Since launching nearly four years ago, America's Army has continued to be one of the most popular multiplayer action shooters on the Internet. The free game, funded and developed by the US Army, will soon release its final major content release as the team gets ready to develop the next full version of the game. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with the Army Game Project's deputy director Chris Chambers to find out more about their current and future plans for the game.
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?
: 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?
: 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?
: 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.