Interview: Klei’s Anderson Talks Upside Of EA’s “Indies”

By Nathan Grayson on May 5th, 2012 at 11:30 am.

DUN DUN DUN
Earlier this week, EA launched an indie bundle. Not-so-coincidentally, the Internet proceeded to explode, and I’m now typing this while holding a tin can with a piece of string attached next to my PC. I even said some things about it, though admittedly, mostly to kick off a discussion about an only partially related topic. However, off the back of that, I ended up getting in touch with Klei Entertainment technical designer Nels Anderson, who directly worked on four of the six games (both Deathspanks, both Shanks) featured in EA’s bundle of befuddlement. And while he agrees that the name itself is “a little gross,” writing off the whole thing as yet another bile-drenched belch from a money-devouring giant would be to turn a blind eye to some pretty enormous benefits for the developers involved. EA Partners is not EA proper. It seems like an insane notion, but here’s the short version: “total creative independence.” And the long version? Well, it’s quite a bit more complicated than that. And it’s after the break.

RPS: How was EA involved in the development process on these games? Did it have any sort of creative input (“suggestions,” etc)? Do you know how much of each project it funded?

Nels Anderson: First, all the games in this bundle were published via the EA Partners program. It’s the same group that Valve uses to release their games on consoles. It’s actually a very small group of people within EA and the people that run it are separate from EA’s internal studios.

And it really is a partnership. I never saw anything that could even be vaguely considered creative pressure. EAP got on board with the games because they liked the concepts and the developers! I think they understood that total creative freedom was very important to all the developers involved in these projects.

I’m not privy to the financials though. I’m a game designer very much on purpose and avoid the really business-y stuff if I can.

RPS: Do you think these games would’ve been the same without EA’s help? Or rather, would they have been able to achieve such a high level of quality?

Nels Anderson: It’s entirely possible some of these games would have never been made at all without EAP’s involvement. To make Shank, Klei’s founders literally put their mortgages on the line. And should some kind of snag happened that would have delayed the game, it’s entirely possible the game would never have been released and people would have actually lost their homes.

RPS: What were the benefits of working with EA on these projects? And what, in your opinion, were the biggest downsides?

Nels Anderson: Well, the main benefit is it’s possible to put these games on console at all! I know that’s not exactly what the RPS readership cares about, but I’m personally a big advocate of being platform agnostic and letting the players decide where they want the game (and my personal choice is almost always PC).

But as XBLA and PSN are effectively closed platforms (to their detriment, if I’m being really frank), to put on a game on those platforms, you *must* have a publisher. So either your publisher is Microsoft/Sony or it’s a third party. And it’s one of the platform holders, those platform holders almost always insist on some window of exclusivity, which usually comes at the expense of the PC audience, which as a predominantly PC gamer myself, I wish didn’t have to happen.

Working with EAP allowed all of these games to come out all 3 platforms. Shank 2 launched on all three platforms simultaneously, which is still quite a rarity these days, but again, we think it’s important to make the game available for as many people as possible on their platform of choice.

There are downsides, to be sure. Sometimes there inflexible deadlines and EA’s PR is very much traditional PR, which isn’t the best way to discuss smaller, more unusual games like these. Also because EA is obviously such a big name, sometimes people don’t realize these games have been made by small, independent developers, they just see an EA game and whatever preexisting feelings and/or expectations they have that go with that.

RPS: Are these developers in any way tied to EA once the project ends? Is there first right to refusal on their next game or anything along those lines?

Nels Anderson: I’m not privy the details of everyone’s agreements, but there’s nothing as far as I’m aware. Hothead made the third DeathSpank game without EAP, while Klei chose to work with EAP again on Shank 2 because the Shank 1 experience with EAP was so positive. But I don’t think there’s any kind of obligation.

RPS: How much control of the games do developers have post-release? I know they get to keep their IPs, but obviously EA can “surprise” everyone with bundles like this one. So how far does that power extend?

Nels Anderson: Well, EAP did get approval from all the developers in this bundle. We knew it was coming, heh, we just didn’t realize it would carry the unfortunate moniker that it did. Had we known that, we would have asked them to change it. It’s technically accurate, of course, but as plenty of people have said, it’s easy to construe a somewhat untoward purpose there. Maybe they should have called it the “EA Great White North Pals Bundle” or “EA Fundraiser for Ice Spider Defense Bundle” since 5 of the 6 games in the bundle were made by Canadians!

But yeah, even after the games come out, it’s still a partnership. Shank was in a recent Humble Indie Bundle alongside Super Meat Boy, Jamestown, NightSky and Hammerfight because the Humble Bundle guys asked Klei if we wanted to put our game in there. EAP was supportive of the idea and that was basically that (minus some paperwork wrangling). Which is honestly pretty impressive, considering it meant DRM-free versions of the game for PC, Mac and Linux would be sold, with potentially not a single cent from that sale going to the developer.

RPS: Do you think the big guys vs little guys mentality people seem to have toward triple-A publishers in relation to indies is erroneous? Going forward, do you even think we’ll start to see more partnerships along the lines of EA’s?

Nels Anderson: I don’t think there’s any maliciousness on the part of AAA studios toward indies. I have plenty of good friends that are AAA devs and plenty that are indies. Almost always, we want the same thing- to see games continue to advance and improve as a form of creative expression. Personally I find smaller games are generally much more interesting and tend to seek them out and support them more than gigantic franchises, simply because they tend to be the games I enjoy more. I think games are a tremendously powerful and important form of expression and I want to support those creators. But different people like different things and that’s fine. I don’t think the success of AAA games comes at the expense of indies or vice versa. A rising tide lifts all boats and such.

And really, the more ways there are for creators to get their original games made while retaining creative freedom and their IP, the better. Unfortunately most publishers don’t support those kinds of things and have no idea how much that is going to change.

RPS: What does EA gain from assisting independent developers with the Partners program? How much of it is purely monetarily motivated versus injecting some fresh blood into its lineup? Moreover, how much – if any – of it do you think is a matter of image – i.e. “supporting the little guy”?

Nels Anderson: I can’t speak for EA of course, but I imagine EAP is meant to be similar to something like Fox Searchlight Pictures. Searchlight supports foreign and independent movies that likely otherwise wouldn’t get the funding and distribution necessary to be viable. I can’t imagine a film like Boys Don’t Cry or even 28 Days Later getting made in the normal Hollywood system, at least not while retaining the soul of those films, what makes them interesting.

So Searchlight bankrolls a lot of unusual, original films, usually for *far* less than the cost of a normal Hollywood blockbuster. Most of them break even and make a little money, a few lose money and few are gigantic breakout successes (e.g. Black Swan cost $13 million and made $330 million at the box office alone). Rather than betting the farm on one or two blockbusters, it’s dispersing that risk over a number of titles while simultaneously allow for creative new works to get made. Again, I can’t speak for EA, but I imagine that EA Partners was meant to be a similar model.

And part of the benefit is that (as we all saw last fall, when practically every AAA game release had a numeral hanging off the end of the title), original IP development is risky and frankly, hard. Most AAA studios aren’t setup to generate original IP, nor does that really play to their strengths. If you look at Metacritic’s 2010 publisher roundup (http://www.metacritic.com/feature/game-publisher-rankings-for-2010-releases), both EA and Take2′s best original titles of that year (DeathSpank and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom respectively) were made by independent developers they partnered with.

As for image, I have no idea. That kind of brand/identity/image stuff is totally outside of anything I ever really think about. I know people inside EA that think indie games are tremendously important part of games as a creative medium and maybe they just want to support that. Again, I’m just guessing.

RPS: Ultimately, then, do you think people’s reaction to EA’s use of the word “indie” is overblown? Is it even perhaps counterproductive for people to get this bent out of shape, seeing as there are obvious benefits to big publishers helping out on smaller games in this capacity? Should we as players be more actively encouraging publishers like EA to spotlight smaller games?

Nels Anderson: I can definitely understand why people are upset. I just hope they understand that those six games that were not made by studios EA owns or had any kind of creative control over, and that all six were original IP that the creators still own. If people still take umbrage, that’s their prerogative and totally fair.

But if Braid, Limbo, and Castle Crashers were put into an “XBLA Indie Bundle” or Journey, Fat Princess, and Joe Danger were in a “PSN Indie Bundle,” I don’t think as many folks would take issue with that, even though MS/Sony had the same relationship with those games as EAP did with the ones in this bundle.

I guess the problem is that we can say “EA,” but it’s not really a single entity, right? It’s made up of a lot of different people with different perspectives and opinions. That’s kind of the problem with any large, publicly traded company. They’re behold to all these different interests and it ends up influencing their decisions in ways that I’m not sure are always optimal long term. At least the point where I’d probably never be comfortable working for a publicly traded company.

I mean, 20th Century Fox is producing Prometheus, which I’m quite excited about and will definitely go see. But 20th Century Fox is owned by News Corp, which also owns Fox News. And as any thinking person knows, Fox News is a blight upon the 4th estate and frankly, any person with a goddamn functioning brain. So the money I pay to see Prometheus is going into the same coffers as Fox News (i.e. Rupert Murdoch’s money bin). How the hell am I supposed to evaluate that? Should I refuse to see Prometheus? Should I also stop watching House, even though I’ve loved Hugh Laurie since Blackadder? Should I throw away my copy of American Gods, because HarperCollins is also owned by News Corp? I genuinely don’t know how to feel about this. Maybe the best you can do is vote with your dollar, supporting the things that are good and refusing to support the things that aren’t.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying EA is akin to News Corp. Not even close. Because if anyone deserves that worst company in America label, it’s probably News Corp.

So it’s probably not the best name for the bundle, but how and why these games were made were all for the right reasons and the creators were treated well, fairly and certainly benefit from this bundle. I just hope people understand that, in addition to whatever feelings they may have about the nomenclature.

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104 Comments »

  1. CaspianRoach says:

    I guess people associate the word ‘bundle’ with charity and pay-what-you-want schemes, maybe that’s what caused a lot of discomfort. I think it would have caused less shock if it was called “EA Indie Collection” or something like that.

    • Mattressi says:

      Yeah, to me the anger was less about “EA” and “indie” existing in the same title and more about it being a $20 “indie bundle” (well, in Australia, at least, not sure about elsewhere) by EA. It just seemed like EA were trying to tap into the good will people have towards indie bundles, by naming it thusly, but then injected their ‘big company’ evil into it and made it extremely expensive when compared to every other indie bundle that’s been sold with “indie bundle” in its name. In short; it looked like EA were being bastards. Again.

    • Vorphalack says:

      I think the greatest mistake was not using an EA Partners brand instead of the EA logo so many of us have come to hate. That would have been more accurate, and helped to give the EAP titles some definition from the EA in house developments.

      By using the EA logo, it first looks like an attempt by a major publisher to ride the success train of the Humble Bundle, and second to tap into the Indie good will vibe and generate positive PR after the Worst Company in America award.

      • nxzicwd says:

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    • Hoaxfish says:

      Obviously anything with “EA” in the title is going to be off-putting, and they’re certainly perceived as a long way from “indie”… “bundle” is a little more context-sensitive (I’ve seen it used in many areas of retail for the basic idea of a combined pack)..

      I think “indie bundle” as a combined phrase is probably key to the backlash. The “Humble Indie Bundle” is basically what started the ball rolling, both as a pay what you want, and as a charity event.

      I think it’s especially amusing if you spot that the part of the phrase they replaced with “EA” is the “humble” part of the name.

      People even made jokes about this sort of thing happening when the big companies jumped the bandwagon (e.g. Arrogant Corporate Bundle, Pay-what-we-say, no money goes to charity).

      If I were suggesting names? The “EA Partnership Collection” would’ve probably worked. Indie or not, they probably would’ve got more mileage out of clearly defining the that this was not straight-up EA, nor inflaming opinions with “Indie”, and as you say not running afoul of “bundle” connotations.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It wasn’t that for me at all. It was the use of the word indie. I like buying indie games, and I like that most of the money goes to the developers. Efforts like these make it harder to be an informed consumer. I was very disappointed when the Humble Bundle that included Shank as well.

    • fish99 says:

      No, it’s the word indie that’s the problem. Indie as in independently published. Nothing published by EA is indie and it’s very cynical of them to use that term.

      What these games are is budget games (remember that term?). Bundle just implies several things grouped together.

      Next up – EA kickstarters.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      “Indie” means “Independently developed and published.” You can have a distributor, if you’d like, to get into game stores, if that’s your “thing” (since you don’t likely have manufacturing facilities), but once you have a publisher-developer relationship, you’re no longer “independent.” Otherwise, you might as well say that Arkham Asylum was an “indie game,” after all, they weren’t owned by Time-Warner until after AA’s release.

      • Dominic White says:

        The whole EA Partners thing is letting the developers retain independence, though. Klei still own Shank, they can sell it on other services, they put it in a Humble Bundle and all that jazz. People still act like they’ve sold out to ‘The Man’ because they HAD to seek a big publisher to get the game onto XBLA and other stores.

        No, seriously – Microsoft changed their policy a couple years back. They don’t even talk to indie developers unless they either sign an Xbox exclusivity agreement, or sign a deal with some publisher. It didn’t used to be this way – Jeff Minter got Space Giraffe independently published on XBLA… only for the idiot reviewers out there to give it some absolutely terrible review scores, including one in the 30% bracket. But yeah, indies could go solo back then. Not so much now.

        Ever wonder why Bastion has the Warner Bros logo on it, despite being funded, developed and owned wholly by Supergiant? That’s why.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Again, by this definition, Arkham Asylum is an Independent Game, just because the studio itself wasn’t owned by anyone else at the time.

          I’m also not sure why everyone seems to think that XBLA is the only platform available, as though your games can’t possibly sell unless you sign a multi-month/multi-year exclusivity agreement or sell your soul to a publisher in order to get a slot on System Exclusive Platform X.

          Especially since developers often bitch and moan about how they were dicked over by the publisher/Microsoft/Sony on sales and promotions. It happens nearly every time, and they continue to demand sympathy from the public when it does.

  2. tmargul says:

    Here’s an alternate view on EA partners, from an article published yesterday: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-05-04-free-radical-vs-the-monsters

    Probably the highlight:
    “EA Partners was this part of EA that was involved with third-party things,” says Doak. “It was a bit like being groomed, you know. Here’s all these friendly avuncular people that will give you all the love and attention you need to get your game out, and then after a while they go away and all the bad guys come around and it’s like you’re in borstal. Getting held down, beaten around the head with a cue ball in a sock.”

    • NikRichards says:

      That article is more than a little depressing.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s a company that wanted to play in the high-budget pool while being obstinate and uncompetative growing beyond their means and Darwining because they operate under the delusion that publishers can’t be flexible and situations never change. The repeated cries of “psychopath” don’t do them any favours.

        • InternetBatman says:

          There’s an obvious partisan bias, but the way Lucas arts treated them was clearly wrong.

        • El_Emmental says:

          nah, it’s mostly a company that mistook the era it was currently in, they behaved like if nothing had happened in the last 2-3 years, which was a terrible mistake.

          They thought the market hadn’t changed (the old “quality of the product > marketing opportunity” conception), nor the technology (rewriting your entire engine… the crazy fools !).

          And a nasty stroke of bad luck : Lucas Arts dropping the ball in the worst way possible (= slowly, without clearly quitting when they already decided to quit – ending up with a beta-stage game that directly went into the bin), Haze becoming a PS3 exclusive mid-development (when it was initially developed for PC/Xbox-360).

        • lijenstina says:

          I like the Social Darwinist spin with a hint of poisoning the well. Reminds me of why i deeply despise ideologies.

          • jwoozy says:

            It’s the lowest hanging branch of “ideology” in the sense that it’s just naked victim-blaming that serves no other purpose than to relieve cognitive dissonance by appearing to justify the horrible shit that goes on in this industry and every other in the world. People who namedrop Darwin in any context other than evolutionary biology need to have some pretty sick ideas corrected. With a fucking hammer.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Totally. I mean, fuck things like “quality” and “innovation,” they should’ve just bent over and delivered the re-digested shit that the publisher demanded.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Probably the worst part is the idea that Timesplitters 4 “wouldn’t sell” as a cartoony shooter… only to have Team Fortress 2 as a HUGE game.

      A TF2-style game with a single-player/co-op campaign would be amazing.

      • Phantoon says:

        Future Perfect was pretty cartoony goofy with Cortez as the main character.

        Actually, I liked him. His stupidity was well written for comedic effect, like when he’d have arguments with himself after time jumping to team up… with himself.

  3. Lemming says:

    That’s a lot of questions skirting around the relevant issue – which is who gets the money? The closest I saw was this:

    “Which is honestly pretty impressive, considering it meant DRM-free versions of the game for PC, Mac and Linux would be sold, with potentially not a single cent from that sale going to the developer”

    Which implies, as I suspected, it all goes to EA at this point in these games’ lifespan, so I’ll pass.

    • MasterDex says:

      You’re mistaken, he was referring to how the humble indie bundle allows the customer to dictate where their money goes. They don’t have to give a cent to the developers if they don’t want to and can give whatever they’ve committed entirely to charity.

    • twig_reads says:

      MasterDex managed to answer before I could log in, but yes, this EA hate is really going out of control. It even blinds people from reading things with clear head. I know this is mean, but – lemming by name, lemming by nature?

      • Lemming says:

        Not mean, but highly inaccurate.

        My concern is that I don’t want to give money to EA if I can help it. That’s not ‘out of control’ that’s something that I, personally, stand by. If buying this bundle was going to help these independent developers, then I’d consider getting the games. If it’s more money for EA coffers (hypocrisy of selling on Steam included), then I’ll stay the hell away from it.

        I suppose it’s only ‘out of control’ if you live in a world where you have no willpower whatsoever when it comes to games buying, but I thankfully don’t live in that world.

        • twig_reads says:

          I would argue it is out of control when one person working there (remember, EA is group of persons, with different oppoinions too, not one homogenic monster) just made a positive comment on humble indie bundle and the knee-jerk reaction was to search something malicious out of it. You were in mindset that it’s EA, ergo it’s only bad, which makes you blind.

          And ofcourse, I just have to point this out to be a person of no willpower. Nice. If you really need to know then I haven’t really bought any EA games and I don’t think they haven’t done decisions harmful to gamers. But blind judgement of a group of people without wanting to even know what those individuals there think is equally bad for me. But yes, just let EA executives and shareholders think all PC Gamers are thieves and all EA employees as moralless moneygrubbing assholes.

          • Bungle says:

            The corporate structure makes all corporations inherently evil. They only exist to profit the shareholders, which means they are all your enemies except the ones in which you own stock.

          • Kadayi says:

            @Bungie

            ‘All corporation are inherently evil…’ Evil…what is this? kindergarden? Yes, we’ve all seen the documentary (and some of us even own the book). However this ‘Corporations are Evil’ talk is meaningless. Fact of the matter is games publishers are reliant on sales in order to generate revenue so the onus on them in a competitive market place is to make their products attractive to consumers (games are a luxury entertainment product, not a necessity like oil or gas). That means investing profits into future development. Sure certainly corporations like EA and Activision they have to pay shareholders dividends, but they’re not exactly high yield companies in that regard.

      • Phantoon says:

        Out of control? You know what EA is, right?

    • yoggesothothe says:

      I was a bit confused by that sentence as well. The context of that statement almost makes it seem like he meant to say “publisher” but slipped up and said “developer” instead.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I was also wondering who gets what money. For all his nice words on EA, he can’t give or even imply the percentage they take. I would prefer an ecosystem where creators get most of the money for their efforts.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        I know this guy tries to say he doesn’t understand any of the business side of it, but he still talks like a PR guy.

        • Phantoon says:

          Yeah. Also, a lot of exclamations. It’s kind of off putting.

        • Nelsormensch says:

          Sorry it didn’t come across as sounding genuine or something. I just said to Nathan what and how I’d say to anyone else if I were sitting in a pub with them, shooting the shit about this stuff. I’m a game designer and programmer and that’s what I enjoy doing. Brand/messaging/whatever else ain’t my bag. If you got any more questions, I’m honestly happy to answer as best I can.

      • Nelsormensch says:

        In case you didn’t see my reply below, all the developer do get a fair share from the bundle. This is actually something of an unusual arrangement, where a lot of development looks like the deal where Obsidian got paid a flat rate to make Fallout: New Vegas and then they’d get a bonus if they hit a certain Metacritic score (http://www.joystiq.com/2012/03/15/obsidian-missed-fallout-new-vegas-metacritic-bonus-by-one-point/). I think that’s quite a bit more bullshit than giving developers a %, regardless of how well/poorly the game does.

        Again, I’m not an EA apologist (there are certainly things they do that I’m not cool with), but I just wanted to put out a little more information about the setup with EAP and how it is actually quite a bit more fair that the conditions many other games are developed under.

    • Nelsormensch says:

      Hey, I’m the Nels from the interview and I just wanted to say yes, as MasterDex noted below, I was just referring to the fact that anything sold in the Humble Indie Bundle can be set so that 100% of the price paid go to the charities and/or the Humble guys themselves. Sorry that wasn’t clear.

      All the developers definitely share in the revenue generated by this and any other sale of their game (and it’s a fair share compared to most of the other publishing deals out there). It’s definitely not that case that we made the games and then EA gets to reap all the revenue from it.

  4. kristian says:

    Who cares, even indies arent indie. Indies have their own “indiefund” which works in the same way as EA Partners does. Fez is not an indie game, yet it’s still called an indie game. There’s tons of more examples like this for the most famous “indie” games out there. Indie is just a buzzword. It means nothing.

    Just buy what you want, not what you think is helping someone “indie”, because most likely the game’s developer is as “indie” as bigger developers are.

    • Bungle says:

      Some people want to reign in those who already have too much power. I see it as a good thing.

    • Kadayi says:

      Pretty much the difference is ‘Big’ Vs ‘Small’ and ‘Public’ Vs ‘Private’. Technically Valve are ‘Indie’ as they aren’t beholden to shareholders.

  5. Deadly Habit says:

    I wish they would have asked how they feel about it being a bundle on Steam and still requiring EA DRM for some of the titles as well. Also how he feels that they are just offering this bundle on a competitors service rather than on their own.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It sounds like they don’t really care as long as they get to make games for a living.

    • Nelsormensch says:

      I think DRM is a broken system and Klei is a strong supporter of DRM-free games where ever possible. That’s why we were more than happy to have DRM-free Shank in Humble Indie Bundle 4 when they asked us.

      As for being a competitor’s service, is that weird? I wish all games would be available on all the services possible. Putting up artificial barriers and locking people into certain platforms takes away consumer choice, which isn’t good for anyone in the long run.

      (But as small developers we only have a finite amount of resources and obviously Steam has way, way more users than anything else out there. If something ever ends up just on Steam, I’m wager that’s why almost all of the time)

  6. wodin says:

    This EA thing is totally overblown, anyone who voted them the worse this or the worse that must have pretty easy lives and little else to worry about.

    • Lemming says:

      In context they were voted worst consumer company. Not most evil people in the world. That would be stupid.

      • wodin says:

        Fair enough. Though it seems like people view them as worst company on earth full stop.

      • Shuck says:

        “In context they were voted worst consumer company.”
        Yeah, but frankly even that isn’t remotely true. There are plenty of far, far worse companies in that regard, even when looking only at the game industry. And I say that as someone who doesn’t like the company’s treatment of their employees (which is pretty bad, even after the post-”EA spouse” reforms) or its customers.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          People vote in the WCIA poll based on their personal experiences. Far more people who vote in the poll will have been dicked over by EA than, say, Bank of America or Citigroup.

  7. L. Boom says:

    Thanks for this – very nice interview. It was a bit weird to see how many people actually thought EA was trying to pass off some of its internally developed titles as “indie”. Just a case of unfortunate, if technically correct, labelling.

  8. Velvetmeds says:

    Easy way to get around this non-issue issue:

    Interested in the games? Buy them.

    Not interested? Don’t buy them.

    • beekay says:

      Don’t like massive famines? Don’t go to Africa or Asia. Easy way around that non-issue issue.

      People who think about that stuff must have very boring lives!

    • El_Emmental says:

      “Easy way to get around this non-issue issue:

      Interested in the games? Buy them.

      Not interested? Don’t buy them.”

      => Yea, who cares about ethics anyway. You’re such a wonderful person :)

    • Skabooga says:

      @Velvetmedia: While in many situations I would be inclined to agree, I think the last paragraphs of this interview bring up issues people might at least want to consider before making a purchase.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Indeed my friend, indeed.

      EA are not evil, they are just motivated by profit at the higher levels like ANY company. The key is they can’t do ANYTHING without consumer support, so buy what you like and ignore what you dislike. Labels… “AAA” and “corporate” and “Indie” don’t fucking matter, only the quality of the game. I love Dead Space and Mass Effect, so I buy them. I like longer story-focused DLC, so I buy it. If that means EA makes more of that stuff then hey guess what? Good. I like that stuff.

      If they cornhole a franchise or break a game into bits to sell later then I don’t buy it, and if most people agree they will stop doing it.

      It’s really simple to support games “ethically” without even paying attention to this political BS.

      • Kadayi says:

        Well said SV. There’s way too much grandstanding going on, with little true understanding that there’s a huge difference between say a bank, or oil company Vs a games publisher. Personally I’m all about the games. If a game sounds good and appeals to me I buy it. If I’m unsure I’ll wait until it hit’s a price point I’m more comfortable with.

  9. El_Emmental says:

    EA Partners logo, “Indie Collection”, a short disclaimer describing the EAP system, et voila !

  10. BobsLawnService says:

    This is proof of two things:

    1. The PC gaming community are a bunch of hysterical girls’ blouses.
    2. EA’s brand has taken a serious hammering lately and they could cure cancer and the gaming cummunity would whing and whine like 3 year olds.

  11. Kaiji says:

    I don’t see what there is to complain about.

    EA provide gaming services to stupid people and stupid people gladly use those services.

    Are we saying that stupid people don’t deserve to be exploited by giant corporations? I thought that was what stupid people were for.

    • Phantoon says:

      Well, maybe they aren’t.

      But I am. Stupid people shouldn’t be exploited just because they are dumb. They should be educated.

      • equatorian says:

        It also just happens that most stupid people disdains education and thinks they’re smarter without the whole ridiculous ‘paying attention to school’, though. After all, TV will tell you everything you need to know to be successful in life.

        Seriously, I met a 16-year-old girl who couldn’t do fractions, as in, have absolutely no idea why four quarters is a dollar and how many quarters would three dollars make. She despises all my attempts to teach her (I’m a VERY nice and patient person when I teach, regardless of how poorly I suffer fools otherwise) and thinks it makes her more stupid to learn. How that makes sense, I don’t even know.

        After a while I gave up and threw the white flag, like most of her schoolteachers. She’s confident that she’ll get to a top ten university. I’m confident that if you’re THAT dumb, no amount of education is going to save you from being exploited.

    • lijenstina says:

      Yes, stupid people are the hosts that nurture the corporation parasites that spread around and buy everything, co-opt politicians, destroy education, spew bullshit propaganda that produces even more stupid people to feed upon. A vicious circle where the contagion of shittiness spreads until everything is corrupted.

      However, everybody is already “stupid” (and by stupid i mean lack of knowledge that makes almost impossible to have any successful actions, decisions in those areas without luck) – usually outside of the professional vocation. So, if someone cares about him/herself he/she should care about stupid people. :)

  12. Skabooga says:

    Bravo, Mr. Grayson, for this interview, and bringing in another point of view.

  13. Phantoon says:

    “But if Braid, Limbo, and Castle Crashers were put into an “XBLA Indie Bundle” or Journey, Fat Princess, and Joe Danger were in a “PSN Indie Bundle,” I don’t think as many folks would take issue with that, even though MS/Sony had the same relationship with those games as EAP did with the ones in this bundle.”
    Because they wouldn’t be called a “Sony Indie Bundle” or “Microsoft Indie Bundle”.

    • Nelsormensch says:

      Aye, totally fair. As I said, I think the name could have been much better. Just reading some of the reactions, it just felt like some folks didn’t realize how many games that are generally considered “indie” were developed with publisher interaction. Thatgamecompany’s three games to date were funded entirely by Sony, even though I think the vast majority of folks would still call Journey “indie.”

      But yeah, don’t get me wrong, the labeling ain’t great by any means.

    • Lemming says:

      Not really the same thing, at least as far as Fat Princess and Journey are concerned. They are made by studios owned by Sony, AFAIK.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        Thatgamecompany aren’t owned by Sony at all. They were contracted to make 3 PS3 games after someone at Sony liked the prototype of flOw. Hence Flower & Journey.

      • Nelsormensch says:

        It’s a small detail, but yeah as Sir Malibu said, thatgamecompany isn’t owned by Sony (they just had a 3-game exclusive deal). Titan Studios wasn’t owned by Sony either (they’re closed now apparently). But they were part of Epic, which I didn’t actually realize. Sub Shatter in for that then ;)

  14. hosndosn says:

    Yea… Let’s ask they guys that did it whether it’s okay, anyways. That makes a ton of sense.

  15. Shooop says:

    Bet you anything the “total creative independence” is a lure to get developers to step foot inside EA. And once there no one ever leaves.

    • Nelsormensch says:

      Heh, if it was meant to be some of lure for us to join EA, I’d say it didn’t work, as every developer involved is still completely independent! ;) Personally, I work with a small team for a reason and no amount of money, promises or anything else is likely to change that.

      Maybe it sounds too good to be true, like there has to be some ulterior motive, but it really was (as far as I could see), just a really good setup for everyone involved.

  16. D3xter says:

    Yeah… anyone read this yesterday? http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-05-04-free-radical-vs-the-monsters

    Loved this fitting part about EA too:
    Free Radical’s other project at this time was the last TimeSplitters game, Future Perfect. After TimeSplitters 2 EA had come sniffing around, and Free Radical was ready to listen. “EA Partners was this part of EA that was involved with third-party things,” says Doak. “It was a bit like being groomed, you know. Here’s all these friendly avuncular people that will give you all the love and attention you need to get your game out, and then after a while they go away and all the bad guys come around and it’s like you’re in borstal. Getting held down, beaten around the head with a cue ball in a sock.”

    “In retrospect, what happened after TimeSplitters 2 was that EA saw the Metacritic and came to us,” says Ellis. “I don’t actually think they’d looked at the game very much.” The publisher demanded Future Perfect have a strong lead character in order that it appeal to the US market. “EA turned up with this stuff that was supposed to help us,” says Doak. “And it was just big boards with pictures of Vin Diesel on them. Wesley Snipes was on one in his Blade outfit.” Future Perfect ended up with Cortez, a cowardly and dumb marine whose catchphrase falls flat every time: “It’s time to split!”

  17. Beelzebud says:

    The problem isn’t them using the word “indie”. The problem is them using the term “indie bundle”, as if they made up the concept. Using that term tells me they just wanted to cash in on the concept, without putting any money back to charity.

    Don’t apologize for EA, that’s what their legal and advertising team is paid to do. If no one at EA saw a problem with stealing the term “indie bundle” then they are mode tone deaf than I imagined.

    • LionsPhil says:

      as if they made up the concept

      In what way are they claiming that?

      • Beelzebud says:

        By putting out an “EA Indie Bundle”, that’s how. It’s not pay what you want, and it doesn’t put any money to charity, so it shouldn’t be called “indie bundle”.

        I guess someone should have put a trademark on Indie Buncle, so corporations wouldn’t blatantly steal it. Hell, EA probably already trademarked it.

        • Vinraith says:

          Most indie bundles don’t give any money to charity. Quite a few of them aren’t pay what you want, and at least have a minimum. What on Earth are you on about?

          • RobF says:

            I dunno but I hope some of you guys never find out about that near $5million big corp VC money behind the Hundles or we’ll never hear the end of this debate.

          • Unaco says:

            This, you mean?

  18. Danorz says:

    according to the EULA on the steam store page, if i buy this on steam i have to get origin anyway? fuck that

  19. CptSqweky says:

    Not that I would ever defend FOX news, but seriously, how can people honestly believe that CNN or MSNBC are at all in the slightest bit better? Have you ever watched those channels? It’s everything that FOX does, just with a different political bias.

  20. rustybroomhandle says:

    EA is speaking at the Ubuntu Dev Summit tomorrow. EA / Linux is almost as conflicting as EA / Indie.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Perhaps they’re hoping they can beat Valve to the proprietary locked-down punch by releasing Origin for Linux?

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Well, allow me to speculate:

      Microsoft is in an uncomfortable position at the moment. The industry as a whole seems to be convinced that mobile devices is where all the money is at, them included. To an extent that’s probably true. Subsidised devices and loads of micro-payments. The gift that keeps on giving. Yet, Microsoft is not making a dent in that market, unless you count their bullshit patent lawsuits.

      Where their biggest foothold is, aside from with the XBox, is OEM sales of Windows. OEM sales are fine, but does not provide a continuous revenue stream per unit sold. So now they are trying to remedy this situation starting with Windows 8, slanting the UI towards mobile devices, and including XBox Live as a standard feature.

      For products like Steam and Origin this means being nudged out of the way. Potentially this could eventually involve publishers effectively having to pay a Microsoft tax on all product sold on Microsoft’s platform.

      So do I think Valve and EA are looking to Linux as a parachute? Not really… not directly anyway. While I believe there’s more money in selling games to Linuxers than to Maccers, I still think it’s too insignificant for EA to want to start supporting the Linux desktop. I can see a bigger plan at work though:

      Here’s me speculation. What if the end goal here is for there to be a Linux based games/entertainment platform, possibly Ubuntu based (so they can snag a few desktop sales too), and the console market getting a player like how Android is. One platform, but many vendors shipping hardware pre-loaded with it, each tweaked and customised, but ultimately all running the same software. So Valve and EA both perhaps getting into the subsidised hardware business.

      Such devices would not be running MacOS or Windows, mostly due to the associated OS tax. My proposed scheme would die a fast death though if EA were to make all the shipped software proprietary to their own devices though.

  21. nootpingu86 says:

    Fair and Balanced

  22. Continuity says:

    Any association with a publisher in any capacity = not indie. I don’t care about the bundle, just don’t call it indie.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      By that rationale only purely self-published games are Indie. Which excludes almost every game ever made because once you’re being distributed by Steam, GamersGate, GoG et al your definition no longer applies.

  23. ScottHarrigan says:

    This is not nearly enough to make me break my boycott of EA games. This is a pretty good deal, but their war on used games was really turned me off to the company. I refuse to buy anything with their name on it. This interview was very good though, and I can see why people got a bit nervous with all the stuff EA has been pulling. It is such a shame, Shank 2 looks like a blast.

    http://www.videodetective.com/games/shank-2/28433

  24. sophof says:

    I think the problem here is/was that people may disagree on what ‘Indie’ Exactly means, but almost everyone agrees that EA isn’t it. Knowing ‘indie’ is a useless term and having that fact shoved in your face are two different things. People will still prefer to think of it as the perfect independent developer getting all the money.

    It is similar to politics in that everyone knows it is full of telling lies and half-truths, but noone wants a politician to admit that. People take offence at the act of embracing such uncomfortable truths I think.

  25. Carra says:

    “Should I throw away my copy of American Gods, because HarperCollins is also owned by News Corp?”.

    Nah, you should throw it away because it’s not a very good book.

    If it’s OK to buy those items is something I’ve been thinking about before. I really liked reading Ender’s Game but after reading up on the author, I wondered if I should support such people. In the end, I decided that I should, a good book is a good book.

  26. kwokkang says:

    I know it’s worth it to try to date someone online, for you can meet so many people who can potentially become the one for you. Meeting the right one was not an easy job, but I found the one for me on sugarmommydate.℃0M, a place where you can meet people who are serious about starting a relationship. You can check it out, it’s a great site for ones seeking a partner online.

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