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TechNewsWorld.com

Spielberg Gives Sneak Preview of EA Game Projects

By Walaika Haskins
Jul 10, 2007 2:52 PM PT

As game developers gear up for the E3 Media & Business Summit this week in Santa Monica, Calif., game maker Electronic Arts (EA) Tuesday let slip a few details on two of the three upcoming titles it has teamed with director Steven Spielberg to bring to the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (PS3).

Spielberg Gives Sneak Preview of EA Game Projects

The venture is more like a homecoming for Spielberg, who made his initial foray into game design back in 1989. DreamWorks, the company Spielberg cofounded with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, later sold its gaming division to EA.

"I am a gamer myself, and game development has always intrigued me," Spielberg said. "Now I've been able to jump in and do it, enjoying the creative collaboration with the EALA team on our first two games, and I feel we have two incredibly unique projects in development."

EA did not release any details on when the games -- reportedly code-named "PSRQ" and "LMNO" -- would be released.

A Wii Bit of Family Fun

Exclusive to the Wii, "PSRQ," the first game, is an action-puzzle simulator. Intended to entertain gamers of all ages, the game "take[s] blocks to a new level of creativity and fun," the designer said.

The game will include single player, cooperative and versus game play features. Players will also have the option of creating their own games and structures using the console's innovative Wii remote, according to EA.

For Spielberg, the game is the type of entertainment one might expect to find families playing "together over Christmas," though he added no holiday is necessary to enjoy the game.

Secret Agent You

In the second game, a contemporary action adventure, gamers are cast as onetime secret agents playing alongside a computer-controlled adult female character. The two are on the run, and the relationship between the two fugitives influences what capabilities the female character brings to the game and the aid she can render players.

Headed for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, the game is described by EA as an emotional journey that focuses on the constantly evolving relationship between the player and his "mysterious" female cohort who "holds the key to many futures," the company said.

Enter Innovation

It was just a few days ago that EA chief John Riccitiello castigated the game software industry for relying too heavily on sequels that brought nothing new to the table. However, these two releases could be just what Riccitiello was looking for, said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan.

"These games fit within John Riccitiello's ideas about innovation," he told TechNewsWorld. "It's hard to assess the likelihood of success based solely on the characters. If it's a good game, it will likely sell well, and if not a good game, sales will suffer. I can't venture a guess at this stage, but with EA's marketing support and Spielberg's creative input, it's likely to do well."

"The industry has been suffering through too many poor sequels and bad copies of good games of late," concurred Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group. "It faces competition for the buying dollar from hot phones, media devices and for time from online properties like Facebook and YouTube [in terms of] both creation and enjoyment," he told TechNewsWorld.

The console gaming industry, Enderle continued, tries to reinvent itself every five to 10 years. Right now, it is in the midst of the biggest reinvention it has ever gone through, because this time the focus is on game content. However, the industry has devoted considerable effort over the past decade as it attempts to try to turn these gaming systems into multimedia appliances.

Enderle lauded the details on "LMNO" and pointed out that for a male-oriented audience, having a good-looking female game character they can constantly interact with that is not secretly a guy, could be a huge positive. The game, he continued, will advance regardless of whether this initial attempt is successful because it is a "brilliant idea but one that required at least the power of current generation systems to pull off."

"It could be one of the big games that drive people to the Xbox 360 or PS3," Enderle noted. "I do think Spielberg is only hinting at the tip of the iceberg with this game, it appears to have a dynamic element that may go well beyond what is currently in-market but that will make it really hard to develop and likely the reason why we won't see it for some time."


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