Summary: Today we talk about America's Army with developer Chris Chamber, and plans for the game's future.
FiringSquad: First, America's Army continues to be a popular game. What can you tell us about the number of download that the game has had in its history and how many players have actually logged time in the game?
Chris Chambers: America’s Army has been an enormous success for the U.S. Army. Since its launch, the game has placed Soldiering front and center within popular culture. Players have spent more than 160 million hours virtually exploring the Army. From its extremely successful launch on 4 July 2002 to present, the game has consistently ranked among the top PC action games played on the Internet worldwide. The game has more than 7 million registered players.
FiringSquad: Is it safe to say that America's Army has done its job as a recruitment tool for the US Army?
Chris Chambers: The Army started this project as a means of “connecting” with America. In terms of return on investment in this arena, the game is an exceptional value. The reach of the game has been enormous, and unlike other media or communication strategies, the America’s Army game enjoys exceptional economies to scale.
Recruiters report that the game is a valuable communications tool in connecting with young Americans. They are using the popularity and exploratory value of the game to create their own local recruiting events. Leaders in recruiting have noted that the game connects with Gen X and Y like no other tool. Last year alone Recruiters had the game at more than 125 events.
Survey results find America’s Army to be the Army’s most effective sponsorship effort for reaching young Americans. Twenty-nine percent of young Americans ages 16 to 24 reported that the America’s Army Game is one of their leading sources of positive awareness about the Army. Therefore, the game has exceeded out expectations as a channel for placing information about the Army and Soldiering into popular culture.
FiringSquad: How does the Army feel about some published comment that say the armed forces shouldn't release a free game like this because it might give people the wrong idea about what real combat is like?
Chris Chambers: The goal for the America’s Army game is to communicate with civilians the roles, opportunities and values within the U.S. Army, within the confines of a Teen rating. The object was not to create a 100% accurate simulation of combat operations.
Chris Chambers: The America’s Army game is constantly evolving and expanding. With the release of Overmatch this summer players will be able to experience the ‘Overmatch’ capabilities of an elite Soldier team whereby they are able to defeat much larger enemy forces. This version of the game will include friendly, enemy and non-combatant AI. Friendly AI will be in the form of instructors and team members. Non-combatant AI will expand the importance and impact of rules of engagement as gamers encounter civilians and members of non-governmental-organizations in simulated training and combat missions. Other additions include key new weapons and systems used by Special Forces Soldiers including the Javelin Missile and the CROWS HMMWV. Players will go through training before they can get hands on with the weapons and systems.
Overmatch also marks the debut of the America’s Army Real Heroes program, which presents heroic Soldiers in key places throughout game. The America’s Army Real Heroes program strives to tell the stories of Solders who are put into extraordinary situations and rise above the challenge to successfully and heroically accomplish the mission. Soldiers will be represented in training missions as well as at the Virtual Recruiting Station. Players will be able to hear the Soldiers’ stories through audio and video presentations.
FiringSquad: We have also heard about plans to finally release mod tools for the game as well..can you comment on these plans?
Chris Chambers: AA plans to release the mod kit in the near future. The release will be accompanied by maps made by students of game development at academic institutions.
FiringSquad: America's Army: Rise of a Soldier was released by UbiSoft last year for the Xbox. Overall was the US Army pleased with the releases and are there plans to release future console games?
Chris Chambers: Rise of a Soldier for the Xbox did very well, as it was a top five selling first-person action game during the 2005 Holiday season with gamers rating it an 83%. UbiSoft and the Army have entered into an extended relationship to create multiple products for multiple platforms over several years.
FiringSquad: It's been announced that there will be a new version of America's Army released in 2007 that will use the Unreal Engine 3. What can you tell us about this version of the game at this time?
Chris Chambers: We are beginning our plans for the next version of America’s Army. The developers are extremely excited to work with the Unreal Engine 3.
FiringSquad: Are there any plans to release any more games as recruitment tools; maybe an RTS title?
Chris Chambers: We have no plans for an RTS game at this time.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about the current and future plans for America's Army?
Chris Chambers: We’d like to thank all of our America’s Army players for being such as active and loyal players. We look forward to delivering informative and entertaining content to them for years to come.
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