Branding and games: EA – How the change of leadership affected the brand

Both in 2012 and 2013 EA was voted as the worst company in America mainly due to practices like day-one DLC’s, purchases followed by the closure of smaller studios, mandatory use of online passes, microtransactions in their games and the troubled launch of SimCity’s reboot, that required an online connection and didn’t feature any offline modes.

But in September 2013, Andrew Wilson, former head of EA Sports was named the company’s new CEO, what triggered a change of strategy looking to modify the market and consumer’s POV regarding the company, with a focus on the four vectors of brand tangibility: product, environment, communication and behaviour.

When it comes to product, their approach to the way they released games, content suffered adjustments, for example the end of online passes that affected customers that really bought their games, not those who pirated it, the revival of highly praised franchises like Mirror’s Edge, please bring back Skate, inclusion of an offline mode to The Sims 4, an attention to indie games with Unravel’s release, announcement of Fe and EA Originals, a program that looks to invest on indie studios, with the sales going directly to them.

On environment, since we are talking about a company with digital products the manner it is handled is a little bit different, and EA Access is an example of that, instead of trying a game inside a physical space, you can obtain extended demos of the full product, with a nice, modern app which presents games that are about to be added to the vault, demos, when they’ll be available, another case was when during Playstation Experience games were offered free charge, and a modification of their PC platform Origin, offering classic games as gateways to experience their catalogue.

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Their style of communication was transformed, with a far more jovial, contemporary attitude and closer to consumers, with a small change to the logo, possessing a more streamlined visual, a unification of the company with the use of only one engine, being the best example EA Play, that represented a departure from E3’s show floor, to a separate event that allowed gamers that otherwise wouldn’t have access to their titles to demo them, bringing them closer diminishing their dependence on media’s opinion, as well as insider programs to games yet to be released, with news from betas and features.

Last but not least, EA’s communication went through an overhaul, going from a stronger bravado to a friendlier company, that cares about eSports, releases surveys about their products and services, targeting on listening to players opinions and a better use of charismatic executives,  bringing them upfront, like former Xbox head, Peter Moore, Andrew Wilson and EA studios head Patrick Söderlund, becoming the faces of the company, creating a bigger connection to gamers, like Playstation did successfully.

All these decisions led to a change of vision towards the company, that still makes mistakes like Star Wars Battlefront season pass, but they appear to be on the right track on to becoming a respected and who knows a beloved company to gamers, the catalogue they have, with EA’s sports titles, the Star Wars license and relevant franchises, along with a management that has made the right decisions with satisfying results.

 

 

 

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E3 Expectations (Part 2)

It’s the best time of the year for gamers, our “Super Bowl”, “Christmas”, E3 has arrived and it begins today with EA’s and Bethesda’s conferences, and what can we expect from this year’s event? New hardware? The beginning of the end for E3? Surprises? Or just leaks confirmations? We’ll discuss here what we wish we’ll see there.

Ubisoft

Always one of the funniest and craziest conferences every year, Ubisoft’s is long-awaited due to Watch Dogs 2, other franchises and the signature surprise at the end of the conference.

Watch Dogs 2: With a promising trailer being revealed this week, expectations around the title have grown, but with care due to the first game being affected by downgrading and promises that as it turned out weren’t fulfilled, but the new setting and leading character that appears to be more charismatic and interesting Aiden Pearce, a strong showing can help regain player’s trust.

For Honor: An unexpected announcement last year, For Honor was a pleasant surprise in last year’s conference, gaining praise in the media, being regarded by some as the best game of the event, presenting an interesting gameplay, with this year showing possibly being of the single player.

South park: Fractured but whole (that name): Being one of the biggest surprises, and considered one of the best RPG’s of the last generation South Park: The Stick of Truth get’s a sequel, despite the promise of the show’s creator of never releasing another game again, being of the most expected games of the event.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands: The surprise announcement of last year, Wildlands released a new trailer recently that has received a lot of attention for its squad based gameplay, reminding The Division and Far Cry outpost approach, this year’s showing might focus on how the gameplay works and the story is approached.

Just Dance/Rabbids/VR: Possibly the embarrassing moment of the conference, with a celebrity singing a song, dancers doing something you’ll never be able to do at home, and maybe a strange VR demo.

Surprise game: The company announced that they’ll unveil a new IP online focused, that no details were leaked, surprisingly, and rumours claim that as well as this new IP, a new Splinter Cell game could be announced, after 3 years of Blacklist release.

Sony

After a weak showing last year, but filled with some incredible fan service moments, Sony comes back looking into surpassing 2015’s presentation showing exclusives and enhancing their 3rd party partnerships.

Last Guardian release date: After what it seems “decades” after the original reveal, Last Guardian came back in 2015 redesigned for the PS4, albeit not showing innovations from the old trailer, staying silent for almost 1 year, when some news and previews were revealed in the past few weeks, a release date is expected but with some hesitance from gamers due to the long development cycle.

God of War 4 Reveal: Since the release of the lukewarm Ascension, the franchise has remained radio silenced with no news except for some leaked art, that teases that the setting will be focused on Nordic mythology, with a Kratos sporting a huge beard, but so far Santa Monica hasn’t confirmed anything, and in Monday’s conference it is seemed as the main title to Sony.

Another Horizon Zero Dawn demo: A new gameplay demo should be presented, showing a new part of the game, after the same demo being used last year, especially since the hype around it has increased considerably after the trailer revealed last week giving more details about the story, that sounds very interesting, the beauty of the graphics, and more about the leading character background, and a release date of February 2017.

FF7 Remake/Shenmue 3: Part of the biggest surprises of 2015’s E3, both games are supposed to return this year, with maybe a date to the first part of FF7, and a demo of the successfully funded Shenmue 3.

COD Campaign demo: With the unwanted title of most hated video game trailer in Youtube history, in comparison, Battlefield 1 is most well received one, Infinite Warfare has the task of regaining momentum for a franchise that has suffered of fatigue and decreased, but still high, sales with a setting in space promising new gameplay and an engaging story, and despite the disbelief, the crew behind it is very talented, with former employees from Naughty Dog and Rise of The Tomb Raider.

Sony Bend project reveal: Rumoured as “Dead Don’t Ride” the long-awaited Bend project might be finally revealed with no real news regarding the game except for a possible title, being their first one since Uncharted: Fight for Fortune.

Crash Revival: This probably won’t happen but due to Sony teasing for past few years, fans are clamouring for a new entry in the franchise that hasn’t seen a new title in years.

Nintendo

With the announced death of Wii U, and the release of NX for next year, it seems as a transitional year for the company, without a Nintendo Direct, and no presence of NX.

Zelda: The main title for Nintendo, it will be presentend with a demo that according to sources, may last up to 1 hour and a half, scheduled to be released both to NX and Wii U, being an open-world RPG with a strong Western influence.

Pokemon: A demo of Pokemon Go is expected and the new Pokemon Sun/Moon through the company Treehouse streaming.

Other Games

Resident Evil 7 or reboot: After the debacle of Resident Evil 6, being considered by fans as the lowest point of the franchise, a new entry or a complete reboot could happen, being presented at Sony’s stage, especially if we consider Capcom’s recent history with the Japonese company, possibly with a sneak peek of RE 2 remake.

Telltale’s Batman: One of the most interesting games in the event Telltale’s Batman is expected to have a strong showing with the voice cast being revealed with the likes of Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, allowing you to play as both Batman and Bruce Wayne.

Mafia 3: Another open-world title, Mafia 3 will have an extensive demo on IGN, showing more of this enticing title, that promises one of the best soundtracks ever seen in a game, a livelier world and a story that will tackle serious themes such as racism, police violence, amongst others.

Final Fantasy XV: In their final marketing push before the September 30 release, FF XV must appear with a new demo, showing the game’s combat and characters dynamic in battle.

GTA V single player DLC: After photos of actor in Rockstar to shoot something for GTA V, expectations have increased regarding the possibility of the single player DLC promised by Rockstar when the game released, and rumours of it happening in Liberty City have popped due to leaked images of what appears to be the city running on GTA V’s engine.