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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 NES 2K + 2K
  • 1989 Sega Genesis 64K+64K
  • 1994 Sony Playstation 2 MB + 512K
  • 2001 Playstation 2 32MB +4MB
  • 2006? PSX3 256MB
  • 2012? PS4? 2G?
chasing snow crash
Chasing Snow Crash
  • Atari VCS 2 sprites, 8 colors
  • NES 16 sprites, 128 colors
  • Genesis 80 sprites, 512 colors
  • Playstation 500 Polygons, true color
  • Playstation 2 5000 Polygons
  • PSX3 30,000 Polygons
  • Rendered film 5M 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 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)