Shank and DeathSpank Snagged by EA Partners

Having helped distribute such externally-developed retail titles as Rock Band and Left 4 Dead, Electronic Arts' publishing division EA Partners is now expanding to the digital download market with Klei's Shank and Hothead's action-RPG DeathSpank.

Shank and DeathSpank

Both titles had been previously announced, with Klei's stylish side-scrolling shooter-slasher Shank now confirmed to hit PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this summer.

As for DeathSpank--the latest from Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert--EA Partners will handle publishing duties of the comedic action-RPG's downloadable PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 iterations, which are still sporting the vague 2010 release window.

Both Hothead (Penny Arcade Adventures) and Klei (Eets) have self-published some of their previous released, and addressed this shift in their statements.

"As an independent development studio, we always focus on creating great, authentic experiences for players. Working with EA Partners expands our distribution and allows us to bring Shank to a much wider audience," noted Klei CEO Jamie Cheng. "They have been a fantastic partner and their understanding of the space is incredibly exciting."

As for Hothead, here's what CEO Ian Wilkinson had to say: "We are proud of our independence, but are very excited to be working with EA Partners on a title as big as DeathSpank. With EA Partners handling distribution and marketing, Hothead can continue to focus on what we do best, making great games."

Meanwhile, director Jamil Moledina provided IndustryGamers with a brief rundown of what EA Partners is, what it offers, and how it approaches developer relations:

EA Partners offers a wide range of services, from marketing to production to QA, and of course funding, which is probably the core reason publishers came into existence. You're correct in saying that the digital distribution models are easier to reach than a Walmart, for example. However, there's also value in being able to multiplatform and manage the discussion at that level and enable launches across a variety of platforms. So we're finding that in creating this program for us to publish indie games on XBLA and PSN, we actually talked to a lot of developers and asked them what they'd like to see in a publisher. ... It's more about what they need than what EA wants to provide. In looking at what's needed that's what we adapted our services to.