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Developer Profile: EA DICE

July 1st, 2010 by

‘Developer Profiles’ is a series of articles that take a look at some of our favourite companies within the industry, reflecting on past work and looking forward to future titles.

I have had a particular soft spot for EA DICE in recent years, who consistently seem to deliver interesting and top-notch games. With a now distinctly successful Battlefield series to their name, DICE have shown an outstanding desire for quality with the number of games they’ve been a part of, such as with the ambitious new IP of Mirror’s Edge – projecting a whole new set of skills and labelling themselves as more than a ‘one trick pony’…

EA DICE‘, or ‘EA Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment‘ for the picky amongst you, is a Swedish developer best known for the Battlefield series of games, of which they have now made seven (not including expansion packs!) that was originally founded in 1988 by four members of a ‘demo group’ (a team of ‘demosceners’ who make “computer based audio-visual art, known as “demos”), Ulf Mandorff, Olaf Gustafsson, Fredrik Liliegren and Andreas Axelsson. Starting out trying their hand at PC games, they went on to acquire Refraction Games in 2000, allowing their company to grow from a meagre 40 employees to a massive 250 in under two years. DICE have since shown their quality for crafting fantastic games for a number of years within the industry.

Originally starting out on the Amiga with a devotion to pinball (Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies and Pinball Illusions), the team have since worked on a number of popular systems; including casual games on handhelds (GBA and GBC), more hardcore games for the PC (which kick-started the Battlefield series with the hugely popular Battlefield 1942) and home consoles (Xbox, PS3, Gamecube and Xbox 360). The company was acquired by EA in 2006, and have since been closely working under the industry magnate’s image. Apprehensive at the move, the DICE team recalled, “one of the fears we had when we joined EA is that we were joining a big beast of a company and we would just be told what to do. In reality, it turned out to be far different. I feel like we have a complete mandate to run and drive our business, [we have been given] trust and freedom”. Such trust and freedom can only be earned within the industry over a number of years – where huge risks are a daily occurrence and teams are rarely granted any type of leeway. It’s no overstatement to tell you that DICE are one of the most successful developers around, with their base in Stockholm far from the usual hub of video game development.

Their series of work has seen them skip from family friendly fare (Shrek: Extra Large, Barbie Groovy Games) to racing games (the fantastic Midtown Madness 3), free-to-play downloadable pieces (Battlefield Heroes), downloadable titles (Battlefield 1943 - the fastest selling game to reach 1 million units, no less) and modern FPS’s (Battlefield: Bad Company 2). In 2008, the hugely ambitious departure for DICE with Mirror’s Edge was released onto the PS3 and Xbox 360, not only marking EA’s new focus on pushing new IP, but also giving DICE a whole new image within the industry as a whole – delivering unique game play experiences with the first person viewpoint seeming second nature to its roof-top athleticism. It’s also important to take notice of DICE’s use of their own middleware – the ‘Frostbite’ engine has been at the heart of a few games now, with the excellent Bad Company 2 a solid and entirely justified platform for which its “Destruction 2.0” allowed whole buildings to crumble under the weight of bullets. Particularly fond of the latter game, Bad Company 2 was a thrilling, adrenaline rush of a game, packed into the modern FPS template which came a mere few months after Infinity Ward’s giant Modern Warfare 2. It’s a mark of DICE’s excellence when they can match an experience equal to that given by, most possibly, the most hyped game ever, offering everything (if not more) than Activision’s shooter.

Known for their devotion to exceptional multiplayer experiences, DICE have exceeded in delivering quality multiplayer games time after time, with the Battlefield series of games particularly known for their engaged and wholly devoted online community of players. Trusted by EA to develop the multiplayer portion of the latest Medal of Honor is a sign of how respected the developer now lies within the industry. No doubt likely to continue many years to come, I look forward to seeing what DICE have in store next. A sequel to Mirror’s Edge maybe, another Battlefield, or can they deliver something brand new, again?

Interview Source: Business Week

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