EA Play Live 2020 Shouldn’t Have Been A Conference

June 19, 2020

Sometimes holding an E3 or equivalent press conference isn’t always the right call. They’re fantastic when you have a few big games to show or a number of announcements, but they can easily fall flat unless they’re jam packed with excitement. You might remember a few years ago when EA took to the stage to announce a number of games years away from release using wireframe models and developer interviews. There was largely no substance to the event and the event was derided for it. EA Play Live 2020 was largely a repeat of that moment, just with a few seconds of next-gen target renders instead of wireframes.

Going in to EA Play Live 2020 I already knew that we weren’t likely to see a whole lot of big new games, but even I wasn’t prepared for just how barren it would be. We saw some fantastic looking smaller games coming from the EA Originals label like Hazelight’s It Takes Two and new free to play arena shooter Rocket Arena, but that was almost it. Titles such as those are the sweetener in a conference from a major AAA publisher, but today EA tried to pass them off as the meat in their lineup sandwich.

Beyond those EA Original’s EA’s internal teams were blatantly missing. While we already knew that there wouldn’t be a Battlefield game releasing this year, the lack of DICE at the show was telling, especially with nothing new from Popcap, Maxis or BioWare either. We got a great new look at Star Wars Squadrons, but as fantastic as that game looks, it wasn’t enough to hold up the 45 minute show. A single sparkle alone does not make a spectacle.

The show seemed largely focused on showing us how good things could look on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, without actually announcing anything of substance for them. We got glimpses of sports games in a montage trailer that seemed to be mostly cinematic, but even Madden and FIFA didn’t get the billing they normally would. In fact, the main call out for EA PLAY Live 2020 seemed to be the two cars and a tree we saw from Criterion and BioWare respectively, along with a minute long video of a couple of dudes saying Skate was coming back. Theoretically we were looking at models from a new Need for Speed game (which was teased prior to the show) and Dragon Age 4, but we have no way of actually knowing that, because no context was given. Was it Skate 4, was it a reboot of the series, is it even a console game? We don’t know, because the video seemed deliberately written to give the most vague of announcements possible, allowing them to avoid actually commuting to a singular vision or reveal.

We had more time spent on Sims fans talking about how much they love the game and the diverse freedom it gives them (which is wonderful and should be celebrated),then we did on new game announcements from EA’s internal studios. When you’re less than six months from the start of a new generation and you can get through an entire major press conference without revealing a brand new AAA game, things don’t look particularly bright.

Sometimes, you just shouldn’t have a press conference. This is something that other publishers like Bethesda and Square Enix have spoken to in the past. If you have nothing to show, you’ll only serve to disappoint some of your most ardent fans. This was very much one of those situations. The lack of excitement and announcements shows that EA Play Live 2020 being presented as a press conference was a mistake and would have been better off being a series of tweets or press releases.