The U.S. Army is investing $50 million in new video game simulations over the next five years, according to a report in military newspaper Stars and Stripes
The new program is scheduled to begin in 2010, and follows previous involvement in the games industry with titles such as THQ's Full Spectrum Warrior
and recruitment tool America's Army
The Army currently uses a first person shooter named DARWARS Ambush
to train troops, shipped to various branches of the military since 2006. The title is now considered too dated for further use, in part due to its incompatibility with the Army's real-world computerized battle command systems and its lack of editing tools.
"The Army takes this seriously," said Lt. Col. Gary Stephens, product manager for air and ground tactical trainers at Project Executive Office -- Simulation Training and Instrumentation. "We own gaming for the Army -- from requirements through procurement."
The Army's new gaming unit will keep a close watch on trends in the wider industry and identify technology that can be used for military training. As well as the $50 million to establish the new games unit, the Army also has an undisclosed additional budget with which to purchase a "state-of-the-art commercial video game system", to be used in training starting next February.
However, officials have insisted that the Army has no interest in competing with commercial publishers. "We don't have the intent or capability to be a commercial game house," said Lt. Col. Stephens.