EA arrives on Live Arcade

Publisher taps Bizarre Creations to develop its debut XBLA game, Boom Boom Rocket; online marketing VP Chip Lange explains what took so long.


When Microsoft brought the original Xbox online in November 2002 with its Xbox Live service, there was one glaring omission from the list of publishers supporting online play in the form of Electronic Arts. It was not until May of 2004 that Microsoft announced it had brought the publisher on board its original online initiative during its Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference.

At the same conference, Microsoft introduced the world to Xbox Live Arcade, a new service that would let Xbox owners download casual and classic games to the original Xbox, with a slate of initial offerings from Namco, PopCap Games, and Garage Games. The service picked up steam with the November 2005 release of the Xbox 360 and quickly saw publishers like Konami, Capcom, and Midway sign up to digitally distribute their games, but EA again waited on the sidelines.

The world's largest third-party publisher is waiting no longer, as EA today announced its first foray onto the Xbox Live Arcade downloadable game service, a rhythm-based game called Boom Boom Rocket. The game is being developed by a team at Bizarre Creations (Project Gotham Racing 3, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved) and designed by EA's casual game community Pogo.

Boom Boom Rocket takes players through a 3D cityscape, requiring them to blow off fireworks in time with the beat of 10 original songs. The better players keep the beat, the more spectacular the fireworks displays become. If they can perfect the game's songs, players will be rewarded with new fireworks designs. Each song will have three different difficulty settings, and players can play normal, speed, or multiplayer head-to-head games on one console. While the game won't include online multiplayer, it will feature Live Arcade standard leaderboards.

While Boom Boom Rocket is the first EA game for Live Arcade, it won't be the last. The publisher stated that it has additional games currently in development for the service. Boom Boom Rocket is set to arrive on Live Arcade this spring.

GameSpot recently spoke to EA vice president of online marketing Chip Lange, who boldly promised Boom Boom Rocket would be "the most fun you're going to have on Xbox Live Arcade all year." He also answered questions about the publisher's debut on the downloadable service, what types of games EA would make available, and on which platforms they will appear.

GameSpot: Why did it take so long for Electronic Arts to get onto the Xbox Live Arcade?

Chip Lange: We've been working on this game for a while, from getting to that fun center and that feel-good place that defines great XBLA games, and then partnering with a world-class developer to take this thing from being a good XBLA game--and I would argue there's a lot of "good" XBLA games--to being something that's very special that we can be proud of launching our presence on the Arcade with.

GS: EA has plenty of development teams of its own that have produced some pretty successful games. Why go to a developer outside the company for this?

CL: When the Pogo team, who had the genesis of the idea of Boom Boom Rocket, were looking for a developer who had some experience on the Xbox Arcade got together [with Bizarre Creations], it just felt like a good match. The Bizarre Creations guys felt like they had a good, solid grasp of the fun factor we were after, and they were able to create a development timeline as well as add to the design and the feel of the game that made us feel this was the best path we had to get a game done in a limited timeframe with a high degree of quality. It was one of those "1+1=3" equations. You had a great design and a great developer, and it really took the game to a whole new level of fun factor.

GS: You say the developers had a limited time frame. From the beginning of design to release, how long are we looking at here?

CL: About 10 months.

GS: Will EA release new songs, fireworks designs, and other downloadable content for Boom Boom Rocket?

CL: We haven't announced anything. Certainly this game design lends itself to that type of addition, but we don't have any plans to announce today on incremental content that goes beyond that. I think there's enough content in the game right now to keep people banging on this thing for a long time.

GS: Will Boom Boom Rocket fit under Microsoft's 50MB size limit, or will Microsoft make an exception for it, as it is doing with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night?

CL: I haven't heard of any exemption being made; we're designing games to the 50MB spec and we're happy with the content we've been able to get in there. It's kind of fun to design to that because it makes you design a game that is wonderfully simple but elegantly addictive.

GS: Is Geometry Wars creator Stephen Cakebread actually involved in the development of Boom Boom Rocket?

CL: I actually don't know off the top of my head. I know their team has been deeply involved with the Pogo team, and Bizarre Creations is bringing a great team to the table.

GS: Can we expect EA games to be appearing on the Wii's Virtual Console service and the PS3 PlayStation Store in the future?

CL: I think it's safe to assume that any platform that has a good, solid business center and a community around it will be supported. I think we develop products on more platforms than any other publisher in the world. I'm not announcing anything on the Virtual Console or the PS3, but certainly we evaluate all of that, and we've got the development capacity to get our content to any platform where it matters.

GS: On these platforms, are the plans just for new titles like Boom Boom Rocket, or will we start to see catalog titles from the SNES and Genesis era, maybe a mix?

CL: What you can assume is that we're looking at the whole landscape. One of the nice things about EA is we've got such a wonderful library of classic IP and such a wonderful pipeline of developers to design fresh new things like Boom Boom Rocket that we've kind of got the best of both worlds in our ability to mine both of those worlds and localize them onto those respective platforms as responsible.

GS: With Boom Boom Rocket being a Pogo-branded game, will it make it onto the PC?

CL: We're only launching it on the Xbox Live Arcade right now, and we'll gauge how it does and see how this thing migrates as a franchise.

GS: Was there a specific reason for the choice to only have offline head-to-head multiplayer?

CL: In the concept phase, we discussed doing a Live multiplayer mode, but we decided to put our resources into the single-player experience, which in our view is the most important game mode. The core game mechanic isn't as much about competition as it is individual achievement.

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Avatar image for frazzle00

When will SNK bring out its arcade hits on Xbox Live Arcade :(? Now that's an announcement I'll actually care about.

Avatar image for soulessblade

Hey world! EA = Evil Absolute! Whilst these guys as a publisher used to be good, their habits of forcing developers to release titles before they're acutally ready (before they've been properly beta tested!), and buying out competition and shutting them down, has really turned me off them. I agree they've turned into the empitome of a souless corporation. That said, I'd love to see some of their classic titles re-released on XBlive as some of my old carts don't work anymore. I'd love to play an updated version of Shadow of the Beast, or the The Immortal. Support all Platforms! Take care.

Avatar image for blackace

I would rather have Chu Chu Rockets. Boom Boom Rockets sounds a little like Fantavision. Fireworks?!? =oP I'll probably pass on this game. I wish they would hurry up and bring out Major Havoc, Deluxe Asteroids and Tempest. There are a lot better old school games that need to be on Live Arcade. I would even take classic like Root Beer Tapper, Toobin & Gyruss for $3 a pop.

Avatar image for GuyverV

i've been turned off by EA in the last few years. batman, superman, marvel rise of the imperfects, madden, battlefield modern combat. the only games they make that i like are fight night and tiger woods (and i prefer hot shots and golden tee to woods). they've just become a huge corporate giant with no soul that buys licenses to prevent other companies from making better games (marvel vs. capcom 3, nfl 2k series). additionally they put advertisements in their games without passing along any of the millions they're making onto those that keep their company afloat (advertisements are how we make things cheaper people). so not only are we paying them, but so are the companies that advertise in their games.

Avatar image for GFofgaming

Cool Live! is getting more and more support from third party crews. Any boost from EA is a massive one. Though, I can tell u and aint never ever spend money like crazy on Arcade, I rather want next-gen games and pay more.

Avatar image for CyphenX

I completely agree with PantsOfFury (nice name too): CHU CHU ROCKET for the win!

Avatar image for StumpyTrash

sounds mildly entertaining... they had better not charge more than 400 points for it if they want it to sell though.

Avatar image for cant_find_name

*sigh* this sounds like Fantavision from the ps2.....that game was fun

Avatar image for TryMe01

Boom Boom Rocket, lol! more like Boom Boom Crash....

Avatar image for PantsOfFury

Speaking of great games that should be on XBLA that have a name like Boom Boom Rocket. How about Chu Chu Rocket? Not only was that game massively addicting, it's perfect for online.

Avatar image for datniccah187

EA has kinda fallen off in the past few years especially in the sports market. They still make some quality games, but definately as far as sports are concerned other than madden EA has fallen off.

Avatar image for RaiKageRyu

LOL. "Boom Boom Rocket"

Avatar image for ElectrolightSH

EA sucks big fat monkey turds. This game as well as any other EA Xbox Live Arcade games is just going to be a big rip-off just like all their other games. You and I both know that they are going to nickel and dime you for content that should have been free in the first place.

Avatar image for crithon

I love the head line "EA Arrives on Live arcade." you might as well have Whitney Houston stand on a table and announce it onto Gamespot news page. Oh well, this reminds of Square Enix where they usually are the last who appear on a console to release games. It's as if they found out "Wait, you can make money here?"

Avatar image for ultimate_zero

i'm looking forward to the console games EA are working on.

Avatar image for -HCMF-

So is EA going to micro us for each stage, or each bullet in your gun?

Avatar image for DiscGuru101

-Boom Boom Rocket?

Avatar image for comthitnuong

i don't know...EA hasn't been pumping out the good games lately

Avatar image for RunnerGunner480

Sounds good. I'll be checking it out.

Avatar image for minos30

i'm not putting anything EA on my 360. they're going to ask me my mail, and send me spam. EA is like microsoft they give you very small improvements on a game every year and charge $60 for new rosters or 400 for a 1/2 console.

Avatar image for GANGSTA287

I'm not DLing anything EA, it might corrupt my 360...

Avatar image for boocreepyfootdr

At least its something new and not a $15 port of Madden '93.

Avatar image for mjwickstrom1

I like EA, but I think it's safe to say that an arcade game should not be their main concern. They should currently be focused mainly on biringing more of their games to the nxt gen consoles and to also make them better throughout that transition. I'll check this game out, even though I'm sure it will suck!

Avatar image for Hoopin4thelove

more ea mumbo jumbo......... i said it once and i will say it again multiplatform games suck..... ea sucks and most multiplatform companies, im already on a ea boycott look at the superman,batman,godfather games......plus the sorry madden games we have experienced for so long stop buying this craptacular garbage.....................EA is in it for the buck and there games show it

Avatar image for starvinmartin

EA is the DEVIL!!!

Avatar image for fahad2mail

nice though.

Avatar image for DreamworkS12

Fantavision (PS2) much?

Avatar image for Darius_Dante

Can someone say "Fantavision"?

Avatar image for swe_hotshot

Why not Road Rash II?

Avatar image for Simsyas

If I remember correctly, EA was responsible for Shaq Fu. DO NOT WANT.

Avatar image for supersonic125

EA what a joke

Avatar image for mike360xoxo

Someone needs to shoot EA in the face.

Avatar image for OPOLO

I'll pass on these

Avatar image for huskerman34

maybe they will send roadrash and wing commander to live arcade? That would be awesome. I havent played them since 3do days. That was a bad year for gaming for anybody who owned a 3do.

Avatar image for excessiveforce

Three Words "Road Rash II"

Avatar image for Sandro909

I'm surprised they've been able to hold back EA for this long...

Avatar image for rebelmania23

If You Wanna Play Boom Boom Rocket Before It Comes Out Go On www.pogo.com it has it on there.

Avatar image for ashuncc2

Sounds cool. We will have to wait till Spring.

Avatar image for danwhittle123

EA suck part from madden

Avatar image for Legacyoftain

Hooray for EA.....Now hurry up and release Castlevania SotN already!!

Avatar image for Fire_Safety

We finally get a next gen sequel to Fantavision! Score!

Avatar image for dmastor

who cares!

Avatar image for YourDaddy88

lmao...are u serious...wow...boom boom crap

Avatar image for mattheadwilson

hey, what if they finally finished the second "strike" trilogy? remember soviet strike, nuclear strike, and coming soon to XBLA future strike! :) that would be sweet.

Avatar image for WestSideAzn

This game is interesting. I have never heard of such a game. I'll see the demo, and try to have fun.

Avatar image for fuzzybunny566

"drangel_jam Chu Chu Rocket anyone!?" that's what i keep thinking of everytime i see the name

Avatar image for NoLimitJay1

VC games > XBLA games

Avatar image for nikefreak

If they pull it off right, this could be a cool game... But I would like to see more songs and such available for it, I dont care what they say, after awhile 10 songs will get old... But that wont stop me from getting this lol :)

Avatar image for Rogerwaterz

I say we shoot the rockets at liberals! BOOM BOOM!!!!!! WEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Avatar image for Re_ensurer

Boom Boom Rocket! :lol:

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