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EA Bleeds $3.1 Billion in Stock Value Over Battlefront II Fiasco

Electronic Arts (EA) bled USD $3.1 billion (£2.3 billion) in stock value at the markets over the week, as the company scaled down its controversial loot-crate system deployed in "Star Wars: Battlefront II." The company is fighting a PR debacle as gamers complain of terrible pricing of the base-game, DLC, and an aggressive loot-crate system that's drawing the attention of government regulators around the world, who are threatening to impose gambling regulations against the game.

The concept of loot-crate is simple. You pay a seemingly small amount of money for a "mystery box" containing either something great (like weapon-attachments), or something of no tangible impact on gameplay (like skins). You're incentivized to buy more loot-crates in hope that you'll get something better. This becomes a gamble. In 2016, EA earned over $800 million in profits selling loot-crates among other micro-transactions, across various game franchises, such as Battlefield and Need for Speed. With EA scaling down several of its ancillary revenue models for the game, the studio's stock bled 8.5 percent month-to-date. Drew Crum, an analyst with investment firm Stifel also attributes underwhelming Black Friday sales of the game to EA's bear-hug.

Source: GameRevolution

Latest Need for Speed Payback Update Accelerates Progression System

Following the launch of Need for Speed Payback, we've been working on addressing feedback by making changes to the progression system and other aspects of the game. These range from decreasing the amount of time for parts to refresh within the tune-up shops to the way events, bait crates and roaming racers work. Players in Ranked Speedlists will also notice an increased amount of parts being paid out. Win the Speedlist and you're guaranteed a new part, while simply participating means you get more chances of receiving an item of your own. We've already pushed a number of these updates live and will continue to listen to our players to make Need for Speed Payback the best experience possible.

Soon players will see a client-side patch going live and will benefit from a range of updates including improved game performance, multiple fixes to improve stability and tune-up shops stocking a higher quality selection of parts.

Battlefield 1 Turning Tides Expansion to Drop on December 11

Players will soon be able to experience battles on land, in the air, and at sea on the newest front with Battlefield 1 Turning Tides, the third expansion pack available for Battlefield 1. Battlefield 1 Turning Tides will be released in two waves - the first wave is coming on December 11th for Battlefield 1 Premium Pass owners. Players will be able to fight across a duo of epic maps, including Cape Helles and Achi Baba. In a new Operation set on these maps, players can take part in the 1915 British amphibious assault of the Gallipoli peninsula. There will be a new Infiltrator Elite Class, six weapons and two melee weapons added to your arsenal, and you'll get to rule the waves with the L-Class Destroyer. The second wave, coming January 2018, puts players in the North Sea to tackle two other unique maps: Zeebrugge and Heligoland Blight, with the chance to charge into battle with the new Royal Marines and spawn on the C-Class Airship.

Under Fire, EA Backs Down on Star Wars Battlefront II Microtransactions

In an announcement on EA's website, Oskar Gabrielson, General Manager at DICE, came forward to respond in no uncertain terms to the issues looming over Star Wars Battlefront 2. In the post, Gabrielson vows that EA and Dice have "(...) an ongoing commitment to constantly listen, tune and evolve the experience as it grows. But as we approach the worldwide launch, it's clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We've heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we've heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn't get this right."

This culminates on a decision to abandon all microtransactions as they were coded into the final version of the game, or, as Gabrielson puts it: "(...) we're turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we've made changes to the game." So, it's not a total, definitive cut as it is; it's more of a "back to the drawing board" kind of approach. which only makes sense, as EA has been loud and clear in saying that they consider these microtransactions as essential components of a given games' development.

Overwatch, Star Wars Battlefront II Loot Crates Under Gambling Scrutiny

According to Belgium's VTM Nieuws, the Chancellor Commission from that country has opened an investigation into both Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront II loot crates, so as to rule whether or not these constitute gambling. Loot boxes being compared to gambling isn't a new debate, but up until now, a clear ruling that characterizes loot crates as such still hasn't made its way onto the courts or commissions that have been looking into these issues. That loot crates and other microtransactions are resounding successes in ever increasing monetization of game experiences is no secret: Digital River has released a report that stated microtransactions and the whole "Games as a Service" model has tripled the industry's value.

EA has been receiving a lot of flak for the way they implemented their loot boxing mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront II, which has led to repeated cycles of posturing, bullying, and ultimately some small steps backward for the company, regarding its initial stance on Battlefront II's specific implementation. Already has the company decreased costs for unlocking characters in-game, though some are reporting that for players to unlock everything the $60 game supposedly offers, they'd have to play it for at least 4,528 hours - or pony-up $2,100 to unlock all the base content.

EA Makes it Tougher to Cancel Battlefront 2 Pre-orders

EA is under fire for predatory pricing of DLC and add-ons for its upcoming "Star Wars: Battlefront 2" release. Gamers complain of the company effectively pricing it above $80 just to play as Darth Vader, and giving game reviewers a faster in-game content unlock progression, compared to paying gamers, misrepresenting the product. Pre-orders of the game can be cancelled and so gamers took to Reddit, and other forums, to distribute links to the pages on EA's website that let you easily cancel your pre-order. With pre-order cancellations gaining traction, EA pulled out its bag of dirty tricks.

The publisher has reportedly changed the way you cancel pre-orders. Instead of simply clicking on a web-based form to cancel your pre-order and get the reference number to your refund, you now have to speak with a sales agent via chat to cancel your order. Trouble is, that the process is bogged down by too many people trying to cancel their orders (due to a finite number of agents), and thus EA has effectively made it impossible for everyone who pre-ordered to cancel. Only those who can endure the long agent waiting queue to chat with an agent, can cancel their pre-orders, as the November 17 release-date (beyond which you can't cancel pre-orders), looms closer.

Source: Reddit

EA Acquires Titanfall, Titanfall 2 Developer Respawn Entertainment for $455M

Publisher EA has just announced that they are acquiring Titanfall and Titanfall 2 development studio Respawn Entertainment. The deal, which includes cash, equity, and performance milestone payments valued at $455M, will add one more studio to the publisher's wing, just weeks after EA announced the shuttering of Visceral Studios and the end of its single-player, linear, story-driven Star Wars game. EA fought for this acquisition, outbidding South Korean publisher Nexon, who also had their eyes on Respawn.

"We've had success as an independent company but as we look to how we want to compete in the future, and the challenges that face us in a rapidly changing landscape, now is the time for us to combine forces with a global industry leader like EA," said Vince Zampella, Respawn Entertainment's CEO in a blog post on Respawn's website. "EA will provide us with more resources, access to new technologies, and expertise that we can tap into to that will help us make better games, and Respawn will retain the same creative freedom and culture we've always had," he added. "We've been talking closely with the leadership at EA and we share their values and vision for the future of being a developer-focused company that puts the players first."

DICE Revamps Star Wars Battlefront II's Loot Crate Mechanics

We went into Star Wars Battlefront II with a goal to make the deepest, biggest Star Wars game you've ever played. That meant transporting you to all three eras and handing you a huge assortment of heroes, classes, and vehicles - as well as bringing tons of free post-launch content to all Star Wars Battlefront II players.

The Beta gave us a welcome chance to test all of our systems in action and tune things up for better balance. A few weeks back, we mentioned we were going to take another look at how the progression system works. After incorporating feedback from the Beta, we're happy to share our plans for launch.

EA Shutters Visceral Studios, Pivots on Unreleased Star Wars Game Design

The death knell is sounding in Visceral Games (creators of the Dead Space series), courtesy of EA. The publishing company has shuttered another one of its studios, and is looking to move employees from Visceral to what others remain. Apparently, the Star Wars game, which had a tentative release date for 2019, was shaping up as a "story-based, linear adventure game": not that much of a surprise, considering it was being helmed by Uncharted series veteran Amy Hennig. A development team from across EA Worldwide Studios will take over development, led by a team from EA Vancouver that was already working on the project.

Apparently, EA wasn't much enjoying the way the game was developing; usually, linear, story-based games don't lend themselves much for microtransactions or loot boxes, now do they? Citing "shifts in the marketplace", EA says that "It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design," so that it "allows for more variety and player agency." All in all, this sounds much like Destiny, or upcoming Bioware game Anthem. But it will also certainly lend itself better to further monetization, considering how it's one of the industry's most important sources of revenue.

Source: EA Blogs

EA Incentivizes Pre-orders with Exclusive Graphics Effects

Electronics Arts announced that pre-ordered copies of its upcoming flagship motorsport simulator "Need for Speed: Payback" will feature exclusive graphics effects not found on copies bought after its release. The pre-order page for the game lists out benefits for paying for the game before reading or watching a single review from a neutral source; including "the platinum car pack," a selection of exclusive vehicles, and a curious-looking "exclusive tire smoke."

While giving away bonus content, a tiny headstart in the game with more in-game currency or items, isn't new to pre-orders, this is one of the first times that a big production title is presenting exclusive graphics effects, the tire smoke color in this case, that otherwise won't be available even on machines with the most powerful hardware, or the most powerful consoles. If successful, this model could lure more gamers toward pre-orders of untested and unproven games.

Source: EB Games (Australian retailer)

Mass Effect Franchise "On Ice," Bioware's New IP Release Delayed

Mass Effect: Andromeda was met with a lukewarm reception from reviewers and users alike (even if there was just a smidge of overblown issues,) and it would seem this has made EA cautious regarding this IP. Make no mistake: Mass Effect still lines up alongside EA's biggest franchises, and it's almost guaranteed the publisher will want to return to it at some point in time. It just so happens that its less than stellar reception has seemingly put further plans on the IP on hold. Bioware Montreal, the studio behind Andromeda's push, as apparently been relegated to a "support studio" role, with staff being channeled towards the new Star Wars Battlefront 2 game and other projects. Part of the staff will still be working on Mass Effect: Andromeda, looking to work through patches and multiplayer support, though it would seem that there are now no plans for eventual Andromeda DLC. This is a sad development, all in all, as Mass Effect counts one of the most interesting settings - and the most potential - among game franchises

On to Bioware's new original intellectual property, codenamed "Dylan", Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson revealed during a recent call with investors that its launch has been postponed. Originally scheduled to launch by the end of March 2018, the not-yet-named title has been pushed back to EA's 2019 fiscal year (April 2018 through March 2019.) This game looks to be EA's take on the kind of "live" game that is Bungie's Destiny and upcoming Destiny 2 (under Activision's supervision), and Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's The Division, being built around a live service and a "disruptive" new social design which was, according to Andrew Wilson, the reason for the delay.

Microsoft Acquires Havok Physics from Intel

Microsoft acquired Havok Physics, the industry's most popular in-game physics API, from Intel. Microsoft intends to add Havok's IP to its existing tools and platforms, including DirectX 12, Visual Studio, and Azure. Havok will continue to remain accessible to all its existing licensees and partners, including Activision, EA, Ubisoft, Nintendo, and Sony. It currently features in more than 600 AAA game titles across major platforms, such as the PC, PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox.

Source: Microsoft

EA SPORTS FIFA World to Launch a New Game Engine Later This Year

Electronic Arts Inc. today announced that EA SPORTS FIFA World, a new free-to-play* game for PC, is set to launch a new game engine that will give fans an even better, more realistic, football experience. By removing the barriers of having access to a console or a high powered PC, EA SPORTS FIFA World brings the FIFA experience to more gaming and football fans around the globe. Available in 9 languages, fans with an average spec laptop or desktop PC and a broadband Internet connection can play a fun, free, authentic football game, driven by live content and featuring real players and real clubs from over 30 officially licensed leagues.

Since being announced at Gamescom 2013, EA SPORTS FIFA World has seen more than 3.5 million registrations from over 180 countries register to play the Beta, with over 45 million total matches played. Based on fan feedback, over 20 major updates have been made to the game, including gamepad and keyboard-only controls, as well as Accomplishments - a new feature that captures compelling storylines from the real world of football as they happen, challenging and rewarding fans to recreate and re-live these defining moments in EA SPORTS FIFA World.

Mad Catz Teams with EA and Respawn to Create Licensed Titanfall Peripherals

Mad Catz Interactive, Inc. announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Electronics Arts, Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) to create a range of Titanfall-branded gaming products. Expected to be in stores for the launch of Titanfall, the Titanfall-branded product range includes TRITTON gaming headsets, R.A.T. mice, S.T.R.I.K.E. keyboards, F.R.E.Q. gaming headsets and G.L.I.D.E. gaming surfaces.

"Titanfall has earned critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including Best of Show, Best Original Game, and Best Online Multiplayer at this year's E3 conference. Mad Catz is excited to bring a range of cutting-edge, innovative, Titanfall-branded products to gamers in connection with one of the most anticipated game launches in recent history," said Darren Richardson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz Interactive, Inc. "The Titanfall license builds on Mad Catz' strategy to align our product portfolio with AAA content that appeals to passionate gamers."

Battlefield 4 an AMD Gaming Evolved Title, Possibly Part of Upcoming Bundle

AMD revealed that EA's highly-anticipated online shooter, Battlefield 4, is an AMD Gaming Evolved title, in the run up to its GPU'14 event, slated for later today. It also hints at the possibility of Battlefield 4 being part of an upcoming "Never Settle" bundle that's exclusive to buyers of the Radeon R 200 series. What does this translate to in the real world? Radeon HD 7700 series and above, and the upcoming Radeon R 200 series, feature 100% support for DirectX 11.1, which Battlefield 4 is rumored to take advantage of, on PCs running Windows 8 (and above). It could translate to better performance or visual effects.

Battlefield 4 Running DirectX 11.1 Could Give Radeon HD 7000 an Edge

EA-DICE' upcoming online shooter Battlefield 4 will take advantage of DirectX 11.1 API, on PCs running Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Running the game with DirectX 11.1 will have a positive performance impact compared to running it on DirectX 11.0, or on older operating systems like Windows 7 (which doesn't support DirectX 11.1). In the words of the technical director behind Frostbite, the underlying engine for Battlefield 4, "We use DX11.1, there are some optimizations in it (constant buffer offsets, dynamic buffers as SRVs) that we got in to the the API that improves CPU performance in our rendering when one runs with DX11.1." This could give Radeon HD 7000 series GPUs an edge over their GeForce competitors. GPUs based on NVIDIA's "Kepler" micro-architecture don't fully support DirectX 11.1. Incidentally, Battlefield 4 was just bagged and tagged by AMD for its future "Never Settle" bundle. Join the dots.
Sources: NextPowerUp, DSOGaming

All Frostbite 3 Titles Will Be Optimized For AMD Only

All Frostbite 3 Titles Will Be Optimized For AMD Only (Updated)

According to a report from IGN, EA and AMD have entered an agreement which sees the latter benefiting from exclusive rights to optimization for games based on EA's Frostbite 3 engine. Titles like Battlefield 4, Need for Speed Rivals and Mirror's Edge 2 are subject to this rumored accord between AMD and EA, but also many other current and future EA titles. Of course, this will not completely remove NVIDIA from the Frostbite 3 table, they will simply be absent from it until the actual launch takes place, meaning that pre-launch testing and driver optimization can only be done by AMD, leaving NVIDIA at a clear disadvantage.

While still an unconfirmed rumor, AMD refused to deny it in a reply to Ryan Shrout's query regarding the story. AMD's reply below.
"It makes sense that game developers would focus on AMD hardware with AMD hardware being the backbone of the next console generation. At this time, though, our relationship with EA is exclusively focused on Battlefield 4 and its hardware optimizations for AMD CPUs, GPUs and APUs."

AMD Updates its Never Settle Bundle

AMD updated its "Never Settle" game bundles for all graphics card models upwards of Radeon HD 7700 series. The update adds a game to each of the three product families - HD 7700, HD 7800, and HD 7900 series. The offer covers new purchases made after the 15th of May. Buyers of single-GPU HD 7900 series graphics cards no longer have to choose between Crysis and Tomb Raider; while buyers of HD 7800 series get Crysis 3 Hunter Edition. In essence, single-GPU HD 7900 and HD 7800 series buyers get the same bundles.

You get Crysis 3 Hunter Edition, Bioshock: Infinite, Tomb Raider (2013), and FarCry 3: Blood Dragon; with both single-GPU Radeon HD 7900 series, and Radeon HD 7800 series. Buyers of Radeon HD 7700 series will get an addition, too, Tomb Raider (2013). This is a limited offer that runs while supplies last, covers only new purchases made after May 15, and only targets North America, EMEA, Australia, and New Zealand.

Acer Announces New B6 and V6 Series Displays

Acer America is now offering its Acer B6 and V6 Series LED-backlit displays combining smart ergonomics and eco-conscious materials for both professional customers and consumers in Canada. The new monitors offer a thinner body than the prior generation and a wide array of models in various screen sizes, which feature a vertical alignment (VA) or twisted nematic (TN) panel depending on model.

The Acer V6 Series value line of displays focused on offering great quality at a good price is available in 19- to 24-inch screen sizes. The B6 Series premium line ranges in screen sizes from 22- to 27-inches and boasts a multi-function ergonomic stand, dual speakers and on select models, USB 3.0 with power-off charging for smartphones and other digital devices.

Monster Teams Up with EA SPORTS to Launch Gaming and Music Headphone

Monster, the world leader in high-performance personal audio, is proud to announce it is entering the gaming accessories space with the breakthrough EA SPORTS MVP Carbon by Monster headphone. Jointly developed with EA SPORTS, a label of Electronic Arts Inc., a global leader in digital interactive entertainment, the new EA SPORTS MVP Carbon by Monster headphone (SRP: $269.95) is the first-ever collaboration between a game developer and a headphone manufacturer that offers an unprecedented level of immersive sonic gameplay – just the way the game developers intended. Follow Monster during CES at #MonsterCES and the EA headphones launch at #PlayLoud.

Crysis 3 PC System Requirements Detailed

The seemingly age-old question 'Will it run Crysis?' is back with a vengeance as EA has provided the system requirements for the third installment of Crytek's first-person shooter. Set for a February 2013 release, Crysis 3 'demands' the following:

Minimum
  • Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
  • DirectX 11 graphics card with 1 GB Video RAM
  • Dual core CPU
  • 2 GB Memory (3 GB on Vista)
  • Example 1 (Nvidia/Intel):
  • o Nvidia GTS 450
    o Intel Core2 Duo 2.4 GHz (E6600)
  • Example 2 (AMD):
  • o AMD Radeon HD5770
    o AMD Athlon64 X2 2.7 GHz (5200+)

DICE Debuts Battlefield 3: Aftermath Digital Expansion Pack

DICE, an Electronic Arts Inc. studio, today announced that Battlefield 3: Aftermath, the fourth digital expansion pack for Battlefield 3, is now available for all Battlefield 3 Premium members on the PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system.

Battlefield 3: Aftermath provides a new brand of carnage to urban combat delivering four new maps in a vertical and horizontal setting, depicting a continuing struggle for supremacy and survival amongst Iran's post-earthquake devastation. G4TV even said, "DICE continues to play with Battlefield 3's multiplayer action in creative ways with its downloadable content releases. Aftermath is shaping up to be the most unique of the bunch by far."

Pre-Order Crysis 3 to Receive Free Digital Download of the Original Crysis Game

Electronic Arts Inc. and developer Crytek GmbH, today announced that fans who pre-order Crysis 3 will receive a free digital download copy of the original Crysis game for Xbox 360, PS3 or PC*. Lauded by GameSpot as "One of the greatest shooters ever made" and universally hailed upon its release for breaking new ground with jaw-dropping visuals, industry leading technology and sandbox gameplay, Crysis thrusts players into the middle of a global conflict between the U.S. and North Korea over a mysterious artifact that turns out to be extraterrestrial in nature. In Crysis, players are outfitted with the series signature Nanosuit and an arsenal of fully customizable weapons that provide a wide array of options not only for the games story missions but also every single objective and individual encounter. In addition, those that pre-order Crysis 3 will receive the Crysis 3 Hunter Edition, giving fans a head start in multiplayer with immediate access to the powerful new Predator bow and the Hunter Nanosuit module and more**.

Battlefield 4 Beta Confirmed with Warfighter LE Pre-Orders

EA has confirmed reports that a beta invite to Battlefield 4 will be included with pre-orders of the Medal of Honor: Warfighter Limited Edition. The announcement claims the Battlefield 4 beta will be available sometime in fall 2013, so you have a while to wait. EA points out that the two games are very different, but touts the shared heritage of the Frostbite engine. Yesterday, the rumors started churning from a leaked ad that promised the beta. Today you can actually order the Limited Edition from Origin, which costs $10 more than the standard edition.

Source: Shacknews

EA to go 100% Digital, Calls NPD 'Irrelevant'

EA has made a major push into PC digital distribution with Origin, and it seems to be paying off. Analysts have predicted that we're heading toward an all-digital age, and EA intends to speed up the process by actively moving toward that goal itself. "We'll continue to deliver games in whatever media formats make sense and as one ebbs and one starts to flow, we'll go in that direction," EA Games president Frank Gibeau said. "Ultimately Electronic Arts, at some point in the future - much like your question about streaming and cloud - we're going to be a 100% digital company, period. It's going to be there some day. It's inevitable." He also noted the problem that many in the industry have pointed out: our only measure of tracking sales numbers is through NPD, which tracks retail sales but has lagged behind on reporting digital numbers. Part of that is probably that the large digital marketplace Steam is reluctant to share its sales data, but it still creates a definite issue of incomplete data. "I think one of the problems with this industry right now is that people tend to look at it like they're looking at an elephant through a straw," he told GI.biz. "They only see a little parts of it and they're not looking at the total picture, right? Between Facebook, social, mobile, free to play on PC, Asia, consoles... it's a vibrant, growing, huge market. An occasional bad report from NPD, which measures a sliver of what's actually happening in gaming gives people an erroneous impression."
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