Officials from Electronic Arts have announced a collaboration with legendary movie director Steven Spielberg to create three “new original franchise properties”. Spielberg will work with the company’s Los Angeles studio (EALA), beginning this year, with his own offices located on site.
The EALA studio has been responsible for titles including Medal of Honor (originally developed by Dreamworks Interactive), Command & Conquer: Generals and The Lord of the Rings. It is also home to EA’s Worldwide Music and Music Marketing group and EA Mobile. EA will own the intellectual properties and publish the games created, with financial terms of the agreement not being disclosed.
It is not clear exactly what role Spielberg will have in development of the three game, with EA saying only that he will offer his “signature style of storytelling to the concept, design, story and artistic visualization of the new games”.
"I have been playing EA games for years and have watched them master the interactive format." said Spielberg. "Having watched the game industry grow from a niche into a major creative force in entertainment, I have a great deal of respect for EA's understanding of the interactive format. I'm looking forward to working closely with the team in Los Angeles."
EA’s deal with Spielberg can perhaps be seen as a reaction to concerns, expressed by both industry and financial figures, that the company was beginning to rely too much on established franchises and licensed properties. Spielberg has, indeed, had a long interest in video games, with LucasArts' adventure game The Dig being based on his original concept, and his Dreamworks Interactive studio morphing into today's Electronic Arts Los Angeles after its sale to EA in 2000.
Though some other Dreamworks Interactive titles such as Trespasser and T'ai Fu were less successful, Spielberg was credited as providing the “original concept” for the Medal of Honor franchise in his time co-owning the studio, and in September 2004, helping to open the Electronic Arts video game development lab at the University of Southern California, the filmmaker made comments on his belief that video games were rapidly approaching a storytelling artform to rival films.