Josef Fares, the outspoken creative director at Hazelight Studios, has confirmed that he and his studio will continue their partnership with EA.
The confirmation came via a roundtable interview at last week’s GameLab conference. During the discussion, Fares praised how good EA has been to him and his studio as a collaborator. "It's super-good support," he said. "I don't care what publisher I work with, it's going to be the same. This is how I work: I respect the economical aspect but nobody fucks with the vision.
“And they know it at EA now, and they're super-supportive," Fares added. Fares’ statement certainly stands in contrast to most other takes on EA, a publisher that has not only shut down several studios over the years, but is said to have imposed a fair number of creative restrictions on studios like Bioware and Maxis.
It’s not anyone else’s place to dispute Fares’ remarks about EA, but after his infamous ‘fuck the Oscars’ rant, it’s safe to say that he speaks his mind as much as he can. He previously noted that indies have a vastly different experience. When A Way Out was released back in March as part of the EA Originals initiative, Hazelight has been said to have collected 100% of the game’s profits.
Fares’ praise for the publisher echoes the comments he made in June: “I would love to release some internal email. I think people would be jaw-dropping surprised if they saw the internal emails – at least the way I’m being treated by EA.” These also match reports of solid support for Coldwood Interactive, the developers of Unravel.
During EA's E3 2018 press conference, chief creative officer Patrick Söderland said the game's "huge success" – moving one million copies in two weeks – has enabled Hazelight to expand its team. Fares wasn’t prepared to share any details on their next game with EA, but noted it would be longer – and quite different – from the studio’s past work.
“In four weeks, we’re going to go full production,” Fares told Eurogamer. “It’s hard to say but maybe in two or three years we show something.” He previously stated that the studio is interested in developing a romance game. "It's not AAA big, but it's bigger than A Way Out," he said.