When Mercenaries 2: World in Flames was first unveiled at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, one big question was left unanswered. Though it was announced for the PlayStation 3, the sequel to the 2005 cult hit apparently did not have a publisher.
The omission led many to suspect that the game's developer, BioWare/Pandemic, might self-distribute the title. The megadeveloper shook up the game industry last year when it was formed by the union of Canadian role-playing game powerhouse BioWare Inc. (Jade Empire, Mass Effect) and Californian action game shop Pandemic Studios (Destroy All Humans, Full Spectrum Warrior). Given BioWare/Pandemic's ample funding by Elevation Partners, the multibillion venture capital group that once tried to buy Eidos Interactive, it seemed perfectly reasonable that the dual studio might bypass the traditional publishing process.
Today, though, BioWare/Pandemic revealed it has struck a deal with one of the most traditional publishers of all, Electronic Arts. The agreement will see EA distribute, sell, and market Mercenaries 2 worldwide through its EA Partners program much like it does Valve Software's hit shooter Half-Life 2. According to a press release from the publisher, the game is set for a holiday 2007 release, and is still exclusive to the PS3.
[UPDATE] GameSpot spoke with David DeMartini, vice president and general manager of EA Partners and Josh Resnick, President Pandemic Studios shortly after the news was announced.
GameSpot: How can the bright stars of Pandemic be leaning so quickly on a third party for publishing, marketing, and distribution support?
Resnick: Pandemic is focused on building the best possible game and developing strong IP’s like Mercenaries. We were looking for a partner who brings marketing and distribution expertise to the table while still letting us control development of the game and our IP. EA was a great fit on all fronts and are very excited about this partnership.
GS: No one believes the title can be profitable, long term, if it remains PS3 exclusive. Is there not the slightest discussion about bringing the title to the 360?
Resnick: They’re both great gaming systems, but we’re not so focused on the technology of the platform as we are on making the most innovative, compelling, dynamic entertainment experience possible.
GS: What are the parameters of the deal? One title? Or is there more percolating between the two organizations?
DeMartini: We’re huge fans of the studio and everyone at EA Partners is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Pandemic on this game. The worldwide co-publishing agreement EA announced with Pandemic Studios is strictly focused on Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Under the terms of the deal Pandemic Studios will focus on the development of the game and EA will bring its publishing expertise to the table, focusing on the sales, marketing and distribution of the game.