EA Is Perfecting Game UI

Posted by: Matt Vella on January 19

Criterion’s much anticipated arcade driver Burnout Paradise is just around the corner. (Release date: Jan. 22.) Electronic Arts (ERTS) sent me a preview copy to check out over the long weekend. I haven’t spent that much time with it, but I generally agree with the initial positive press critiques. In terms of sales, I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be one of the biggest games of the first half of 2008. Luscious graphics and snappy gameplay aside, the one thing that strikes me is the high level of polish on the presentation.

Burnout sports one of most appealing, glossy user interfaces I’ve ever seen in a game. Everything from opening credits to instructional sequences and basic menus are slickly stylized, reminiscent of Apple’s (AAPL) ultra-gooey GUIs. What’s particularly notable is that EA has been applying this level of polish to its user interfaces regardless of the particular game. Each title may look different, but the interaction and overall production quality are common. Rather than starting from scratch with every new game, this consistency seems much more like the development of computer operating systems like Windows Vista or Mac OS X, which have been progressively improved and updated with each new release.

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No longer child's play, the booming global games market is worth billions of dollars. In Games, Inc., BusinessWeek Innovation writer Matt Vella and Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall analyze emerging business trends in video games and interactive entertainment. They’ll examine everything from button-mashing, chart-topping, console games to serious games commissioned by big corporations to train staff. They’ll also map the evolution of expansive virtual worlds and go behind the strategies at companies that are turning play into big business.

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