VC&G Anthology Interview: Trip Hawkins on 30 Years of Electronic Arts (2012)

November 9th, 2015 by Benj Edwards

Trip Hawkins Interview on EDGE-online.com
10 DAYS OF VINTAGE: Day 8

[ This interview I conducted was originally published on Edge.com in June 2012 to roughly coincide with Electronic Arts' 30th Anniversary. Since then, the interview has disappeared from the web. A few people have asked me to make it available again, and since I retained the rights to the interview, I am free to publish it on VC&G for everyone to enjoy. ]

Originally Published on Edge.com in June 2012:

VC&G Anthology BadgeElectronic Arts is 30 years old, and there is no denying that the behemoth game publisher casts a long shadow of influence over the entire industry. The company, founded in May 1982, pioneered a business model that treated game designers like rock stars and software publishers like record labels. It pushed the use of big names and big licenses in sports (think Madden, NFL) and soon grew to gobble up many renowned development studios to become a massive entertainment conglomerate.

These days, that conglomerate catches lots of flack from gamers on various issues including employee treatment, content milking, premature server termination, and more. Whether or not those criticisms have any merit, there is no denying that Electronic Arts was once revered as a top corporate impresario for identifying and cultivating the world's best game design talent (although one would have to admit that time was very long ago).

The man behind the early, creatively-rich image of EA is Trip Hawkins, an Apple veteran who founded the company with a simple dream: to bring his sports simulations to life. Hawkins, now 58, left EA in 1991 to start The 3DO Company, which folded in 2003. He then launched mobile game developer Digital Chocolate that same year. Just recently, Hawkins announced he was stepping down as CEO of Digital Chocolate to face an as-yet unrevealed future.

In late May of this year [2012 — Ed.], on the occasion of EA's 30th anniversary, I spoke with Hawkins over the telephone and via email about the creation of Electronic Arts, the design of its early games, and at some length about the negative criticism the company tends to attract today. Along the way, we touched on the personal source of his creative spirit and about heady days as a close friend of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

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Trip Hawkins Interview: 30 Years of Electronic Arts

June 29th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Trip Hawkins Interview on EDGE-online.com

Electronic Arts turned 30 on May 28th, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to check in with its founder, Trip Hawkins, on how he feels about Electronic Arts today. It's no secret that EA, while a massively successful company, takes a lot of heat from gamers on a number of issues (see this Retro Scan and its comments for more on that).

In an interview published at Edge Online, Hawkins and I spoke at length about Electronic Arts, including the founding of EA, finding early EA developers, his time at Apple, his friendship with Steve Jobs, and yes, how he feels about Electronic Arts today.

The resulting interview was so long that Edge decided to split it into five parts. It just published the last part today, so I thought I'd collect all the links here so you can read it.

06/25/2012 "Trip Hawkins: The inspiration for EA"
06/26/2012 "Trip Hawkins on Apple and Steve Jobs"
06/27/2012 "Trip Hawkins: Founding Electronic Arts"
06/28/2012 "Trip Hawkins: The EA Days"
06/29/2012 "Trip Hawkins on the EA of today"

Interestingly, there has been no mention of the company's 30th anniversary from Electronic Arts itself. Its staff was probably too busy revising its own history to notice.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] When EA Wasn't Evil

April 15th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Why Electronic Arts is Committed to the Amiga Ad - 19851980s breakthroughs in workplace ergonomics led to this optimal seating position.

Long before the gaming public considered Electronic Arts the worst company in America, EA made its name as a creative haven that valued its talent.

No, really.

EA went out of its way to convey a developer-friendly image in its early years, prominently featuring designers' names in the company's box art and marketing materials. Gamers bought into it, in large part, because EA developed and published some of the most advanced and highly regarded early home computer games of their time (think Archon, M.U.L.E., The Seven Cities of Gold, etc.). EA must have been doing something right.

Of course, things changed over the years. From a personal standpoint, I remember when public sentiment seemed to turn against Electronic Arts in the mid-1990s after it acquired legendary development house Origin (most famous for the Ultima series) and proceeded to drive it directly into the ground. Origin would not be the last highly regarded game development firm to suffer this fate at the hands of EA.

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