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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Spielberg, EA playing for 3 titles

Spielberg, EA playing for 3 titles

"Steven Spielberg is getting back into the video game business, striking a long-term agreement with Electronic Arts to collaborate on three original games with game makers at EALA, EA's Los Angeles studio, located in Playa Vista.

While Spielberg is filming "Munich" in Europe, he already has held discussions with EA execs, who have begun assembling the teams that will work on the first game.

EA, headquartered in Redwood City, Calif., will own the intellectual properties and will publish and distribute the games worldwide. Financial terms of the deal -- which Spielberg made through his Amblin Entertainment production company rather than his DreamWorks studio -- were not disclosed.

The move reunites Spielberg with the game studio that began life as DreamWorks Interactive. EA acquired DWI in 2000 and renamed it EALA. It has continued to turn out the "Medal of Honor" franchise, first created under DWI's auspices and inspired by Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan." There have been four versions of the game, along with expansion packs and companion products, and a fifth reinvention of the title is under way.

Ties between Spielberg and EA were further strengthened last year when EA donated $8 million to the USC School of Cinema-Television to set up a three-year master's program in interactive entertainment as well as to endow a faculty chair. Spielberg sits on the school's Board of Councillors.

"It all came about organically, since Steven has been a friend of EA since it acquired DreamWorks Interactive," EALA vp and studio head Neil Young said. "We just realized we have the same vision for where the media (are) going. He is a passionate and avid gamer, and we are passionate about wanting to move the medium to the next level of narrative storytelling."

"I have been playing EA games for years and have watched them master the interactive format," Spielberg said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to working closely with the team in Los Angeles."

Because, Young explained, "game development is very collaborative," he expects that Spielberg, who will have offices at the studio in Playa Vista, will have "interactions (with the game developers that) will be pretty frequent."" [more]

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