×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

America's Army Games Cost $33 Million Over 10 Years

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the your-tax-dollars-at-play dept.

The Almighty Buck 192

Responding to a Freedom Of Information Act request, the US government has revealed the operating costs of the America's Army game series over the past decade. The total bill comes to $32.8 million, with yearly costs varying from $1.3 million to $5.6 million. "While operating America's Army 3 does involve ongoing expenses, paying the game's original development team isn't one of them. Days after the game launched in June, representatives with the Army confirmed that ties were severed with the Emeryville, California-based team behind the project, and future development efforts were being consolidated at the America's Army program office at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. A decade after its initial foray into the world of gaming, the Army doesn't appear to be withdrawing from the industry anytime soon. In denying other aspects of the FOIA request, the Army stated 'disclosure of this information is likely to cause substantial harm to the Department of the Army's competitive position in the gaming industry.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

192 comments

How much does a missile cost? (-1, Offtopic)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385862)

Thermal-guided. One of the kind a few hundreds of were launched at wooden tank dummies with a coal burner heaters inside, in Kosovo maybe?

Re:How much does a missile cost? (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386062)

Google tells me a single Javelin missile (shoulder fired anti tank missile) costs about 80 grand. So that's 410 missiles for 10 years of gaming.
However, a big fancy Tomahawk cruise missile is (according to wikipedia) $600,000 a pop. So that would get you almost 55 cruise missiles, which would cause a heck of a lot more destruction.

Re:How much does a missile cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386586)

How many Tom Cruise missiles?

Re:How much does a missile cost? (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387324)

War is foolish.

When 9/11 happened I said to myself, "This is tragic, but I hope the president and Congress doesn't do something foolish, like waste billions of dollars fighting a war, just because ~2000 people died. After all more people die every year from just car accidents, and we don't declare war on Ford or Toyota."

Well my hope was forlorn. If I didn't know any better, I'd think we were re-enacting the downfall of the Ancient Athenian Democracy - death through war and foolish, out-of-control spending.

Re:How much does a missile cost? (3, Insightful)

Gamer_2k4 (1030634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387442)

War is foolish.

When 9/11 happened I said to myself, "This is tragic, but I hope the president and Congress doesn't do something foolish, like waste billions of dollars fighting a war, just because ~2000 people died. After all more people die every year from just car accidents, and we don't declare war on Ford or Toyota."

Well my hope was forlorn. If I didn't know any better, I'd think we were re-enacting the downfall of the Ancient Athenian Democracy - death through war and foolish, out-of-control spending.

War may be foolish, but it's a necessary evil in our world. What if we'd approached Pearl Harbor with the mindset of "Yeah, we were attacked, and a few thousand people died, but it's better to just sit there and take it than to do anything about it"? Things would've turned out a lot differently in Europe, I'm sure. Refusing to participate in war doesn't make it go away, after all.

Re:How much does a missile cost? (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387498)

War is foolish.

So is sex, but we do it anyway. It's all just a question if the benefit outweighs the cost. If you look at the cost of STDs and the impact of an ever expanding population upon the human eco-system, the sapping of the human creative spirit, you might actually think sex is bad and war is pretty good.

Let's all ban sex and have a national army of all men.

Re:How much does a missile cost? (3, Interesting)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387898)

War is foolish...

Speaking of foolish...

more people die every year from just car accidents, and we don't declare war on Ford or Toyota."

If Ford and Toyota willingly created devices that were meant solely to kill people for ideological reasons, we most certainly would and should declare war on them.

Re:How much does a missile cost? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386514)

Fucking moron.

Re:How much does a missile cost? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386952)

Reproducing low IQ person

Re:How much does a missile cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387802)

Anonymous Coward

Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (5, Insightful)

GrpA (691294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385866)

Three games in total on the budget of a startup... That's pretty good.

This would have to be one of the army's most cost-effective projects ever then, wouldn't it?

GrpA

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385888)

Or DARPA.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (1)

rpillala (583965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386546)

That depends less on the cost and more on the effect. If the Army was trying to make a popular online FPS, then yeah I guess. One wonders if this is a valid goal for the Army. The game is supposed to be a recruitment tool, right? Is there data on how effective it has been in that role?

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (4, Interesting)

jocabergs (1688456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386598)

I think it was both recruitment and a PR tool. Personally I really liked the honor system also the free part was very nice. I think that in the context of other FPS it was really much more pro teamwork and mission oriented in contrast to being pro carnage and destruction. When I played quite a few of my fellow players came from the military and really enjoyed the game because it was more like real combat, i.e mission based not carnage based. Also I enjoyed the no respawn feature, I hate respawns, but thats a personal preference.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (4, Interesting)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386664)

From a conversation I had at GDC a couple years ago with an army guy involved in the project, the main goal was not recruitment, quite the opposite.

He claimed that the army looses a lot of money and resources in training new people, who just give up somewhere along the training or right after it. So the game was originally developed to try to show that "real combat" is not what happens in FPSs and thus weed out some of the applicants.

Of course, the PR impact was welcome.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (1)

Lord_Jeremy (1612839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386866)

Heh. They must hate the Call of Duty - Modern Warfare games then. Those things probably have the exact opposite effect.

I remember playing America's Army when it came out, I think one of the things I found more annoying was you had to take "classes" and tests before you could actually play the game. Mandatory target practice is one thing, but virtual instruction that actually plays no part in gameplay is a bit idiotic.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (4, Interesting)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387094)

Mandatory target practice is one thing, but virtual instruction that actually plays no part in gameplay is a bit idiotic.

Unless, as Tellarin stated, the goal is to provide a more realistic simulation of what being in the Army is all about without the whole "spend months and months in training" bit. Thus the required learning and tests make perfect sense.

Honestly I think it's a smart approach. The last thing you want recruits to think is that you can join the Army and they just give you guns to play with. While I can't speak for other country's militaries, being a member of the American armed forces is actually quite difficult. Not merely on a physical level, but it is VERY mentally challenging.

Thus you will find that a very large portion of the American armed forced are highly intelligent and more often than not from middle class families. Despite some politician's desire to paint the military as a bunch of dumb poor people, the truth is the exact opposite.

(Note that I have never served in the American armed forces or any armed forces. Although I HAVE played the AA game and enjoyed it quite a bit. Hmmm.. Now I want to go download and play it again!)

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (2, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387138)

. Despite some politician's desire to paint the military as a bunch of dumb poor people, the truth is the exact opposite.

Which politician?

And the exact opposite... the military is a bunch of smart, rich people?

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (3, Informative)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387748)

Mandatory target practice is one thing, but virtual instruction that actually plays no part in gameplay is a bit idiotic.

Just about every powerful member of the Democrat party, to be honest.

(Yes, I realize that I accidentally included an apostrophe where I should not have if I meant multiple politicians. It was a typo, move on.)

But if you want specific examples, former presidential candidate John Kerry is an excellent one. In 2008 he infamously said to a group of college kids:

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

HERE [youtube.com] is the video of that one.

Another excellent example is John Murtha's recent slander of the Marines, wherein he accused marines of murdering civilians in an incident at Haditha, Iraq. (Incidentally, all of the Marines involved have been acquitted or had the charges summarily dropped.) John Murtha is now being sued by the Marines and their families for slander.

Those are just TWO High profile examples. Unless you start thinking "Oh, it's just a couple of stupid loudmouths" Understand that this attitude runs from top to bottom of the far left, which has taken control of the Democrat party. We have had attacks on off-duty soldiers, vandalism against recruiting stations, and many many not-so-subtle jabs against military members as "stupid" "dumb" "thugs" "killers" etc. It's endemic in the far left and (by extension) the Democrat Party power structure. They HATE the military, and it shows.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the education level of our Armed Forces:

– 49.2 percent of officers have advanced or professional degrees; 39.4 percent have master’s degrees, 8.5 percent have professional degrees and 1.3 percent have doctorate degrees.

– 22.8 percent of company grade officers have advanced degrees; 16.5 percent have master’s degrees, 5.9 percent have professional degrees and 0.3 percent have doctorate degrees.

– 85.4 percent of field grade officers have advanced degrees; 70.7 percent have master’s degrees, 12.1 percent have professional degrees and 2.5 percent have doctorate degrees.

– 99.9 percent of the enlisted force have at least a high school education; 73.3 percent have some semester hours toward a college degree; 16.2 percent have an associate’s degree or equivalent semester hours; 4.7 percent have a bachelor’s degree; 0.7 percent have a master’s degree and .01 percent have a professional or doctorate degree.”

that is from an internal military survey, which you can find HERE [af.mil] .

If you want more detailed information, an overall survey was performed by the heritage Foundation and an article on it (along with nifty charts) can be found HERE [heritage.org] .

The point is, our military is OVERWHELMINGLY Educated, Middle Class, and White. (although whites are, on a proportional basis, slightly underrepresented, with Pacific Islanders somewhat overrepresented.) While I don't have specific figures I can quote, My understanding is that America's military is among the (if not THE) best educated and highest class (economically) in the world. That's something I, for one, am very proud of.

I hope that answers your questions.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (2, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387942)

Great post, except the part where you ascribe untruths to the Democratic party. They (we) represent a majority of Americans right now, and are not "far left" and DEFINITELY don't "hate the military". In fact many leaders of the Democrats (including Murtha) are retired military. Heck even many leaders of the far left, including Kos of DailyKos, are retired military. We may disagree about what is best for the military and the country, but please don't assign motives where none exist.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30388014)

Damn I burned all my mod points on people arguing over the extent of Blizzard ripping off Games Workshop.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (1)

Redwing (311189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30388032)

!(smart && rich) === !smart || !rich

The military is a bunch of smart OR rich people.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (4, Interesting)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386982)

With a lot of new equipment the army is fielding, hand eye co-ordination was a major factor too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Weapon_System [wikipedia.org] A lot of the army's vehicles are equipped with these now. Ive used one, it is almost exaclty like a video game screen. They also love the fact that they can start feeding you things like rank structure, acronyms, small unit tactics, and other assorted army tidbits, everybit you come in with on your own, the less they have to teach you.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387372)

The Onion reports [theonion.com] that the next Modern Warfare game will be an extremely realistic portrayal of the life of a soldier. Worth a watch!

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387690)

LOL, yeah the Army usually just lets you "give up" during or right after training :-P Obviously you've never been in the Army lol. :) Trust me, it doesn't happen like that.

Re:Less than the cost of a single cruise missile. (0)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386624)

Except a cruise missile costs about $500K dollars... so like 1/60th of these games

Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (4, Interesting)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385910)

and the US army has managed how many releases over ten years for less money incl hosting?

Methinks the industry is doing something wrong.

Re:Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385940)

Yeah except Modern Warfare 2 didnt crash the first time I ran it.

Re:Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (2, Insightful)

blackchiney (556583) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386090)

Try connecting to their online server. because I'm still............waiting.

Re:Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386200)

And MW2 is fun.

Re:Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386226)

Yeah except Modern Warfare 2 didnt crash the first time I ran it.

OK, I may be anonymous coward, but believe me, this is true:

I bought MW2 last week and it DID crash the first time I ran it (got a window saying some value was missing and then my console froze). I had to reboot the console (xbox360) by cutting the power (the game freezed it totally) and when it booted up, I got lots of random green pixels on the screen. I rebooted it again and got the red ring of death. Fortunately the console is under warranty.

So yes, MW2 did crash the first time and in addition to that, it fried my GPU :)

Re:Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386258)

Sounds like your console was broken to begin with...

Re:Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385944)

... the industry has managers costing US$20 million ...

Re:Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386220)

MW2 made $550M in the first week, they definitely got to fix this and transition to living off your taxes.

Re:Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386720)

lol? you get an F in math. please uninstall yourself

Re:Compared to US$40 million for Modern Warfare 2 (3, Interesting)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387674)

Someone obviously hasn't looked at the games side by side.

Most of the manpower cost of a video game is artist time. DoD games and military sim stuff looks like crap comparatively because they don't put millions of dollars into artists. When I played America's Army the visual quality was about the same as most fan mods to commercial games.

Although what amazes me is that the army spends millions building their own game and engine, then still turns around and spends $10k/seat on meta-VR for all of their sim training. I mean, I get it for large scale sims - as someone who worked in this area, there is a big difference between building a military sim engine that can span hundreds or thousands of miles and a video game engine that will span two - but for a lot of the small-scale infantry work like the fort benning training, I really don't see the point.

Supposedly they were looking at finally correcting that issue - I was at one point going to be the guy doing some of the work to make the game read mil-sim protocols, actually, before that part of the contract fell through. I wonder if they've made any progress since then.

Sad but true (3, Insightful)

MaizeMan (1076255) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385912)

An average of $3.3 million a year for ANY government program seems quite reasonably priced!

Re:Sad but true (2, Insightful)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385972)

For a game of American Army's complexity and quality, $3.3 million is actually pretty cheap. I'm actually impressed by the Army's efficiency here.

Re:Sad but true (2, Interesting)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386048)

It wasn't exactly efficiency that got them the low cost game. Basically they got a team of developers and had them worked to the bone to produce a game that initially would hardly run.

Re:Sad but true (1)

the_pooh_experience (596177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386698)

You are probably right, it is "cheap". I am, however, sure it doesn't include expenses on the government outside of paying the contracted development group (contract cost). If it takes four government people (I don't really know), that is probably about $500K/year in salary, maybe another $20K in travel/year, etc. I don't know anything about the game, so I could be way off base here, but if it is run off of government servers, cost to set those up and maintain those would also not be included in the price.

Re:Sad but true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387164)

the_pooh_experience: "so I could be way off base here, but if it is run off of government servers, cost to set those up and maintain those would also not be included in the price."

It's not really run off their servers. It operates the way most FPS games do with people in the community renting dedicated servers. There is some expense in running the master authentication servers, and having the PunkBuster AC system, but that is minor. It's the same system as the other FPS games maintenance overhead, so only a few thousand a year. There are also separate fixed configuration dedicated servers, known as 'Ranked' servers. People can rent those from Army authorized game server providers.

Over all, the cost seems to be cheaper than other advertising methods and appears to do a decent job of giving a more expanded 'eyes wide open' approach to recruiting. It certainly is a more interactive approach as compared to sitting in a chair watching a movie and reading a few coloured pamphlets. I'm sure future technology will make this recruitment tool even more immersive.

How about relative to other recruitment methods? (3, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385968)

How much does it cost to recruit new soldiers via other methods? How about weighted by efficiency?

Just because it costs $33 million, doesn't mean it isn't a good deal.

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386026)

How much does it cost to recruit new soldiers via other methods? How about weighted by efficiency?

Just because it costs $33 million, doesn't mean it isn't a good deal.

Killing people is never a good deal.

Goddamned babykillers.

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386726)

Fuck you from a proud veteran

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387272)

Your just saying that because cruise missiles have a lower return of dead babies per dollar than a good old fashioned cudgel over time. Its takes time to get a return on your investment, but with practically unlimited potential you will get a great deal on baby killing.

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (2, Interesting)

imunfair (877689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386058)

I'd wager they're doing more with the game than just recruitment. I'm sure there are a lot of interesting studies you could run on a game like that. This doesn't mean it's tin foil nefarious stuff - a lot of academics would probably like to get their hands on that data set.

Behavioral factors, navigation patterns, learning and adapting.. I'm not even a scientist and I can think of all kinds of interesting offshoots from the game - I'd be pretty surprised if there were no scientists with government grants pursuing some sort of research involving it.

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386150)

Also the game was a massive success in the beginning regarding recruiting, don't know these days since I've stopped playing, but when I played there was a lot of people talking about signing up because of the game.

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386364)

Well considering a lot of "gamers" I know, with the exception of the hardcore types who would be afraid to leave their rooms, joined the army when they turned 18, or got a wild hair up their ass about it all of a sudden.

Funny enough, they all had america's army.

Also, conscription is the other alternative, and the efficiency there is pretty bad, such as those who arent the type to fight trying to surrender in the middle of a firefight or running away, revealing the location of a platoon and getting them all killed vs. a bunch of brainwashed and highly motivated soldiers who think it's time to play the game for real.

I'd say it's working quite well.

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (1)

Tarinth (1038652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386420)

Numerous studies have shown that games are about the most consistent and effective way to reach young US males. They generally watch a lot less TV (sports being the possible exception). Considering the huge marketing budget that is spent on advertising the Army, I'd wager that programs like this are highly effective--but I'd be very interested in additional data that reveals how many recruiting leads the Army associates with the program!

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (4, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387920)

Bingo.

Lets put this into perspective. How many TV commercials, all across the US, can you pay for with $33.00 million dollars over ten years? Not many. Now consider how many of those commercials are primarily targeting the very people who you want to entice? Not many. Figure $100,000 per 30-seconds of national airtime. That same money spent on national commercials would have only purchased 330, 30-second, national commercials. Or, thirty three commercials per year. In reality, its likely it would be even fewer than that as $100,000 per slot is likely the minimum. Had they wanted placement during something like American Idol finales (ya, likely bad example), the slot price is likely to be 30% to 50% higher; or more. And even then, the number of people who are actually effectively targeted would be very limited. Especially when you consider with a game the same people they are targeted become inundated with the concept of actually joining the military, versus as most, 165 minutes (2.75 hours) of exposure with the concept - assuming those same people see every commercial, which simply isn't likely.

Simply put, this is clearly one of the most cost effective advertising campaigns ever produced by the military, let alone government, and is likely providing a huge bang for the buck! Especially when you consider the same game is then used as a direct recruiting tool at public events - as it allows would be recruiters to directly talk to potential recruits at said events. This in turn significantly improves the bang for the buck ratio.

I don't have a problem with this at all.

They far more on NASCAR (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386552)

Figure ten to twenty million plus per team fielded.

At least AA doesn't present war as a clean and easy and dismissible.

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386832)

Recruiting teams per shopping mall @$10 per hour, 8 h weekends, ~a few per ~50 states over ten years, front and back.
The cost of having kids play a 33 million US$ Army branded computer game.
Having kids turn up at a recruiting office after playing a game:
Priceless.

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387930)

$10 an hour for a recruiter? Most recruiters are in the E6-E8 range, which is a salary roughly around the $50,000 a year mark. That's a lot more than $10 an hour!

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30388112)

Actually my brother and I showed up to the recruiting office to pick up the game, they were disappointed when we said we only wanted the game. I was 6ft and in reasonable shape, and my little brother was 6'5" defensive end on the football team.

Re:How about relative to other recruitment methods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387822)

It doesn't work for recruiting. Players are usually scared from joining the army when they see how much grenade spamming is done in guerrilla warfare.

Horrible thought (1, Interesting)

warp_kez (711090) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386080)

This might not be a game. You, the player as it were, might be controlling a remote drone in some far off country.

Re:Horrible thought (1)

FlyMysticalDJ (1660959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386160)

Or on the flip side, maybe all that we know in our world is just an advanced video game to entertain some higher life forms.

Re:Horrible thought (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386172)

That gives me a great idea for a book - thanks!

-Orson Scott Card, circa 1985

That's awesome (3, Funny)

Boronx (228853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386214)

I'm gonna steal that idea and put it in a short story - thanks!
-Orson Scott Card, circa 1977

Re:That's awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387494)

And I'm going to vaguely steal all that and make a crappy movie with Robin Williams and BOTH the Cusacks!!!

- Barry Levinson circa 1992

Horrible thought (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386202)

This might be a game. You the player as it were, might be controlling nothing at all, wasting the precious moments of your life in an illusion.

Re:Horrible thought (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387660)

Bad idea. It wouldn't take long until someone decides to fire at the "virtual" civilians or find out if the IFF keeps him from shooting his "virtual" teammates and if he can overcome it by starting a salvo and then rapidly turning.

And assume people found out about this (perhaps by virtue of the drones teabagging killed enemies): They'd have to immediately cancel the project before someone hostile to the Army makes his way into the game and intentionally goes on a rampage.


Letting random civilians remotely control military hardware is a phenomenally bad idea.

Re:Horrible thought (1)

kcbnac (854015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387812)

Agreed. But it WOULD provide a wonderful base of recruits if the software functions the same - recruit those who do well. (They do track success/failure rates)

That's twice USSR's whole propaganda budget! (2, Funny)

AlexLibman (785653) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386126)

... I guess American Communism didn't reach their level of efficiency just yet.

Competitive in the gaming industry?!?! (5, Interesting)

steve buttgereit (644315) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386290)

'In denying other aspects of the FOIA request, the Army stated 'disclosure of this information is likely to cause substantial harm to the Department of the Army's competitive position in the gaming industry.'

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a fan of America's Army and like the games. But that the Federal Government, much less the Army, should be concerned with its ability to compete against private industry? Isn't that contrary to our beliefs regarding the purposes of Government and of our economic system (at least in the U.S.)? And to top it off, it's denying a FOIA request on the basis, not of national security, an on-going criminal investigation or violation of someone's privacy, but on the basis of what could be called a trade secret? And it's so bogus to boot, they can invest as much as they want into the program to out-compete their private industry competitors without fear as they don't have to recoup their expenses... the Army won't go out of business if they spend foolishly. Private companies on the other hand do go out of business when they fail to have excess revenues to costs... unless you're a car company or a well connected bank of course. I know it's not the first time this has happened (Amtrak, USPS), but still... aren't the existing game companies good enough?

(Stepping off of soap box and taking big breath to facilitate big sigh)

Re:Competitive in the gaming industry?!?! (1)

Tarinth (1038652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386424)

I thought it was an odd statement too. It would be a good public service for the Army to reveal as much as possible, since the information could actually benefit the industry by providing useful benchmarks, development methodologies, budget allocations, etc.

Re:Competitive in the gaming industry?!?! (2, Interesting)

lobsterGun (415085) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387268)

In order for information to be considered exempt from release under the FOIA it must fit into one of the following categories AND there must be a legitimate Government purpose served by withholding it:

  1. Information which is currently and properly classified.
  2. Information that pertains solely to the internal rules and practices of the agency. (This exemption has two profiles, "high" and "low." The "high" profile permits withholding of a document that, if released, would allow circumvention of an agency rule, policy, or statute, thereby impeding the agency in the conduct of its mission. The "low" profile permits withholding if there is no public interest in the document, and it would be an administrative burden to process the request.)
  3. Information specifically exempted by a statute establishing particular criteria for withholding. The language of the statute must clearly state that the information will not be disclosed.
  4. Information such as trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a company on a privileged or confidential basis that, if released, would result in competitive harm to the company, impair the government's ability to obtain like information in the future, or protect the government's interest in compliance with program effectiveness.
  5. Inter-agency memoranda that are deliberative in nature; this exemption is appropriate for internal documents that are part of the decision making process and contain subjective evaluations, opinions and recommendations.
  6. Information the release of which could reasonably be expected to constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of individuals.
  7. Records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes that (a) could reasonably be expected to interfere with law enforcement proceedings; (b) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication; (c) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of others, (d) disclose the identity of a confidential source, (e) disclose investigative techniques and procedures, or (f) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.
  8. Certain records of agencies responsible for supervision of financial institutions.
  9. Geological and geophysical information concerning wells.

(Excerpted from: http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/5200-1r/appendix_c.htm [fas.org] )

Re:Competitive in the gaming industry?!?! (2, Insightful)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387270)

I'd like to know why our government will compete against video game companies, but won't compete against internet service providers or health insurance companies. Maybe it's just that a video game is a good way to convince people to join the army. That's a much better reason to do this than improving people's lives.

How do they figure the costs? (1)

Higaran (835598) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386466)

I was at the auto show and the had a booth setup with a humvee and a bunch ov xboxes and pc running for people to play. I remember at E3 one year and the had special forces guys drop in from a chopper and stuff like that. I think the cost are probably more but they write the costs off as traning or recuritment or just plain old PR stuff.

Why so much for just 3 games? (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386472)

32 million seems to much for just 3 video games. Why is it so high?

Re:Why so much for just 3 games? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386576)

It probably is not high. It is on multiple platforms, networked and multiple versions. Considering all the stuff that went into this, I think that 3 million a year for this is nothing. In fact, it has probably helped the army not only recruit, but also avoid having to do loads of expensive training.

Re:Why so much for just 3 games? (1)

StormyWeather (543593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387760)

30 people at 75,000 a year for ten years would be around 25 mil with benefits.
Of course then there are server costs, publicity costs, office costs, hardware blah blah blah.

Seems reasonable cost to me for the end product.

I don't really agree with creating the product, because that should have been a private company creating the product at the army's direction if at all. Government really shouldn't be in the business of private industry whether it's the army, or whatever.

Re:Why so much for just 3 games? (1)

snaz555 (903274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387958)

It's not high at all, $32M is peanuts for three mass market software products of this size and complexity. The more interesting question is why it has taken them so long to get where they are today. The answer to both questions lies in the fact that they work with enlisted personnel - for whom this may be their first job. They're cheap and enthusiastic, but slow.

Budget Summary (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386490)

People seem to assume that is development costs; but AA's budget, in true Army style, could include a lot more - from printing copies, facility costs, operational costs such as vehicle gas, travel and TDY expenses, etc.

That said, 33 mill is pretty impressive, especially if it is all in costs of the organization.

America's Air Force (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386560)

If I were the Air force, I would grab one of the OSS forms of a sim (flight gear comes to mind), and then enhance the daylight out of it, so that it can do dogfights. Finally, include both regular aircrafts AND the new drones on these.

Re:America's Air Force (4, Informative)

adamchou (993073) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386940)

The airforce is hardly having difficulty with recruitment. In fact, they're so overwhelmed with requests that you can barely enlist for the airforce anymore. I enlisted in July and I went to MEPS 32 times after enlisting and everytime, the Airforce recruitment office in the LA MEPS (biggest in the nation) was closed. They're going to focus their developers working on top secret software and other related projects and thats exactly what they should be doing.

Re:America's Air Force (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#30388156)

I did not say that the air force was having issues with getting numbers. They never have. BUT, I would like to think that they have the BEST quality fliers at the stick as well as at the button. Basically, a good America's Air force, ideally tied into America's Army would open up doors.

Now, as somebody who has done work for various 3 letters, and spent part of my childhood in the shadows of the B-47, I can tell you that they need the best that they can get. All of the forces do. Many of their projects are humdrum, but others are true cutting edge. Taking a simulator and improving it allows for an increase in a number of talents. The least of which is understanding the physics that applies to flight and warfare. By learning it, it is possible to turn it from an art to more of a science.

They ought to build a tax-funding add-on for it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386840)

While it's fun (for some) to play shot 'em up & stretegy games, that are based on real war,
I think it's time to look at the costs - both within the games and in Real Life (t(.

Some sort of US budget, as affected by all this silly military spending, needs URGENTLY
to be added to America's Army, so folks can begin to wake-up to the fact that they - or
their children (for generations to come) will need to pay for all this nonsense, someday...

Better they start to think about military costs in the context of such a game, rather than
wait for these costs to give rise to very real deficits & credit crunches, etc. that can last
for decades...

Maybe a new game needs to be developed, eg, "Political Will - the Renewable Resource"
that let the player work through some of the possible effectes of such deficits...

(Maybe some of those who play -that- will invent workarounds that will prevent some of the
dire consequences to happen (or push their happening into the future, maybe even giving
rise to some wotkatounds.).

Recreation for soldiers (2, Insightful)

BondGamer (724662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386894)

I have played America's Army a bit and there are a ton of active duty military playing the game. So it has quite an appeal. Plus the army runs training simulations with America's Army. So it has many more benefits than just being "a game". Of course some people are still going to claim it will be a waste of money. If you haven't played, it isn't just another FPS. The game is based on realism. You don't respawn after you die. If an enemy sees you first you die. There isn't kill streaks that give you power ups. Oh, and the current version is super buggy. Probably because they fired the entire development team after the last release.

Anonymous Coward (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387020)

criminally stupid waste of money for propaganda for an unjust war.

Economy Act (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387102)

Interesting, because the federal government is not supposed to compete with commercial businesses. They are supposed to procure from industry. In fact, I believe that when this first came up with AA, they said that they WERE NOT trying to compete in the industry, just to provide a recruiting tool.

The Army should not be making videogames... (-1, Flamebait)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387200)

If our Army is going to continue to make videogames, surely we can provide our citizens with Universal Single Payer Health Care....

right?

I mean we really must have no budgetary problems at all, surely we can afford to take care of our people if we can use our military as entertainment for our children we hope to send to their death overseas...

Re:The Army should not be making videogames... (1)

snaz555 (903274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30388000)

If our Army is going to continue to make videogames, surely we can provide our citizens with Universal Single Payer Health Care....

The VA provides single-payer, single-provider, socialized, health care for the Army.

Re:The Army should not be making videogames... (1)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30388026)

Sure, because $33 million on a PR and training sim is the same thing as several trillion dollars on a single payor healthcare system.

Re:The Army should not be making videogames... (2, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30388048)

If we can provide citizens with Universal Single Payer Health Care for $32.8 million over 10 years, I'd say you have a point. Something tells me that $32.8 million wouldn't last very long though.

As a 12-year vet myself, it is pretty clear to me, and the overwhelming majority of people who sign up, that our military is completely voluntary, so nobody is being sent "to their death".

Didn't cost a dime (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387478)

Until we pay back foreign lenders....which are probably never. Of course we probably could of just printed the money...oh..did that too.

I want my 11 cents back. (1)

steak (145650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30388076)

33 million / 300 million = 0.11 dollars / 10 years = .01 dollars per year per person.

of course that's assuming everyone pays the same amount of taxes.

I don't make a lot of money so it cost me nothing, on the other hand it probably cost my parents 3 cents a year or something.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...