Electronic Arts is an American developer, publisher, marketer and distributor and is one of the largest video game companies in the world. Trip Hawkins founded the company in 1982 and was a pioneer in the video game industry. When originally formed, EA was a publishing house, but slowly began to develop in-house games such as Skate or Die. EA then began to purchase various developers, quickly becoming one of the largest publishers in the industry.
Trip Hawkins originally created the company as Amazin' Software. Hawkins quickly began filling the roster with former co-workers from Apple. Hawkins had a sales strategy to sell directly to the buyers. This proved difficult because retailers were interested in well-known brands such as Atari. However, Amazin' Software thrived, earning revenue of $11 million. Despite success, many of Amazin' Software's internal employees disliked the name of the company. After several meetings, they had a new name: Electronic Arts. The name change came with other changes and after 9 years as the CEO, Hawkins left Electronic Arts and formed 3DO.
After Hawkins departure, Larry Probst filled his position. Probst wanted EA to be lead with principle and integrity and refused to allow EA to publish any M-rated games, which had become more of a mainstay in the industry. This caused problems for EA and the company's stock fell significantly. Probst faced major criticism from the public and investors alike. Under mounting pressure, he eventually changed his stance on M-rated games. EA published its first M-rated game, System Shock 2, in 1999. This change marked a new beginning for EA, historically signaling the company's rise to become one of the prominent and largest publishers in the industry.
In 2004, EA purchased the exclusive license of ESPN and the NFL. This was seen as one of the largest deals in video game history. Many gamers felt that the 2K series was of much higher quality than the Madden series and it forced the series on any gamer wanting to play a NFL title. EA would then go on to acquire the exclusive license to NCAA football, furthering expanding their foothold in football. EA capitalized on its licensing deals, instating yearly releases of Madden, FIFA, NHL, NBA Live, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, and more.
In 2007, Probst stepped down from his position as CEO and appointed John Riccitiello to CEO. Under Riccitiello, Electronic Arts would expand further than ever. Riccitiello went on to purchase major game developers, including Mythic Entertainment, Pandemic Studios and BioWare. Riccitiello also made a bid for Take-Two, EA's main competitor. The bid lead to very long series of delays and changes to the deal but was ultimately declined by Take-Two. Critics say it was a bad decision not to accept the deal, as nobody else would offer them a price even close to EA's. Gamers were very pleased with this, as some of their favorite franchises would not be "lost" to EA (such as GTA, and Bioshock). If the deal had gone through, the acquisition would have been the largest deal in video game history.
On July 31, 2008, Hall of Fame football player Jim Brown sued EA for "unspecified damages for trademark infringement, unauthorized use of his likeness, trademark dilution and unfair business practices and competition.” Brown's claim was on the "All-Browns" team in Electronic Arts' Madden series the running back is African American player wearing the number 32. This player is obviously meant to be Jim Brown. Brown also demanded that his likeness be removed from the game.
Electronic Arts had historically been recognized as one of the most hated video game companies in the industry. Many gamers see EA as trying to form a monopoly by acquiring many game developers and publishers. Some also believe once EA acquires a developer, the quality of that studios titles drop due to EA trying to meddle with and milk the franchises owned by these companies. EA also receives criticism because of their yearly installations of their games. Many feel that these games are just very small changes between them and that they are rushed out each year.
Starting in late 2007/early 2008 however, EA has earned new respect and recognition from gamers. While still developing and publishing their annual franchises, EA’s focus shifted towards new - and often innovative - IP's. Titles published and developed in 07/08 such as Skate, Mirror's Edge and Dead Space have helped significantly increase EA's reputation among gamers. This, along with deliberately antagonistic comments from Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, has helped lend credence to the phrase "Activision is the new EA.”
Unfortunately, EA has lost many of its PC fans due to its installations of the anti-piracy software SecuROM, though this has backfired, and Spore, a game with plenty of controversy over this security software, became the #1 most pirated game of 2008. In 2012, the company was also awarded the title as the "Worst Company in America" by The Consumerist via an online voting ballot.
EA's structure consists of four major division called Labels, with each studio owned by EA falling into one of the three Labels. EA Labels is headed by Frank Gibeau. EA Labels consist of
EA has a sub-Label called EA Interactive which consists of studios developing games for the Mobile and Social markets.