Fading video game titan Electronic Arts used its pre-E3 media briefing today to launch Battlefield: Hardline, a cops vs. criminals spinoff of its big Battlefield military franchise that’s sure to court controversy every bit as much as Grand Theft Auto ever did. Wrapping up the hour-long presentation to media and analysts after mostly updating iterations to its many licensed sports franchises, EA executives showed off the Hardline title, which uses the Frostbite 3 graphics engine and other conventions from the namesake military franchise to set up an explosive face-off between cops and robbers.
“It’s much more like a great TV crime drama” than a typical first-person shooter, said Karl-Magnus Troedsson, general manager of DICE, the Swedish game designers behind the billion-dollar Battlefield franchise.
While the initial video game-play excerpts make the game look like a ton of fun, sort of like Michael Mann’s Heat in heat, even to the massive heist in downtown Los Angeles where seemingly every car commercial ever made is shot, it’s not hard to predict controversy ahead. That usually comes when you arm batches of wanna-be virtual bad guys with automatic weapons, rockets, grenades and helicopters, and charge them with figuring out how to get away with, say, an armored car heist in a more-or-less even, and wildly murderous, gun battle with … Read More »
Tuesday’s debut of the much-anticipated video game Titanfall likely will be a pivotal early moment for Microsoft’s newest console, the Xbox One, which has struggled to keep up with Sony’s cheaper PlayStation 4 since both launched in November. Almost four months in, Sony has sold 6 million PS4s, compared to 4 million Xbox Ones. With the Xbox One costing $100 more than the PS4, and with few other distinctive titles, Microsoft is hoping a successful Titanfall launch will keep it in the game.
Related: Microsoft’s Xbox One Breaks Sales Record, Moves 1M Units In 24 Hours
Distributed by Electronic Arts, Titanfall is a rip-roaring online-only take on standard tropes of science fiction and first-person shooters, from creators of the Call of Duty franchise. It initially will be exclusive to the Xbox One, then also be launched for Windows-based PCs and Microsoft’s older Xbox 360 console. It is not scheduled to be available on Sony consoles, an unusual move by a big third-party publisher such as EA that normally wants to make its games as widely available as possible.
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EXCLUSIVE: Fede Alvarez, the Uruguayan helmer who went from the statement-making short Panic Attack to the Evil Dead remake, is in talks to direct Dante’s Inferno. Universal Pictures is setting him to helm the live action adaptation of the Electronic Arts video game, which is rooted in the famous literary work. Former Strike Entertainment partners Eric Newman and Marc Abraham are producing with EA Entertainment vice president Patrick O’Brien. The protagonist, Dante Aligheri is a knight who with the help of the poet Virgil ventures into the nine rings of hell to rescue his beloved Beatrice. In the process, he becomes an unwitting pawn in an ancient war between heaven and hell. Rights to the video game were won by Universal several years ago in a bidding battle. The game was released in 2010 for Xbox and PlayStation. Jay Basu is the most recent writer of the script, with Bruce McKenna writing the earlier draft.
Newman and Abraham most recently completed the MGM/Sony Robocop remake and O’Brien is producing the DreamWorks pic Need For Speed based on another EA title. Kristel Laiblin is exec producing Dante’s Inferno and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum and Anikah McLaren are supervising for the studio. CAA, Anonymous Content and Karl Austen rep Alvarez. UTA reps EA and Basu.
Here’s the other shoe dropping after new Star Wars owner Disney shuttered LucasArts, the video game producer that had been behind the majority of games related to George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise. At the time of that announcement — which included laying off more than 150 employees — Disney said it planned to use a licensing model. EA already has worked in this business before, creating Star Wars: The Old Republic.
BURBANK and REDWOOD CITY, Calif., May 6, 2013 — The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) today announced a new multi-year exclusive licensing agreement to develop and publish globally new games based on Star Wars characters and storylines.
Under the agreement, EA will develop and publish new Star Wars titles for a core gaming audience, spanning all interactive platforms and the most popular game genres, while Disney will retain certain rights to develop new titles within the mobile, social, tablet and online game categories.
“This agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating quality game experiences that drive the popularity of the Star Wars franchise for years to come,” said John Pleasants, Co-President of Disney Interactive. “Collaborating with one of the world’s premier game developers will allow us to bring an amazing portfolio of new Star Wars titles to our fans around the world.”
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Electronic Arts said today that its CEO John Riccitiello will step down effective March 30. The videogame company’s board has appointed Larry Probst as executive chairman while the board searches for a permanent CEO. The board will consider internal and external candidates with the assistance of an executive search firm. Riccitiello has served as CEO since 2007. “After six years I feel it is the right time for me pass the baton and let new leadership take the Company into its next phase of innovation and growth”, Riccitiello said in a statement. Probst, who served as EA’s CEO from 1991 to 2007 when Riccitiello took the reigns, said in a statement that both he and Riccitiello “have mutually agreed that this is the right time for a leadership transition”. The announcement also came as the company warned that its fourth-quarter results could fall short of expectations. EA said results for the current quarter will be at the low end of, or slightly below, its January forecast of per-share earnings between 57 cents and 72 cents and revenue of $1.03 billion to $1.13 billion. EA will announce its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2013 results on May 7.
Advertising and communications giant WPP is buying entertainment marketing agency Filmworks China whose clients include Electronics Arts, DreamWorks and TCL Television. Founded in 2010, the Beijing-based company markets entertainment media properties, licenses merchandise and handles product placement and celebrity endorsements. It has placed Chinese brands in Hollywood properties including Transformers: Dark Of The Moon and The Big Bang Theory. In 2012, it had revenues of about $2M. WPP, which has been actively expanding in China, says the country is its 3rd largest market with $1.3B in revenues. WPP is making the purchase, for which financial terms were not disclosed, via its global media investment management arm, GroupM. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.
EXCLUSIVE: Electronic Arts‘ hit video game Battlefield: Bad Company is headed to the small screen. Fox has put in development Bad Company, an hourlong action comedy based on EA’s bestselling video game from Alias alum John Eisendrath, Sony TV and studio-based Happy Madison.
Written by Eisendrath, Bad Company features the main characters from the game. It follows four renegade soldiers as they exit military life and enter the private sector. But trouble is never far behind as they realize their commanding officer had used them to further the ends of a shadow unit within the government and now wants them dead to cover his tracks. Eisendrath is executive producing with Happy Madison’s Doug Robinson and EA’s Patrick Bach and Patrick O’Brien.
Part of EA’s Battlefield series, Battlefield: Bad Company, a single-player campaign that drops gamers behind enemy lines, was released in 2008 and spawned a sequel two years later. It received mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised the story’s humor as well as the game’s technical aspects. (Check out the game’s trailer below.)
This is the third sale this season for ICM Partners-repped Eisendrath, who is under an overall deal at Sony TV. He is executive producing dramas The Blacklist, written by Jon Bokenkam, at NBC; and Dakota at ABC, which he is co-writing with Andrew Chapman. … Read More »