EA unveils HTML5-based 'Strike Force' for multi-platform gaming


Electronic Arts is poised to launch Strike Force, an HTML5-based 3D multiplayer title enabling gamers to compete across smartphones, tablets, gaming handhelds and other Web-enabled devices.

EA began developing Strike Force in August 2011 and wrote the software in about five months, relying heavily on input from college interns. Development costs associated with writing for the HTML5 Web standard proved substantially cheaper than building console games of similar quality, EA Chief Creative Director Richard Hilleman told The New York Times: "We've learned how to exploit parts of HTML5 that nobody foresaw," he said.

The report adds that the cloud-based Strike Force is considerably more complex than other interactive shooter games written in HTML5. For example, players on PCs can control gun-toting robots as they make their way across a cityscape measuring 200 by 400 virtual meters, while another player can attack his friends by tracking their robots' movements on a tablet-optimized map. EA maintains there is next to no latency affecting gameplay regardless of each player's location. The publisher has also developed a number of HTML5 add-ons, including audio enhancements capable of generating more than 200 sounds.

Hilleman said conceiving games for multi-platform play will force EA to refine its pricing model, although the company has not yet determined how much it plans to charge for a title like Strike Force. Hilleman added that while HTML5 reduces conventional development costs, multi-platform experiences also necessitate narrative approaches optimized for different form factors and attention spans. For example, while a multiplayer title may allow gamers to go head-to-head across different platforms, the experience must compensate for the fact that the average gaming session on a smartphone is significantly shorter than the typical console session.

EA will formally unveil Strike Force Wednesday during Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) annual I/O developer conference in San Francisco. For now, the game runs exclusively on Google's Chrome browser, with all tablets also required to run Google's Android 4.0 mobile operating system (a.k.a. "Ice Cream Sandwich").

Earlier this month, Electronic Arts said it will shift its business away from premium mobile game sales to focus on the freemium model, calling free-to-play titles "the norm" moving forward. "We started to see that freemium was coming in, and it took us a long time to move over," Electronic Arts Senior Vice President and Group General Manager Nick Earl told All Things D. "In all candor, we are behind."

Earl added that EA has been slow to embrace the freemium model in part because the business is so different from one-time premium downloads. He said freemium games are essentially a live service that must support a host of transactions as well as thousands of daily active users. As a result, EA Mobile will now devote more of its resources to supporting individual titles and also will ship fewer games in the future.

For more:
- read this New York Times article

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