, but given the proper - or improper - circumstances, it could end up screwy in the long run.


Electronic Arts is one of the most easily recognized game developer/publishers with hundreds of titles under its belt. With subsidiaries EA Sports popping out nearly every sports game you've ever heard of, BioWare creating sprawling 100+ hour RPGs, and DICE delivering well-known shooters such as Battlefield and Star Wars: Battlefront, it's hard to be a gamer and manage to avoid titles from EA.


Unfortunately for EA, like so many other companies, franchises have gone wrong. It's just something that happens in the world of gaming. One little mistake such as a small change to a character, the setting, DLC, microtransaction, or a game function can be the death of an entire game or series of games. Most of the time these errors occur with prequels, sequels, or other expansions on an existing fan-favorite series.  


We here at GameSkinny are gamers just like you. We don't WANT these things to happen, they're just a possibility. Join us in knocking on wood before heading to the next slide to see the first of four games that EA could f**k up in 2016.

Star Wars has made EA cool again Sun, 19 Jul 2015 19:31:22 -0400 Bryan C. Tan

Electronic Arts: the worst company in America.

For two consecutive years, EA was bestowed with that unfortunate honor by Consumerist readers, citing rushed and broken games, petty nickel-and-diming, and lack of customer support. The two famous letters harbored legitimate hate from thousands of gamers who felt mistreated, abused, and scammed.

But although EA had hit a really rough patch with its customers, just one month after winning the worst honor for the second time, EA made what can now be arguably seen as the best customer decision it has ever made: team up with Star Wars.

On May 6th, 2013, EA announced that they had acquired the exclusive rights from The Walt Disney Company to develop and publish new core games based on the Star Wars universe for ten years, spanning consoles, PCs, tablets, mobile, and more.

While some were skeptical at first of the exclusive agreement, they didn't need to wait too long before their doubts were banished, as EA soon announced Star Wars Battlefront, and so far it has been all praise and excitement leading up to its November 17th release date this year.

While Battlefield developer DICE proceeded to be the first ones to utilize EA's Frostbite 3 game engine for Star WarsDead Space developer Visceral Games was rumored to be the first ones to create an open world Star Wars game, and they couldn't have made it more clear after they snatched up the brain behind all things Uncharted, Amy Hennig.

On April 3rd, 2014, then-general manager of Visceral Games, Steve Papoutsis, announced that the creative director of the Uncharted series would become the creative director of the latest Star Wars game. 

After leaving Uncharted developer Naughty Dog, what made one of the best writers in the business choose to go to a developer owned by one of the worst companies in the business? According to Papoutsis, "I could sense that what really excited her about this opportunity was Star Wars."

Being associated with the worst company in America isn't really at the top of anyone's wishlist, but being associated with Star Wars? That's what millions of people around the world dream about everyday.

No one wants to join a company that makes games no one cares about. People want to be part of something great, something celebrated, something cool, and what's cooler in popular culture than a galaxy far, far away?

Hennig's arrival at EA would only be the start, as just last week on July 13th, it was announced that the co-creator of the Assassin's Creed franchise and former president of Ubisoft Toronto, Jade Raymond, will be starting up a new EA studio called Motive in Montreal, and will oversee Visceral Games in California.

Motive will be a "creative-driven team incubating entirely new IP and developing incredible action experiences". But what's the first thing on the to-do list?

"I’m thrilled that the first big project that we will work on in Montreal will have Amy as Creative Director. An opportunity to work with her and the Visceral team, and to play in the Star Wars universe, is once-in-a-lifetime stuff."

 Jade Raymond is a once-in-a-lifetime video gaming professional: she's produced multiple gaming franchises, helped create numerous development groups, and dedicated herself to the advancement of women in the industry.

After leaving Ubisoft last year, there's no doubt that a plethora of opportunities were open to her, and many would have been akin to the work she's done before. But after such a successful twenty years in the industry, what else was there to do? What could be new, fresh, and altogether exciting?

The answer for Raymond was Star Wars, and EA were aptly the only ones that could cross that off the bucket list.

EA's major coup of Star Wars has only led to more major coups, with the revival of a beloved series, the arrival of a prominent writer, and the creation of an all-new studio by a leading executive.

After partnering with Disney, EA has risen from its dreadful status as an evil money-hogging corporation to a creative fan-loving enterprise. Hate has turned into excitement, and staleness has turned into creativity.

EA has become an inviting force for gamers and developers alike thanks to Star Wars, and it looks like it will be that way longer than it's tenure as the worst company in America.

That might only be an assumption, but just two years into the deal, and already Star Wars has made EA cool again.

Visceral's Star Wars Game Resembles Uncharted, According to Nolan North Fri, 03 Jul 2015 18:36:08 -0400 Curtis Dillon

EA Visceral's upcoming Star Wars game is being penned by Amy Hennig and, according to Nolan North (Nathan Drake himself), the game resembles Uncharted.

North was at Metrocon 2015, the same convention where he casually mentioned a sequel to The Last of Us, and he was asked about Amy Hennig's controversial departure from Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. When speaking to the audience, North had this to say: "If you're a big fan of Amy Hennig and her styles of story: the big thing about her is that she's gone to EA and is going to reboot a brand new Star Wars franchise in the style of Uncharted."

A Star Wars franchise that is similar to Uncharted sounds a lot like the cancelled game, Star Wars 1313. It's also telling that Nolan said "reboot", which again makes it sound like the potential return of the highly anticipated game.

Star Wars 1313 was an action adventure game revealed at E3 2012, developed by LucasArts. The game garnered much attention for being a gritty story in the Star Wars universe and having exciting, Uncharted-esque gameplay. The game was cancelled when Disney bought LucasArts and shut down all of its subsequent projects.

North went on to say the game isn't 1313 but "along the same lines", which fits his reboot statement. He also revealed he did the original mocap for the game when it was revealed.

Amy Hennig penned the first three Uncharted games as well as The Legacy of Kain and Jak & Daxter. EA Visceral have been working on this untitled Star Wars game since they wrapped Dead Space 3 in 2013, so a reveal is due sooner than later.

The team have been teasing development of the game recently, leading to many rumours that it may indeed be a Han Solo game. North finished his discussion of the game by saying, "I happen to know a lot about it and it's gonna be awesome."

Battlefield: Hardline's new DLC dds new Game Mode, Bounty Hunter Mon, 01 Jun 2015 20:44:46 -0400 Victor Ren

A little over a year later, Battlefield: Hardline releases its first piece of DLC and it will include a new type of way to play the game. In Criminal Activity, Visceral Games opens up "bounty season" and pits teams against each other in a race to collect the other's bounty coins. 

The game sort of plays like Call of Duty's kill confirmed, where you kill an opposing player then pick up their coin. Collecting enemy coins will count toward your end-game goal, while picking up friendly coins will deny the enemy scoring. The first team to hit the limit will win the game. 

Along with Bounty Hunter, a few new maps will be released with the game mode. Black Friday, Code Blue, The Beat, and Backwoods are all maps that come with the DLC that offer different strategic values in the new game mode. For example, Black Friday will take place in a Miami mall that offers a plethora of chokepoints to be taken advantage of, while Backwoods tests your long range accuracy.

Criminal Activity will released right before their next piece of DLC named Robbery, which is planned for the summer of 2015. And even though Premium members are set to play the maps 2 weeks earlier, Visceral Games is planning a bonus for everyone on launch day, as long as it is approved within their policies.

Battlefield Hardline Review Mon, 23 Mar 2015 19:04:49 -0400 Matt_Paprocki

It is easy to envision Battlefield Hardline as a vague, harmless mosaic of television police cliches. It's split into episodes and comes with a splashy network-like opening credits package. Cities whip by in glossy establshing shots as bassy music slams the subwoofer. By its climax, rookie VICE member Nicholas Mendoza enters a tank - hurriedly written into the script – to shoot down the helicopters of a radical sect of doomsday preppers. It's weird.

But Hardline's campaign narrative is strangely restrained. Mostly, anyway. Mendoza traipses through Miami ghettos not to shoot, but observe. A teenager learns chess. A woman, frustrated, curses a garbage can lid which will not fit. Another speaks of restraining orders during an overheard phone conversation. Shirtless men defiantly drink in public even as approached. Other just lock their doors.

This is what amounts to policing in Hardline, not the glamorized shoot outs, not the perilous chases. Rather, the people. It is interesting to see such an expensive video game, produced in such technical luxury, slip away from conventions. A shooter without shooting. How novel.

Don't shoot! No really, don't shoot.

You are not supposed to shoot as Mendoza (although you can). His gun is a permanent screen fixture, but this is not a weapon with a needed trigger. This is a device of intimidation. Pointing the barrel makes mafia members drop their assault rifles. Corrupt cops lose their position of power. Low rung drug dealers raise their hands in panic. Hardline is doing what it can to mask the veil of current police state politics. Obey and all is okay, it says.

... no overt symbolism lest they appear to stand for something, even though EA has released a video game about American police with the title Battlefield.

These characters do not fire unless provoked. There is no correlation of color or race. Rough arrests are for animated show. It's actually bland, safe in the way high dollar corporately produced entertainment often is – no overt symbolism lest they appear to stand for something, even though EA has released a video game about American police with the title Battlefield. They have given police the same weapons as their military series and swerve from the obvious societal irony. Subversiveness is lost for the sake of the awkwardly commercial.

As such, the gamification intrudes instead of naturally melding with these surroundings. Everything, every interaction, is conducted by conscientiously prepared rules. Move Mendoza's line of sight after a surrender and suspects will reach for their weapon after a set time. A meter says how long. Only three gumen may be held at once; four is considered too many. A mere one may be distracted by a sound at a time. An “evidence scanner” device buzzes when near an item of interest. How does it know? Technological convenience.

Imagine an episode of the reality show Cops this predictable. No one would gawk at the struggling heroin addict who follows a prescribed edict of behavior. This is Hardline's central gameplay scenario – an interactive take on TV no one would watch.

A Hardline seperation

Strange is how different the final acts are. After Hardline parades through the litany of corrupt cop cliches, Mendoza is framed. Escaping prison, he continues to follow procedure. He still acts on those who have warrants and rewards are given for their live capture. Why?

It appears executives panicked partway through development. As such, Hardline closes on the utterly ridiculous. Battlefield “the product” is back. Phew. Korean mafia members are gun targets who sell cocaine in cars. A geeky, fast talking computer hacker is a snarky hero. The caricature of far right, second amendment devotees, armed with rocket launchers and living in their isolated desert trailer park, suddenly replace the the city's slums. Mendoza can shoot the people living here - with a tank. And the decommissioned, grounded plane which happens to be loaded on a runway they control. They're lunatics so their grandiose and highly explosive execution is acceptable to Hardline.

Then Hardline flows into a trashy depiction of Miami, rappelling through a spectacle of fireworks before the final, predicable one-on-one monologue with the villain. Logic turns utterly synthetic. “Police” is no longer a function of the story.

Now you can shoot

Oddly, it is multiplayer which institutes the core conceptual problem. Hardline has acceptable (dare to say fun) modes. Its wild bank robbery presentation is all theatrics, wilder and goofier than the comparably seedier Payday. Cops versus robbers – kids playing by pointing fingers at one another and shouting, “You're dead,” just with production values.

Deathmatch carries a different connotation. Jackets emblazoned with all-caps POLICE battle a blending of ill-defined “bad guys.” Sometimes they're gang members – coded by their colors – or those masked bank robbers. Personalities are suddenly stripped. This is a war of people shouting loudly, angry, vile, vulgar things in fact, with no context and to no heroic solution.

To ask why this is different than Battlefield's war scenario, it is more intimate, more suburban. Wide scale video game conflict is told a distance, eerily perfect at eliminating the visible population with settings in bombed out buildings and inserting prompt villains (faceless Russians, Koreans sworn to a propaganda oath, desert people in headdress). Hardline thusly fails.

Hardline is shallow, as sincere about its premise as five-year old children who believe they're fireman, dinosaurs, or astronauts.

The spectacle, with cranes smashing through high rises, costs lives. We know it does, and without a sensible end. There is no winner, no ambiguous right to achieve, nor a sensibility as to why these bullet-based slug fests are happening. Streets are uncomfortably empty. Citizens are hiding from tanks and questioning why police have them at all.

This Battlefield is socially irresponsible, the Facebook news feed of video games where each side only sees representation of their own limiting subjective right. Never is it complex. Never does it challenge. Never is it compelling. Hardline is shallow, as sincere about its premise as five-year old children who believe they're fireman, dinosaurs, or astronauts. It may only be pretending to be a game about police, but this Battlefield is guiltless in profiting from the surrounding social fallout.

Battlefield Hardline Heist Gameplay Footage Mon, 09 Feb 2015 08:52:00 -0500 Ciara Guibault

With the release of the Battlefield Hardline beta on February 3, three game modes are available for owners on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.

The first mode is Heist, the second mode is Conquest, and the third mode is Hotwire. I have been most fond of heist so far, the one highlighted in the above video; it is a game mode where players assume the role of either cops or robbers in an attempt to respectively protect a vault in a bank or steal the two bags of money it contains. 

How to Heist

As the robbers, players will have to blow up the vault, steal both of the bags of money, and then take each bag to the pick-up zones which are on opposite ends of the map. As the cops, players will be trying to prevent either of the bags from being stolen. The only map available for playing heist on is quite small, allowing a quick and fast-paced game that is perfect for those who enjoy rushing rather than taking it slow. 

In the video, you will see a glimpse at what Battlefield Hardline has to offer. The game was very short, compared to modes like conquest which can last a while. I am using the mechanic load out with the UMP-45 submachine gun. 

Battlefield Hardline Beta Details Revealed Sun, 18 Jan 2015 17:10:52 -0500 Ciara Guibault

Visceral has finally announced some long-awaited details regarding the Battlefield Hardline beta. First off, the beta will be available on the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3, and PC. It will also be available to anyone who wants to play, meaning there won't be any signing up and hoping to be one of the few to be selected. 

Battlefield Hardline will be taking a new route compared to the previous Battlefield games, as this one will feature a criminals versus cops dynamic. In the previous games, players were strictly veterans of war. But in Hardline, you'll be choosing whether you want to raid vaults or save hostages. However, in the campaign, players will only be playing as detective Nick Mendoza, meaning there will not be a campaign for the criminals. 

New gadgets, such as grappling hooks and ziplines, will be available to players in order to pull off the perfect heist on the criminals side, while players on the cops side will be required to gather intel and secure the criminals by using non-lethal action. There will also be many new vehicles featured in the game, like muscle cars, sleek bikes, and armored vehicles. 

Visceral will not be adding a cap on the max progression level you can reach, so players will be given the opportunity to test the different classes, experience a variety of different gadgets, and find a crew to take down their foes. 

Unfortunately, there weren't any updates as to when the beta will become available, but Visceral stated on their website to check back every Wednesday for more updates regarding the game. Battlefield Hardline will be launching at the end of this quarter on March 17th. 

EA Extends Battlefield Hardline Beta Wed, 18 Jun 2014 17:44:04 -0400 Miranda Kirk

Battlefield Hardline is the next game in the Battlefield series after releasing Battlefield 4 less than a year ago. EA ensures players that Battlefield games won't be annualized like franchises such as their main competitor in military shooter games, Call of Duty

EA being more cautious?

After a questionable launch of Battlefield 4 and less than good reviews from the game, EA is taking a more cautious approach to Battlefield Hardline by extending the beta period for another week. 

Mixed Impressions for the Beta 

The beta started out as a closed beta for those who had a PS4 and PC version of Battlefield 4 while recently it opened up to all PC players who signed up at their site. For the past two weeks the beta has had mixed impressions, some calling it an a mere overly priced DLC of Battlefield 4

The extension, as mentioned, is only for a week as of now according to the team at Visceral Games. 

"It is with excitement that we announce the Battlefield Hardline beta will continue for an additional week, ending on Thursday, June 26th at 12:00PM PST."

Also they state on the blog post that the beta will come to Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 later in the year but before the release date. 

"In addition to the current beta, there will be an open beta in the fall for all announced platforms prior to the game’s release."

I am glad to see EA handling this beta and game better than previous projects and I hope they continue one their cautious streak and not rush the release, to get all the components lined up before they put the game on the market. 

Battlefield Hardline hits shelves on October 21st of this year. 

EA Asssures Us That Battlefield Wont be Annualized Mon, 16 Jun 2014 18:01:53 -0400 zoLo567

The arrival of Battlefield: Hardline will be one year after the last entry in the series, Battlefield 4. Despite this fact, EA is not aiming to annualize the series, says EA Studios executive vice president Patrick Söderlund. Instead, Battlefield: Hardline is the result of EA letting its studios work on games that they have interest in. Söderlund stated on Hardline's origins:

"Karl-Magnus [Troedsson], who runs DICE studios, and Steve Papoutsis, who runs Visceral, basically met in Barcelona almost three years ago and they came to me and said 'Hey, we have an idea.' Actually, the idea of a cops and robbers type Battlefield game has been with us — me and the DICE team — for more than ten years. There are early prototypes from, like, 2000 or 2001 of a game that we called back then Urban Combat. This has been lingering and we've been wanting to do something like this."

For Söderlund, the idea of a police-themed Battlefield made sense. However, Söderlund had one condition for Visceral Games: "Make sure that Visceral builds an expansion pack before they do this so they understand what it takes to make a Battlefield game." He continues:

"It doesn't necessarily mean that we need to annualize Battlefield and that's the way it's going to be forever and ever. I understand that some people may look at it that way but that's what happened."

He also stated at E3:

"The EA that I'm trying to help build isn't an EA that needs to annualize everything."

The work that DICE is doing to fix Battlefield 4 will benefit Hardline's multiplayer. Söderlund said that the team in Sweden "has made significant progress" in terms of the game's performance.

"We still have things to make it better. Everything that we've fixed with [Battlefield 4] will go into Hardline. Once people get their hands on the netcode patch, which I think is profound, that will take care of a lot of the complaints around Battlefield... and how responsive the game is."

"The EA that I'm trying to help build isn't an EA that needs to annualize everything."

Battlefield titles have released from one year to the next a few times. However, DICE never made a habit to completely annualize the series. Though Battlefield 4 came out last year, Hardline seems like enough of a change to differentiate itself from the last installment. I myself am against annualization, but the changes being made between Battlefield 4 and Hardline look like enough to help keep me from easily growing bored. Battlefield: Hardline looks good, so hopefully it will meet expectations.

Battlefield: Hardline will release on October 21 on PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3.

Battlefield Hardline Trailer Gets Leaked... Then Goes Official Thu, 05 Jun 2014 16:35:58 -0400 Charner Boney

I can't help but laugh at this. Electronic Art's E3 trailer for the newest addition to the Battlefield series, Battlefield Hardline, got leaked onto the interwebs just days before the expo. Pretty funny stuff. I bet there was all kinds of plans to hype up the game and the platform(s) it's going to be on. 

Of course, instead of just trying to sweep it under the rug, EA went ahead and made the announcement for the game. The official (teaser) site went live as well. Good going EA! Way to cover your ass. 

Visceral Games brings its critically-acclaimed storytelling swagger to an all new cops and criminal fantasy inspired by some of the most popular TV crime dramas.

The game looks to be set in Los Angeles, and revolves around the police force, and guns, and explosions, and maybe a gang or two. Who knows. Expect details on Battlefield Hardline at E3 next week. Not much else is known about the game so far, but with such a close release date, October 21st, details will probably be freely given. 

No platforms have been announced for the game either. Though my prediction is strictly PS4 and Xbox One, as support for last-gen consoles is dwindling by some major publishers. The rumor is that this was supposed to be saved for Sony's press conference, but we'll have to wait and see. 

EA To Unveil Star Wars: Battlefront And More At E3 Wed, 07 May 2014 08:24:42 -0400 Elijah Beahm

While we were all hoping and expecting it, EA's finally given the confirmation. DICE's reboot of the Star Wars: Battlefront franchise will be shown off at E3, along with five additional games. Last we heard, Battlefront was in a playable state at DICE's Los Angelos branch, although it's unclear if the press will be able to preview the game's current pre-Alpha/Alpha stage of development.

Additional speculation indicates that the new Mass Effect game, along with both the new IP and Star Wars title from Visceral Games. Still, those only account for four of the six titles. It seems unlikely we'll be hearing about Bioware's new Star Wars game, but perhaps we'll hear about their third original IP which has been in development for some time. We may or may not hear about DICE's Mirror's Edge reboot/sequel.

What's most intriguing is that one of the games shown will be available this year. Mass Effect and Battlefront are the most likely contenders, with anything by Visceral taking a close third place in likelihood. Either way, it won't be long until we have a new EA game to bug test--I'm sorry, I mean play.


An Open-World Star Wars Game from EA? Yes, Please! Wed, 27 Nov 2013 14:14:53 -0500 Eli "The Mad Man" Shayotovich

It looks like EA Canada is working on an open-world Star Wars game.

This assumption comes from a job posting for an animation director the company made last month. A secondary confirmation comes by way of a studio recruiter who Tweeted in September that they were also looking for a Lead Combat Designer for... you guessed it, a Star Wars game.

DICE is working on a new Battlefront game (hellz yes!), and EA Redwood Shores (aka Visceral Games) is working on an unknown game that's in early production stages.

Electronic Arts is operating under a newly inked 10-year licensing deal with Disney to make Star Wars games. Is this the same one Visceral is working on... or is it an altogether new project?  

Kotaku is asking the same question because there was an almost identical "executive producer" posting at Redwood Shores ... the only difference being the studio location. Which makes me think this is a different game.

Personally, I hope it's a new one because as far as I'm concerned you can't have too many Star Wars games. If it sucks, my life will not be changed. But if it's great... The source material allows for endless possibilities, and we've had games in virtually every genre known to man, but an open-world game (which is not an MMO) would be something new. 

Can you imagine a game like Just Cause 2, Skyrim, or Far Cry 3... but set in that galaxy far, far away!?!

Yup, I just squealed like a  school girl!

Dead Space 3 Launching with 11 Pieces of DLC Fri, 01 Feb 2013 06:26:55 -0500 Ashley Shankle

Dead Space 3 is right around the corner, and it's garnered a lot of bad attention over the past few weeks. The PC version retaining console-quality graphics, microtransactions making their way to the series for the first time, and the 11 pieces of day-one DLC packed into the game are weighing heavily on fans' minds.

The extent of Dead Space 3's microtransactions isn't quite clear yet. We know the game's crafting materials can be purchased with real dollars if players don't feel like seeking them out themselves, but Visceral Games have been keeping quiet on the rest of the details.

Considering the 11 DLC packs being stuffed into the game on release day, I'm ready for a heap of microtransactions.

Eurogamer gives a beefy rundown on what the DLC entails and has a full list. Three of the DLC packs have to do with the game's Scavenger Bot, which finds crafting materials for you. Two of those packs are upgrades to the bot (one for speed, the other a holding capacity increase), while the personality pack doesn't look to be something that affects actual gameplay.

Resource packs are also on the day-one DLC list, as is the Online Pass to allow players who purchase the game used to play online.

Dead Space 3 will be available on the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC on February 5 in North America. The game will be available on February 7 in Europe.