Remember when EA was 'the Evil Empire'? How times change.
The quality of the publisher's games has radically improved in the last few years - creating a robust portfolio almost exclusively stuffed with 80 and 90-plus-rated titles.
It's been a dramatic turnaround. Less than a decade ago, EA was widely disparaged by gamers for its shoddy blockbuster franchise updates and perceived 'arrogance'. (Who, for instance, remembers popular slogan-ridiculing phrase: 'EA Sports. It's all the same.'?)
For video games industry circles, the difference between 'old' and 'new' EA has been even more striking. Because the Redwood, California giant hasn't just altered its output - it's redressed its whole attitude.
EA was once seen as the bully boy of publishing; a never-sated carnivore of the games development network. In the '90s, it earned a reputation for buying up 'vulnerable' studios for vast wads of cash, then over-working and demotivating employees with quality-killing shipping deadlines.
Yet, after a wince-inducing look in the mirror, EA - led by fearsome CEO John Riccitiello - has become one of the most respected publishers by its peers; housing positive, productive, critically-lauded studios like Visceral and Bioware under its once-vituperated auspices.
Perhaps the biggest stride forward that the company has made, however, concerns its relationship with independent studios.
Its EA Partners programme is the 'new EA' in overdrive. Hands-off, supportive and nurturing, it's a world away from the dollar-chomping leviathan of years gone by.
The approach has paid huge dividends in terms of game quality - spawning Crysis, Rock Band, Left 4 Dead and Bulletstorm to name a few.
It's also famously highlighted the publisher as Valve's finger-picked partner - quite a coup from one of the more headstrong, demanding studios in the business.
EAP boss David DeMartini is the man responsible for brokering and maintaining deals with the likes of Epic, Crytek and Harmonix - many of which he says are based on little more than "unwritten loyalty".
It's easy to see why these studios warm to the affable American. When CVG caught up with him for the below Q&A, he was consistently and enthusiastically respectful - nay, in awe - of the achievements of EAP's affiliates.
But that didn't stop him from having some striking opinions - and few qualms about getting to the heart of the matter...
Why are the Partners studios currently performing so well?
It's about picking good partners. It's kind of like a good marriage. What we try and focus on is each of us playing our position. In this case, we're trying to assist where we can and then we're trying to do a great job with publishing and distribution.
I think when we go in with that attitude and we allow an independent partner to be fiercely independent - and remain creatively independent - it gives them the opportunity to focus on what they do well and for us to focus on what we do well. It's a great collaboration.
It all starts with the selection process because - and I don't want to use the term garbage-in-garbage-out - but if we don't pick the right partner, we could run into problems.
We probably screen 100 to 200 partners to find just one. The selection process is extensive and it's worldwide in nature. It's an exclusive club.
How many Partners do you recruit a year?
We look at it and say if we publish three to five games out of the Partners programme a year, that's a good manageable number. We don't have a specific formula, but obviously we're not looking for 20 to 30 a year. We're looking for a handful of three to five.