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Template:Redirect6 Template:Infobox Company Electronic Arts (EA) (Template:Nasdaq) is a United States based international developer, marketer, publisher, and distributor of video games. Established in 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. 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. In 2007 EA ranked 8th on the list of largest software companies in the world.[1] In May 2008, the company reported net annual revenue of US$4.02 billion in fiscal year 2008.[2] Currently, EA's most successful products are sports games published under its EA Sports label, games based on popular movie licenses such as Harry Potter and games from long-running franchises like Need for Speed, Medal of Honor, The Sims, Battlefield and the later games in the Burnout and Command & Conquer series.

Contents

Label architecture and studios

The following are the four Electronic Arts labels, with the studios that fall under each label [3]

  • EA Games -- Home to the largest number of studio and development teams, this label is responsible for action-adventure, role playing, racing and combat games, marketed under the EA brand. In addition to traditional packaged-goods games, EA Games also develops massively-multiplayer online role-playing games. Led by Frank Gibeau.
  • EA Sports -- Publishes all the realistic, casual, and freestyle sports-based titles from EA, including FIFA Soccer, Madden NFL, Fight Night, NBA Live, NCAA Football, NCAA March Madness, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, NHL Hockey, NASCAR and Rugby. Led by Peter Moore.
    • EA Tiburon (Florida)
    • EA Canada (Vancouver)
    • EA Sports Big (San Francisco)
  • EA Casual Entertainment -- Creates and publishes casual games for gamers and non-traditional gamers. Includes EA's Pogo online service Pogo.com (online games site, with numerous EA brand tie-ins), EA Hasbro, and EA Mobile (mobile phone and iPod games, previously JAMDAT). Led by Kathy Vrabeck.
  • "The Sims" Label -- develops and markets life-simulation games and online communities, including those with "Sims" titles. Led by Rod Humble.

Criticism

Studio acquisition and management practices

During its period of fastest growth, EA was often criticized for buying smaller development studios primarily for their intellectual property assets, and then producing drastically changed games of their franchises. For example, Origin-produced Ultima VIII: Pagan and Ultima IX: Ascension were developed quickly under EA's ownership, over the protests of Ultima creator Richard Garriott,[4] and these two are considered by many[5] as not up to the standard of the rest of the series.[6][7]

In early 2008, current CEO John Riccitiello stated that this practice by EA was wrong and that the company now gives acquired studios greater autonomy without "meddling" in their corporate culture.[8]

In 2008, John D. Carmack of id Software said that EA is no longer The Evil Empire. id decided to go with EA Partners, despite having a poor opinion of the publisher's past record. "I'll admit that, if you asked me years ago, I still had thoughts that EA was the Evil Empire, the company that crushes the small studios...I'd have been surprised, if you told me a year ago that we'd end up with EA as a publisher.", he said. "When we went out and talked to people, especially EA Partners people like Valve, we got almost uniformly positive responses from them." Like other EA Partners, such as Harmonix/MTV Games, Carmack stressed that EA Partners deal "isn't really a publishing arrangement. Instead, they really offer a menu of services--Valve takes one set of things, Crytek takes a different set, and we're probably taking a third set". [9]

EA was criticized for shutting down some of its acquired studios after a poorly performing game (For instance, Origin).[10] Though, in some of the cases, the shutdown was merely a reformation of teams working at different small studios into a single studio.[11][12] The historical pattern of poor sales and ratings of the first game shipped after acquisition suggests EA's control and direction as being primarily responsible for the game's failure rather than the studio. In the past, Magic Carpet 2 was rushed to completion over the objections of designer Peter Molyneux and it shipped during the holiday season with several major bugs. Studios such as Origin and Bullfrog Productions had previously produced games attracting a unsignificant fanbase. Many fans also became annoyed that their favorite developers were closed down, but some developers, for example the EALA studio, have stated that they try to carry on the legacy of the old studio (Westwood Studios). Once EA received criticism from labor groups for its dismissals of large groups of employees during the closure of a studio. However, later, it was confirmed that layoffs were not heavily confined to one team or another, countering early rumors that the teams were specifically targeted -- countering the implication that the under performance of certain games might have been the catalyst.[13]

EA was once criticized for the acquisition of 19.9 percent of shares of its competitor Ubisoft, a move that many felt would lead to a hostile takeover but has never materialized as such. However, Ubisoft CEO Guillemot later indicated that a merger with EA was a possibility. "The first option for us is to manage our own company and grow it. The second option is to work with the movie industry, and the third is to merge," he said.[14]

Employment policy

In 2004, Electronic Arts was criticized for employees working extraordinarily long hours—up to 100 hours per week— and not just at "crunch" times leading up to the scheduled releases of products. The publication of the EA Spouse blog, with criticisms such as "The current mandatory hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.—seven days a week—with the occasional Saturday evening off for good behaviour (at 6:30 p.m.)".[15] The company has since settled a class action lawsuit brought by game artists to compensate for "unpaid overtime".[16] The class was awarded $15.6 million. As a result, many of the lower-level developers (artists, programmers, producers, and designers) are now working at an hourly rate. A similar suit brought by programmers was settled for $14.9 million.[17]

Since these criticisms first aired, it's been reported that EA has taken steps to positively address "work-life balance" concerns by focusing on long-term project planning, compensation, and communication with employees. These efforts accelerated with the arrival of John Riccitiello as CEO in February 2007. In December 2007, an internal EA employee survey showed a 13% increase in employee morale and a 21% jump in management recognition over a three year period.[18]

In May 2008, 'EA_Spouse' blog author Erin Hoffman, speaking to videogame industry news site Gamasutra, stated that EA has made significant progress. Hoffman said that "I think EA is tremendously reformed, having made some real strong efforts to get the right people into their human resources department," and "I've been hearing from people who have gotten overtime pay there and I think that makes a great deal of difference. In fact, I've actually recommended to a few people I know to apply for jobs there."[19]

Game quality

For 2006, the games review aggregation site Metacritic gives the average of EA games as 72.0 (out of 100); 2.5 points behind Nintendo (74.5) but ahead of the other first-party publishers Microsoft (71.6) and Sony (71.2). The closest third-party publisher is Take-Two Interactive (publishing as 2K Games and Rockstar Games) at 70.3. The remaining top 10[20] publishers (Sega, Konami, THQ, Ubisoft, Activision) all rate in the mid 60s. Since 2005 EA has published three games, Battlefield 2, Crysis, and Rock Band, that received Universal Acclaim (Metacritic score 90 or greater).

EA's aggregate review performance had shown a downward trend in quality over recent years and was expected to affect market shares during competitive seasons. Pacific Crest Securities analyst Evan Wilson had said, "Poor reviews and quality are beginning to tarnish the EA brand. According to our ongoing survey of GameRankings.com aggregated review data, Electronic Arts' overall game quality continues to fall...Although market share has not declined dramatically to date, in years such as 2007, which promises to have tremendous competition, it seems likely if quality does not improve."[21][22]

EA had also received criticism for developing games that lack innovation vis-à-vis the number of gaming titles produced under the EA brand that show a history of yearly updates, particularly in their sporting franchises. These typically retail as new games at full market price and feature only updated team rosters in addition to incremental changes to game mechanics, the user interface, and graphics. One critique compared EA to companies like Ubisoft and concluded that EA's innovation in new and old IPs, "Crawls along at a snail's pace.",[23] while even the company's own CEO, John Riccitiello, acknowledged the lack of innovation seen in the industry generally, saying, "We're boring people to death and making games that are harder and harder to play. For the most part, the industry has been rinse-and-repeat. There's been lots of product that looked like last year's product, that looked a lot like the year before." EA has announced that it is turning its attention to creating new game IPs in order to stem this trend, with recently acquired and critically acclaimed studios Bioware and Pandemic would be contributing to this process..[24][25]

Editing of Wikipedia

On August 15, 2007 it was revealed that somebody with an IP address linked to EA had made changes to its Wikipedia entry.[26][27] The changes made included erasing Trip Hawkins as founder of the company and adding a paragraph emphasizing the work of former CEO, Larry Probst, attempts to remove information regarding the infamous EA Spouse scandal, which involved the poor treatment of workers and several paragraphs under criticism were removed. [26]

An EA spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz that "EA sometimes updates websites with info about the company, games and employees. For example, EA has sent a correction to Yahoo Finance when they had misspelled the name of an EA executive." While not specifically addressing the changes, EA's spokesperson explained that "Many companies routinely post updates on websites like Wikipedia to ensure accuracy of their own corporate information." [28]

Anti-trust lawsuit

On June 5, 2008, a lawsuit was filed in Oakland, California alleging Electronic Arts is breaking United States anti-trust laws by signing exclusive contracts with the NFL Players Association, the NCAA and Arena Football League, to use players' names, likenesses and team logos. This keeps other companies from being able to sign the same agreements. The suit further accuses EA of raising the price of games associated with these licenses as a result of this action.[29] However, in an interview with GameTap, Peter Moore claims it was the NFL that sought the deal. "To be clear, the NFL was the entity that wanted the exclusive relationship. EA bid, as did a number of other companies, for the exclusive relationship," Moore explained. "It wasn't on our behest that this went exclusive... We bid and we were very fortunate and lucky and delighted to be the winning licensee." [30]

EULA Agreements and DRM

In the September 2008 release of EA's game Spore it was revealed that the DRM scheme included a program called SecuROM and a lifetime machine-activation limit of three (3) instances. A huge public outcry over this DRM scheme broke out over the internet and swarmed Amazon.com with one-star ratings and critical reviews of the game in order to get EA to "pay attention to their consumers".[31] This DRM scheme, which was intended to hinder the efforts of pirates to illegally use and distribute EA software, instead mainly affected paying customers, as the game itself was pirated well before release.[32] On September 13, 2008, it was announced that Spore was the most pirated game ever with over half a million illegal downloads within the first week of release.[33] In response to customer reaction, EA officially announced its release of upcoming Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 would increase the installation limit to 5 rather than 3.[34] Many customers were still unsatisfied, claiming they were still "renting" the game at full price.

On September 22, 2008, a global class action law suit was filed against EA regarding the DRM in Spore, complaining about EA disclosing the existence of SecuROM from the game manual, and addresses how SecuROM runs with the nature of a rootkit, including how it remains on the hard drive even after Spore is uninstalled.[35][36][37] On October 14, 2008, a similar class action lawsuit was filed against EA for the inclusion of DRM software in the free demo version of the Creature Creator.[38]

Notable games published

Some of the most notable and popular games of video game history have been published by EA, and many of these are listed below. Though EA published these titles, they did not always develop them; some were developed by independent game development studios. EA developed their first game in 1987.

Electronic Arts also published a number of non-game titles. The most popular of these was closely related to the video game industry and was actually used by several of their developers. Deluxe Paint premiered on the Amiga in 1985 and was later ported to other systems. The last version in the line, Deluxe Paint V, was released in 1994. Other non-game titles include Music Construction Set (and Deluxe Music Construction Set), Deluxe Paint Animation and Instant Music. EA also published a black and white animation tool called Studio/1, and a series of Paint titles on the Macintosh: Studio/8 and Studio/32 (1990).

Corporate affairs

Logos

The Electronic Arts logo has undergone few changes in the company's history.

1982 to 1999

EA's classic Square/Circle/Triangle corporate logo, adopted shortly after its founding and phased out in 1999, 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.Template:Fact

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."Template:Fact Other customers saw the logo as a stylized "ECA".

Nancy Fong and Bing Gordon came up with the idea to hide the three shapes on the cover of every game, borrowing the idea from the urban legends concerning the placement of the bunny symbols on the covers of Playboy magazine.Template:Fact Finding the logo's hidden placement on early EA titles was a ritual for employees whenever a new cover was displayed outside Fong's cubicle.Template:Fact

In December of 1986 David Gardner and Mark Lewis 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.

1999 to present

The current EA logo was derived from the logo used by sub-brand EA Sports. It was first used, in a different form, in 1992, when Electronic Arts introduced the "EASN" brand (later changed to "EA Sports" due to legal difficulties with ESPNTemplate:Fact). The logo was modified and adopted company-wide around 1999.

In-game logo introductions

  • late-1990s to 2001: Originally an explosion sound effect accompanying the letters for "Electronic Arts" flying into formation, followed by an electronic voice. The sound effects have changed in certain games (sounds of the letters whipping past, for example)
  • 1999 to 2003: An outlined circle flips and forms the modern EA Games logo. Accompanied by a synthesized ping sound.
  • 2002 to 2004: EA Games logo appearing on screen, accompanied by the voice "EA Games, *whisper* challenge everything".
  • 2005: Silver EA logo appearing then fading away
  • 2006 to present: The logo is different with every game, taking on certain visual aspects of the game it is presented with. However the EA letters always remain the same and the logo always remains a circle.

Slogans

  • "We see farther." – Founding tag line
  • "EA Games, challenge everything."
  • "EA Sports, it's in the game." – a shortened version of their original slogan "If it's in the game, it's in the game.". "EA Sports, it's in the game" is spoken by Andrew Anthony, a The Guardian and Observer journalist [1].

Studios and subsidiaries

Image:Electronicartsheadquarters.jpg

Current studios

Former studios

See also

References

Template:Reflist

Further reading

External links

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