Publishing giant Electronics Arts has decided to shut down its EA Partners program. The program’s main goal was to publish games by independent developers. The EA Partners program managed to co-publish and bring a host of successful titles to retailers including Valve’s The Orange Box, Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead. Rock Band and Crysis are other examples of games co-published through the program. EA Partners also published lesser known brands like Brutal Legend, APB, Bulletstorm, Syndicate, Shadows of the Damned and the failed Hellgate: London. Adding insult to injury, EA Partners games tend to be poorly marketed. Games like Brutal Legend and Shadows of the Damned were great offerings but little was known about them up until launch. The same seems to be happening with Insomniac’s Fuse, another game on the EA Partners list with little marketing behind it.
The Partners program had an internal staff of around 50 people. The team was small enough that it could move from project to project quickly enough without the need for a permanent development team. With such low overhead, speculation is up in the air as to why such a small and successful operation has come to an end. EA has seen their share of bad news as of late with the resignation of CEO John Riccitiello, layoffs at EA Montreal and the discontinuation of Facebook games like SimCity Social that were made by Playfish, a developer EA recently acquired for $300 million.
EA Partners has also seen its share of MMO tragedies from the Hellgate: London demise to the Secret World dropping subscription fees and going free to play. Star Wars: The Old Republic is another EA published title that saw the addition of a free to play model along with its subscription program.
Insomniac’s Fuse and a game by Respawn Entertainment will be the last titles released under the EA Partners program. Fuse is scheduled for release on May 28th, and Respawn has yet to announce any information on their current project. Respawn Entertainment was founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella in 2010 after severing all ties with Activision and Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward. West and Zampella quickly formed a new studio and sought funding from the EA Partners program and began work on the unnamed project.