Is Electronic Arts Actually Innovating?

Well let me just say this, EA is probably the best third-party developer currently committed to making games for the Wii console. They are obviously putting a lot of effort into their new sports games, putting effort into their non-sports games, and creating entirely new games. Is this the same EA we have learned to hate with repeat offenses of full-priced sports games with nothing more than a new roster and cover athlete? I often wonder the same thing.

They have already released Madden, complete with awesome juke and throwing mechanics and Tiger Woods, complete with a swing-detection system. Both of those games felt great and actually warranted a purchase, but to my surprise, it appears the new versions of these games also warrant a purchase. Unlike in typical EA-fare, they are releasing a game with new modes and features. Let me rephrase, they are releasing meaningful new modes and features. And not only are these modes new, but they are Wii-exclusive. And to top it off, the new FIFA game is actually starting things off with new online and Wii-exclusive modes right off the bat. Reading up on the new FIFA game in particular I found something that really makes me think EA has all their marbles in the correct jar. They have a mode that allows you to actually play with a noob like in Wii Sports and not just preach the over-used line, "everyone can play this game." The following is from an IGN hands-on for FIFA '08:

"If your idea of sports videogames falls more in line with Wii Sports than Madden, you might consider controlling FIFA 08 for Wii in Family Play mode, which essentially takes the running functionality away from you -- it's handled by AI -- and you merely use gestures to pass and shoot the ball. You pass simply by choosing a direction on the D-Pad and then motioning upward with the Wii remote and you shoot merely by jerking up in the same fashion. If you want to slide tack, motion downward. There's a little more to it, of course, but the idea is to keep it simple so that anybody can play it. The good news is that if you want to square off against your dad, he can choose Family Mode controls and you can still have at him with advanced controls."

I just hope, if these features work as well as they sound on paper, that they don't go back to their old ways of updating rosters and calling it a new game. Continue the innovation EA, I beg you.


mndrix said...

Good to hear that a sports game gets more than a new roster these days. I can't help but wonder, "How much of this innovation should be credited to Nintendo?" Sure, EA did the actual development, but I think Nintendo showed everyone a whole new way to think about gaming when they released the Wii and Wii Sports. It appears that EA is simply mimicking the great ideas Nintendo already had. Nevertheless, kudos to EA for emulating the masters.

TanookiTravis said...

It's funny you mention that actually because all of the minigames in Madden and FIFA look almost exactly like Wii Sports. So close in fact that they use the Mii characters as your avatar for the game. Not that it's a bad thing by any means, why not copy what is fun?