Electronic Arts

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Summary

Electronic Arts (EA) is an American developer, marketer, publisher, and distributor of computer and 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 their games. EA was just a publisher for its first few years and exclusively published for home computers, but began developing games in-house in the late 1980s and started supporting consoles in the early 1990s. Also in the 1990s, EA began to expand by acquiring several successful developers and, as of the early 2000s, EA has become one of the world's largest third-party publishers, with a net revenue of US$3.129 billion for its fiscal year March 31, 2005. Currently, the company's most successful products are sports games published under their EA Sports label, games based on popular movie licenses and games from long-running franchises like Need for Speed, Medal of Honor, The Sims, Command & Conquer and the later games in the Burnout series.

History

In February 1982, Trip Hawkins arranged a meeting with Don Valentine of Sequoia Capital to 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 had refined his Electronic Arts business plan. With aid from his first employee (whom he worked in marketing with 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. 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.

Criticism

Electronic Arts has been 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.)". The company has since settled a class action lawsuit brought by game artists to compensate for "unpaid overtime". 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

Links

Official Homepage of EA Games