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Electronic Arts Australia is being quite ballsy in taking its First Play events to the public arena.  Giving punters a chance to play pre-release code of big game franchises such as FIFA, Medal of Honor and Need for Speed could result in a wider acceptance and new audience, or a shunning of the brand.


Last night I ventured to a part of the city that is unfamiliar to me.  Highpoint Shopping Centre to the immediate west of Melbourne’s CBD was a quiet place, as far as shopping centres go, at 7PM on a Tuesday evening.

But then EA flicked the switch on its First Play presentation booths, and the gathering of media and EA Community types blinked their eyes and prepared to get some hands on time with games almost ready for general release.

This is the first time Electronic Arts has taken this step in Australia, according to the EA Rep present on the night however, this kind of thing has been the norm in the UK for the past decade.  “The First Play Tour is EA’s first experiential activation in Australia and allows Australian consumers to be among the first to play some of our biggest upcoming releases. We took learnings from our colleagues in the UK to enable us to bring  to consumers in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane the opportunity to meet and greet EA staff and representatives, to get involved in their favourite games and ultimately to get hands on game-time with the likes of FIFA 13, Medal of Honor Warfighter and Need for Speed Most Wanted. We’re really looking forward to meeting them and allowing them to experience these titles sometimes weeks in advance of release. “ said Rob Davey, GM of EA Games Australia and New Zealand told iTWire.com.

Essentially the idea is to capture a new demographic, the families strolling by at shopping centres that may either be captured by nostalgia (Medal of Honor, FIFA and Need For Speed are after all long term franchise brands) or, for younger members, the flash of a new.  That could be the new versions of the aforementioned venerable titles, or some of the newer mobile based games that EA is heavily investing in.

The gamble is in the set-up and the possible reaction to any perceived flaw.  And certainly Australians can be a fickle bunch, culturally different to our UK equivalents.

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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