Spielberg Gives Sneak Preview of EA Game Projects

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).

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 thecreative collaboration with the EALA team on our first two games, and I feelwe 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-puzzlesimulator. 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 structuresusing the console’s innovative Wii remote, according to EA.

For Spielberg, the game is the type of entertainment one might expectto find families playing “together over Christmas,” though he added noholiday 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 acomputer-controlled adult female character. The two are on the run, andthe relationship between the two fugitives influences whatcapabilities the female character brings to the game and the aid shecan 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 castigatedthe game software industry for relying too heavily on sequels thatbrought nothing new to the table. However, these two releases could be just whatRiccitiello was looking for, said Michael Pachter, an analyst atWedbush Morgan.

“These games fit within John Riccitiello’s ideas about innovation,” hetold TechNewsWorld. “It’s hard to assess the likelihood of successbased solely on the characters. If it’s a good game, it will likelysell well, and if not a good game, sales will suffer. I can’t venturea guess at this stage, but with EA’s marketing support and Spielberg’screative input, it’s likely to do well.”

“The industry has been suffering through too many poor sequels and badcopies of good games of late,” concurred Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group. “It faces competition for the buyingdollar from hot phones, media devices and for time from onlineproperties like Facebook and YouTube [in terms of] both creation andenjoyment,” he told TechNewsWorld.

The console gaming industry, Enderle continued, tries to reinventitself every five to 10 years. Right now, it is in the midst of thebiggest reinvention it has ever gone through, because this time thefocus is on game content. However, the industry has devotedconsiderable effort over the past decade as it attempts to try to turnthese 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 canconstantly interact with that is not secretly a guy, could be a hugepositive. The game, he continued, will advance regardless of whetherthis initial attempt is successful because it is a “brilliant idea butone that required at least the power of current generation systems topull off.”

“It could be one of the big games that drive people to the Xbox 360 orPS3,” Enderle noted. “I do think Spielberg is only hinting at the tip ofthe iceberg with this game, it appears to have a dynamic element thatmay go well beyond what is currently in-market but that will make itreally hard to develop and likely the reason why we won’t see it forsome time.”

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