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EA inks two partnership deals, including Epic Games

The two new members of the EA Partners program highlighted Electronic Arts' summer Studio Showcase event at its headquarters.

Electronic Arts' vice president of corporate communications, Jeff Brown, holds up a disc containing the first completed code of 'Spore,' the company's long-awaited evolution game from Maxis and Will Wright.
Daniel Terdiman/CNET News

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--Electronic Arts announced partnership deals with two independent games companies Thursday, including Gears of War publisher Epic Games.

The news of the two new members of the EA Partners program, which also revolved around Japan's Grasshopper Manufacture, publisher of games like No More Heroes, was part of EA's annual Studio Showcase event here.

During just over an hour of announcements and presentations, EA showed off 17 games it didn't show at E3 last month, as well as unveiled the partnerships.

Grasshopper Manufacture will create an all-new action horror game for EA. It will be produced by Shinji Mikami and directed by game designer Suda51.

It was too early, however, for EA or Grasshopper to go into any specifics about the title, and no launch date was given.

Similarly, the Epic announcement was solely about the relationship and no details at all were given about the substance of that partnership, other than that Epic's Poland-based People Can Fly studio would be building an action game for EA.

Beyond the new partnerships, there was little substantial news.

EA's vice president of corporate communications, Jeff Brown, started off the event by holding up a disc he said contained the first full "gold" version of Spore, the forthcoming evolution game from Maxis Studios and famous designer Will Wright.

Spore went gold Thursday, meaning that development on the game is finished and it has now gone to manufacturing. It will be released September 7.

Brown also joked that in the aftermath of the much-hyped signing of football quarterback Brett Favre by the New York Jets, EA had decided to post a new version of Madden Football online, since the boxed version had just come out featuring the then-retired Favre wearing his iconic Green Bay Packers uniform.

"Within two hours...100,000 people downloaded the new cover," Brown said. "That's not a lot of people for the Internet, but about 75,000 people more than went to the last Jets game."

Brown said that 100,000 people had downloaded a new digital version of the box cover for 'Madden '09' with Brett Favre in a New York Jets uniform, joking that that was '75,000 more than went to the last Jets game.' Daniel Terdiman/CNET News

There was also a short presentation on The Godfather 2, the sequel to EA's The Godfather, and it appears that that game will be released in February 2009.

Later, Paul Barnett, the creative director for Mythic, which is producing Warhammer Online, a full massively multiplayer online game, for EA, said that the title will be released on September 18. He also said that more than 800,000 people had signed up to play the game and that there had already been 120,000 pre-sales.

All in all, that was the extent of what seemed newsworthy. But it's not surprising that there would be a lack of big news, given that the E3 conference was just a month ago. Things move fast in the video games industry, but not that fast.