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EA's Frostbite 3 titles skipping Wii U

EA's Frostbite 3 titles skipping Wii U

Thu 09 May 2013 5:23am GMT / 1:23am EDT / 10:23pm PDT
GamesDevelopment

EA has 15 titles planned for DICE's engine

In a presentation by DICE technical development director Stefan Boberg obtained by NEOGaf, it has been revealed that Electronic Arts has 15 titles planned using the Frostbite 3 engine. Some of these titles are already known due to previous announcements and hints.

EA confirmed that Battlefield 4, Command and Conquer Generals, and the upcoming Star Wars games would be powered by Frostbite 3 during its earnings call. Bioware general manager Aaryn Flynn also confirmed back in March that Dragon Age 3 and the next Mass Effect will be developed using Frostbite 3.

The fact that EA is putting its weight behind DICE's proprietary engine is unsurprising. The surprising part is Frostbite 3 doesn't support the Wii U, meaning EA's major titles won't be making an appearance on the console.

"We right now don't have support for the Wii U in the Frostbite engine. The reason for that is it takes development time. What should we focus on to create the best possible Battlefield experience? We are now focused on PC and the current-gen platforms, and then there might be other platforms in the future that we can't talk about," DICE executive producer Patrick Bach told Eurogamer at GDC.

"[Frostbite 3] has never been running on WiiU. We did some tests with not too promising results with [Frostbite 2] and chose not to go down that path," tweeted DICE technical director Johan Andersson in response to a fan's tweet.

The news leaves Nintendo's console as the odd man out, at least where Electronic Arts is concerned.

26 Comments

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

388 180 0.5
Wow, so what they said about Wii U running Frostbite 2 in past press conferences was just an all-out lie then? Quel surprise.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Patrick Frost on 9th May 2013 7:26am

Posted:A year ago

#1

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
Actually no Patrick. As the article states they did tests with Frostbite 2 on the Wii and they were not promising. That does not mean it it was not running on it. Frostbite 3 never ran on it.

I am not surprised by this at all. Nintendo stays behind tech wise, while engines and tools evolve. It is not financially viable for studios or publishers to maintain old tools and engines as well as different workflow just to support aging hardware. The Wii was sucessful as a console, but 3rd party sales were not really (considering the number of hardware installed). The WiiU seems less successful than the original Wii, so 3rd party publishers and studios not supporting it makes sense.

Next gen Playstation and Xbox will be able to do anything the WiiU does and more and do so with hardware that is keeping pace with game development tools. The only thing next gen consoles won't have is Mario.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

869 1,277 1.5
Despite Nintendo's desperate attempts at wooing third party games to their new system the Wii U's third party support is looking as bad as the Gamecube and Wii's. There are not only major titles(not just EA's) that are skipping the Wii U in favor of 360/PS3/PC versions but also titles announced for PS4/Next Box/PC that also aren't coming out for Wii U.

This video highlights nearly 50 titles skipping the Wii U in favor of other systems: http://www.gamepolitics.com/2013/05/06/andrew-eisen-everything-wii-u

Perhaps all of those developers are just waiting for the Wii U's install base to increase but even the most hardcore fanboy would have to admit that things aren't looking so well for Nintendo's third party offerings at the moment. I'm still going to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially until they atleast get thru the holidays. But they are going to have to do alot more than Bayonetta 2 in order to win back all those core gamers they've been courting since last November.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 9th May 2013 8:21am

Posted:A year ago

#3

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
@Paul: install base is not gonna cut it for the Wii U i feel. Look at the original Wii - it beat both the PS3 and 360 and has close to 100 million units sold. Yet few of the major publisher really supported it. Sales of Wii titles is very poor considering the number of consoles. The only exception is the first party stuff.

Even if the Wii U reaches similar numbers (and with next gen around the corner and the Wii U essentially still being below par of a PS3 even, this is doubtful), publishers simply won't be interested in it.

The gap in development between next gen and Wii U is too great. It's not a simple port or even a minor re-work. You are talking assets, code and design work and in some cases using an entirely different tool chain (as is probably the case for Frostbite 3).

Posted:A year ago

#4
An ill advised and under performing platform has now started to see erosion of its retail price and AAA developer/publisher support!
Why Nintendo has fought so hard to keep the miss-comprehension going that the Wii-U is Gen-8 quality is beyond me.

I said at the time of launch, that the machine was sub-par and whoever proposed this route to market needed to be removed from the company and a new team parachuted in to redress the lost business opportunity of online, AAA titles and market standing that has been eroded by a particular egregious business style from some high profile company executives.

To confuse the customer-base that the Wii-U was comparable with other gen-8 consoles is to deceive the people who pay your wages. From the chaotic scenes of trying to explain the performance, online handling, dual Wii-U GamePad support, and backward compatibility - overabundant hype that has turned out to be incorrect - not forgetting one of the worst handled Western media launches in the companies history.

The executives have proven that Nintendo needs a major restructuring after this VirtualBoy quality failure to launch!

Posted:A year ago

#5

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,137 914 0.8
That's a real shame as a huge number of 'next generation' games will be running on this technology platform, over time, beyond 15. Then you'll have the next Frostbite technology.

The Wii-U could have had a better architecture, even whilst keeping a low cost, but seeing as this locked down fact won't be changing any time soon, at least the gap here isn't as big as what you saw with the original Wii compared to its rivals.

I'm still expecting to see several cross platform games make it to Nintendo's console, but EA isn't quite as 'on-side' as we were originally led to believe, whether that's technology limitations, market drive or something else. A lot of games are falling by the wayside from EA.

Posted:A year ago

#6
@Adam - I understand your comments, and I do not want to write the system off as dead - I have too much respect for the core Nintendo team in Japan to write them off... but the writing is on the wall:

http://www.computerandvideogames.com/405021/just-cause-2-developer-wii-u-dev-kits-are-collecting-dust/

Fundamentally, we see a platform created for corporate means, rather than player needs - and we will still have to question if the performance of the system is anywhere near what was promised. The whole positioning this as comparable to Gen-8 hardware is the main failure.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by kevin williams on 9th May 2013 12:17pm

Posted:A year ago

#7

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
@ Kevin

When did they position the system as comparable to generation 8 hardware? Do you mean performance wise, or in terms of commercial competitiveness? It's obvious it was going to be a one sided fight specification wise, but there's plenty of time for Wii U to be a commercially competitive system.

I feel without EA's support, and with their initial failings with Wii U, Nintendo have perhaps blundered any chance at market leadership this generation. Yes, the core Nintendo IP will come, but that core IP was there for GameCube and that wasn't enough to push far passed twenty million systems. The only potential upside--and this is very hypothetical--is that without the presence of EA on the market, the other two major Western publishers (Ubisoft and Activision) will enjoy a greater share of the Wii U market. The first thing Nintendo need to do is actually build that market, though.

What's most interesting for me, though, are EA's pre-launch statements about Wii U through 2011 and 2012, and the actual support that materialised for the system. After all that talk of a a strong partnership, EA shipped a buggy version of Mass Effect 3 (without future DLC support) for full price whilst simultaneously launching Mass Effect Trilogy for the same price on other platforms. Is that the action of a publisher seriously committed to Wii U? John Riccitiello actually talked about Frostbite being used for Wii U, about an unprecedented partnership. Now while Wii U has been slow to take off, this partnership didn't even materialise at launch. It's clear before Wii U came out, EA had a very strong change of heart. What changed that, I wonder?

Posted:A year ago

#8

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

388 180 0.5
@Andreas: Back in the day when EA pledged their support for the Wii U, they said that the system was happily running Frostbite 2 in press conferences. They seem to have changed their minds about those results now.

Also, I'd be interested to know why you think that the Wii U is sub-PS3 in terms of abilities. In my eyes, whether a publisher wants to put a title on a system is simply a value judgement. For some reason, new hardware from Nintendo is something to stay away from until the 1st party software makes it worth them "bothering" to flash some cash at it. For Microsoft and Sony, there seems to be a different standard, it's something to excited about. What is the real difference though? More graphical processing power and CPU crunch? For companies like EA and Activision, who's KSP for their titles relies more on this I can understand but then there are other companies that have more design driven games for which this isn't so much of a problem. The fact that so many generation bridge games are being developed is surely evidence of this.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
@Patrick: don't recall EA saying it happily ran on WiiU, i remember a statement saying that Frostbite 2 ran on the WiiU. I can't recall specifics as to how well. But that might well be semantics. Considering Frostbite 2 runs, quite happily, on the 360, i would expect it at least runs "ok" on the WiiU.

Specifictions wise i would say that the WiiU is very similar to current gen consoles, internal storage aside. From a user point of view it offers little over the orignial Wii or current gen consoles. If i already have a Wii, why would i purchase a WiiU? As a stand alone system the Wii U fails to provide any kind of media bonus (you can't play DVDs or CDs) and their online service and interface is sub-par compared to XBL and PS Home. So it is a novelty kit, simply for gaming (and that's not necessarily a bad thing but it does make it less attractive for non-nintendo fans).

Additionally Nintendo are notoriously harsh on submission and technical requirements, making the process of developing for their platforms even harder.

But as i stated above, i simply feel that because of it being so backward in terms of specs, it is the fact that your workload almost doubles when creating a version for it. And if you do make a WiiU version, then you really should design in a few things to take advantage of the unique things - adding additional time and cost. Overall - it's just not worth it, as is clear by statements like those from EA and other publishers.

To me it's simply a matter of not realistically being able to make games for all platforms and it being a logicistal and finanically better call to focus on next gen and PC in the future - as it will be almost 3 for 1. The Wii U will be the odd one out and currently the installed base is also not there yet to give independant developers a lot of room to create Wii U exclusive titles (not if they want to shift units).

It's (reasonably) easy to create generation bridge games for PC or even XBLA or PSN. Those platforms have far less restrictive requirements for publishment and an easier submission process (non-existant on PC if you don't go via steam). For Nintendo it does not matter if you are an indie game or a AAA title - they treat every submission the same way and not only are they very restrictive with technical requirements, but also keep a close eye on content.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,232 2,161 1.0
The only problem the Frostbite 2 or 3 engine should have with the Wii U is clock speed. They were likely designed around CPU's that run about 3.2 Ghz so when a system runs slower at the clock level, it has problems. What I find ironic is that both the PS4 and the Next X will run much slower than 3.2 Ghz. That means EA and DICE will have to overcome the exact same limitations that they are having with Wii U.

Also to note, Mass Effect 3 already runs fine on Wii U with the Frostbite 2 engine without much optimization to it. Mike, your article is saying that ME3 is running on Frostbite 3. You might want to edit that to say the next ME game will run on Frostbite 3 as ME3 ran on Frostbite 2.

I'm also quite peeved at EA for pledging such heavy support and then backing out of it. I'm really starting to wonder if that Origins rumor has weight to it because the Frostbite engine issue doesn't smell right. I'm pretty sure everybody at Straight Right was jawed dropped at EA for saying the Frostbite 2 engine doesn't run well on Wii U.

Also to note, there is not a single next gen multiplatform game engine that the Wii U could not run. It may not run it as fast but it will indeed run them. This is not like the Wii situation where it simply was not capable of running most game engines.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,137 914 0.8
The only problem the Frostbite 2 or 3 engine should have with the Wii U is clock speed. They were likely designed around CPU's that run about 3.2 Ghz so when a system runs slower at the clock level, it has problems. What I find ironic is that both the PS4 and the Next X will run much slower than 3.2 Ghz. That means EA and DICE will have to overcome the exact same limitations that they are having with Wii U.
The clock speed is pretty irrelevant.

Not only do the PS4 and next Xbox have 8 cores clocked at 1.6GHz (compared to 3 at an alleged 1.2GHz), they are significantly more 'dense' in terms of transistors and features, leading to superior performance. The Wii-U CPU is very small considering it uses the same size process as the PS3 or Xbox 360.

The different is so much more than just the clock frequency and we've seen this in PC gaming and architectures as of late, where it not unusual to see low clock speeds but high performance - especially from Intel Core series chips.
Also to note, Mass Effect 3 already runs fine on Wii U with the Frostbite 2 engine without much optimization to it. Mike, your article is saying that ME3 is running on Frostbite 3. You might want to edit that to say the next ME game will run on Frostbite 3 as ME3 ran on Frostbite 2.
The game uses Unreal Engine 3. Frostbite will be used for future games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 9th May 2013 1:38pm

Posted:A year ago

#12

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,137 914 0.8
I understand your comments, and I do not want to write the system off as dead - I have too much respect for the core Nintendo team in Japan to write them off... but the writing is on the wall
I know things look 'ominous' but what I was getting at is if the business drive was there from EA, you'd likely see versions of these games anyway. Crysis 3 on Wii-U collapsed despite being technically possible, even ready to be released if Cevat Yerli is to be believed - and it was EA's decision not to release it. On the other hand, multiple Ubisoft titles will make it to Wii-U, including Watchdogs. Because they have a business drive to release on Wii-U.

I totally agree about the system having technical shortcomings, but I still insist this is nothing like the original Wii. We're still looking at a multi-core, shader based architecture. So ideas and engines are transferable, if it makes sense for the company at the time. EA have made a conscious decision not to transfer their technology or scale down games for Wii-U for their own reasons (as hinted time and money required, then there's the expected financial returns).

I also agree that Nintendo's marketing has lacked greatly and their release positioned the console against the 360 and PS3 (with no software) and expected then to go up against the next generation platforms. Still, it doesn't mean there's no possibility of turning things around. It also doesn't make us any less baffled why EA pledged so much support only to remove it completely.

Posted:A year ago

#13
Its interesting. The last console I can remember EA skipping on was the Dreamcast. Its a big play by EA. Some immediate thoughts:

a) Can no EA actually benefit Nintendo and the WiiU? The main consumers for the WiiU are the ones interested in Nintendo titles (Mario Kart, etc). No EA will free up shelf space, and cash for these consumers to buy more Nintendo titles.

b) Could this also be a lure for other publishers? No EA, means less competition for non-Nintendo titles.

c) What happens if the WiiU starts selling like hotcakes (as it should over this Xmas)? Will EA jump back on-board (probably...).

d) What happens if either the PS4 or the 720 "fail" in the marketplace (compared to the other) - will EA do the same?

e) This might help keep EA's costs down - but what happens to its revenue from the lack of WiiU?

f) (the obvious one) - is this the move that kills the WiiU? Can Nintendo survive on the platform with no EA at all?

EA obviously have a business reason for not hitting the WiiU - not a technical reason. Any technical comments are just "excuses" to make them seem like less "jerkish" to any WiiU consumers that want EA titles on their system.

Given that I have the WiiU SDK & specs in front of me, I can *assure* everyone that the WiiU is extremely powerful - and easily a match for (most) apps on the 360 and PS3. However, the WiiU is pretty much a traditional console. You need to optimise for it, and you need to design an engine/base for it. Cross-compiling C/C++ using a PowerPC compiler is not going to cut it.

Personally, I think its a pity. Although I generally *never* buy EA games, I would have liked the *option* of owning Mass Effect 4 on the WiiU (and possibly other games). Then again, after finishing ME3... :P

Posted:A year ago

#14

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,232 2,161 1.0
Correct, Adam. All the Frostbite talk made me completely forget about UE3.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Art C. Jones
Writer / Blogger

58 78 1.3
Pretty much every step EA has taken over the last 5 years has been bad.
This is just more of the same.

Posted:A year ago

#16

matthew bennion
Web Development

27 25 0.9
Ironically I said this prior to release of the wii u and my comments were talked down on this site... no one is going to want to spend the resources reverse engineering and downgrading games for wii u when the next generation is released. Financially for a developer it makes little sense unless the user base soars and is comprised of those only owning a wii u !

Edited 3 times. Last edit by matthew bennion on 9th May 2013 5:38pm

Posted:A year ago

#17

David Radd
Senior Editor

358 78 0.2
Not having EA games on Wii U is not a positive. There isn't exactly an abundance of third-party support right now that EA's non-participation can be easily dismissed. I realize EA isn't a lot of people's favorite company, but if they don't support the Wii U that means no Madden, no FIFA, no Battlefield, no Need for Speed, no Sims. It also means those Star Wars games they have planned won't be coming either. These are big mainstream hits that could benefit the Wii U.

What's a bit head-scratching is the complete reversal of EA's position from the same time last year. It'd be interesting to know what considerations went into this pivot.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by David Radd on 9th May 2013 7:27pm

Posted:A year ago

#18

Steve Peterson
West Coast Editor

107 72 0.7
I think one factor weighing heavily for third parties is this: The PS4, the next Xbox and the PC are all using the same basic architecture with an x86 processor. Thus you will likely see next-gen games coming out on all three platforms (and the Steam Box, if that ever becomes important, uses the same architecture, too). Porting will be trivial compared to what it took to go from Xbox 360 to PS3. The Wii U, on the other hand, uses a completely different architecture -- not even considering what it might take to do something interesting with the Gamepad controller.

So third parties are going to be reticent to support the Wii U just from the standpoint of the cost, in money, time, and development resources. With the current installed base and dreadful sales picture, most third parties will be taking a pass. If and when Nintendo shows some sales momentum, and some sizable installed base, I'm sure publishers will revisit the decision. I think many third parties are skeptical of Nintendo's ability to compete against Sony and Microsoft this Christmas, either against their current-gen offerings or against their next-gen consoles. Nintendo's going to have to post some impressive numbers to attract their attention.

Posted:A year ago

#19

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,011 1,408 1.4
@ Steve And I suspect Sony and Microsoft will have to post some UNIMPRESSIVE numbers at the same time. Keep in mind that for a while both the 360 and PS3 had multiple weeks of 45K or less per month sold worldwide... similar sales to what the Wii U posts now, but they never lost support. Western publishers have an inherent favoritism toward those companies, to the point of releasing games on them even has they post terrible financials and go out of business (as happened to almost all publishers this generation - almost no one was profitable, and even the giant of EA shrunk considerably).

Western pubs, aside from perhaps Ubisoft who have always been somewhat on board with Nintendo, will go down with the Sony and MS ship before putting any real weight behind Nintendo platforms.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 10th May 2013 12:19am

Posted:A year ago

#20

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
Winning!

Posted:A year ago

#21

Patrick Frost
QA Project Monitor

388 180 0.5
@Nicholas - I've always thought that Ubisoft have taken advantage of their position with Nintendo extremely well. They weren't complaining about raking in the cash on the Wii or the DS.

It's all very strange. As far as I can see Ubisoft and SEGA are the only publishers with a strong western presence that deal with the Wii U impartially. Maybe Capcom fall into this group too but then again they have understood for a long time that the right IP can make 3rd parties very successful on a Nintendo system.

Posted:A year ago

#22

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
@Nicholas: i'd be interested to find out why you think the Sony and MS ships are going down.

@David Radd: Yes publishers not supporting Wii U with core franchises is bad for the WiiU in the long run, but then again that should not come as a surprise. Look at what actually sells on the Nintendo platforms. People bought the Wii out of curiosity - played some of the sports titles and the mario games. Titles made by 3rd party franchises, which were part of core franchises for other platforms simply did not sell well. Games like BF and CoD will always be centred around PC, Xbox and PS3 - not just because of looks, but also because of established gaming ccommunities. XBL and PSN beat Nintendo's attempt at online hands down - both XBL and PSN have established communities, while Nintendo's service was a farce at launch.

There simply is no need to bring franchises like FIFA, BF and others to the WiiU - the unit sales won't be high enough to justify the additional work, time and cost to create the version. 8 out 10 people i know who own a Wii never used it beyond the first month. 9 out 10 people i know who bought a Wii did not buy a Wii U. It's not a dead platform, as there are far too many Nintendo fans that gladly buy anything the company throws at them every 6 months (much like Apple), and they will always buy the latest mario game, but that same crowd won't be huge in purchasing CoD, BF, Madden and FIFA. And that same crowd, for the most part, will have other platforms as well.

The WiiU won't be a disaster for Nintendo i don't think. But i doubt it will reach the installed base of the original Wii.

Posted:A year ago

#23
REDMOND, Wash.(BUSINESS WIRE) Nintendo today revealed full details about how the new Wii U next generation home console and its groundbreaking touch-screen Wii U GamePad controller can revolutionize not only video game play but also the way people find and watch TV and video content. (18/11/20012)
Can't really say that Nintendo did not position this machine as "Next Generation" hardware - unless they were thinking of another generation all together. I am sorry it is Nintendo management (mainly in the West) that brought a knife to a gun fight and are now playing the game of managing the expectation as the systems continues to under-perform. You can't really ignore this, why would they launch a under-performing console at this time not to fight in the Next Gen battle. Who fed the Japanese Kool-Aid that this was a comparable platform to launch against Sony and MS, is the question (though I am sure that position will be free soon!)

Regarding Nintendo getting owned by EA - if you sleep with dogs you get flees and EA are just there to promote themselves - Nintendo is now the victim as EA bales on them at one of the most inappropriate moments. Nintendo is now seeing a lot of publishers crossing the street to avoid them - and the whole issue of Wii-U online support has become a ticklish subject - I would not be surprised if E3 sees a number of publishers push Wii-U games to the back of the booth if not off the stand in the first place.

Posted:A year ago

#24

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

436 146 0.3
It still stinks hardware-wise. I really cannot understand how a system that is basically an underclocked Xbox 360 can not only claim to be next gen, but also expect to run games built with tagets such as the PS4 and Durango but on dual screens.... how did someonee dream up that idea?


I don't expect Nintendo to die. It's japanese market is huge and first party is loyal and does very well, but if it's smart it will release a WiiU 2 or something someway into this gen.

Posted:A year ago

#25

David Radd
Senior Editor

358 78 0.2
Andreas Gschwari: I know the reasons why publishers aren't supporting the Wii U en masse. Like a few of the other posters have indicated, I think it has far more to do with business than any technical shortcomings. I don't think there's any bias towards Sony and Microsoft - they're just looking at where their consumers are and they see neither their present or their future on the Wii U. The curious thing about EA is that it seems like the course correction came BEFORE the system launched. Some have suggested it was Nintendo reneging on an agreement to include Origin but it'd be nice to know what exactly happened outside of speculation.

Posted:A year ago

#26

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