Electronic Arts focusing on fan favorites to help its turnaround

The video game maker announces plans for its highly anticipated Star Wars tie-in game, a new installment in its Mass Effect series and others.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Ian Sherr
3 min read

EA on Monday announced its first entirely new game in years, Unravel. Nick Statt/CNET

Electronic Arts' next step in its turnaround effort: Bring out new versions of its top games.

The game giant announced new installments in its most popular franchises, including Mass Effect, Mirror's Edge and Need for Speed. The company also announced entirely new games, such as the puzzle game Unravel.

Andrew Wilson, EA's CEO, said the company is pushing out these games to emphasize its commitment to customers. "Putting players first continues to be our commitment at Electronic Arts," he said.

The company's new games are part of its latest efforts to turn the tide of gamers' opinions after being voted the worst company in America two years ago. In that time, EA has made it easier for gamers to get refund on games they're disappointed with, it's cut away restrictive anti-copying technology, and it's begun offering gamers earlier looks at new games.

Among the announcements was a new version of Mass Effect, the company's popular game series whose last installment was three years ago. What drew many players to the game was the variety of choices they could make throughout the game, and the way those choices would affect the game's storyline. The newest game is called Mass Effect Andromeda.

EA said it understands dramatic storytelling is important to many of its games, and said it plans to extend those features to its Internet-based Star Wars game, The Old Republic. The company said it has created new storylines, which will be offered to customers in October, designed to bring a more compelling storyline and gameplay experience to its games.

The company's efforts to respond to consumers extended to its latest shooting game, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2. EA said more than 6 million people played the game's predecessor, which was released in 2014. The company said it answered many gamers' requests, offering them easier ways to play either on their own or with friends. The newest version, coming in the spring of next year, will also offer free updates, such as new maps, EA said.

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, which EA says is coming in the spring of 2016, also grabbed the spotlight Monday morning and Microsoft's Xbox presentation. Josh Miller/CNET

For its sports games, EA said it's expanding its "Ultimate Team" fantasy sports games to Apple's wearable smartwatch. It's also adding women to its FIFA soccer game, a feature EA fans have long been asking for.

EA is also expanding its lineup of mobile phone games, with a Star Wars title designed for mobile devices. And it introduced the aforementioned Unravel, a puzzle jumping game whose main character is made of yarn.

The game maker also announced new details for its most highly anticipated new titles, Mirror's Edge Catalyst and Star Wars Battlefront.

For Catalyst, a sequel to an unusual and popular running game released in 2008, EA allowed gamers to explore the game's world however they want. Players are "running free in a beautiful massive city," said Sara Jansson, senior producer at EA. The game will be released in February 2016.

With Star Wars, the company showed off new details about how to play the game, including a demonstration of a level based on the movie's second installment, "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.: EA plans to release that game in November.

Follow all the latest news from E3 2015 on CNET and GameSpot.