Today, Electronic Arts announced a handful of new projects, including a remake of Dead Space and a history-driven racer complete with Hollywood talent. It’s part of what feels like a busy period for the publisher; last year, EA said they launched 13 new games and more than 400 updates for existing titles. Productivity is particularly noteworthy given that EA’s studios, like most companies around the world, were forced to work remotely due to the pandemic. Laura Miele, EA’s chief studio manager, says the publisher is still learning how to best make games externally. And although it is not clear what the future of EA̵
Miele oversees 25 different studios – including recent additions such as Codemasters, Glu and Playdemic – and basically, she says, the biggest obstacle to teleworking was “pure production”, meaning nuts and bolts to develop a game. It is also the place where she believes the publisher has made the most progress. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we experienced a certain production hit that we’re actually making progress over the last year,” she says, noting that the teams have developed internal tools, as well as techniques as always – at Zoom warrooms, to get you around a bit. logistics.
“We have learned the production mechanics and some technology solutions. I think we are still learning about the human factor and how people are affected on an emotional and human level, ”she adds. That is a question that came to light last year then Apex Legends developer Respawn responded to complaints about the work plan for the pandemic, especially when it came to maintaining a healthy work-life balance while tackling the demanding nature of a live service game.
Dealing with these issues seems to have been helped in part by EA’s scale. Modern card games are usually built by several teams, and the upcoming ones Battlefield 2042 is no exception. While DICE leads the development from Stockholm, LA-based Ripple Effect handles the recently announced Battlefield Portal mode. Meanwhile, Criterion Games – a studio that was previously best known for Burn out series, which has since become something of a string for EA – later came on board in the development to help. “Criterion came to the project at the beginning of this year,” says Miele. “They know [the Frostbite game engine] well, they are incredibly experienced production talents, and so they came on and really helped the team work from home and the logistics for that. ”
Undoubtedly more challenging than production problems has been igniting the creative spark of artists and designers. This has been a minor challenge for games that were already well underway when the pandemic hit, but developing completely new ideas externally has proved difficult. “You lose some creative energy and connection when you start a new project, the first incubation phase,” says Miele. “We’re losing some connection there.”
It is not yet clear what the long-term effects will be on EA and its many studios. Miele says she is particularly interested in seeing how things develop over the coming months, as many countries ease restrictions and offices begin to open in limited capacity – although she will stop outlining specific changes to telecommuting in the future. . “We’ll be learning in the next phase, and it will really inform how we think about a perhaps more hybrid model when we go back,” she says. “I think it’s too early to make a big statement about ‘We’ll do this. ‘I want us to keep learning. ”