EA has announced that Kevin Stephens will officially join its company to create an open-world action-adventure game. Stephens is a former studio head at Monolith, the Warner Bros. developer responsible for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War.
In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz (opens in new tab), EA senior vice president Samantha Ryan, who is also the former president of Monolith productions, called the action-adventure genre "hugely important" to the games industry, and hopes the new game will introduce new players to the genre. She also confirmed the studio is still in its early days, figuring out fundamental business questions such as the size of the studio and the focus of its games. EA wants to unveil more about the studio at a later point this year.
Stephens' background with the Middle-earth games makes him a good choice for helming an open-world game, and the genre is as popular as ever, with games like Assassin's Creed Valhalla (opens in new tab) and the upcoming Biomutant (opens in new tab) offering players huge worlds to play in. While the Mordor games were last in the news following Warner Bros.' hotly-discussed decision to patent the Nemesis System (opens in new tab) (making it impossible for any other studio to use it), this was a good reminder for an interesting idea Monolith brought to the table, and we can only hope there's more where that came from.
It figures EA would want to get a piece of the open-world cake, as such games are underrepresented in the publisher's library. Anthem is an open-world game, and you could call Dragon Age: Inquisition open-world adjacent, both developed by Bioware—but despite holding the Star Wars license for years, EA never published a Star Wars open-world game for example, with that job eventually going to Ubisoft Massive (opens in new tab). While there's no word on whether the new studio will develop an all-new IP, not a lot of EA's current games sound like a great fit for the genre. Either way, we will hear more with time.