Sources in the industry say that EA has lost $273 million this quarter (hope you speak German). While one may see this as bad, and on paper it is, keep in mind that money spent on things like advertising for games (this quarter saw advertising for their new sports titles, Battlefield 4, among others) are realized instantly, it can take several months for games to realize their potential value and make up the return on investment. Seems strange that they’d lose money in the quarters that they release their big titles, but with AAA studios and the advertising and promotional budgets their titles are given, it’s not completely surprising.
On the flip side of the coin – that doesn’t mean they’re not feeling the pressure. The upcoming game Command and Conquer has been axed and the developer studio Victory Games is closing. Pandemic Studios, founded in 1998, was purchased by EA in 2007 and closed in 2009. Bright Light Studios founded in 2008 closed it’s doors in 2012. Danger Close, Black Box Games, EA Phenomic, and others – and that’s just since 2009. It’s kind of what you get when you focus on quantity over quality. That being said, most of the developers from these studios merge with larger studios or move on to greener pastures.
On the indie side of gaming – Starbound developers Chucklefish have announced that beta for the game is just around the corner. They’ve made a blog post on their website outlining the three stages they foresee the beta going through. Stage 1 is basically “alpha” in the most common terms – they suggest not playing during this period of the beta if you don’t like encountering bugs, having characters and worlds wiped by frequent patches and updates, and if you don’t want any “spoilers” before the game is fully released. There won’t be any major questlines through the game’s storyline and the game engine will lack polish and could run poorly on slower machines. Stage 2 is a more polished stage, but just barely. It will be more optimized and the feedback from slower computers will be vital for the game’s final performance. The major questlines still won’t be in yet but the sandbox aspect of the game will be close to complete. During the third and final phase (Stage 3) before release, it will be mainly about finishing it up, polishing the game, and prepping for it’s official release. They’ve also outlined that their plans for future post-release content and updates is going to be around a year’s worth. Obviously you shouldn’t feel entitled to any additional content, but this is more than we got after Terraria and obviously less than we got (and continue to get) with Minecraft.
Who all is planning on playing Starbound during the beta?