EA and Insomniac: The Risks of Siding With a Behemoth
By now, it’s no news to people that Insomniac Games has joined up with EA to bring Fuse to the PS3 as well as the Xbox 360. The real question that’s lying on my mind is what next? Insomniac has already said that they would continue to produce games exclusively for Sony, but they also seem intent on
continuing to branch out onto multiple platforms. This is where EA comes into play. With EA and Insomniac partnered, Insomniac has the ability to create games that EA can then produce onto systems other than just Sony consoles. Normally, this would be great news. People can experience the quirk and fantastic weapons that Insomniac is renowned for. The only problem here is that EA has a reputation of seizing a fair share of control from its partners, eventually owning them. This has led to, in my opinion, some major letdowns in the gaming world. Just as an example take Bioware, a company known for its high quality RPGs as well as one of the best takes on choice for character and story development. After partnering up with EA for a few projects, the two become one. Later on, when Mass Effect 3 was released, it was seen by many fans as the worst in the series. Not to mention the MMO The Old Republic, a large-scale spiritual successor to Bioware’s ever popular Knights of The Old Republic series. A little less than a year after it came out, the game went free-to-play because it cannot maintain long-term subscribers on a paid model. Now, I’m not saying EA is intentionally doing these things. They are a great company that puts out some great games. What I am saying is, if EA owns everything, then where is the competition quality control?
Imagine, if you will, that you have a best friend named Phil. You really enjoy spending time with Phil, hanging out, chatting, as he is a pretty well to do guy. One day Phil tells you he’s landed himself a new job that will be paying him much much more than he’s currently earning. Naturally you’d be excited and happy for Phil, but soon you begin to slowly notice that something is off. Slowly but surely every time you see Phil he looks worse than he did the last time, and each occasion he begins doing terrible things very much unlike himself. Soon you begin to get concerned, this is your friend, your good pal, you have no idea what has been going on with him lately. You go to try to confront Phil, when you see him you cannot believe your eyes. Before you is not the Phil you knew and loved, its EA wearing his skin. Terrified, you run home, screaming and rush to your phone and call the police. You tell them the whole story, how Phil had been acting weird, and how it was really EA the whole time wearing his skin. The police listen to your story and then simply tell you, sorry this was all done legally with mergers.
I write this now because deep in my heart I have a love for Insomniac’s games. I grew up playing them and I still play many of them still today. I don’t want Insomniac to get the Bioware treatment, I don’t want them to get the Visceral Games treatment, and I don’t want them to end up like Phil. The video game industry needs as many unique companies as it possibly can to assure that fresh ideas are continuously thrown around, and that competition produces greater game quality. In the end do any of us want to see our favorite companies worn like a jacket around the behemoths of the mother companies?