EA bosses "all hardcore gamers" - Willits

Rage dev tells of Riccitiello's wooing id.

Id Software's decision to partner with Electronic Arts to distribute first-person action game Rage was partly down to the fact that the EA brass are "all hardcore gamers", according to the project's design lead Tim Willits.

"When we were looking at publishers, there were only a handful, and we were really excited by the leadership. John Riccitiello flew to Mesquite to talk to us and he is more of a gamer than I think people realise," Willits told Eurogamer at QuakeCon.

"The questions that he asked, and Frank Gibeau, David DeMartini - those guys run the most powerful publisher in the world and they're all hardcore games. They were excited about the title, and we felt that EA would be the best partner for us, and it wasn't about money."

Electronic Arts has undergone something of an artistic transformation since Riccitiello, CEO, rejoined the company in 2007 promising a focus on quality rather than quantity.

He quickly purchased BioWare/Pandemic from his former company, investment vehicle Elevation Partners, and EA's product portfolio for the second half of 2008 boasts an impressive amount of new IP across a broad spectrum of genres and platforms.

For Willits, the megapublisher's risk-taking decision to invest in so many unproven projects rather than relying on existing franchises like Madden "resonated from the top". "And regardless of whether your organisation's 100 people or 5000 people," he told Eurogamer, "the personality and the desire of the whole organisation is driven by those at the top."

Rage, which will be released "when it's fun and when it's done", is a post-apocalyptic first-person action game with driving elements, an expansive world and RPG-style progression. It's due out on PS3, 360 and PC and doubles as a showcase for the developer's id Tech 5 engine.

Look out for our Rage preview and interviews with Willits and John Carmack, among others, next week.

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