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Trip Hawkins on his plan to unite indie developers

EA founder sticking it to the man.

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Image credit: Eurogamer

EA founder Trip Hawkins was in the process of rallying an alliance of indie developers before he resigned from his position as chief executive of mobile and social game maker Digital Chocolate.

Hawkins was in the middle of forming FreeGameLeaders, an alliance of indie developers and editors set on generating traffic to browser-based games. "The idea is to provide both traffic and a 'home base' that developers can really count on, invest in, and that is not biased by any corporate or profit angle," Hawkins wrote in an open pitch for others to join his cause, published by VentureBeat.

"Indie developers today need a durable and predictable place to plant their flag, and the open browser is such a place. Indie developers are surrounded by platform titans and enormous corporate rivals, but if we all collaborate and cooperate in methods like this, we can share some of the market power of the big guys."

Hawkins sought to empower indies by creating a site devoted to bringing in traffic to open browser games that could be played straight away without the need for payments, memberships, downloads or plug-ins. Hawkins explained: "The site's goal is to become a brand that stands for this level of instant convenience for high-quality, high-value virtual goods games that can cross-promote with each other with high effectiveness.

"By sharing traffic, partners with this type of open browser game can reduce their effective cost of acquisition with new sources of free traffic. The site will include partners that specialize in providing traffic, games or game review editorial.

"The concept is that traffic partners would bring traffic in and then it would link off to qualifying games that are hosted on their own websites, which would also run a cross-promotion bar inside the games that further cross-links the games in the network." While Hawkins envisioned the project as a non-profit, he did add that there would be modest fees to support the site's overhead costs."

Last year at GamesBeat 2011 Hawkins claimed we were in "a dark age" of video games due to the need for software licensing and high fees to platform holders.

"I think we actually had our golden age when game development was using floppy disks and it was an open free platform when we could all make games like we wanted to make," Hawkins said, before adding, "Nintendo came along and software licensing came in and we've been in a dark age since then."

Following Hawkins' resignation, he said his efforts forming the alliance had been "suspended". It's unclear if anyone else will be assuming his role in the effort.

Hawkins resignation on Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of him founding EA. He left the company in 1990 to form console manufacturer 3DO. Following its bankruptcy in 2003, Hawkins formed Digital Chocolate where he developed mobile and browser-based games for eight years.

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