Saboteur, Dragon Age slated for Q1 '09

EA CEO tells analysts that Pandemic's WWII stealth actioner and BioWare's fantasy RPG won't make the 2008 calendar year.

Yesterday, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello spoke at the William Blair & Company Growth Stock Conference in Chicago. Besides revealing the existence of a new Need for Speed and top-down strategy elements in Godfather 2, the executive also delivered a double shot of less-welcome news. Namely, that two of the top games from EA's recently acquired BioWare and Pandemic studios won't be arriving this year.

When asked by an analyst about which of EA's new intellectual properties would be among its internal top 10 bestsellers for 2008, Riccitiello began listing his picks. "Mercenaries 2, Mirror's Edge, Spore, Dead Space, including subscriptions Warhammer [Online]--but that won't show up in NPD, Battlefield: Bad Company...that'll certainly get in there," he predicted. Then, the executive added "Saboteur and Dragon Age" before quickly tacking on the qualifier, "but those two won't make the calendar year because they're coming in fiscal Q4." EA's fiscal year ends on March 31, 2009, which means that both games will now arrive in the first three months of next year.

Today's revelation will be a blow to those awaiting Saboteur, which had been expected on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 sometime in 2008. First revealed last March, the game aims for a different take on World War II, casting players as a member of the French Resistance using stealthy commando tactics to battle Nazi occupiers. After an early version was shown to the press last year, the game has remained largely in the shadows.

Riccitiello's words were less of a shock to role-playing gamers awaiting Dragon Age, which EA previously announced would arrive before April 1, 2009. The PC game is a completely original IP, unlike BioWare's last Western-fantasy RPG, the Dungeons and Dragons-based Neverwinter Nights (2002). (BioWare farmed out development of its 2006 sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2, to independent RPG studio Obsidian Entertainment.) Currently, the Canadian studio's most public property is the sci-fi RPG Mass Effect, which was recently released on the PC after its 360 debut last year.

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