Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA) is an American developer, marketer, publisher and distributor of video games. Founded and incorporated on May 28, 1982 by Trip Hawkins, the company was a pioneer of the early home computer games industry and was notable for promoting the designers and programmers responsible for its games. Electronic Arts is the world's third-largest gaming company by revenue after Nintendo and Activision Blizzard.
Currently, EA develops and publishes games under several labels including EA Sports titles, Madden NFL, FIFA Football/Soccer, NHL, NCAA Football, SSX and NBA Jam. Other EA labels produce established franchises such as Battlefield, Need for Speed, The Sims, Medal of Honor, Command & Conquer, as well as newer franchises such as Dead Space, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Army of Two and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, produced in partnership with LucasArts. EA also owns and operates major gaming studios, Tiburon in Orlando, EA Canada in Burnaby, BioWare in Edmonton as well as Montreal and DICE in Sweden.
Originally, EA was a home computing game publisher. In the late 1980s, the company began developing games in-house and supported consoles by the early 1990s. EA later grew via acquisition of several successful developers. By the early 2000s, EA had become one of the world's largest third-party publishers. On May 4, 2011, EA reported $3.8 billion in revenues for the fiscal year ending March 2011, and on January 13, 2012, EA announced that it had exceeded $1 billion in digital revenue during the previous calendar year. In a note to employees, EA CEO John Riccitiello called this “an incredibly important milestone” for the company. EA began to move toward direct distribution of digital games and services with the acquisition of the popular online gaming site Pogo.com in 2001. In 2009, EA acquired the London-based social gaming startup Playfish, and in June 2011, EA launched Origin, an online service to sell downloadable games directly to consumers. In July 2011, EA announced that it had acquired PopCap Games, the company behind hits such as Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled.
EA continued its shift toward digital goods in 2012, folding its mobile-focused EA Interactive (EAi) division "into other organizations throughout the company, specifically those divisions led by EA Labels president Frank Gibeau, COO Peter Moore, and CTO Rajat Taneja, and EVP of digital Kristian Segerstrale."
In February 1982, Trip Hawkins arranged a meeting with Don Valentine of Sequoia Capitalto discuss financing his new venture, Amazin' Software. Valentine encouraged Hawkins to leave Apple Inc., in which Hawkins served as Director of Product Marketing, and allowed Hawkins use of Sequoia Capital's spare office space to start the company. On May 28, 1982, Trip Hawkins incorporated and established the company with a personal investment of an estimated US$200,000. Seven months later in December 1982, Hawkins secured US$2 million of venture capital from Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Sevin Rosen Funds.
For more than seven months, Hawkins refined his Electronic Arts business plan. With aid from his first employee (with whom he worked in marketing at Apple), Rich Melmon, the original plan was written, mostly by Hawkins, on an Apple II in Sequoia Capital's office in August 1982. During that time, Hawkins also employed two of his former staff from Apple, Dave Evans and Pat Marriott, as producers, and a Stanford MBA classmate, Jeff Burton from Atari for international business development. The business plan was again refined in September and reissued on October 8, 1982. Between September and November, employee headcount rose to 11, including Tim Mott, Bing Gordon, David Maynard, and Steve Hayes. Having outgrown the office space provided by Sequoia Capital, the company relocated to a San Mateo office that overlooked the San Francisco Airport landing path. Headcount rose rapidly in 1983, including Don Daglow, Richard Hilleman, Stewart Bonn, David Gardner, and Nancy Fong.
He recruited his original employees from Apple, Atari, Xerox PARC, and VisiCorp, and got Steve Wozniak to agree to sit on the board of directors.
Hawkins was determined to sell directly to buyers. Combined with the fact that Hawkins was pioneering new game brands, this made sales growth more challenging. Retailers wanted to buy known brands from existing distribution partners. Despite this, revenue was US$5 million in the first year and US$11 million the next. After yet more flyers were handed out, former CEO Larry Probst arrived as VP of Sales in late 1984 and helped the company sustain growth into US$18 million in its third full year. Handing out yet more flyers and teaming with the existing sales staff that included Nancy Smith, David Klein, and David Gardner, Probst built the largest sales force of any American game publisher. This policy of dealing directly with retailers gave EA higher margins and better market awareness, key advantages the company would leverage to leapfrog its early competitors.
In December 1986, David Gardner and Mark Lewkaspais moved to the UK to open a European headquarters. Up until that point publishing of Electronic Arts Games, and the conversion of many of their games to compact cassette versions in Europe was handled by Ariolasoft.
Most of the early employees of the company disliked the Amazin' Software name that Hawkins had originally chosen when he incorporated the company. While at Apple, Hawkins had enjoyed company offsite meetings at Pajaro Dunes and organized such a planning offsite for EA in October 1982. Following a long business day at the offsite, the dozen employees and advisers who were present agreed that they would stay up that night and see if they could agree unanimously on a new name for the company.
Hawkins had developed the ideas of treating software as an art form and calling the developers, "software artists". Hence, the latest version of the business plan had suggested the name "SoftArt". However, Hawkins and Melmon knew the founders of Software Arts, the creators of VisiCalc, and thought their permission should be obtained. Dan Bricklin did not want the name used because it sounded too similar (perhaps "confusingly similar") to Software Arts. However, the name concept was liked by all the attendees. Hawkins had also recently read a best-selling book about the film studio, United Artists, and liked the reputation that company had created. Early advisers Andy Berlin, Jeff Goodby, and Rich Silverstein (who would soon form their own ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) were also fans of that approach, and the discussion was led by Hawkins and Berlin. Hawkins said everyone had a vote but they would lose it if they went to sleep.
Hawkins liked the word "electronic", and various employees had considered the phrases "Electronic Artists" and "Electronic Arts". Other candidates included Gordon's suggestion of "Blue Light", a reference from the Disney film Tron. When Gordon and others pushed for "Electronic Artists", in tribute to the film company United Artists, Steve Hayes opposed, saying, "We're not the artists, they are..." meaning that the developers whose games EA would publish were the artists. This statement from Hayes immediately tilted sentiment towards Electronic Arts and the name was unanimously endorsed.
A novel approach to giving credit to its developers was one of EA's trademarks in its early days. This characterization was even further reinforced with EA's packaging of most of their games in the "album cover" 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. The square "album cover" boxes (such as the covers for 1983's M.U.L.E. and Pinball Construction Set) were a popular packaging concept by Electronic Arts, which wanted to represent their developers as "rock stars". After a very successful run on home computers, Electronic Arts later branched out and produced console games as well. Eventually, Trip Hawkins left EA to found the now defunct 3DO Company.
EA is currently headquartered in the Redwood Shores neighborhood of Redwood City, California. Following the retirement and departure of Trip Hawkins in 2000, EA decided replace its logo with a new one, and Larry Probst took over the reins.
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. On February 1, 2006, Electronic Arts announced that it would cut worldwide staff by 5 percent. On June 20, 2006 EA purchased Mythic Entertainment, who are finished making Warhammer Online.
After Sega's ESPN NFL 2K5 successfully grabbed market share away from EA's dominant Madden NFL series during the 2004 holiday season, EA responded by making several large sports licensing deals which include an exclusive agreement with the NFL, and in January 2005, a 15-year deal with ESPN. The ESPN deal gave 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.
Much of EA's success, both in terms of sales and with regards to its stock market valuation, is due to its strategy of platform-agnostic development and the creation of strong multi-year franchises. EA was the first publisher to release yearly updates of its sports franchises—Madden, FIFA, NHL, NBA Live, Tiger Woods, etc.—with updated player rosters and small graphical and gameplay tweaks. Recognizing the risk of franchise fatigue among consumers, EA announced in 2006 that it would concentrate more of its effort on creating new original intellectual property.
In September 2006, Nokia and EA announced a partnership in which EA becomes an exclusive major supplier of mobile games to Nokia mobile devices through the Nokia Content Discoverer. In the beginning, Nokia customers were able to download seven EA titles (Tetris, Tetris Mania, The Sims 2, Doom, FIFA 06, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 and FIFA Street 2) on the holiday season in 2006. Rick Simonson is the executive vice president and director of Nokia and starting from 2006 is affiliated with John Riccitiello and are partners.
In February 2007, Probst stepped down from the CEO job while remaining on the Board of Directors. His handpicked successor is John Riccitiello, who had worked at EA for several years previously, departed for a while, and then returned. Riccitiello previously worked for Elevation Partners, Sara Lee and Pepsico. In June 2007, new CEO John Riccitiello announced that EA would reorganize itself into four labels, each with responsibility for its own product development and publishing (the city-state model). The goal of the reorganization was to empower the labels to operate more autonomously, streamline decision-making, increase creativity and quality, and get games into the market faster. This reorganization came after years of consolidation and acquisition by EA of smaller studios, which some in the industry blamed for a decrease in quality of EA titles. In 2008, at the DICE Summit, Riccitiello called the earlier approach of "buy and assimilate" a mistake, often stripping smaller studios of its creative talent. Riccitiello said that the city-state model allows independent developers to remain autonomous to a large extent, and cited Maxis and BioWare as examples of studios thriving under the new structure.
Also, in 2007, EA announced that it would be bringing some of its major titles to the Macintosh. EA has released Battlefield 2142, Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars, Crysis, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Madden NFL 08, Need for Speed: Carbon and Spore for the Mac. All of the new games have been developed for the Macintosh using Cider, a technology developed by TransGaming that enables Intel-based Macs to run Windows games inside a translation layer running on Mac OS X. They are not playable on PowerPC-based Macs.
In October 2007, EA purchased Super Computer International, a long standing industry provider of game server hosting for development studios, who were currently developing the new Playlinc software. A week later they then purchased VG Holding Corp, the parent company of BioWare and Pandemic Studios.
It was revealed in February 2008 that Electronic Arts had made a takeover bid for rival game company Take-Two Interactive. After its initial offer of US$25 per share, all cash stock transaction offer was rejected by the Take-Two board, EA revised it to US$26 per share, a 64% premium over the previous day's closing price and made the offer known to the public. Rumours had been floating around the Internet prior to the offer about Take-Two possibly being bought over by a bigger company, albeit with Viacom as the potential bidder. In May 2008, EA announced that it will purchase the assets of Hands-On Mobile Korea, a South Korean mobile game developer and publisher. The company will become EA Mobile Korea. In September 2008, EA dropped its buyout offer of Take-Two. No reason was given.
As of Nov 6, 2008 it was confirmed that Electronic Arts is closing their Casual Label & merging it with their Hasbro partnership with The Sims Label. EA also confirmed the departure of Kathy Vrabeck, who was given the position as former president of the EA Casual Division in May 2007. EA made this statement about the merger: "We've learned a lot about casual entertainment in the past two years, and found that casual gaming defies a single genre and demographic. With the retirement and departure of Kathy Vrabeck, EA is reorganizing to integrate casual games—development and marketing—into other divisions of our business. We are merging our Casual Studios, Hasbro partnership, and Casual marketing organization with The Sims Label to be a new Sims and Casual Label, where there is a deep compatibility in the product design, marketing and demographics. [...] In the days and weeks ahead, we will make further announcements on the reporting structure for the other businesses in the Casual Label including EA Mobile, Pogo, Media Sales and Online Casual Initiatives. Those businesses remain growth priorities for EA and deserve strong support in a group that will compliment their objectives." This statement comes a week after EA announced it was laying off 6% about 600 of their staff positions & had a US$310 million net loss for the quarter.
Due to the 2008 Economic Crisis, Electronic Arts had a poorer than expected 2008 holiday season, moving it in February 2009 to cut approximately 1100 jobs, which it said represented about 11% of its workforce. It will also close 12 facilities, yet to be identified. Riccitiello, in a conference call with reporters, stated that their poor performance in the fourth quarter was not due entirely to the poor economy, but also to the fact that they did not release any blockbuster titles in the quarter. In the quarter ending December 31, 2008, the company lost US$641 million. As of early May 2009, the subsidiary studio EA Redwood Shores was known as Visceral Games. On June 24, 2009, EA announced it will merge two of its development studios, BioWare and Mythic into one single role-playing video game and MMO development powerhouse. The move will actually place Mythic under control of BioWare as Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk will be in direct control of the new entity. The actual impact of this merger remains to be seen.
On November 9, 2009, EA announced its acquisition of social casual games developer Playfish for US$275 million. On the same day, the company announced layoffs of 1500 employees, representing 17% of its workforce, across a number of studios including EA Tiburon, Visceral Games, Mythic and EA Black Box. Also affected were "projects and support activities" that, according to Chief Financial Officer Eric Brown "don't make economic sense", resulting in the shutdown of popular communities such as Battlefield News and the EA Community Team. These layoffs also led to the complete shutdown of Pandemic Studios.
In October 2010, EA announced the acquisition of UK based iPhone and iPad games publisher 'Chillingo' for US$20 million in cash. While Chillingo publishes the popular Angry Birds and Cut the Rope games, the deal did not include those properties.
On July 2012, EA Games called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. Executives of the company stated that the law is unconstitutional and creates discrimination and tax problems for the company.
On March 18, 2013, EA CEO John Riccitello has announced that he will be stepping down as CEO and a member of the Board of Directors, effective March 30, 2013. Larry Probst has also been appointed executive chairman on the same day. Probst, in a company blog post, said "John's tenure at EA has been marked by bold decisions, a big vision for online games, a passion for product quality, and an enduring respect for the people who work here. John made an indelible mark on our culture and shaped many of our most successful leaders." Riccitiello, in a note to employees about his transition, said: "Personally, I think we've never been in a better position as a company. You have made enormous progress in improving product quality... I am so incredibly proud of all the great things you have done, and it has been my honor to lead this team these past six years."
In April 2013, EA announced a reorganization which was to include dismissal of 10% of their workforce, consolidation of marketing functions which were distributed among the five label organizations, and subsumption of Origin operational leadership under the President of Labels.
- Battlefield series
- Burnout series
- Command & Conquer series
- Crysis series
- Dead Space series
- Dragon Age series
- FIFA series
- Fight Night series
- Harry Potter series
- Madden NFL series
- Mass Effect series
- Medal of Honor series
- Mirror's Edge
- NBA Live series
- NCAA Football series
- Need for Speed series
- NHL series
- Rock Band series
- SimCity series
- The Sims series
- Skate series
- SSX series
Studios and subsidiariesEdit
- BioWare in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and Montreal, Quebec, Canada and Austin, Texas and Galway, Ireland founded in February 1995, acquired October 2007 from Elevation Partners.
- Criterion Games in Guildford, England, founded as Criterion Software in 1993, acquired in August 2004.
- EA Canada in Burnaby, British Columbia, started in January 1983 and includes EA Black Box founded as Black Box Games in 1998, acquired June 2002.
- EA Casual Entertainment
- EA China in Shanghai, China
- EA Deutschland in Cologne, Germany
- EA Digital Illusions CE in Stockholm, Sweden
- EA France in Lyon, France
- EA Freestyle in San Francisco, California, founded as EA Sports BIG.
- EIS (European Integration Studio) in Madrid, Spain
- EA India, Noida, India
- EA Brazil, São Paulo, Brazil
- EA Korea in Seoul, South Korea, started in 1998.
- Danger Close Games in Los Angeles, California, founded as DreamWorks Interactive LLC in 1995, acquired in 2000.
- EA Romania in Bucharest, Romania, founded as JAMDAT Mobile Romania in 2005, acquired in 2006.
- EA Russia in Moscow, Russia, translate in Russian
- EA Mobile in Hyderabad, India
- EA Montreal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada started in 2004.
- EA North Carolina in Morrisville, North Carolina
- EA Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, Utah, founded as Headgate Studios, founded in 1992, acquired December 2006.
- EA Singapore in Singapore
- EA Sports in Vancouver, Canada and Redwood City, California, publisher of EA's sports franchise games
- EA Tiburon in Maitland, Florida, founded as Tiburon Entertainment in 1994, acquired in 1998.
- Easy Studios in Stockholm, Sweden. Founded in 2008 developing PC games for EA's new Play4Free series.
- Ghost Games in Gothenburg, Sweden
- Maxis in Emeryville, California.
- Mythic Entertainment in Fairfax, Virginia, founded as Interworld Productions in 1995, acquired in June 2006.
- North American Testing Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, opened in September 2008.
- Playfish in London, England acquired in 2009.
- PopCap Games in Seattle, Washington acquired in 2011.
- The Sims Studio in Redwood City, California founded in 2006.
- Victory Games in Los Angeles, California, also has offices in Austin, Texas and Shanghai, China; founded in 2010.
- Visceral Games in Redwood City, California, also has an office in Shanghai, China; founded as EA Redwood Shores in 1998.
- Original HQ in San Mateo, California, moved to Redwood City in 1998.
- Origin Systems in Austin, Texas founded in 1983, acquired in 1992, closed in 2004.
- Bullfrog Productions in Surrey, England, founded in 1987, acquired in 1995, merged with *EA UK and effectively closed in 2001.
- EA Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland, established in 1996 as part of Origin, closed in 2000
- EA Seattle in Seattle, Washington, founded in 1982 as Manley & Associates, acquired January 29, 1996, closed in 2002
- Maxis in Walnut Creek, California, founded in 1987, acquired in June 1997, folded into Redwood Shores (now Visceral Games) in 2004
- Westwood Studios in Las Vegas, Nevada, founded in 1987, acquired from Virgin Interactive Entertainment in August 1998, merged into EA Los Angeles in 2003.
- EA Pacific (known for a time as Westwood Pacific) in Irvine, California, formerly part of Virgin Interactive, acquired with Westwood in 1998, closed in 2003
- Kesmai (known also as GameStorm), founded in 1981, acquired in 1999, closed in 2001.
- DICE Canada in London, Ontario, started in 1998, acquired DICE fully October 2, 2006; closed DICE Canada studio hours later.
- EA Japan in Tokyo, Japan, closed due to consolidation; moved under EA Partners model
- EA UK in Chertsey, United Kingdom, moved to EA UK in Guildford
- EA Chicago in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, founded in 1990 as NuFX, acquired in 2004, closed November 6, 2007.
- Pandemic Studios in Los Angeles, California and Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, founded in 1998, acquired October 2007 from Elevation Partners, closed November 17, 2009.
- Bright Light, in Guildford, Surrey, formerly EA UK, closed in 2011.
- EA Mobile in São Paulo, Brazil, closed in 2013.
- EA Phenomic in Ingelheim, Germany, founded as Phenomic Game Development in 1997, acquired August 2006 and closed down in 2013.
EA Partners ProgramEdit
The EA Partners co-publishing arm is dedicated to publishing and distributing games developed by third-party developers. Notable publishing/distribution agreements include:
- APB – Realtime Worlds
- Brütal Legend – Double Fine Productions
- Bulletstorm – Epic Games
- Crysis series – Crytek
- DeathSpank – Hothead Games
- Fuse – Insomniac Games
- Hellgate: London – Flagship Studios
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning – 38 Studios, Big Huge Games
- Left 4 Dead series, The Orange Box, Portal 2 (retail release) – Valve
- Rock Band series – Harmonix and MTV Games
- The Secret World – Funcom
- Shadows of the Damned – Grasshopper Manufacture
- Shank – Klei Entertainment
- Syndicate – Starbreeze Studios
- Titanfall – Respawn Entertainment
- Warp – Trapdoor