It's no secret that EA is one of the most hated names in gaming. Some of the bad press is justified, others come from mass amounts of miscommunication. One thing is clear is that the separation between developers and publishers has become abundantly clear - and strained - in recent years in no small part due to revenue methods and because of that, EA has definitely garnered a villainous perception in the gaming industry.
From pay-to-win focused microtransactions to the gutting of beloved studios - even internal practices have come up as cause for concern, all of the headlines and controversies have certainly built up over the years, something that they are hoping to change. But it's not just saying changes are coming, it's doing, and that's something EA EVP Matt Bilbey opened up about in a recent interview with GameIndustry.biz.
"25 years at EA and I still struggle with the external perception that we're just a bunch of bad guys," he mentioned. "We love making and playing games. Unfortunately, when we make mistakes on games, the world knows about it because it's of a size and scale."
But as the industry shifted into a more aggressive front for monetization, including the highly profitable microtransactions, the size and vision of EA warped into something that tailored more towards investors while seemingly forgetting those playing and enjoying these games.
He added, "As we got bigger, there is the concern that we had become disconnected from new talent coming through. EA Originals is our opportunity to connect with that talent and those smaller ideas. When you are part of a big company, it's too easy to fall into the trap where when you see a game concept... it has to be big. The notion of actually coming up with small, unique game ideas... We know from the work that we've been doing on our subscription business that gamers will play a FIFA or a Fortnite -- they have one main franchise -- but then they want breaks from those games to play something that's maybe five or ten hours long.
"EA Originals are also games that we don't make in the bigger part of EA, or don't make enough of. So while there was a philanthropic part to it, selfishly it was the way for us to connect to talent on smaller ideas. When you are in a company and have had successes and mistakes around live service microtransactions, free-to-play, what geographies, what partners to work with, what animation engines... it actually feels good for our teams to sit with EA Original developers and you can actually give real advice. It genuinely makes you feel good. It's advice to help them not make the same mistakes."
Using EA Originals to boost their relationship is a smart move. It puts all accountability on them and it helps to build an organic trust with the consumer base without there being a crunch timeline and without numerous chefs in the metaphorical kitchen. Plus, that 100% developer revenue is a major incentive and something that is not as common as it maybe should be as this industry continues to grow.