EA went completely casual at their press conference yesterday and I don’t just mean the parade of khaki pants and button down shirts. The sole focus of their show was to show off how they were approaching the casual gaming market which is fine and dandy except that it means that they gave no love to games like Crysis
or Hellgate: London
I was a bit late to the press conference (because I was a late addition to the press conference) but I did get there in time to see EA talk about what a success Pogo.com has been as they now have 1.6 million subscribers, half of which are women over the age of 30 (there’s a cheap joke about these women being cougars but I’m not touching that with at ten foot pole).
The first game we got to see was Boogie, their upcoming singing and dancing game for the Wii. The game has a nice animated look to it but what’s really cool is that you get the character to dance by holding the Wii remote and nunchuk at waist level and using it to simulate the movement of your hips and arms. This allows you to pull off some pretty slick moves and allows you to use a hula hoop for one of the mini-games. The game’s singing component is done through a new microphone controller that you plug into the bottom of the Wii remote.
EA next rattled off a few of their upcoming cell phone games including a new Sims games that looks interesting. I managed to drop my pen during this part of the presentation so I apologize for not getting the names of the games.
Next up was EA Playground, the new collection of school yard mini-games for the Wii that will allow you to re-live all the hellish moments of your childhood through cute characters. OK, maybe I’m the only one with deep psychological scars because of dodgeball but the game actually looked and played better than I thought it would. EA showed off two of the mini-games, Dodgeball and Kicks. Dodgeball actually has you picking up the ball and throwing it. The gameplay looked pretty solid and it does support four player multiplayer . Kicks is a weird hybrid of soccer and volleyball where you try and kick the ball over the net into the opposing teams goal. The camera tilts back and forth based to show the net of the goal you are attacking which took a little getting used to.
After playground EA went a little more adult (no, not like that) by announcing a new, unnamed trivia game. The game actually looks like a very fun party game as you raise the wii remote to signal in that you know the answer to the question. There are also some cool features with the question selector as it looks you have to spin a wheel with the wii mote and can then try and nudge the wheel to get the game to pick a different category. The game looks interesting and if EA comes up with good questions and a solid interface then I think they might have something here.
EA showed off Blocks, their new collaboration project with Steven Spielburg. While I’m not sure how a game with wood blocks creates a strong bond with the user the game does have a good look and feel and the editor mode of the game looks like it could be fun (think Garry’s mod but with a Wii remote and wood blocks instead of Combine soldiers).
EA finished with Rock Band as well as releasing a ton of new information about the game, the music, and how they got Silvio to be on the game’s board. The real news was that Rock Band is planning on releasing weekly song packs and is planning on having “hundreds” of new songs available during the game’s first year out. I’m not sure what I can say about Rock Band that hasn’t been said before but I’m starting to get the impression that I’m going to be camping outside Best Buy the night before the game comes out.