Maybe Microsoft were just a bit ahead of the curve when they wouldn’t stop talking about the cloud in the run up to the Xbox One’s launch? They quickly toned it down after the console’s launch, and we’re still waiting for Crackdown 3 which was a real posterchild for cloud tech, but where Microsoft have faltered, EA are now looking to really forge ahead with cloud-based gaming.
Project Atlas is set to be EA’s new platform for expansive, ever-changing online game worlds. Writing in the announcement blog post, Ken Moss, Chief Technology Officer at EA said, “I’m talking about games that offer living, breathing worlds that constantly evolve. You’ll play them one day, and when you come back the next, things have changed based on inputs from other players, AI, and even the real world. These new experiences will lead to deep, meaningful social interactions.”
Presumably he doesn’t just mean trolling, but what this really means is really bringing online infrastructure into the game engine, in what he calls an “integrated ‘engine + services’ game development platform.” Given that it’s already the de facto EA game engine, this will be built with Frostbite at its core, and then blend in an online platform that combines things like cloud hosting, matchmaking, marketplace, data, AI, achievements and social in a unified set up. AI could be used at every step of the creation process to, in Ken’s example, use real world data to fabricate in-game mountain ranges, and the cloud computing element can be scalable to allow for huge online worlds.
Explaining the scope of the project, he explained:
We’re calling this Project Atlas and we believe in it so much that we have over 1,000 EA employees working on building it every day, and dozens of studios around the world contributing their innovations, driving priorities, and already using many of the components.
To put that into context, DICE had 640 developers back in 2016, while EA as a whole has over 9,300 employees. While there will be overlap with other tech departments and game development, over 10% of all EA employees are working on Project Altas in some capacity.