EA is moving away from games as a service and multiplayer titles. This could either save the company or be the final nail in the coffin.
Games as a service have become one of the most divisive genres in gaming to date. Its essential goal as a product is to have a continuous stream of content. This would involve players purchasing various add-ons or resources to help further their growth. It has been the source of much debate, and while some have managed to try and make it work, others have crashed and burned.
Some of the biggest issues with this gaming model include people who play to win and purchase what they need to get ahead. This has also spawned debates about these games promoting gambling. Most of these games also have to deal with issues regarding their releases as some games arrive incomplete or virtually unplayable on arrival.
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One company that has dealt with these problems in spades has been Electronic Arts. Their biggest misstep to date has been the third-person multiplayer shooter, Anthem. Its launch was plagued with multiple issues that included a poor story campaign and an imperfect multiplayer. Ultimately, the developers only recently decided that it was time to retire any and all proposed revamps of the game to get it to where it should have been at launch.
Another Electronic Arts title that managed to fare much better was Star Wars Battlefront II. While the game learned from its predecessor’s mistakes, its loot model forced young gamers to spend a lot of money to obtain the items in the game. It ended up getting so out of hand that the company was questioned about turning the game into an easy way to get hooked on gambling. Thankfully, the company corrected themselves, and after a massive revamp, Battlefront II has become one of the most entertaining Star Wars titles yet.
Eventually, the concern revolving around games as a service forced Electronic Arts to make a massive pivot away from multiplayer. This was confirmed when it was announced that further development of the upcoming Dragon Age 4 game would ditch all of its multiplayer features and focus on a single-player story. The news was compounded with word that EA would be putting far less focus on online gaming and focus much more on single-player stories for all of its future projects. The news came as a surprise, but when looking at their titles’ track records, the decision was most likely made after another title’s amazing performance.
When Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order released, it was a title that was unlike anything EA had come out with in some time. However, the massive success that came from the single-player campaign vs. the poor sales of their multiplayer titles forced them to make a different decision about their future. It’s hard to tell whether or not this was a smart decision from EA, but considering where their online titles seemed to be headed, they may not have had a choice at all.
COVID-19 and the failure of Anthem took a heavy toll on the company. Electronic Arts focusing on things that work will be an invaluable decision to ensure the company survives. Fallen Order changed a lot about what fans assumed from the genre, and if EA can capture that magic into other titles, they may have a chance to turn things around.
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