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David DeMartini on the Renaissance of EA Partners
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David DeMartini on the Renaissance of EA Partners

August 22, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

Mikami has obviously had huge commercial successes. Suda, while his games have been well-appreciated for their creativity, hasn't had games with explosive sales. Was that a worry for you?

DD: I think your analysis is absolutely correct. We think the stuff that Grasshopper and Suda have done is incredibly innovative; it's very well received by the press. With regards to sales, I think they've done okay. They certainly haven't done blockbuster sales like Mikami has.

But when you lay on top of that Mikami's sensibilities for the mass market, and Grasshopper and Suda and Q?'s desire to have a breakout hit, combined with our own team's sensibility about what would work in North America, what would work in Europe, I think that's the ideal way to bring those entities together to have the kind of blockbuster hit that Mikami had with [Resident Evil 4].

I assume Grasshopper doesn't have the bandwidth to do four platform versions in-house. Are you guys handling any porting like you did for Valve on PS3?

DD: Grasshopper is very capable with regards to platforms. They've currently got one of the platforms subbed out to another developer, but they're handling the rest of them -- Grasshopper and Q? in combination.

Is that the Wii version?

DD: Um --

EA PR: I don't think we have detail on that stuff yet.

Regarding Eastern Europe and India, are there studios you're actually talking to about partnering with? How do you go about looking?

DD: There are studios all over the world we're talking to. It's opening another door, and we're looking for creative relationships all around the world. I wouldn't say those areas are previously excluded, but I don't think we approached them with as much creativity as we needed to considering they're largely emerging development markets.

I think in the last 12 to 18 months we've taken a new look at that, and I think that's part of the entire rebirth of EAP: looking through doors we maybe previously weren't looking through to see what opportunities do exist.

We're only 50 or 60 people, but we work within a 7,000-person organization. We get to leverage the strength and reach of EA with so many offices in so many countries. It's not always my people who find the developer or find the next great idea. Maybe it's somebody in the Singapore office who gets wind of a developer and comes out and does the first visit.

I really don't care where we find it, I don't care who finds it, as long as somebody from EA turns us on to a great new developer. I don't care if we get credit for it; I don't care who gets credit for it, as long as a great game gets published under the EA label.

And what exactly has happened in the last 12 to 18 months?

DD: That's kind of tied to when I took over EAP, but honestly it is very much tied to [CEO] John [Riccitiello]'s return to Electronic Arts, and EAP moving under Frank Gibeau, who's the head of the EA Games label. Those two gentlemen know as much about developing video games and creative talent as any two executives in the industry for anybody combined.

They've opened the door with regards to ways to developing creative talent. Obviously, we want to develop a lot of creative IP internally, but that's not the only place that IP gets created. There is always an opportunity and an opening for the most creative people in the industry -- whether they work for Electronic Arts, or they're partners -- to be part of EA, and take advantage of EA's global publishing and distribution.

What have you tried to individually bring to the group?

DD: The key thing is that every partner brings a tremendous amount to the table. All EAP is trying to do is see where we can assist. In some cases, someone might need a PS3 port. In other cases, they might need help sourcing out the PS2. They might need one of my development directors to help with process.

Just like us as human beings, we have certain things we do great, and other things where someone else is maybe better. What we try to do is assess a situation. If it's on rails and everything's great, we sit in the back seat and make sure the publishing and distribution go great.

If somebody runs into trouble, we play off of the partner, and try to have the resources available either within EAP or the greater EA to assist in the way they think they need to be assisted.

I think it's that more modest [approach of] EA being in the back seat, rather than with our hands on the wheel, that has brought partners like id and Epic who five years ago said, "EA isn't a company that I want to work with." Now they're out in front of the bandwagon saying, "EA isn't like what we heard them to be."

Providing service when asked is a rather subtle change, but it's a rather significant change for the fiercely independent development organizations that are the best in the industry.

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 5 Next

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