June 6, 2011 at 7:31 PM ET
From a new "Sims" game for Facebook to a new online social experience for the "FIFA Soccer" franchise to the highly anticipated online game "Star Wars: The Old Republic," game giant Electronic Arts spent Monday showing off games that emphasize social and online play.
During a press conference in advance of this week's video game extravaganza known as E3, Electronic Arts executives and the developers they work with took to the stage at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles to reveal a variety of games they have in the works.
They opened the press conference by showing off "Mass Effect 3" — the third installment in the highly anticipated space adventure/role-playing franchise. They gave a cheering audience both a live demo, as well as unveiled the first game-play trailer and announced that it will be launching March 6, 2012.
Meanwhile, Curt Schilling, World Series champion pitcher and founder of 38 Studios, got on stage and excitedly presented “Reckoning” — a massive open-world, role-playing game that his company partnered with graphic-novel legend Todd McFarlane and best-selling author R.A. Salvatore to create.
Growing and enhancing the social aspect of playing games seemed to be a running thread throughout the press conference.
EA presented a live demo of DICE's epic war game "Battlefield 3" and announced that it will launch on Oct. 25. EA announced it will also launch an associated social networking service called Battlelog to help players create platoons, look up real-time statistics, manage friends and and more fully jump into the social aspect of playing the game together online.
Battlelog "will be 100 percent free," game developers made a point of promising. The announcement came off as a not-so-subtle jab at rival Activision, which announced last week that its competing "Call of Duty Elite" service which will give gamers some online services for a monthly subscription.
EA Sports boss Peter Moore took to the stage Monday to present forthcoming sports titles like "FIFA 12" and "Madden 12" — both of which will have additional social gaming aspects this next time around.
For "FIFA" fans, he said EA Sports will launch Football Club, a social network for the game that lets players compete in international leagues, track their stats and further share their gaming with their friends.
"Madden 12" will have additional social and networked features as well, Moore said.
"Our vision is to let you take your game, your score, across platforms," he said.
With all the emphasis on social gameplay, it wasn't a surprise that Facebook gaming was on tap. EA announced that the long-running and best-selling "Sims" franchise would be making a leap to Facebook with a title called "Sims Social." EA showed off a trailer for the game giving the audience a playful look at how gamers will be able to pull their Facebook friends into the popular life-sim game.
"It is completely different. It’s alive," said Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello, "You play with your friends, you play with life.”
But certainly a high point of the press conference was when Dr. Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of BioWare, arrived on stage to talk up "Star Wars: The Old Republic," a massively multiplayer online game set to challenge "World of Warcraft."
"We’ve never done anything this big," he said rolling out an awesome cinematic trailer for the game (see above).
"Just play it, get lost in it, and live in it," he said.
For more E3 coverage, see: