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EA Day: EA’s Founder

Today is EA Day on Do Gaming. We'll be looking back over EA’s 30-year history and looking ahead to some of the titles that are coming out in the near future. Here’s how it will work:

  • Competitions will run every 30 minutes from 9am.
  • Gamers will answer each question by posting their answer in the comments section below.
  • After 30 minutes is up, the answer will be revealed below the question along with the winner and a story about the question.
  • A new question will simultaneously be posted on the site in a separate story.
  • There will be 12 give aways in total running between 9am in the morning with the last winner being announced at 15:00.
Our thanks to EA who supplied the prizes for each competition.

Question: Who was the founder of EA?

Answer: Trip Hawkins

Please paste your answer below.

NOTE: Only users residing in South Africa may enter. Winner are chosen using a random number generator. It therefore makes no difference what order you post in. Winners are chosen using a random number generator. It therefore makes no difference what order you post in.

And the winner is: Mark "Geneeser" Syrz' Syrzysko

He wins a copy of Alice, Madness Returns on PC.

NOTE: Only users residing in South Africa may enter. Winner are chosen using a random number generator. It therefore makes no difference what order you post in. Winners are chosen using a random number generator. It therefore makes no difference what order you post in.

With EA now enjoying thirty years of existence, it's interesting to look at the mega publisher's history that has produced a mammoth amount of top quality games and has contributed to the growth and evolution of gaming in an exponential way.

EA's Roots

EA was originally formed – as Electronic Arts – in 1982 by Trip Hawkins, who was at the time Director of Product Marketing at Apple. He originally wanted to call the company 'Amazin' Software' but this was soon (and thankfully) changed. The name of Electronic Arts was put together due to Hawkins and others' philosophy around developers being 'software artists'. Since “Software Arts” was already taken and “Electronic Artists” didn't quite fit, since the company was a publisher not a developer, the name “Electronic Arts” won the vote of the employees of the time.

Hawkins invested his own money into the company which amounted to $200,000. He left Apple to attend to Electronic Arts full time and managed to garner a $2 million venture capital investment in December of 1982.

Trip Hawkins Trip Hawkins

Hawkins' early team was made up of some interesting people that had worked either at Apple, Atari, Xerox and VisiCorp. Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple, was also on the board of directors.

Things went quite well for the company on the back of some old-school marketing such as the distribution of flyers. The company published several games in 1983, after sorting out all of its funding, which included Pinball Construction Set, something unique for the time as it was a game where the player could build their own pinball set and play it, as well as create custom artwork, saving their tables to floppy disks (and no doubt sharing those with friends). Similarities to games such as LittleBigPlanet are obvious here. The game was a big hit.

Archon: The Light and the Dark, a chess-like game (but not strictly chess); M.U.L.E., a sci-fi multiplayer turn-based strategy game; and a basketball game called One-on-One were some of the other 1983 hits. It's quite easy to see how genres were forming in those days and even at such an early time, Electronic Arts was involved in creating sports titles, which now all fall under EA Sports and games such as FIFA and Madden NFL are huge hits.

Electronic Arts built for itself a good reputation with developers in the early days (and in those days a game was developed by one person or perhaps three of four people) as it gave developers a lot of public credit and wonderful shares of the profits.

The publisher also became known for its 'album cover' packaging of games. Games were packaged just like LP's were in those days, with Electronic Arts saying it wanted to promote its developers as rock stars. Games were published for the Apple I, Apple II, Atari, Commodore 64 and later on DOS. From there platforms expanded as technology developed, but the original intention was a focus on the personal computer idea.

Some other notable titles from the 80's include Skate or Die! (EA's first in-house developed game) and Populous (developed by Bullfrog which EA eventually bought out in 1995). In 1989 the Madden NFL series began which continues to this day (and sells very well in the U.S.).

The 90's

Interestingly, Electronic Arts couldn't trade in the UK under its name until 1997, due to a Welsh company that had the name. When that company folded Electronic Arts could register properly in the UK. Up until 1997, it had to trade as EOA – a name derived from its logo (below) that is made up of a square, circle and triangle.

Hawkins moved into console development in 1991 and formed a company called 3DO, which was formed in partnership with Electronic Arts. He hadn't left Electronic Arts completely, however, and the company entered a transition phase in its leadership.

The 3DO was released in 1993 and was quite expensive for the time, given how powerful it was (the most powerful available at the time). However, in 1994 the Sony PlayStation beat the 3DO hands-down with its pricing, which forced the company to look rather at video game development in 1996. The company eventually went bankrupt in 2003. He continued to lead a development company called Digital Chocolate.

The 3D0 The 3D0

EA entered a new era when John Riccitiello stepped on board as its CEO in 1997. The original Riccitiello era lasted until 2004 when Larry Probst took over. Riccitiello was re-hired as the CEO in 2007 and remains in that position today.

Some notable titles and series' from the 90's include the beginning of the NHL series (1991), the Wing-Commander series (1990), the FIFA series (1993), the Need for Speed series (1994), the Medal of Honor series (1999) and some notable games such as Ultima Online (1997, an important milestone in the development of MMO's) and System Shock 2 in 1999. The publisher also took over some famous franchises such as Command & Conquer (in 1999 – the game's were previously developed by Westwood Studios and released by Virgin) and the SimCity series (originally developed by Maxis and published by other publishers).

Command & Conquer, the original Command & Conquer, the original

Looking at this list it's clear that Electronic Arts began to jump on board with the idea of not just creating games or owning the rights to games, but creating or owning Intellectual Property (much how the business is run today). This is why the acquisition of companies begins to become a common theme in EA's history from here on.

The 2000's and reorganisation

In 2007 when Riccitiello once again took over, Electronic Arts was re-arranged into four labels, in an effort to create a faster channel for the publishing of games and prevent the stifling of creativity in studios. These are now EA Interactive, EA Sports, EA Maxis an EA Bioware. EA has also very much been on the forefront of digital distribution, with Riccitiello's leadership being known to have taken the company in this direction, as well as the enlarging of the portfolio to include social games.

EA's Origin service, a digital distribution platform, has been the next evolution in EA's exploration of digital distribution.

Battlefield 2 Battlefield 2

Notable franchises in the 2000's include the Battlefield series (from 2002), SSX (2000), Crysis (from 2007), Dead Space (2008) and Rock Band (2007). EA took over publication of Mass Effect in 2009 (originally published by Microsoft) and the SimCity series in 2000. Along with this came the creation of the ever-popular The Sims franchise.

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