Electronic Arts is coming under serious flak this week, vexed by technical problems thwarting the integration of Xbox Live online play into the just-released Burnout 3: Takedown. This is EA’s first Live project, and some teething problems were certainly expected: although the current situation is more severe than had been anticipated.
The fundamental problem is that EA wanted to do things its own way when Microsoft has already set up a fairly rigid, and pleasingly workable, online gaming community. Indeed, it was this difference in views that prevented EA taking advantage of Live at an earlier stage. However, the arrival of Burnout 3 was hoped to remedy this conflict: bringing the two corporate giants together in a joyful jig of international gaming goodness.
Reports from Live enabled Burnout 3 players have, however, deviated from the entirely positive remarks expected. In fact, people are getting seriously frustrated that the product they were promised seems to have fallen flat for seemingly inexplicable reasons. Players are getting booted off servers, log-ins are failing, Xboxes are crashing, Friends Lists are vanishing… it is, in fact, a small catastrophe for the makers of Burnout 3: which is an absolutely excellent title (offline, at least!).
EA should expect some hefty criticism over this issue. Online gamers have been receptive towards the Xbox Live way of doing things, and EA’s intervention: separating game lobbies on a national basis and forcing opt-out mailing lists, has so far proved problematic. However, it is hoped that these problems will soon be rectified.
Later on today, Burnout 3 will be closed for play as EA carry out “scheduled server maintenance” and “lobby server deployment”, which will hopefully smooth out a few of the issues experienced thus far. We certainly hope so anyway: especially on behalf of all those who ran out and bought Burnout 3 on its release day specifically to get involved with Xbox Live!