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Electronic Arts

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Company Electronic Arts Template:Nasdaq is a leading video game developer and publisher. It was founded in 1982 by Trip Hawkins. It is the largest video game publisher in the world, with annual sales exceeding USD$2 billion. EA's success over the years was built upon a huge library of popular video games. In the early days of home computers, EA routinely ported their most popular titles across all platforms.

Contents

History

Electronic Arts was started by Trip Hawkins who left his job at Apple Computer as Director of Product Marketing. Hawkins founded the company on May 28 1982 with a personal investment of over US$200,000 and had originally named it "Amazin' Software". Don Valentine of Sequoia Capital met with Hawkins in February, 1982, encouraging him to leave Apple and use Sequoia's spare office space to get started. In December 1982, Hawkins closed a $2,000,000 round of venture capital that was led by Sequoia and also included Kleiner Perkins and Sevin Rosen.

Hawkins had been refining his ideas for Electronic Arts for more than 7 years. He wrote most of the original business plan on his Apple II at Sequoia's office in August 1982, with the help of the first employee he hired, Rich Melmon, who had done marketing work with Hawkins at Apple. In August, Hawkins also brought on board two of his former staff from Apple, Dave Evans and Pat Marriott, inventing the new job position of "producer" in the game industry. The business plan was edited and refined in September and published on October 8 1982.

  • Rich Melmon, VP Sales and Marketing (formerly the president of a local PR agency)
  • Dave Evans, Producer (formerly a marketing manager at Apple)
  • Pat Marriott, Producer (formerly a marketing manager at Apple)

Additional staff was hired in between September and November:

Having outgrown the Sequoia space, the company moved to larger office space that overlooked the San Francisco Airport landing path.

Key early hires in 1983 included Stewart Bonn, a producer and later a key studio executive, and David Gardner, then a teenager, who is still working as an executive for EA.

Another employee, Nancy Fong, joined in March of 1983 to head up the art department.

The other early founders of the company universally disliked the Amazin' Software name. In October 1983 they held an off-site meeting to come up with a better name for the company.

The business plan had suggested the name, "SoftArt," meant to imply that the company's software was a new kind of art. However, Hawkins and Melmon knew the founders of Software Arts, the creators of VisiCalc, and thought their permission should be obtained. But they did not want the name used because it sounded too similar to their own. However, the name concept was liked by all the attendees.

Then Gordon proposed "Electronic Artists," in tribute to the film company United Artists. However, Steve Hayes opposed, saying, "We're not the artists, they are..." meaning that the developers whose games EA would publish were the artists. Finally Tim Mott proposed Electronic Arts, and the name was liked and approved by all.

According to the 1982 business plan, EA's original business goals were to grow to a billion dollar company in about 6 years. Another goal was to "make software that makes a personal computer worth owning." At the time, Electronic Arts was the 136th game publisher in the US, but the first to reach the billion-dollar goal (although it actually took 12 years).

A novel approach to giving credit to its developers was one of EA's trademarks in its early days. EA was the first video game publisher to treat its developers like rock stars in an industry where developers were more prone to be treated like nameless factory workers. This characterization was even further reinforced with EA's packaging of most of their games in the "album cover" format of the late 1980s-'90s. This format was pioneered by EA because Hawkins thought that a record album style would both save costs and convey an artistic feeling. EA routinely referred to their developers as "artists" and gave them photo credits in their games and numerous full-page magazine ads. EA also shared lavish profits with their developers, which added to their industry appeal. Because of this novel treatment, EA was able to easily attract the best developers.

Missing image
Mule_box.jpg
The box cover for 1983's M.U.L.E. The square "album cover" boxes were a popular packaging concept by Electronic Arts, which wanted to represent their developers as "rock stars." Many games of the era were released in the album covers of identical size and shape.

In May of 1983 EA shipped:

Today, Archon, Pinball Construction Set, Worms and M.U.L.E. are still considered cornerstone products in the history of video games.

After a very successful run on home computers, Electronic Arts later branched out and produced console games as well. Eventually Trip Hawkins moved on to found the now defunct 3DO company. In 2003 he founded a new mobile phone software company, Digital Chocolate, that also began life in the Sequoia offices and had Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins as its lead investors.

In 2004, EA made a multimillion dollar donation to fund the development of game production curriculum at the University of Southern California's Interactive Media Division. In addition to the funds, EA staff members have been active teaching and lecturing at the school.

EA is now headquartered in Redwood City, California. Its current CEO is Larry Probst.

Probst considers himself a man of principle and has refused to follow the innovative example set by Take Two Interactive, whose ultraviolent Grand Theft Auto franchise became the dominant brand in many key demographics from 2000 through 2003. As a result, Probst has been heavily criticized by Wall Street analysts, who believe that because of this policy, EA's stock price is lower than it should be (though it has maintained a general upward trend in recent years). In late March 2005, Electronic Arts issued its first ever mid-quarter profit warning blaming hardware shortages and lower than expected fourth quarter sales [1] (http://money.cnn.com/2005/03/21/technology/electronic_arts.reut/index.htm?section=money_latest).

Notable games published by EA

Some of the most notable and popular games of video game history have been published by EA. Many of these are included in the list below. Though EA published these titles, they did not always develop them. Many were developed by independent game development studios.

Early era

Contemporary era

Missing image
Sims2box.jpg
By purchasing development studio Maxis, EA obtained the rights to publish the lucrative SimCity series and the spin-off game The Sims and its sequel The Sims 2. The Sims went on to become the best-selling computer game of all time.

Brands

EA now operates under several brand names. They are:

  • EA Games: all non-sports games
  • EA Sports: realistic sports simulations
  • EA Sports Big: extreme sports games
  • Pogo.com: online games site, with numerous EA brand tie-ins

EA also operates the games channel on AOL.

Studios

Current studios

Former studios

Trivia

EA's classic Square/Circle/Triangle corporate logo was devised by Barry Deutsch of Steinhilber Deutsch and Gard design firm. The three shapes were meant to stand for the "basic alphabet of graphic design." The shapes were rasterized to connote technology.

Many customers mistook the square/circle/triangle logo for a stylized "EOA." Though they thought the "E" stood for "Electronic" and "A" for "Arts," they had no idea what the "O" could stand for, except perhaps the o in "Electronic." An early newsletter of EA, Farther, even jokingly discussed the topic in one issue, claiming that the square and triangle indeed stood for "E" and "A", but that the circle was merely "a Nerf ball that got stuck in a floppy drive and has been popping up on our splash screens ever since."

Fong and Gordon came up with the idea to hide the three shapes on the game covers, borrowing the idea from the urban legends concerning the placement of the bunny symbols on the covers of Playboy magazine.

Criticism

EA is sometimes criticized as "the Microsoft of the games industry", specifically that they buy smaller development studios primarily for their intellectual property assets, and then make the developers produce run-of-the-mill games on these same franchises. For example, Origin produced Ultima VIII: Pagan and Ultima IX: Ascension under EA's ownership, and these two are considered among the worst of the series, obviously aimed at lowest common denominator audience (Richard Garriott, the originator of the Ultima series, wasn't fond of EA at all, and previous Ultima games contained some subtle attacks on EA). In general, late productions have generally been not known for their originality. EA is also criticized for shutting down studios that it acquires. Studios such as Origin, Westwood Studios and Bullfrog, had previously produced games attracting a significant fanbase.

Some think Electronic Arts' sports licenses are threatening the game market. EA has secured itself large sports licensing deals such as an exclusive agreement with the NFL, and in January 2005, a 15-year deal with ESPN. The ESPN deal gives EA exclusive first rights to all ESPN content for sports simulation games. On April 11 2005, EA announced a similar, 6-year licensing deal with the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) for exclusive rights to college football content.

EA has also been criticized for other aggressive business methods like the acquisition of 19.9 percent of shares of their competitor Ubisoft in what was called a hostile act by Ubisoft. Many believe that Electronic Arts' has begun the process that will lead to another industry crash.

Electronic Arts has from time to time been criticized for its employment policy of requiring employees to work extraordinarily long hours—up to 85 hours per week—as a general rule and not at just "crunch" times leading up to the scheduled releases of products. "The current mandatory hours are 9am to 10pm—seven days a week—with the occasional Saturday evening off for good behavior (at 6:30pm)"[2] (http://www.livejournal.com/users/ea_spouse/). The company, as of late 2004, is facing a class action suit to pay for "unpaid overtime" it demanded of its employees[3] (http://www.gamespot.com/news/2004/11/11/news_6112998.html).

External links

Articles

fr:Electronic Arts hu:Electronic Arts ja:エレクトロニック・アーツ pt:Electronic Arts zh:电子艺界 fi:Electronic Arts sv:Electronic Arts

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