Electronic Arts (EA) is one of the largest brands in the gaming and esports industry. In addition to owning major franchises and names in digital games, the company is an absolute leader in games that simulate real sports with its EA Sports brand, publishing games such as FIFA (or EA Sports FC), Madden NFL, F1, NHL, and more. Since its founding in 1982, the developer has successfully put together successful, influential and controversial titles in the gaming world.
Foundation and first steps
Electronic Arts was founded in 1982 by William Murray Hawkins III, or Trip Hawkins. With a capital of $5 million (about R$25 million) from private investors and 11 employees, the company was born with the purpose of being a leader in the gaming market for home computers.
Unlike the large companies at the time that shaped the video game market, such as Nintendo, Sega, and Atari, EA focused on developing game software, not the video games themselves. The company made games for today’s most popular computers, video game consoles and CD players, and has experienced rapid growth since its founding.
The first games distributed by EA were released in 1983: Archon: The Light and the Dark, Axis Assassin, D-Bug and Hard Hat Mack. in 1984, Sky Fox for the Apple II computer, being one of the company’s first bestsellers.
Watch the gameplay video from Skyfox (1984):
EA’s relationship with sports
In addition to being a pioneer in the video game industry, Trip Hawkins had an obsession with real-life sports, and wanted to bring that experience to digital gaming. In 1983, the developer launched One on one: Dr. J vs. Larry birdwhich featured players Julius Irving and Larry Bird as playable characters who faced off in a one-on-one basketball match.
With compatibility with many computers, One on One was a hit, selling 400,000 copies at the end of 1988. In 1989, EA released a sequel to the title: Jordan vs. Jordan. Bird: One on One, this time with the NES and Sega Mega Drive versions, which was also a hit.
It was following the idea of launching games from the world of sports that EA produced one of their most successful titles which continues to this day. It was first released in 1988 for the Apple II, and then in 1989 for Commodore and DOS. john madden football, An American football simulation game, it was the result of a partnership between the company and former head coach of the sport, John Madden. Today the game is still a hit, and is marketed under the name Madden NFL.
Throughout its history, EA has invested in games for the most diverse sports: American Football, Basketball, Skateboarding, Baseball, MMA, Cricket, Motorsports, Ice Hockey, F1, and the sport that holds its most famous game, Football.
FIFA and EA Sports FC franchise
EA’s first soccer game was released in 1993, FIFA International Soccer, or FIFA 94, and it’s already licensed under the FIFA brand. The game was a milestone among the versions that tried to simulate sports, as it brought new and good mechanics of kicks, passes and dribbling, good controls and news that did not appear in games at that time.
With FIFA, EA solidified its controversial business model that continues today for the most popular sports: the annual launch of new titles with graphic applications, news and updates for professional and sports rosters.
FIFA has always held its ground as one of the greatest games in the genre, steadily beating competitors in sales and relevance. From 1993 until 2023, the game remained constant year after year with a new release, only the year of the title changed. In 2023, the partnership between FIFA and EA Sports ends, making way for EA Sports FC, a title that will carry on with the franchise’s legacy.
FIFA launch opened EA Sports – a trademark of Electronic Arts, developer section focusing on e-sports games. The brand is one of the most powerful and well-known in the gaming world, with the famous slogan “It’s in the game,” narrated by journalist Andrew Anthony.
Watch the games currently distributed by EA Sports:
- FIFA (EA Sports FC)
- Madden NFL
- NBA Live
- EA Sports UFC
- Super Mega Baseball
- PGA Tour
- Click on the sport of baseball
Despite being one of the biggest names in the history of the gaming industry, EA has accumulated controversy over time, becoming one of the developers most questioned by the gaming community, and the company’s sports wing doesn’t escape that.
One of the most criticized points of EA Sports is the game’s annual release model. Mainly present in FIFA and Madden NFL, the developer’s biggest sports games, this model causes a new game to be released every year, with cast updates, gameplay and system innovations, usually not too big.
The main criticism of the annual release model is the fact that games are released at “full price”, which in recent years has reached the $60 range (in Brazil, FIFA 23 and Madden NFL 23 launched for R$300). The community argues that the value doesn’t do justice to the content offered by the new releases, which often don’t bring significant updates over previous games.
Microtransactions and loot boxes
Another point that brings a lot of criticism from the community is the system of microtransactions and loot boxes. In addition to the expensive versions, games like FIFA and Madden NFL also provide the possibility for players to invest more money in the games to get benefits in the online modes.
Taking the FIFA Ultimate Team mode as an example, players invest real money to buy FIFA Points, which is the paid currency of the game. With points, it is possible to buy packs (loot chests) that can come from cards of high level players or not. In this way, players who invest the most money in micro-transactions have an advantage over those who only bought the base game.
Another controversy involving Electronic Arts that continues today is the company’s business relationship with employees. In March 2023, the producer announced that it would lay off 6% of its workforce, which equates to about 800 employees, even after recording a profit of R$25 billion in 2022.
This was the second wave of layoffs reported by EA in 2023. By the end of February, the producer had laid off more than 200 employees who worked as QA testers for Apex Legends.
These last controversies are accompanied by many others that have arisen throughout the history of EA, often related to the fact that the developer buys many studios around the world and cannot always give the same attention and investment to all.
In addition to the aforementioned controversies, EA has also been involved in controversies related to team licensing and branding of soccer games, such as lack of Brazilian athletes since FIFA 16, poor quality of games at launch, poor relationship with workers and other issues..
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