EA Originals, the publisher’s label for smaller games, was established so that EA’s catalogue can feature more than just the big games.
Matt Bilbey, executive vice president of growth at EA, said that EA Originals wasn’t just designed to create games EA doesn’t usually make, it’s also a way to change the perception of EA in the public eye.
“25 years at EA and I still struggle with the external perception that we’re just a bunch of bad guys,” Bilbey told GamesIndustry. “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.”
The other part of this desire for more interesting games is also EA’s way of staying relevant, by being connected to emergent talent. EA Originals partners get to keep all profits, with EA only taking a small fee to cover costs.
“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,” Bilbey explains.
“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.”
Bilbey also revealed that EA now has a sort of creative council, headed up by Respawn’s Vince Zampella, whose job it is to get involved with these smaller teams, help solve problems and build trust.
The rest of the interview goes into subscriptions, how these small developers view it, and how EA is helping them grow.