Ear-Splitting, Eyeball-Peeling Demos From EA

Electronic Arts will be onstage soon at E3 to unveil its game lineup for the coming year.

And, expectations couldn’t be higher.

After all, in an interview in the weeks leading up to the annual videogame conference, CEO John Riccitiello said the presentation will make your “eyeballs peel.”

We’ll see about that.

Over the past year, EA has failed to impress investors as it has tried to be both a hardcore and a social games competitor, rivaling companies ranging from Activision to Zynga.

At today’s press conference held at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, we’ll see updates for Madden and FIFA for the console, as well as new games for the Facebook platform.

As Riccitiello said, “We are in a spectacular position. The stock is oversold, but [investors] are waiting for a catalyst.”

Is this it?

Follow here for the rest of the announcements:

12:59 pm: Ok folks. A little technical difficulty, but we are getting pumped up with some “Pumped Up Kicks.”

This theatre is really amazing, a throwback to LA’s Hollywood days. But no one is sitting in the opera seats!

1:01 pm: Officially, the presentation has begun. We are seeing a montage of games, Tiger Woods, FIFA, SimCity, and the crowd is getting rowdy.

1:02 pm: CEO John Riccitiello is onstage: “You’ll be seeing a lot of spectacular conferences this week. Less like the Oscars, more like Sundance.”

Ten developers are coming out to show off 10 spectacular games, he adds.

But it won’t end with what they are showing onstage. Now games are an evolutionary process with content coming out way after the launch day.

1:03 pm: Up first, EA is presenting Dead Space 3.

In a live demo, two players are showing off “co-op” mode, where they have to cooperate.

Robots attack; the players attack back while a giant drill circulates from the sky, threatening both players.

Seriously, that drill is tough. I’ve had weaker Black and Decker’s, but finally it’s destroyed and the players can advance to the outdoors, where a much bigger and scarier monster/machine is hiding.

1:09 pm: If my eyeballs aren’t peeling, my eardrums are definitely splitting.

Huge applause, and a standing ovation of one. Coming February 2013.

1:11 pm: Next up, football!

Makes sense, since EA dominates the sports genre. Yep, it’s Madden NFL 13, as we saw this morning at the Xbox press conference.

No two plays will ever look or feel the same, EA promises. If legs are hit, the player will trip. And, now, smaller players won’t be able to drill through larger players, but will have to rely on their speed and agility.

“We’ve made a huge investment in game play,” but there’s a ton of connected game play in the background that will be new, too.

Special guest comes on the stage: Hall of Famer Michael Irvin.

1:16 pm: There’s a bunch of new “connected” tools, like integrated Twitter feeds.

1:18 pm: Here comes the announcement of SimCity Social coming to Facebook.

A snarky comment was just made by EA about regaining its throne as the best of the city builders (Zynga’s CityVille is at the top of Facebook’s charts right now, though).

SimCity Social will launch in the next couple of weeks. But it’s not just coming to Facebook. There’s also a new version coming to the PC.

The difference between the two will likely revolve around social mechanics, connectivity and perhaps graphics capabilities.

1:21 pm: Text “Simcity” to 44144 if you’d like the chance to name the first burger joint in the game.

My vote is for BurgerVille. Har, har …

I really wonder if players who got enthralled with Facebook games, like FarmVille and CityVille, will transition over to either the Facebook or PC versions.

1:23 pm: Riccitiello is back onstage, explaining that games aren’t something you buy once and then move on.

EA’s COO Peter Moore comes onstage to talk more with Patrick Bach, executive producer of Battlefield 3.

Moore: “At EA, we are driving to be the premier digital entertainment company.”

Bach is announcing “Battlefield 3 Premium,” which introduces more maps, exclusive dog tags, 20 more weapons and other content. It is available starting today for $49.99.

It doesn’t sound like it is a social network, like Call of Duty Elite, which requires a subscription. This is more of a mega-expansion pack, where fans will be able to pay once for hours of fresh game play.

Battlefield 3 went head to head with Call of Duty last fall, and while it was one of the company’s most successful titles, Activision’s first-person shooter remains the top dog.

1:28 pm: EA’s now talking about how Star Wars: The Old Republic, an online massively multiplayer game, is a prime example of delivering a service rather than a packaged goods game.

They’re providing a sneak peek of what’s coming next for Star Wars: Gun fights, robotic monsters and more.

1:32 pm: Greg Goodrich, executive producer of Medal of Honor Warfighter, needs no introduction and comes onstage to a round of applause.

A live demo of the new game reveals a first-person shooter. I can’t help but think it looks a whole lot like last year’s Call of Duty: MW3 as the troops try to come ashore under heavy fire.

This is already the second game at this year’s E3 that is allowing players to take shots to the face. Pretty hardcore stuff and not for the kiddos.

And, that demo just ended with an abrupt head bashing. Yikes.

Coming October 23.

1:39 pm: Next up!

Are your eyes peeling yet?

I’m starting to get worried about the antique stained glass in this theatre. Can it endure Linkin Park at this volume?

All right, time for a break with some more EA Sports.

EA announces Madden NFL Social; it’s a free-to-play mobile social game. Start it on Facebook, and then continue it on your phone.

This is a great example of the connected and persistent kind of experiences that Riccitiello is talking about.

But it’s not just Madden — FIFA will also be getting a digital facelift.

Already, FIFA is EA’s digital dynamo, garnering more digital revenue than any of its other franchises.

Here’s the big announcements: FIFA 12 players will be able to return with their skills to FIFA 13. FIFA 13 will be coming to iPhone and iPad, and later this year, Android.

Messi, one of the best soccer players of all time, will grace the cover of FIFA 13, EA says.

No live demo for FIFA, only a game trailer.

1:48 pm: I think EA is doing a good job appealing to the gamers in the crowd, while also going out of its way to introduce both console and digital experiences.

Now, the president of Ultimate Fighting Championship to announce a multi-year partnership with EA.

Apparently UFC is the fastest growing sport in the U.S., and the fans are some of the most passionate. Now, the game will be available internationally, where all of their fans are located.

1:52 pm: Now we transition from fighting to race-car driving. EA knows what America loves best!

What does that mean? A new Need for Speed, of course. And, there’s a live demo.

Ha, nice touch. There’s a tally in the bottom left corner on how much the driver’s damage is costing the state. He’s up to $8,000 within seconds.

I have no idea how the little yellow Porsche can continue when the Crown Vic gets taken out so easily. But it does make for great game play.

As a side note, the Wi-Fi isn’t good enough right now to upload any photos, so we’ll have to circle back later and give you some visuals of what I’m seeing.

Need for Speed: Most Wanted is coming October 30.

1:58 pm: At Crytek, the founder and CEO says they have one goal: To push the limits of technology.

The environment being shown off in the demo is called an urban rainforest. Think jungle, plus lots of water and office buildings.

Crysis 3 hits February 2013.

2:04 pm: Riccitiello gets back onstage: “I hope you like playing them as much as we like making them.”

That’s it folks, EA’s press conference is now over.

From what we just saw, this year seems to be all about sequels, with publishers hesitant to make a bet on any new IP. And, instead, they are investing heavily in new digitally connected environments that span across those brands, letting fans access the same games they love most on console, mobile and PC.

Thanks for reading, that’s all for now!

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