July 2011

EA vs. Activision Round 3: FPS Social Gaming Networks

Battlefield Battlelog and Call of Duty Elite both set to release this fall.

    

There is an epic war of publishers Activision and EA, both developers of the highest selling (and most anticipated releases) in the franchises of Call of Duty and Battlefield, respectively. The latest battle in the war of modern-combat gaming (going for war-related vocab record in this article), is their developments in the area of social networking and stat-tracking. Similar to what Halo did in 2009 with Halo: Waypoint, but much more extensive, both of these networks will boast many of the same features.

     Call of Duty Elite released in beta-testing form yesterday. Activision Blizzard reports 30 million active CoD gamers on their titles, with 2.8 million already registered on Elite. CoD Elite developer Beachhead Studios will be parceling out the beta, according to VentureBeat, and asks that, "fans be patient as [they] ramp up in the coming weeks." CoD Elite will allow fans to connect with friends and compete, find gamers of similar skill or interests, form groups or clans, and even organize competitive tournaments. Elite members will be able to access CoD Elite from different devices, and their multiplayer stats will be tracked dynamically as Elite offers tip and strategies for improving. The service will have some basic components free for players, but will offer premium services for a subscription fee. CoD Elite will launch on Nov. 8th, coinciding with the release of Activision Blizzard's later CoD title; Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.

Where Online Gaming Communities Go To Die

What happens to the old community when the franchise moves on?

    

The answer, of course, is that most of the community goes with it. In the age of the "annual franchise roll-over", when the next installment of Call of Duty, or Halo, or NCAA Football, or (insert game title here) rolls out many in the community have pre-ordered and are all ready to jump into the new game lobbies. However, there is still a substantial online gaming community left in the nearly-obsolete title's lobbies that want to continue to play. I am a Battlefield Bad-Company 2 (BFBC2) gamer, and I love the franchise. (This does not make me an EA fan, just a disclaimer) However, it has been almost 2 years since the game hit the stores and in that time Activision's put out two new CoD titles. Since both are war-game FPS's, the community tends to vacillate and the BFBC2 community has dwindled.

     Jumping on a server today, I'm lucky to find a game that has a full 12v12 population, the max that each map can accommodate. Also, when I do there are two things that happen: the teams are horribly mismatched because you've got the community that has been there since the beginning and is somewhere in the ninja-commando echelon of play and you've got the people that picked it up because it was $30 On Demand, were unprepared for the game's steep learning curve, and recreate the film Hamburger Hill at each engagement. When that happens the weaker team generally loses between half and all of its players as they quit to find an easier opponent, or a different game. The value of the game declines as the size and quality of its community declines, because it's main focus is multiplayer. The same could be said of some of the older CoD communities. Playing CoD: World at War (two titles back, now), there are the salty old bastards that refused to play the later titles (all entirely dev'ed by Treyarch) and you've got the On Demanders who picked it up at bargain bin prices. Again, horribly outmatched, dropping the quality of play, and fundamentally decreasing the game's value.

Trailer - Eric Chahi's From Dust

This fall is going to be a good season for Xbox owners. The much-hyped Dead Island is finally coming out on the 6th of September, while the third title in the Gears of War series will drop on the 20th. The post-apocalyptic shooter Rage will also be out the next month on October 4th. But the 360 title I'm gearing up for most is dropping at the end of this month, on July 27th. From Dust is the latest game from designer Eric Chahi. It allows you to manipulate the elements of a world from the perspective of a god-like being as you attempt to save an island tribe. It looks a little like a more sophisticated Black and White. Check out the E3 trailer below.

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