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EA: We'll take a back seat at Respawn

Despite bankrolling and announcing new West/Zampella studio, publisher insists it will let talent "stay fiercely independent"

EA Partners has said that it will not interfere with the development process at Respawn Entertainment, the new studio established by sacked Infinity Ward employees Jason West and Vince Zampella.

That's despite EAP bankrolling the start-up and announcing the business on behalf of the high-profile developers, as they begin the process of staffing-up to and set their sights on creating blockbuster games to rival some of the biggest in the business.

"We're in the back seat advising when asked, we're not necessarily in the front seat grabbing at the wheel trying to make life more difficult," EA Partners general manager David DeMartini "That's one of the key differences, we have taken more of a back seat to allow these developers to stay fiercely independent."

The lack of creative control was one of the reasons the developers were unhappy at Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward, and after Activision unceremoniously sacked the pair for "insubordination", the publisher claimed the pair were discussing leaving the team and establishing relationships with rival companies.

"It's a very close collaboration and as much as we'll have an opinion when they form their team and we'll have some ideas, they've got all control over where they go with their IP," offered DeMartini.

The EA Partner programme has proven very popular with independent studios that want to remain in control of their properties but need EA's muscle to reach global audiences. Crytek is currently working with EAP for sci-fi shooter Crysis 2, and the widely anticipated massively multiplayer crime game APB from Realtime Worlds is also part of the portfolio.

"We've got a long track record of a huge amount of success and pushing great games out," added DeMartini. "The core of all of these things is that it all starts with a great game and a great entertainment experience that delights people. That's what these guys specialise in and that's what we expect out of the partnership."

DeMartini also said that he wouldn't rule out West and Zampella collaborating with EA's internal development studios, and in the early days of Respawn all options are open.

"I don't know that there is any specific collaborations that will happen, but as is the case with our Partners programme, there is nothing that is ruled out. Anything we can do to facilitate their success, we're going to be open minded to doing."

The full interview with David DeMartini, and Respawn's Jason West and Vince Zampella, can be read here.

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Latest comments (12)

Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts11 years ago
Speaking personally as a gamer and not as an EA employee, I can't wait to see what Respawn come up with.

As an EA employee I think the company has really turned a corner since JR came back and while it's true we still have a way to go, we're definitely headed in the right direction.
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Benjamin Dixon Studying Computer Games Design and Programming, Staffordshire University11 years ago
I have to agree with your comment Stephen, I too am looking forward to what these guys can put together with the right team and a publisher that will let them do what they seem to do pretty well. Also with your comments about EA, it seems the company has made a pretty drastic turn around over the past couple of years focusing more on key titles such as their sport games but also choosing other titles carefully instead of churning games out as fast as is physically possible.
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I can't wait what they come up with. Infinity ward is on it's way down! Activision is going to ram the call of duty series into the ground I'm afraid! I bet infinitys team is shifting to ea if I didn't know any better
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Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University11 years ago
"I bet infinitys team is shifting to ea if I didn't know any better"

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What did I tell you? So predictable! I hope they do very well at respawn entertainment!
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I think under EA's mussel, that West and Zampella will not make FPS games (they have been for the past 9 years. You have to get sick of that, surely?). I wouldn't be surprised if they make a Splinter Cell/Metal gear solid-ESK games. Whats your thoughts on the topic?

Overall though, its good to see that these independent developers are finally away from the claws of activision and starting a fresh. Good luck guys!
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Jeff Wayne Technical Architect 11 years ago
The day of the behemoth publisher is coming to an end and that is good news for the games developers and consumers. It might take a few (or more than a few) years but with the advent and take up of digital distribution thus far it's not hard to imagine it. Especially when publishers do more and more to toxify their products through anal DRM schemes and rehashes of old ideas - i.e. make shareholders happy and screw what the consumer thinks!

I will be very interested to see what 'Respawn' come up but I'm still quite shocked that they hopped into bed with EA given this specific history.
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Cobey Jones Studying Game development, University of Advancing Technology11 years ago
I hope that this deal is successful and helps to change the industry. Allowing developers to retain the rights to IP has to be the way to go in the future.
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Marius Berthold11 years ago
got to disagree with Jeff.
With Diablo III and SCII Activision Blizzard is in a good position to stay alive even without Infinity Ward/Cod Series. They wont die, because of 8 Ppl leaving their company.
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Shane McCafferty iOS Developer/Consultant, Shane McCafferty11 years ago
I agree with Stephen. Riccitiello has done a good job. As an outsider and gamer EA in 2010 is in a much better place.
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Jeff Wayne Technical Architect 11 years ago
Of course Marius - I don't mean that this specifically is the beginning of the end - it was more a general opinion based on the worrying direction (PC) gaming in general is taking at the moment and the mounting lack of consumer focus being displayed by large publishers.

Activision can afford to continue taking risks skirting consumer limits since Blizzard will prop them up for years if it comes to that. I'm a Blizzard fan since WC2 and will remain so for a very long time since they offer top class games with top class service.

As for EA, I had huge praise for them not destroying titles like DA:O and ME2 with DRM only to see them recently go and take a leaf out of Ubisofts book for their future DRM plans. Above all models to go and copy, they pick the absolute worst with the worst consumer experience. Unsettling to say the least.
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Kevin Cameron Concept Artist/Illustrator 11 years ago
So two guys who made a perennial game (or two) about Shooting Folks in the Face get their own new studio and freedom to...make more games about Shooting Folks in the Face?

I mean, with a name like 'Respawn' what else could they have in mind?

Since there's already CoD, Medal of Honor, Bad Company, Battlefield, Halo, Gears of's gonna be interesting to see how they attempt to differentiate themselves from an already cluttered and samey genre.
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