EA Develops New Games for Nintendo Wii

Electronic Arts on Thursday said it is developing six new games for Nintendo’s upcoming Wii game console, expected to make its way to market later this year.

EA’s dedicated Wii development team is crafting new releases from the best-selling “Madden NFL,” “Need for Speed,” “Harry Potter,” “Tiger Woods PGA TOUR,” “SSX” and “The Godfather” franchises.

“Once we started to experiment with Madden on Wii, there was an explosion of innovation. Everyone in the studio is energized by the creative opportunity afforded by both the hardware and controller,” said John Schappert, senior vice president and general manager, EA.

True to Form

Each title will remain true to the hallmarks of its franchise, according to EA, but is being designed to maximize the power of the Wii hardware and take advantage of the uniqueness of its market-distinguishing controller.

“The combination of sensational games with Wii’s unique play control will thrill players and breathe new life into video games,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, president and COO, Nintendo of America.

EA demonstrated the Wii version of “Madden NFL” for a group of critics and industry media Thursday at EA’s Studio Showcase 2006. Additional titles currently under development will be announced in the coming months. The company did not offer release dates for the new titles.

“By reaching into our catalog, we are able to bring a fresh and distinctive experience to some of EA’s most popular franchises. Creatively, the game play possibilities are staggering and endless,” Schappert noted.

Smooth Move

EA’s investors are likely to receive the announcment favorably, said American Technology Research Analyst Paul-Jon McNealy. The video game developer’s shares have lost 26 percent of their value over the past 12 months as the industry transitions to next-generation console technology.

“We believe this will be considered good news,” McNealy said in a client note.

Brian O’Rourke, a senior analyst at In-Stat, also believes the Wii will be well-received with its “kinetic controller that tracks your movement and displays it on the screen.” O’Rourke played with the Wii at E3 and reported that he and other members of the analyst and press communities enjoyed the experience.

All About Sports

The kinetic controller could give Nintendo a competitive advantage with sports games fanatics who want a truer-to-life experience. EA’s move to develop its most well-known sports titles for Wii bodes well for both companies, O’Rourke told TechNewsWorld.

“Sports titles are particularly good, both for console developers and game developers, because people tend to buy new versions year after year as rosters change,” O’Rourke noted. “So EA’s developments are big news for Nintendo. It could potentially be very profitable for EA as well, because there’s a lot of positive buzz about the Wii right now.”

EA stock was up US$1.85 in morning trading on the Nasdaq to $45.37 a share.

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