EA Australia stole the show at this year’s EB Expo, but what made their effort such a stand out over all the other exhibitors? It was the little things and maybe some really big things too!
As soon as you entered the show floor you were met by a giant Battlefield 3 sign that covered the entire length of the stand, some eight to ten meters long at a guess. The sound emanating from the speakers gave you a taste of life in a war-zone, then an inviting voice telling you that you can come in and not only see, but also play the games you have been waiting so long for. FIFA 12, SSX, Need for Speed: The Run (which had a pretty sweet competition attached), Mass Effect 3 and of course a single player demo of Battlefield 3 which was set up on about 15 screens no less, with Turtle Beach PX21′s blasting every gunshot and every bullet with crystal clear delivery. The stand was well set up with room to hold the masses playing the games and yet still have room to offer viewing space to the drooling fans waiting to play.
So how are the new games?
In a word, amazing! Matt returned a number of times to play the Mass Effect 3 demo, and FIFA 12 has seen the franchise’s best release week ever. This year’s iteration of the seminal soccer game has seen some really game changing modifications which yet again help it maintain its majority hold of the market share. Need For Speed: The Run looks like a must for racing fans, the graphics and intense action are very well balanced and the cars look and handle like you imagine they should. Battlefield 3 was clearly the focus of the show for EA, and the line to play it showed that it was no failure. The demo started off with your squad about to storm a town and after a short dialogue which allowed you to soak up the environment and visuals, you then start down the hill and non-stop action followed. I was unlucky and ran out of time before completing the demo, however Matt got to finish the demo and he said it blew him away. The feeling was mutual with the whole EB Games managers group apparently as they officially awarded the game “Best Of Show” during the manager’s trade week.
I think the staff working at the stand were fantastic. The entire show revolved around, tripped over, and cut through a line for Battlefield 3 which was so long that people near the middle and back of the queue were being entertained by the goings on at other booths. On more than one occasion I overheard other vendors comment that the line for the game was getting in the way of people being able to see their games. The simple fact though, was that these people were here to see Battlefield, and some even lined up for over 2 hours to do just that. The entire time people were being told how long it was going to be before they could play, and at one stage I heard it was up to a three hour wait, but the people didn’t care, as long as they got hands on with BF3. With the thousands streaming through the booth during each session the EA crew seemed to grow stronger, maybe it was just madness, but they were always welcoming and never snapped at someone interrupting to ask them a question they would have answered a million times before. They kept the people moving, kept the energy high and kept the games cranking.
So what else did EA do that set them apart?
Only one of the biggest coups for Australian gaming in a long time, a keynote address by none other than Peter Moore, the Chief Operating Officer for EA and one of the most famous and respected presenters in the world. His presence on stage and his ability to walk the crowd through his presentation (and also deal with some heckling) was the definite highlight of the show. He took us though the past 25 years of gaming, explained the company’s vision on the future of gaming and above all else made us feel great about being gamers. Peter was a huge coup for EA Australia and the EB Expo in general, but once he left the stage two heavy hitters from DICE were introduced: Lars Gustavsson, Creative Director on Battlefield 3, and Daniel Matros the Global Battlefield Community Manager. This was also a huge treat as Lars was able to take the crowd through 14 years of Battlefield development through his eyes. This is his baby and you could really feel his love for this game. Daniel discussed the new BF3 social network feature Battlelog, and demonstrated how the statistics information displayed in it is available for free on any device from almost anywhere in the world. The presentation showed trailers of many of the games out on the show floor and really made you want to run out there and play them.
Both Matt and I were really enjoyed getting hands on time with all the games and kept finding ourselves drawn back the booth to play just one more race or kick just one more goal. We were lucky enough to also get a chance to chat with Brad Pidgeon, Social Media and Community Manager for EA APAC, which you can listen to below. Hats off to EA and all the people involved in the booth, you really did a great job.