What interesting times we live in... Sony and Microsoft locked in a vicious duel with the outcome uncertain (at least outside of Japan), new interface devices coming out of Nintendo like they've been subcontracted by Santa's workshop, and on top of all this, EA might start making original games. Hey, we even weighed their corporate soul and found them a slight force for good!
Yes, it seems that FEAP may be coming to end. The Futile Electronic Arts Protest, my one-person boycott of Wil Wright's talks, has been my largely ineffective way of protesting against EA, the largest publisher by turnover, being the smallest investor in original IP.
(The point being: there aren't any EA games I want to play, so I can't economically protest, as I would normally do, so I'm forced to behaviourally protest by giving up something I would otherwise want - the chance to see Wil Wright talk.)
At the Montreal International Game Summit, I spent some time talking to Chris James of EA Montreal (nice chap - I met him at GDC) who reliably informs me that EA's promise to put some original game titles out into the marketplace isn't just hot air, and that there are indeed a raft of original titles on their way (including the one he is working on).
So, when EA release their third original title in a twelve month interval, FEAP will be dissolved. And obviously, it doesn't matter how unimpressive the idea is, so something like Crysis still counts as an original IP even though an alien-busting FPS isn't exactly a new concept.
Of course, it could still take a while for this condition to be reached.
Not that you should assume from this that I'm against licensed IP - it serves a vital role in the games industry, both in providing players with games they want to play, and in supporting mid-sized developers in an otherwise hostile market. It's just that I believe that large corporations should have obligations beyond making money, and that we the consumers have the collective power to shape their behaviours. Not to mention its just poor business practice not to be developing new intellectual property when you've got the funds available for it.
Don't you think a company which makes half a billion dollars of profit on three billion dollars of turnover can afford a few million dollars investment in original ideas? I suppose the question that remains is: can a company that huge create new and interesting games, or is it too hard for organisations that size to innovate? I'm certainly looking forward to finding out.
Last original IP from EA:
Black (Criterion), published February 2006.