EA's chief financial officer Warren Jenson has revealed that the company is currently working on a game based on Francis Ford Coppola's classic mafia movie The Godfather, marking an unusual foray into mature content for the publisher.
Jenson was speaking at a Bear Stearns conference in the USA, and he devoted some time to discussing the implications of mature content in videogames - telling the audience that "I think that many of you know that we are developing The Godfather."
Following Take-Two's success with Illusion Softworks' ambitious Mafia PC title (recently released on PS2, with an Xbox version due soon), not to mention unparalleled round-the-world sales of the Grand Theft Auto series, it's perhaps unsurprising that EA is looking into this area, and it's equally unsurprising given the publisher's track record that it seems to have secured the "mother of all licences" in the field.
Jenson wouldn't reveal any specifics, but did confirm, since he was on the topic, that the game would "likely" be an M-rated game. In the States, titles rated "M" are not meant to be sold to children under the age of 17. However, while Jenson acknowledged the success of games like GTA, he also added that EA had no plans to produce games featuring "gratuitous sex and violence" of the same calibre.
"There will be titles that will sell well on that fringe, but you don't have to be there in order to do well in the marketplace, to develop content that will sell well," he told the Bear Stearns audience. A quick glance down the spines of our EA titles certainly doesn't reveal any 18 certificates - the legally enforced British equivalent of the States' "M" rating - and with the exception of Clive Barker's Undying we're hard pressed to think of any either. Games like Medal of Honour, Battlefield 1942 and Command & Conquer: Generals may all have dealt with heavy subject matter, but none achieved more than a "T" for Teen rating across the pond either.
At the same conference, another publisher rather more associated with mature content also made a new product announcement - with Take Two Interactive boss Jeffery Lapin stating that his company plans to publish another Max Payne game in future despite the disappointing performance of The Fall Of Max Payne before Christmas. The third instalment in the series, however, may be a few years off, with Lapin stating that "I think we'll take a few years to make the next one that much more spectacular."
If EA is to dabble in more mature gaming content, it could be a severe blow to other publishers' domination in this area. Speaking at the DICE summit in Las Vegas recently, Wedbush Morgan Securities' game analyst Michael Pachter was pretty frank about that. "God save us if EA wakes up and wants to make mature content," he said. "If that happens, there's only going to be one company."
Presumably we'll get a chance to see just how much adult dabbling the mega-publisher is planning on in the run up to E3 this year, as details of the Godfather title - based on Francis Ford Coppola's films and Mario Puzo's novel, for those struggling with the title - start to work their way into journalistic circles in time to service massive magazine lead times...