The future of ea
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The Future of EA. Bing Gordon May 2004. EA was the 136 th game company. The big idea: “software artist” Organization: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” Business: Distribution + brand marketing Development: “Artist workstation” + Producers. The learning organization.

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The future of ea

The Future of EA

Bing Gordon

May 2004


Ea was the 136 th game company

EA was the 136th game company

  • The big idea: “software artist”

  • Organization:

    • “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

  • Business:

    • Distribution + brand marketing

  • Development:

    • “Artist workstation” + Producers


The learning organization

The learning organization

  • 5-6 year technology cycles

  • Written objectives

  • “Transition is our friend”

  • A.C.T.I.O.N. values

  • Invent local, share global


Generations of ea

Generations of EA

  • 1982-88: Company entrepreneurs

    • “Great interactive depression”

  • 1989-93: Sega founders

    • Bet the company!

  • 1994-00: Content founders

    • EA Sports, Sims, Sequels

  • 2000-2006: Reinventors

    • Organization, online, guerrilla

  • 2007-2012: Transition

    • New leaders, new business models


Powers of 10

Powers of 10

  • 1981 Atari VCS 128 bytes

  • 1986 NES2K + 2K

  • 1989 Sega Genesis 64K+64K

  • 1994 Sony Playstation 2 MB + 512K

  • 2001 Playstation 2 32MB +4MB

  • 2006? PSX3256MB

  • 2012? PS4? 2G?


Chasing snow crash

Chasing Snow Crash

  • Atari VCS2 sprites, 8 colors

  • NES16 sprites, 128 colors

  • Genesis80 sprites, 512 colors

  • Playstation500 Polygons, true color

  • Playstation 25000 Polygons

  • PSX330,000 Polygons

  • Rendered film5M polygons


Future customers

Future customers

  • IM generation

  • Multiple media

  • Multi-ported

  • Peer to peer downloaders

  • Social ganging

  • Virtual worlding as a rite of passage

  • Older, female, global


Future designs

Future designs

  • 100x physics and AI

  • “Emergent” behaviors, collisions, physical

  • Co-opetition

  • Customization

  • Portable avatars, persistent assets

  • Communities

  • Economies and money

  • Camera POV drives gameplay control

  • Star Trek customer management


100x physics and ai

100x physics and AI

  • Everything is modeled

  • Pushing tech envelope here

  • Water, fire, gravity, wind, explosives

  • Awareness, memory, complex motives

  • New science of emergent patterns and behaviors

  • Doom 3; Half Life; Madden; GTA


Win win and make make

Win-win and make-make

  • From “you are not ready” to “let’s beat the world together”

  • More open-ended ways to win

  • Everything is customizable

  • It will take game designers a decade to learn what Maxis is already trying to do


Avatars and assets

Avatars and assets

  • Your “secret friend”

  • Your “treasure room”

  • He who dies with the most toys wins.

  • Consumers will pay for navigation, data integrity, membership

  • Housing in PSW’s; weapons in D2


Join hands

Join Hands

  • Builders and elders

  • “Built to Last”

  • Value of heavy users vs browsers

  • Reputations

  • Sims.com; Everquest; Madden frat parties; ebay


Ka ching

Ka-ching

  • More reasons to play and build

  • Prizes

  • EQ time valued at $3/hour

  • Sims.com website “amateur” hosts


Everyone has a vidcam

Everyone has a vidcam

  • From interactive TV to cinematographer and editor

  • Close up cam for suspense, combo moves

  • Medium cam for relationships, dancing

  • Long shot for teamwork, spatial tactics

  • Unusual cam for replay, special effects

  • User-controlled speed and pacing

  • Street + Live + Sim City in one game


What gene roddenberry knew

What Gene Roddenberry Knew

  • Initial season: 4 action, 1 relationship plot

  • Men: Kirk is a problem solver

  • Women: Kirk is Spock’s best friend, but they’re very different

  • Second season: 80% action, 20% relationships in each story

  • 50% female fans


You are so killer app

You are so Killer (app)

  • Atari VCS: Pacman--home arcade

  • IBM PC: King’s Quest, Flight Simulator

  • NES: Mario, Zelda--adventures

  • Genesis: EA Sports, Mortal Kombat—two player

  • Playstation: Gran Turismo--racing

  • PC-CD: Wing Commander--interactive movies

  • Internet PC: Doom, Everquest—multiplayer, server

  • PS2: Grand Theft Auto—emergent environs


New categories of da future

New categories (of da future)

  • Movie co-launches w/ new game IP

  • RPW (role playing worlds)

  • Real-world simulations

  • Reinvented character mascot games

  • Server based strategy games

  • Dating/matchmaking

  • Searchable gaming

  • Blogging games

  • Your idea here


Today is too complex

Today is too complex

  • Engineers write 15x lines of code than industry average!

  • Artists, designers 1x output, but worse tools, and realtime.

  • Producers manage ¼ production budget but changing pipelines and organization models

  • Alpha-beta 1month!!


Future rationalizes

Future “rationalizes”

  • Fewer lines of code/day

    • Runtime modules

  • Digital film level art and animation tools

  • Proven pipelines

  • Alpha-beta 2-3 months


More of what works

More of what works…

  • Design pod org structure

  • Tools groups and tech leadership

  • Multiple teams per franchise

  • Cross-trained leaders

  • More central specialists (music, lighting, writing) + character, +movie

  • WW functional peer leadership groups (tech, art, sound) + design, production, women

  • Great campuses get better


Organization innovations on the horizon

Organization innovations…on the horizon

  • Intern matriculation program (I.M.P.)

  • Producer/designer fast track

  • Prototyping skills team

  • Polish team


The best jobs in vidgaming

The best jobs in Vidgaming

  • Executive producer

  • Designer

  • Lead

  • Studio GM

  • Chief Creative Officer

  • Intern


Jobs at ea 2003

Jobs at EA - 2003

  • 910 product development

    • 241 engineers and mgrs

    • 350 artists

    • 103 producers and designers

    • 21 audio

    • 2 studio execs

  • 110 summer interns! (25% FT job offers)


2012 internal talent development

2012 Internal talent development

  • 35 new exec producers

  • 20 new lead designers

  • 10 new art dirs

  • 10 new dev/engrg mgrs

  • 3 new GMs

  • 1 new CCO


How to succeed

How to Succeed

  • “Lights and flashers”, “nerd poetry”

  • Think large, pull the barge

  • 4+ = write your own ticket

  • Plagiarize!

  • Groundhog day

  • Idea of the month club

  • Napster career development

  • Live the EA values


Next gen game makers

Next Gen Game makers

  • Pattern of achievement

  • Love of media and gaming

  • Experience or education

    • Computer science

    • Visual engineering and art

    • Design


My bookshelf

My bookshelf

  • Confessions of an Advertising Man, Ogilvy

  • Positioning, Ries and Trout

  • The Learning Organization, Senge

  • How Hits Happen, Farrell

  • Net Gain, Hagel & Armstrong

  • Snow Crash, Stephenson

  • Replay, Grimwood


Why join a big game company

Why join a big game company?

  • Best peers in the industry

  • Work on Top 10’s

  • “#1 people company” in entertainment

    • Teamwork

    • Practices

    • Internal promotion

    • Learning, sharing, achieving


The future of ea bing gordon

Join us. We see farther.


The hit formula sales dev cost mkt budget

The hit formulaSales/(dev cost+mkt budget)

1980: $2.5M / ($50k + $100K)

1990: $15M / ($250K + $1M)

1995: $50M / ($2M + $2M)

2000: $100M / ($8M + $5M)

2010: $250M / ($30M + $30M)


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