EA Originals to publish more big-budget games as well as small indies

The head of a gigantic bird with colorful plumage
(Image credit: EA)

Electronic Arts set up its indie publishing wing, EA Originals, following the success of thread-based puzzle-platformer Unravel in 2016. Indie games with EA's backing like Fe (another platformer), A Way Out (a multiplayer prison-break drama), Sea of Solitude (a boat journey through a flooded city), and Lost in Random (an action-adventure with sentient dice) followed.

So did a couple of online multiplayer games: Rocket Arena and Knockout City, the latter of which EA handed control of back to its creators when it went free-to-play in 2022. Subsequently, developers Velan Studios announced Knockout City would be shutting down.

Speaking to Gamesindustry.biz, Jeff Gamon, the general manager of EA Partners who oversees EA Originals, said he is "hugely proud of that relationship we have with all of our partners, regardless of how things worked out. With [Velan Studios founders] Guha and Karthik, I am still very close to them. Every step of the way we were by their side. Completely transparent. These things are built in collaboration from day one."

EA Originals' next release isn't quite such a niche concern. It's Wild Hearts, a Monster Hunter-esque action game developed by Omega Force, the division of Koei Tecmo responsible for the Dynasty Warriors series and Persona 5 Strikers. Later this year EA Originals will publish Immortals of Aveum, a big-budget wizard shooter from Ascendant Studios, whose CEO Bret Robbins was creative director on three Call of Duty games as well as Dead Space. Neither is really in the same vein as a sad puzzle-platformer.

"We've discovered a desire for bigger, better and more innovative titles that complement the EA portfolio," Gamon said. "So where we started off with smaller, indie games we are now graduating to independently created games of all shapes and sizes and scope and budget. We are moving away from niche, and towards bold and audacious."

Gamon did emphasize that, in spite of this move away from niche, EA Originals would continue to publish lower-budget games in addition to these potential blockbusters. "We are making games of a bigger scale," he said, "but we are also still partnering—and we have one or two in the pipeline—on smaller games as well. Those fundamental values still stand. The structure of any deal is completely bespoke." Gammon mentioned an interest in games that "move genres on" and explained that, while the studios it worked with had access to EA's resources, "we shield them from the bigger EA corporation, and make sure to protect their creative freedom."

Wild Hearts is due to release this week, with Immortals of Aveum to follow at an unspecified date later in 2023. One more game under the EA Originals umbrella has been revealed and that's RustHeart, which is being developed by Glowmade Games, a studio founded by ex-Lionhead staff.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.