“I don’t get it,” says one forum poster, “there’s nothing to do and the music is by a band I’ve never even heard of. Adding a bit of Linkin Park would probably make it at least worthy of my attention. It’s a bit shit if you ask me. It’s not even a game.”
While there is a small but strong resistance to the ever-increasing popularity of Proteus, the big game development companies are huge supporters of the direction the game is taking the industry, and one of them has been inspired to take the basic concept and make it their own. EA announced today that their next big gaming franchise will follow the example set by the current number one seller on the download charts, and it’s the much rumored DICE-developed and cheekily named ProtEAs. The name of which is said to be a conscious effort by the corporate heads to ensure that EA is the name you associate with this new breed of exciting games that players are happily paying out of their ears for.
We spoke to Davide Lock, Commercial Strategist at EA, about the game and how its development came about:
“The sales of Proteus were completely bewildering to us as it’s a game that, according to all of our Marketing Experts, goes against what we understand of saleability and monetization. There’s no multiplayer, guns or achievements. You just walk. And for some reason gamers seem to enjoy that. We have been forced to take note of this new trend and go with the majority flow in order to survive in the current gaming landscape.”
EA, the company itself, is also going through a massive rebranding at this moment in time to further push this new direction they’re taking with the kind of games they’ll be selling to players. They’re keen to emphasize they’re affiliation with the ‘art game’ and as such are now insisting to be referred to as “Electronic Arts”. They’re claiming that the company was originally named this to ensure that the art of games is part of their branding and to demonstrate that it is at the forefront of their concerns.
No More Zzzzzzzzz
Electronic Arts will still be holding on to all their previously successful franchises, but a few changes will be made. They recently held a meeting with DICE to discuss how they can transfer some of the innovative ideas from ProtEAs into their other huge and upcoming title Battlefield 4. The hope is that the additions will further appeal to their players and encourage them to pay even more for the game through DLC packs. The result is a new gameplay mode called ProZeas, which incorporates the wildly popular Zombies co-op mode from rival franchise Call of Duty, as well as the walking gameplay of ProtEAs.
Further details on ProZeas came from two of DICE’s Key Gameplay Merchants, Mike Sit and Alex Swivel:
“We’re really excited about this new gameplay mode and think our players will be too. There’s two teams, one of which has access to guns and will need to defend the building they’re situated in by gunning down the zombies on the outside. This side will also need to be wary of sunlight streaming in as it will harm them; boarding up the windows is the only option to prevent consequent melting by direct sunlight.”
“On the other side, we have a team of zombies. They’ve been over exposed to the rays of light outside world and find themselves unable to resist chasing animals around and staring at trees. They’ll try to clamber into the building to drag the other team out the gritty and grey interior and into the sunshine.”
We’re told that DICE have more tricks up their sleeve for the Battlefield 4 single player too, but they wouldn’t reveal those until a later date. They did say that they had spent months capturing the sounds of slow moving footsteps though. Does this mean we’ll be lowering our guns during entire walking-only levels in Battlefield 4? It certainly looks that way.
“As Proteus proves, a game like this does appeal to a large player base, and it seems that money is just being thrown at it, to just…walk around. We think more can be done to this formula. Naturally, being the market leaders we are, we’ve noticed the lost monetization potential of Proteus, and so we’ve developed our own in-house version of the game that acknowledges that.”
Putting The “Pro” In ProtEAs
Conversation was then brought back around to ProtEAs, much to our delight. Apparently, DICE have been working hard to make sure the pixel sizes of their new title will match those in Proteus. The palette, the creatures and the other randomly placed objects in Proteus have also been transferred almost directly into ProtEAs. Electronic Arts don’t want to mess with the basics of the popular game, anyway. In fact, you could almost say that the game is a complete clone upon looking at the first screenshots.
There are some notable differences, however. One of which is the introduction of a “Guiding Path,” which can be brought up at any time to show you suggested scenic routes. By following these, you’ll be able to unlock achievements for demonstrating your ability to follow orders. There’s also a shop placed on the island, where you can visit and spend real money on various in-game items. Fancy some shades to look at the sun without being blinded? How about a spade for digging up sand on the beach? Electronic Arts assured us that the items won’t break the experience of the game, only enhance, just before they rubbed their hands together and started cackling in unison.
The major addition that ProtEAs will have that Proteus doesn’t is an online mode, at a cost. Players can connect to a server where up to 16 players can wander around the island together. If you want to enhance the experience, though, there will be a number of DLC packs available from day one of the game’s release. Electronic Arts mentioned that they were taking the walking game to the “next level” by bringing in all sorts of requested features with these DLC packs. Here’s the list they shared with us:
- Online Pass – $9.99
- Hiking Gear Collection – $4.99
- Frogs With Faces – $4.99
- Footsteps Sounds Pack – $3.99
- Speedrun Add-on – $4.99
- Planes, Trains, Automobiles – $4.99
- BrotEAs Mega Brospansion – $9.99
- ProZeas Cross Promotional Edition – $7.99
- Create Your Own Character – $3.99
- Epic Weapon & Resource Pack – $2.99
- Ultra Weapon & Resource Pack – $1.99
- Mega Weapon & Resource Pack – $1.99
Lastly, Electronic Arts were keen to showcase their marketing campaign adverts that they hoped would discourage people from playing Proteus and to seek a similar experience in their own title. As you can see in the picture advert to the right, the plan is to point out that Proteus can also be linked to Proteus Syndrome, the congenital disorder that causes terrible skin overgrowth and monstrous bone development. This will hit all major online stores and be plastered all over gaming websites to ensure that players get the message that Electronic Arts want to get across – they’re the big boys on the art game scene.
“We figure if players can be convinced that Proteus got its name from Proteus Syndrome, because if you play it for too long you begin develop a form of the disorder, then players may not be so willing to play it.”
As to questions as to whether they thought this was insensitive to sufferers of Proteus Syndrome and potential accusations of slander, Electronic Arts merely said that “all’s fair in love and war.” They added that they were only joking around and don’t intend to cause any harm – they’re a business at the end of the day, and they have to make money. They also informed us that they’ll be donating 0.02% of sales to the charity Proteus Syndrome Foundation too.