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EA is slowly, but surely, finding its way on the Wii platform.
News reported by 
March 16, 2009, 18:14:36

During an interview conducted during an EA Community Event on Thursday, March 12, Peter Moore was surprisingly candid and forthcoming about EA's approach to sports games on the Wii. He admitted that the company was still feeling out how to create successful sports titles on the system that has taken the world by storm. Apparently, the plan is to keep trying different approaches until a franchise/sport gains traction, after which they will refine and iterate on that concept, the most successful example to this point being Tiger Woods Golf, which was not only EA's biggest sports title on the Wii in '08, but their biggest '08 Wii title, period. Further Tiger Woods games on the Wii will improve upon this winning formula. The upcoming Tiger Woods Golf 10 looks to be the definitive entry in the series thus far, featuring over 20 courses, improved motion control shot mechanics, robust simultaneous online play, and brand new (top-secret!) game modes that are sure to extend the already healthy life of the product. Virtual duffers should have a lot to look forward to.

Grand Slam Lite

EA is also capitalizing on the Wii's runaway success by developing new, exclusive sports titles that are specifically built around the platform and targeted at the Wii audience. EA Sports Active, EA's alternative to Nintendo's monstrously successful Wii Fit product, is aimed directly at the Wii's strong female base. EA Sports Active is a more Western-styled exercise alternative to the Eastern-influenced Wii Fit. Wii Fit was a groundbreaking product, but many complained that it lacked structure and direction, continuity and flow. EA Sports Active seems designed to rectify those shortcomings. It offers a comparable amount of exercises (which is to say, a lot), but the framework around those exercises is much sturdier. The user can quickly create and save entire routines, with customizable difficulty for each exercise. EA used fitness experts (including Oprah's personal trainer) as consultants for the product, and it shows. The routines that you create have a running comparison of cardio levels, strength training levels, etc., and you can easily adjust the balance to your liking. You can even enter the food that you've consumed and the extra-curricular exercise that you've done into the program, and it will factor them into your overall progress. EA Sports Active offers a much deeper, more serious exercise experience than Wii Fit, and I believe that Wii users who are looking for that experience will be very pleased by the product. It also offers a suite of sports-based mini-games, for users who are more concerned about having fun than burning calories. EA Sports Active is bundled with a leg strap (that holds the Nunchuk controller) and a tension cord for $59.99, and certain exercises are compatible with the Balance Board peripheral that is included in the Wii Fit package.

Sampras Serve

Another brand-new franchise that seems sure to make a strong impact on all Wii owners is Grand Slam Tennis, a motion-controlled tennis game that, even in an unfinished state, is already exceptionally playable and enjoyable. Grand Slam Tennis takes the simple, intuitive fun of Wii Sports Tennis (a very popular game that was bundled with the system) and expands on it with more depth, a fantastic roster that covers the gamut of tennis greats, from McEnroe to Sampras to Federer, and onl... oops, can't talk about that yet. There are several control options, to please everyone from beginners to experts and allow gamers of all skill levels to play together (which plays to, arguably, the greatest strength of the Wii platform).

Perhaps most interesting to Wii enthusiasts will be the integration of Nintendo's sophisticated new MotionPlus peripheral into both Grand Slam Tennis and Tiger Woods '10. This peripheral, which is to be bundled with Nintendo's Wii Sports Resort software, enhances the functionality and responsiveness of the standard Wii Remote controller. EA is one of the few developers that have been given early access to the unit, and their MotionPlus products might even beat the peripheral itself to market! It should be said, though, that both Grand Slam Tennis and Tiger Woods '10 are eminently playable, with or without the MotionPlus peripheral.

The Grand Slam Tennis franchise will be leading on the Wii platform - a bold choice, given that most Western developers have treated the Wii audience as little more than an afterthought, millions upon millions of red-headed stepchildren. When asked if EA had any plans to make the Wii version the lead SKU on any more multiplatform games, Moore replied that there were currently no plans to do so, and each game/franchise would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. He said that having Tennis lead on Wii was a logical choice, because it lent itself to the Wii platform. When asked if Tiger would lead on Wii, due to its success on the platform, he replied that Tiger was a strong seller on every platform, and would retain its multi-platform focus.

Atmospheric Conditions

Moore is also quite pleased with the sales and reception of Nascar Kart Racing, another Wii-exclusive franchise (in the style of Nintendo's mega-selling Mario Kart Wii) that debuted this year. In related news, a Nascar Sim is definitely not currently planned for the Wii. :(

Overall, EA is one of the only Western developers/publishers that is treating the Wii with the respect that it deserves as a market leader. Since the Wii's inception, they have rivaled Nintendo in bold, innovative use of the Wii's unique control scheme, but their ambition often exceeded their reach and budget, and the innovation was often retrofitted into existing products. Now that EA is developing more polished, original titles for the Wii, many from the ground up, they are truly coming into their own on the platform. The company's new approach seems to be based heavily around Nintendo's accomplishments, offering alternative or more in-depth experiences in genres that Nintendo has already had proven success with, but when the final products are this compelling and feature-rich, it's hard to argue with that approach.

Wii owners have been hurt by empty promises many times before, but titles like Grand Slam Tennis fully deserve the hype. I, personally, can't wait to get my hands on it again. Get excited.

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Posted: 03/16/09, 18:14:36    
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Wow, that was fast! Must have been an interesting event. If only I were invited... oh wait.

I think they definitely will benefit more from sports that have "simple" motions that translate to motion controls in obvious ways such as golf and tennis... maybe even baseball. Bowling? Though it is tough to see anyone but the most diehard bowling fans needing more much than Wii Sports already provides. Not so much football, basketball and soccer where motion controls can help a lot in moving players around and such but it isn't as obvious to the broader market how they work into the games.

Whether you love or hate their games, EA is one of the few publishers PERIOD, Western or Eastern, putting forth real effort on the Wii. Now if they can just get one of their "core" games over in full form... I will count Dead Space Extraction as a nice start only if it turns out to be the start of deeper, more fulfilling "core" games. If they just do what other publishers do and bring over stripped down versions of their bigger PS360 franchises, not quite as interested.

Posted by 
 on: 03/16/09, 18:27:27
Well, this event was just EA Sports. But the Boom Blox sequel looks awesome. I hope it has online play and MotionPlus support.

Posted by 
 on: 03/16/09, 18:38:54
EA's become a behemoth in general, so while people still see them as the "giant evil corporation", I'm still enjoying most of their work. I'm all for more Wii support, obviously. :p

GST... everything about that game thus far just sounds bad-ass. This may turn into a must-buy for me.

Posted by 
 on: 03/18/09, 04:21:58
Anand said:

Moore is also quite pleased with the sales and reception of Nascar Kart Racing, another Wii-exclusive franchise (in the style of Nintendo's mega-selling Mario Kart Wii) that debuted this year. In related news, a Nascar Sim is definitely not currently planned for the Wii. :(

HAHA!! Why wasn't I here then? I would've peed my pants laughing, as I almost just did!

Posted by 
 on: 04/06/12, 03:05:07

Posted by 
 on: 04/06/12, 03:09:12  - Edited by 
 on: 04/06/12, 03:10:20
I'm so confused.

Posted by 
 on: 04/06/12, 03:16:14

Anand and I were at the EA HQ in San Fran for this thing. This is the article that Anando wrote afterwards. I wasn't here yet; the part about the NASCAR Sim is due to the "~15 minute grilling" of Peter Moore I conducted. That was the majority of our 20 minute Q&A session.

Its such an inside joke (ie: only for the 9 or so people in that room, haha) that I was surprised to see it here.
Anand = funny guy.

Posted by 
 on: 04/06/12, 03:25:06

Does this help?

Posted by 
 on: 04/06/12, 03:28:59

There was a time when EA truly was the third party king on Wii. Godfather, Boom Blox, Grand Slam Tennis were all solid...okay, so that's only three games, but that's more than most third parties could boast!

Posted by 
 on: 04/06/12, 04:35:35
Ohhh, I remember you telling me about this when you were in New York last summer, I didn't realize that you guys actually go to talk to Peter Moore, and that you grilled him about a Nascar game, that's awesome!

Posted by 
 on: 04/06/12, 04:41:05

Haha, I don't really think I grilled him, but from Anand's POV (and maybe as an outside viewer, he had a better vantage point than the guy who was saying it; ie: I can't see the look on my own face) he said I was pretty intense and didn't really back down. I guess I kinda didn't?, haha. I went there, I wanted answers about that, I was wondering why they didn't have a game since 2005, and I asked.

Apparently things are really complicated with NASCAR games. Unlike football games where there is an NFLPA (Players Association), NASCAR doesn't have that. Therefore, you need INDIVIDUAL CONTRACTS with each driver, team, sponsor, track, etc. that appears in the game. Quite annoying. The 2003 was the best one I had played, and there was only a 34 race schedule (which is 2 short of the actual length) because the Pocono track didn't re-up for some reason. No good, sir.

Posted by 
 on: 04/06/12, 05:11:32
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