As the genre's undisputed 1,000 pound gorilla, EA Sports knows that independent games developers are not looking to build sports games if it means taking on that kind of label. That's why Andrew Wilson, EA Sports' top development executive, says they would be open to publishing an indie sports game, although probably on mobile platforms or for Facebook.
"Because we've generated such leadership in the sports genre, when four guys in a garage are thinking about building something, competing with EA Sports is not top of their list," Wilson told NOW Gamer. "I think with iOS, Android, Facebook and tablets we're now in a place that's probably unique, where for the first time in 16 years four guys in a garage can build a great new IP related to sports that could definitely co-exist within the EA Sports brand. In all honesty, we encourage it and we'd love to hear it."
Now, anything EA Sports published would have to meet the label's standards for "authenticity, competition and social interactivity," Wilson said. But he added that he's told EA Sports' management to foster relationships with smaller developers, and look to create success stories similar to what Electronic Arts has seen in its EA Partners program.
Sports indie gaming is a niche of a niche, to be sure, but there are no shortage of strong minigame-like experiences already available on mobile stores, and of course on Xbox Live's Indie Games channel, we have seen simulation-quality offerings like NLL Lacrosse or College Lacrosse [pictured] that touch on passionate, underserved fan bases. Wilson's right to spot this as an opportunity; I'm just curious what he really envisions, and if it's entirely limited to the mobile space.