EA Motive boss: 'player autonomy' is key to studio's future

EA Motive general manager Patrick Klaus discussed the studio's future with Gamasutra, indicating a shift toward "player autonomy" for its future games.

EA Motive general manager Patrick Klaus has told Gamasutra that as the Montreal-based studio gets ready to ship its briefly-teased original game, it will be relying on "player autonomy" to drive the success of its future games. It's an indicator of where the studio plans to take after the success of Star Wars: Squadrons.

Klaus spoke with Gamasutra after releasing a new mission statement for Motive last week that comes after years of operating in a support role for other EA projects, while changing leadership shifted the direction of the studio's in-house games.

Going forward, Klaus says that Motive will be making games that "empower players to create, experiment, live and share their own unique stories."

What's eyebrow-raising about that mission statement is that it doesn't appear to describe the development conditions that gave birth to Squadrons: a flight simulator that favors multiplayer competition and skill mastery.

Klaus discussed that discrepancy, explaining that Squadrons' birth as a passion project is meant to act as a foundation for what comes next for the company. "It builds a foundation, it builds a team, it gives confidence in our ability and appetites, to start doing different things beyond that," Klaus asserted.

The EA Motive GM's messaging push feels like the first glimpse of a Star Destroyer emerging out of the gaseous clouds of Yavin IV (let me have this it's been a long year) for a studio that's spent half a decade working towards shipping original games.

Klaus explained that since his arrival, Motive's goal has been to rely on small teams to iterate on the building blocks of what a large, original game might look like, in order to manage costs and prepare to "double down" on what might be a shippable product.

"In the pursuit of innovation and trying some unique and fun gameplay, we're going to make sure that the teams are small and the monthly spend was relatively low," said Klaus. "So that it [can be] a safe, a safe place for the developers to innovate without having the pressure of time or the pressure of a big milestone."

With the tease of Motive's new game during the 2020 EA Play event, it would appear that the company is finally working to expand those teams and work toward shipping games with new intellectual properties, something the studio has been working toward since its launch in 2015.

Klaus also confirmed that EA Motive's future has diverged from that of Motive Vancouver, which was founded in 2018. "We we get on extremely well with our colleagues in Vancouver, but we are now two separate entities with separate production plans," he said.

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