EA Originals is a Wonderful Idea

Look, for the most part, I’m 100% onboard with the consensus that EA’s E3 press conference was super disappointing. I’m sure there’s someone out there that thought Fifa 17 looked really cool, and that bringing a cranky old white dude that spends his days yelling from the side of a football pitch was a great idea. I didn’t, but whatever, that’s just me. There just wasn’t all that much to get excited about at this press conference – in many ways, it felt reminiscent of 2014’s conference.

EA is always going to have a difficult time at E3, simply because their catalog is so varied.  Not everything is going to appeal to the people watching their press conference. People who are excited for Titanfall 2 aren’t necessarily interested in EA Sports games, or even Mass Effect Andromeda, for that matter. But look, the bottom line is, I didn’t think that the conference was actually very good. I came away only being excited about two things: Titanfall 2 and Fe.

Fe us the first game in a new program called EA Originals, which seems like a successor to EA Partners. Despite the quality of the end product, Unravel was easily the game I came out of E3’s conference last year the most excited about. It felt different from everything else they were showing, and that contrast is even more stark when it comes to Fe. The game is exploring some really interesting dynamics, and it’s something I’m really excited to play.

The thing is, it feels like the type of game that would show up on Steam and fly completely under the radar for most people. It’s not the kind of game that EA would normally publish, but Originals gives them the opportunity to push games of this caliber. Which is awesome, because the current indie scene is thriving. There’s a constant flow of cool, unique indie games coming out, games that will unfortunately never catch on. Which, in some cases, is fine for the devs, because these games aren’t super expensive to make. That being said, it’s a shame that gamers are missing out on the experiences that indie games can provide.

EA Originals gives independent developers the opportunity to put their game out to a wider audience, which is a win-win situation. It becomes easier for audiences to find interesting experiences, and developers get their games funded, and probably end up making more money, because that’s what happens when your game gets shown off on stage at an E3 conference. It’s something that I think is super commendable on the part of EA.

Of course, EA isn’t the first developer to do this. Ubisoft has allowed internal teams to create experiences like Valiant Hearts, Child of Light, and last year’s Grow Home. Both Microsoft and Sony have thrown support at indie developers to put games out on their platforms. So I’m not here to say that this is something other publishers should be taking cues from, because a lot of them are already doing it. Sure, seeing Bethesda or Activision doing something like this would be awesome, but I won’t be up in arms if they don’t.

Anyways, considering how much negativity there was surrounding EA’s press conference, I just felt the need to point out something they’re doing that’s worth celebrating. Video games have grown so much in the last ten years, in large part thanks to indie studios crafting a myriad of awesome experiences. Seeing those studios get more support is always going to be something worth being excited about, and EA taking a step towards it is no exception. It also may allow them to introduce variance to their line ups in the coming years, and make them more than the publisher that makes sports games and Battlefield.

Based on that announcement alone, I’m excited for their next press conference. I may be setting myself up for disappointment when they talk about sports games for half the show, but hey. If they devote any significant amount of time to EA Originals games, which seems likely, there could be a lot of great games to see at next year’s show.