Steven Spielberg is a serious gamer. And now he’s going to do something about it.
Games publisher Electronic Arts announced Friday morning (October 14) that the famed director has agreed to dream up three original next-generation games that he will then work on with the company’s Los Angeles development studio. The EALA studio has worked most recently on EA’s “Medal of Honor,” “Lord of the Rings” and “James Bond” franchises.
“I have been playing EA games for years and have watched them master the interactive format.” Spielberg said in a statement. “Having watched the game industry grow from a niche into a major creative force in entertainment, I have a great deal of respect for EA’s understanding of the interactive format. I’m looking forward to working closely with the team in Los Angeles.”
While no titles, genres, time frames or platforms have been announced, EALA general manager Neil Young told MTV News that the first game is already under development and that all three should be expected for next-gen consoles.
“Steven will be collaborating with us very closely on every aspect of the software,” Young said. “It’s not him e-mailing an idea and us going off and licensing it.” Young said Spielberg’s ideas will hopefully prove to be franchise properties.
The deal came out earlier this year, though Spielberg’s relationship with EA dates further back. The director connected with the company when EA purchased Dreamworks Interactive in 2000 and with it the “Medal of Honor” first-person shooter war series conceived by Spielberg himself. (The current EALA is in fact the studio that used to be Dreamworks Interactive.) More recently Spielberg joined Robert Zemeckis to help open an EA-backed Game Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California.
Spielberg’s work on the “Medal of Honor” series and his contribution of story concepts for the 1995 PC game “The Dig” are the closest the director has come to the gaming medium. He was not directly involved in the many “Indiana Jones” games nor has he immersed himself in the forthcoming “Jaws” game. He is doubtlessly pleased to have had no official input on one of gaming’s most notorious bombs, the 1982 Atari game “E.T.”
But the director has kept busy playing them. Young said Spielberg confessed to having logged 3,000 hours in “Flight Simulator.” Those who worry that the combination of the mainstream director and the straight-laced publisher of gaming mainstays like “Madden” and “Need for Speed” might only bear conventional fruit can take solace in Young’s assertion that he and the Spielberg were discussing the quiet, mysterious 2001 cult-classic PlayStation 2 game “Ico” earlier this week.
“We’re going to try to bring together sort of his sensibilities of broad audience appeal and great concepts, great storytelling and our sensibilities around game design,” said Young, who repeatedly stated that Spielberg was being tapped to promote “innovative” games.
Young wouldn’t say whether gamers should expect Spielberg to contribute ideas more of the “Saving Private Ryan” and “Indiana Jones” variety or those in the vein of “Amistad” and “Schindler’s List.” But he left the door open for either approach.
“One of the things that’s really important for us is answering the question that our company was founded on: ’Can a computer game make you cry?’ ” said Young. That’s an answer, he said, Spielberg can help EA answer.
Young said specifics on Spielberg’s first EA game should emerge in six to 12 months.