EA Partners with DeathSpank, Shank

Electronic Arts program tries out digital distribution with anticipated upcoming releases from Hothead Games, Klei Entertainment.

The next wave of games from the EA Partners program that has released such chart-busting hits as Rock Band and Left 4 Dead won't be found on the charts at all. That's because the industry's top charts only track retail sales of games, and EA Partners is going digital.

DeathSpank actually began life as a proxy for mainstream gaming franchises in animated comics on the Grumpy Gamer blog of Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert.

Electronic Arts today announced the latest EA Partners participants, Hothead Games and Klei Entertainment. EA will handle distribution and marketing for the former company's Diablo-meets-Monkey Island action game DeathSpank on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while it will handle distribution duties for the latter outfit's blood-soaked side-scrolling action game Shank on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. DeathSpank is set for release sometime this year, while Shank has been narrowed down to a summer launch.

Both Klei and Hothead have self-published games in the past. Hothead is best known for producing the first two episodes of Penny Arcade Adventures, while Klei published the Eets series on the PC and Xbox Live Arcade, as well as Metanet's critically acclaimed N+ for Xbox Live Arcade. Despite that experience, both companies felt they had much to gain from working with EA Partners.

"We partnered with EA because they recognize our vision and allow us to execute on it," Klei Entertainment CEO Jamie Cheng told GameSpot. "We have complete creative control, which is really fantastic. What EA helps us to do is reach a larger audience. We're taking advantage of their marketing muscle and putting it on multiple platforms."

Shank's developers are drawing upon a background in traditional animation to give the game its distinctive look.

As for DeathSpank, Hothead CEO Ian Wilkinson said the Electronic Arts pairing offered a welcome bit of synergy.

"From our perspective, commercially, we were not entirely satisfied with [Penny Arcade Adventures'] performance," Wilkinson said. "We're really good at making games, but we haven't proven that we're good at marketing them. Based on our preliminary plan with EA, we're really excited about what they're going to do with the game and the exposure they're going to get for us."

Although these titles are the first downloadable endeavors for EA Partners, the publisher's indie liaison Jamil Moledina doesn't look at it as much of a departure.

"EA Partners really hasn't changed its strategic position, which is to partner with the best talent in the game industry, offer the full resources that Electronic Arts has developed over a quarter century, and provide those to the best creative, most breakthrough ideas presented by the worldwide game development community," Moledina said. "That is still our charter and we're still signing a wide range of games. We're not limiting ourselves to packaged goods. However, the freedom of creativity that exists in the impulse purchase range is something that has both a direct return as well as a long-term benefit."

In addition to being the primary contact for indie developers looking to get in with EA Partners, Moledina said his title of "outreach director of business development" insists that he be proactive in finding future EA Partners within the indie community. As for how developers can catch his eye, Moledina specifically called out the Independent Games Festival, Indiecade, and PAX 10 as fantastic showcases that he keeps an eye on. (Shank is a finalist for this year's Excellence in Visual Art IGF category.)

That doesn't mean Moledina and EA Partners are taking all-comers. When asked about the group's position toward handling iPhone projects, Moledina said it's "not off the table, but [PC and console publishing] is where our core competency lies and we feel we have the most to offer developers."

For more on the latest EA Partners signings, check out GameSpot's previews of Shank and DeathSpank.

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Discussion

32 comments
wario96
wario96

(watchs trailer) IF I THINK THIS GAME IS BAD. I'M GONA GIVE MYSELF A DEATH SPANK!

wario96
wario96

if this game is bad, i'm going to have to give IT a death spank

dontcare5454
dontcare5454

drknessfeeds have you watched the trailers for Death Spank? The name not only makes sense in a hilarious way its awesome! The question my friend is not were they dropped as a child but were you? We all know the answer is yes...

Will1590
Will1590

that was movin like dante....the cool one.

kubb724
kubb724

death spank...sounds like a cool ass game to me XD..when i watched the movie with all the stuff he did and how he killed...i just said.. WOW

drknessfeeds
drknessfeeds

Looks awesome, love the fast pace feel of it. Just wish they would have thought of a better name, "Deathspank"? come on now, were you dropped as a child...a few times.

dark_being
dark_being

So DeathSpank is canceled on the PC?

Blaiyan
Blaiyan

Looks like a lot of fun. I just wish the AI was a little more active and dangerous though.

chappy_man
chappy_man

DeathSpank sounds cool, and i am sure this will help get the notice out there for these games so more people can enjoy them

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

DeathSpank looks cool... I'll fill my 6 Terra-byte through Digital-Download... It's gonna be awesome... finally something like Diablo-clone since last year Torchlight & Sacred 2... I'm very excited about this one!!

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

chang_1910
chang_1910

:D ... finally confirmed and somewhat of date release for DeathSpank :)

jadefury27
jadefury27

reminds me of rush n attack from the nes with a LOT more style!

jadefury27
jadefury27

i was gonna make a death spank joke but i'm sure by now all the good ones are taken...

Skargamer
Skargamer

sooo is shank a game or a name used to call ea with deathspank to make shank??? i dont get it.

deathknight107
deathknight107

this is a do want man...a dow ant....its animation style is almost liek that of the venture brothers

squidracerX
squidracerX

glad to see both coming to PS3, I was worried that 360 might gobble up exclusives with those and they both look great!

turnerdoc
turnerdoc

anyone know how to get just cause 2 demo its not on my ps3 store

Marcusraitor
Marcusraitor

I Buy It If Its in Physical Format i Hate Digital Format.

Hanzoadam
Hanzoadam

that looks pretty coll to be honest, But I guess the novelty will run out quickily. This better be a PSN and marketplace game as I won't pay full price for that

Roger_Smith
Roger_Smith

Game reminds me of the old flash games on NG.

Akijo
Akijo

Woooohh!! More 2D Scroller!!! Awesome, the world never have enough 2D Scroller :P

hochstreck
hochstreck

Looks somewhat boring, shallow and without soul gameplay-wise. Are the enemies seen in the video actually able to fight back in some way?

Akijo
Akijo

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

This looks really cool; on my list to watch.