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Games Entertainment

EA As The Next Disney 332

Posted by timothy
from the gosh-walt dept.
ducomputergeek writes "There is an article over at Business2.0.com about how EA may just surpass Disney as the number #1 media company in the world. Considering that EA has turned out some great games over the years, including Wing Commander, many sports games for consoles, and the SIMS, it wouldn't surprise me."
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EA As The Next Disney

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  • EA is that big? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cirvam (216911) <slashdot.sublevo@com> on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:30PM (#4913169)
    Is EA really that big? I mean disney seems to own or have their fingers in just about all media. EA just doesn't seem as prevalent.

    Also does anyone know how much the Sim's helped EA out? or did Maxis make most of the money off that?
    • Re:EA is that big? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ergo98 (9391) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:35PM (#4913217) Homepage Journal
      Is EA really that big? I mean disney seems to own or have their fingers in just about all media. EA just doesn't seem as prevalent.

      If curious check out the stats on the Nasdaq page [nasdaq.com]. Disney has a market capitalization of $35 billion, whereas EA is a still very respectable $8.5 billion: Much larger than I imagined (considered how massive Disney is).
    • Re:EA is that big? (Score:4, Informative)

      by TC (WC) (459050) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:35PM (#4913218) Journal
      EA bought Maxis in 1997... so they both make an equal amount of money, as they're one and the same.
      • heh, I remember when saying "Electronic Arts" to a villager in Ultima would make them say "With language like that, how did you become an avatar?". I'd pay money to see Lord British saying that in Ultima Online :)
    • EA has direct contracts with many sports concerns (in addition to direct sales to the consumer)... Not sure Disney has those kinds of connections.
    • The many faces of EA (Score:3, Informative)

      by Albinoman (584294)
      EA is and owns:
      EA (Medal of Honor, The Sims, 007:Nightfire..)
      EA Sports (most every officially liscensed sports game)
      Maxis (SimCity, SimEarth,...)
      Origin Systems (Ultima series, Wing Commander, Privateer)
      Bullfrog Productions (Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital)
      Westwood Studios (all the Command and Conquer)

      Now you add in all the studios:
      Austin, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Irvine, Walnut Creek, Orlando, Vancouver, Tokyo, London

      the co-publishing agreements:
      Crave Entertainment
      Digital Extremes
      Digital Illusions
      Disney Interactive
      Fox Interactive
      Krome Studios
      LEGO Interactive
      Pseudo Interactive
      Sunflowers Interactive

      affiliated label agreements:
      Capcom
      Delphine
      Fox Interactive
      LucasArts
      NovaLogic
      SquareSoft

      This more or less means that they are the biggest game company out there, and have the foot in the door everywhere, even Disney.

      All this stuff comes from a few sources, a lot of it is out of their legal documentation.
  • Does EA produce their own stuff, or do they get other people to produce stuff, then market it?

    • by stratjakt (596332) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:34PM (#4913208) Journal
      It's not just EA, they really are the 'Disney' of the gaming world, buying up anyone and everyone who comes along.

      Chances are, whatever you're playing, the people who made it work for EA.

      They have huge sway in the console world. Arguably one of the biggest reasons Dreamcast died was because EA refused to produce titles for it (because Sega had the gall to produce their own NHL/NFL/MLB games)

      The sports franchises themselves are perenially the best selling games. You're average Jimmy Goober has no problem shelling out 60$ a year for the same game, with updated player rosters.
      • It's not just EA, they really are the 'Disney' of the gaming world, buying up anyone and everyone who comes along.

        Actually, EA doesn't buy up anyone and everyone. They had the chance to purchase Take Two Interactive (GTA series) and declined the offer.
      • and updated AI, defenses, offenses, etc. While I would agree it's odd that people would shell out for almost the same game multiple years in a row, I do see why it makes sense to buy updated versions of the game. There are innovations in those games that can be a draw. The first version of Madden NFL for the PS2 was a big step forward graphically. Madden NFL 2002 didn't offer much. 2003 brought the addition of online play. NBA Live is similar with this years version adding an innovative control mechanism. Improvments every few years are worth picking up, dedicated fans get them all. No differant than fans of a particular author, actor, musician, director, etc.

        Something else to consider about games is the trade ins. You can walk into any EB buy a game, walk out and come back and trade it in for a counter credit at any time. Hell, they even take NES games still. So you get some return on investment when you "upgrade" to the latest version.
    • I live in Vancouver, the home of EA. EA does make their own games, seemingly EA/Sports mostly, as EA jocks are a dime a dozen around here.
  • Conglomeration (Score:5, Informative)

    by DoctorPhish (626559) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:32PM (#4913183) Homepage
    You mean, some great games were turned out by companies that EA syphoned up...e.g. wing commander was produced _before_ EA bought Origin.
    • Yes, syphoned up, and used for the one game that they wanted (Ultima Online), and then dismantled.

      I don't have any problem with people compairing EA to Disney.
      • Re:Conglomeration (Score:5, Informative)

        by TC (WC) (459050) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:45PM (#4913295) Journal
        Pardon? There were 7 or 8 years of Wing Commander game development under Electronic Arts management... It's not like they were aiming for Ultima Online through the entire period. Either way, the cancellation of more Wing Commander development had a hell of a lot to do with the decreasing market for space-sims, as well as wanting to focus on Ultima Online style games. (A large amount of time and effort was also spent on a Wing Commander Online style game.)
        • Wing Commander means the original game, plus Wing Commander 2 and the first Privateer game. All the rest were just endless video sequences with some short and repetitive gameplay between them. They weren't even described as games, the box said "interactive CD-ROM movie".

          For a couple of years before being bought by EA, Origin really did create worlds. They made some of the best games of all times (Ultima 7, Wing Commander, Privateer, Underworld). Same goes for Bullfrog, and many other companies swallowed up by EA (I doubt Maxis will ever make another original game; they will just keep releasing Sims add-ons with more and more advertising). EA seems to have the Midas touch with a twist: all the gold it touches turns into crap.

          Oh well, as long as they make some gold out of companies' last breaths, I guess the shareholders will be happy.

          RMN
          ~~~
    • Re:Conglomeration (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TC (WC) (459050) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:42PM (#4913268) Journal
      Of course, all the Wing Commander games released after 1992 (read: almost all of them) were developed by an Origin Systems that belonged to EA. Without the monetary support provided by EA, there's no way the larger budgeted Wing Commander games could have been produced.
    • You mean, some great games were turned out by companies that EA syphoned up...e.g. wing commander was produced _before_ EA bought Origin.

      Hey, the article does say that EA is the Microsoft of the games industry. Well, that's the method of Microsoft. Sounds like they are describing EA correctly.
  • by b0ycheese (587473) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:32PM (#4913186)
    Maybe if Disney gets knocked from the top spot, they'd realize that they need to work harder on producing good media. It seems to me that the quality of their stuff has been dropping horribly. They did a great job of making things based off of classic material, but some of the stuff they relase that isn't is simply bad, in my opinion.
    • I disagree.

      Movie-wise I would say disney has been getting better.

      Or, for my own taste anyway - Lilo&Stitch was an excellent film - and all the pixar productions keeps getting better as well.

      I mean, compared to "Sleeping Beauty"... I'd take today's disney films any day of the week.

      One may argue that Disney is trying to drown out Gibli stuff by buying up the rights, but maybe they are actually recognizing talent?
      • by phong3d (61297) <jim AT inomi DOT com> on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:53PM (#4913335) Homepage
        Well...

        Disney only has a distribution agreement with Pixar. I believe they just recently extended it, but if Pixar chooses to go with someone else as a distributor, it's there prerogative.

        I also think "Sleeping Beauty" is an excellent older Disney film. Compared to "Tarzan" or the execrable "Return to Neverland", it's golden.

        I do agree with your speculation regarding the Studio Ghibli distribution, though. Disney animators hold Miyazaki in godlike stature, and maybe that has enough weight to at least get Disney to distribute his films (since it certainly doesn't make them want to market it with any vigor).

    • by boa13 (548222) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @11:15PM (#4913448) Homepage Journal
      It seems to me that the quality of their stuff has been dropping horribly.

      Or perhaps you have aged terribly? ;-)
    • Yeah! (Score:5, Funny)

      by RyanFenton (230700) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @11:16PM (#4913452)
      If this keeps up "Mickey Mouse" might end up meaning cheap and unreliable. Wouldn't want that to happen! ;^)

      Ryan Fenton
    • How about The Sims, and it's almost "Magic The Gathering" likeness regarding expansion packs?... EA (and Maxis, but isn't Maxis a wholly owned subsidiary?) have certainly made a lot of money by recycling that piece of crap over and over and over again (talk about a cash cow)...

      ...and yes, that might be considered flamebait to those who like The Sims series, but come on... when I played it, it took like 15 minutes just for a man to go for a piss! (unless it included time spent doing other things in the bathroom?) among other woeful "gameplay" issues.

      I know I shouldn't be boxing EA because of my gripes against that game, they do come out with a lot of good stuff (i.e. Medal of Honor). Anyway, rant over!

      • Well, let's put it this way, expansion packs are dirt cheap compared to the original game, like a third of the price. It might seem that you dont need no steenkeen expansion packs, but play a full sims with every expansion for a month and then try and go back to the original game. You will be saying "I can't believe how I got addicted to something so crappy!" like I did. It's one heck of a lot better after the expansions IMHO.
  • EA vs Disney (Score:2, Interesting)

    by stonebeat.org (562495)
    games vs movies. i think with the level of complexity and advancement in games and gaming technology, i have to say sale of games will exceed the sale of disney movies....
    • i have to say sale of games will exceed the sale of disney movies

      So, the sale of Disny Movies exceeds the sale of games from Lionhead Studios. Comparing one company to a whole industry is kind of pointless.

      The video game industry as a whole is already larger then the movie industry, and has been for several years. No one seems to care, though.
  • Does Eisner Know? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by macdaddy357 (582412)
    EA the next Disney? Does Michael Eisner [uncoveror.com] know about this? Will they constantly take from the public domain, without ever giving back to it like Disney does?
  • by The Tyro (247333) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:36PM (#4913219)
    Electronic Arts always had great games... except it used to be EOA, dunno when it changed.

    Ah, those fond memories of my youth... 2AM, sitting in front of my C-64, watching that EOA title screen come up... gaming all night long (in between using a 300 baud modem to contact BBS's in germany, Japan...)

    I almost didn't survive the beating that resulted from one month's phone bill... almost 400$ of overseas long-distance. Twenty years ago, 400$ was, as they say, real money.

    Yep, I can hear the L33T K1dd13Z now... "Shut up, pops. Go take some Bayer for yer arthritis."
    • Shut up, pops. Go take some Bayer for yer arthritis.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:36PM (#4913229)
    I have two friends who work at EA (two completely different locations, and neither of these people know each other).

    EA works you like a dog. Everyone there hates their job. Big sexist corporate culture too. Both of my friends are women, and BOTH have had ideas stolen from them by their male manager. Fuckers.

    So in that respect, yes, they are just like Disney.
    • They publish great games yet give no support, no patches, no nothing and let promising games die. It's despicable. I'm not buying any more EA games.

      The fact that your friends hate there jobs doesn't surprise me at all.
    • by Syncdata (596941) <syncdata71@nOSpam.yahoo.com> on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @11:07PM (#4913395) Journal
      Ah, the memories. I worked EA/maxis and they treat their software side employees like they should be glad to work there. The legal side and marketing side gets a little more touch, but then, EA is all about the legal and marketing. Hm...quite a bit like disney, just like the parent mentioned.
      In terms of market share/quality product/market cap, I would say EA is going to have a tough time matching disney. But if the article was comparing corporate culture, then, they're probably smack dab on the target.
    • Yeah, I interviewed with EA Sports a while back, and everyone looked like major burn-outs. Cool, but tired...
    • by Quarters (18322) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @11:32PM (#4913528)
      I worked for EA.COM/EA Virginia for about 12-18 months.

      Worst work experience I've ever had. At one point they wanted us to dumb our game down to the point where the users could hit a key to have his vehicle automatically follow an enemy. Then all the user would have to do is click the mouse button to fire their weapons.

      Yes, the clueless, khaki/t-shirt/black sweater management core from Redwood Shores that such an idea would make the game, "more accessable". It never dawned on them that it also removed all interactivity from an interactive entertainment product.

      But, what do you expect when their CEO is from Sara Lee and gives motivational speeches with such phrases as, "Making an online game is a lot like making a quiche.".

      (I am so glad I'm out of that environment.)
      • Yes, the clueless, khaki/t-shirt/black sweater management core from Redwood Shores that such an idea would make the game, "more accessable". It never dawned on them that it also removed all interactivity from an interactive entertainment product.

        Ok, so how did it turn out? I mean, for a company with a market cap of ~$8 billion, they must be doing something right. If the employees are truly treated like shit, in a horrible working environment, as everyone here has said, and the managers are clueless PHBs, and the CEO is presumably equally skilled at making games and baking quiches... "why they so rich?"

        Seems like a recipe for disaster, not unrivaled success...
        • Why are they so rich? Because making money is not about making quality product. (At best, it is about making a product mildly better than the competitors). Making money is all about delivering product and creating a market for it. THAT is what business people are good at. They are hired to lie ("Our company/product/service is BETTER than our competitors!" when in fact it's about the same) and we wonder why they rip us off (a la Enron).
  • Wow, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by autopr0n (534291) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:38PM (#4913241) Homepage Journal
    Of course, the video game industry has been larger then the movie industry for a while, at least in terms of revenue. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that video games cost $50 or so for a new game, while movies cost a few dollars at the theater, and around $10-$15 for DVDs.

    But still, it's interesting how the movie (and even the tiny music) industry seem to be much more newsworthy and important then the video game industry. Aside from game specific press... the game industry gets about as much ink as the logging industry or something. Its weird.
    • the game industry gets about as much ink as the logging industry or something. Its weird.

      When was the last time you walked into your supermarket and was surrounded by 100+ different magazines devoted entirely to logging?
      • Perhaps he meant to say "air" rather than "ink".

        It's true that the gaming industry gets plenty of stories written, but I think the movie industry is leaps and bounds ahead when it comes to airtime. Other than that crappily produced G4 channel, you never see games on TV or radio, whereas you get movie industry news daily on the big broadcast channels like NBC, ABC, etc..
        • Re:Wow, (Score:2, Insightful)

          by softsign (120322)
          I was watching ESPN the other day at a bar and a commercial came on for Hitman 2. EA has boatloads of TV spots on for their sports games - particularly during sports telecasts. Who-da-thunkit?

          As for the thinly-veiled advertisements like Entertainment Tonight... it's a tough comparison. ET and its ilk spend most of their time delivering gossip about the stars of movies and only occasionally toss in info about upcoming movies. Since game developers have yet to reach moviestar status (how many people - outside of the geek community - do you know that would recognize John Carmack?), you're going to have a tough time filling 22 minutes each day with game gossip/news.

          Not only that, but why would gamers sit around the tube if they can just hit a website with all the news they want and even playable demos?

          Gaming is a huge business, but it's a distant cousin of television - unlike movies.

      • Last time I checked, my supermarket had about 6 or 7 video game mags. About the same as the number of cooking mags, bridal mags, or hot-rod mags.
  • RTFA (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    EA may just surpass Disney as the number #1 media company in the world

    The article states that the CEO of EA thinks "it's almost absurd to compare a $2 billion software maker with a $25 billion diversified media giant." I don't think they'll be surpassing Disney anytime soon.
    • OK - I wrote a long ass reply to this - but lost it due to the back button....

      Anyway, you're wrong to think that the CEO of EA would give up everything on such a simple statement.

      First - of course it is in his interest to look more humble - and not want to outwardly state that he is trying to compare himself withthe likes of disney.

      Second - the impact that gaming has on the tech industry is fantastic. I ran Intel's game test lab - and can tell you - matter of fact - the game industry drives the tech market above all things - no matter what you hear to the contrary. You think that MS office has any impact on the chipsets and products being pumped out of every hardware house on the globe? nope - but throw in some quake X, 007, NWN whatever - and sure enough the industry wants to produce hardware to give that "immersive" experience.

      The thing about Disney is that they will always be a large media company - because they have influence that is well established. but that area of inflkuence is a lot more stagnant than it used to be.

      With the advent of games and the tremendous speeds at which they evolve, and drive technology forwards - their influence on the entire media industry, and subsequently, pop culture as a whole has much more far reaching effects than people like Eisner would like to readily admit.

      Why? Well it is just simple policy to find out as much about the enemy without giving any information out about yourself. EA would not tell you in any article or interview what their strategy would be.

      They thing to think about in this particular context is that video games in general are far youngerthan the traditional media industry - but already we are seeing a massive shakeup in the way "media" is perceived, marketed, created and ingested. This means that the traditional established business models are goign to have to struggle very hard to remain in their formor positions of glory less they re-evaluate where they are going and how they are getting there.

      Disney has had a solid form of entertainment in the form of their theme park, with a solid revenue stream for a long time because two important factors: 1) it was around before alternative "stationary" entertainment options (ie video games) existed. 2) very very strong branding, which played on item 1 - which *bred* brand loyalty into its visitors.

      Now - take a look at my other post, you will see that the primary reason why anyone still goes to disney is from brand loyalty. Brand loyalty that is bred into children at a very young age - which will bring them back hopefully multiple times while they are young - and bring them back when they get older and ahve kids... but now that we have stationary forms of entertainment on the same level as far as fantasy is concerned, Disney's hold on kids "mindshare" is weakening.

      This is the most important point. EA is already in a very very strong position. One that Disney cannot possibly overtake. EA is *established* very very established.

      This means that no way can Disney over take that foundation - regardless of how stroing their brand is. This leaves them two options 1) compete. compete with the EA in an area that Disney does not have as strong of a market understanding - even though they may have a strong traditional brand. or 2) Partner. Now here is the option - the only option really. Disney will use its fantastic brand label, while partneringwith the foundation of EA in the gameing industry. This will allow them to bring their brand to the eyes of people (and this is what its really important - bringing the brand, not the game) into the arean and tap into some of that market.

      Now - the difference that is to Disneys advantage is the "traditional" media empire it has. Although - this is a fast shrinking area. With regards to movies and pop culture characters - EA has an opportunity to put themselves in the long term cat-bird seat as it were. As long as EA puts characters into the minds of the youth that they will attach to very very strongly - they can leverage these t\new brand trademarks through video games and into movies and merchandising lines.

      Children of the past decade and a half (like me), present and future will grow up with more and more video game influence in their lives. Both EA and disney know this - but only EA is in such a strong position currently.

      Just look again at how young the video game industry is - and the inroads it has already made in "traditional" media - such as film. (mortal kombat, resident evil, final fantasy, etc...)

      Disney is on its toes. Dont worry.... EA *knows* that if they play their cards right and dont give up too much ground, they will be the Disney of tomorrow. and Disney oftoday will be a smaller player, yet a very well looked at, and analyzed past giant.
  • by sootman (158191) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:38PM (#4913249) Homepage Journal
    ...all they have to do is create several dozen movies that are regarded as classics for generations, open a couple theme parks, buy a handful of movie and television companies... They should be done by Q2 2003.
  • Wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CausticWindow (632215)
    If that is true, then wow, that's weird. They used to be so small. I remember all their excellent games for the C64, but strangely I can't remember any of their names.

    One of my favourites was Foxfire or Firefox or something like that. Ace flight sim for that old 8 bit machine.

    Useless trivia of the day: The legendary SID musician/coder Rob Hubbard works for EA these days. He coded the themesong for Commando in machine code in just one night. Skillz.
  • funny... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ruebarb (114845) <colorache&hotmail,com> on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:43PM (#4913274)
    I remember seeing an ad in a gaming magazine...aboutr '86 or so...

    black and white, with about 8 developers on it..each talking about games they had programmed...Archon, stuff like that...

    that was EA, as I recall....on one hand...kewl they've succeeded...on the other hand, they were once a blatently geek programming company...kind of a bumber...but it was kewl...

    RB
    • I remember that ad. Even more impressive, they actually had a four-page fold-out version of it. I think I've still got it in a filing cabinet somewhere, along with stacks of Softside magazine.

      EA tried to redefine games as an artistic venture, and were fairly successful at it. Then they redefined games as Big Business, and were dissappointingly successful at that. Sigh.
  • This month's Wired has a good article on EA Sports [wired.com]. This company dominates sports games so much it's scary...
  • by Goonie (8651) <robert DOT merkel AT benambra DOT org> on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:44PM (#4913289) Homepage
    From the article:
    Of course, it's almost absurd to compare a $2 billion software maker with a $25 billion diversified media giant.

    The rest of the article goes on to discuss the company and its lofty goals to *become* the next Disney.

    • The rest of the article goes on to discuss the company and its lofty goals to *become* the next Disney.

      I can imagine a similar article 100 years ago carried by a big newspaper about the lofty goals of someone drawing moving pictures of a mouse to become a publisher bigger than the average tree killer. Stranger things have happened.

      • I didn't say it was impossible. I just say it's not the case *right now*, and it's not likely to be the case for a little while yet.

        If EA wants to become as big a media company as Disney, EA will have to expand into a variety of other more traditional media (though the computer game industry is 25 years old now, so it's not exactly new any more), and they will have to do it better than the incumbents. Not impossible, but not easy either.

  • Wing Commander... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by red_dragon (1761)

    Considering that EA has turned out some great games over the years, including Wing Commander...

    Maybe I recall incorrectly, but I have this distinct memory of Wing Commander being originally published independently by Origin Systems before being bought out by Electronic Arts. Please correct me if I'm wrong about this.

    • Re:Wing Commander... (Score:3, Informative)

      by gr0ngb0t (410427)
      Yeah EA picked up Wing Commander in about 1997-ish, it was Origin before that.

      Just checked my original box to make sure that the Kilrathi saga is the first one I've got that has the EA logo on it, the earlier ones are all Origin.
      • ergh - stop drinking before posting...

        Just checked my original box to make sure. The Kilrathi saga is the first one I've got that has the EA logo on it, the earlier ones are all Origin.
      • Re:Wing Commander... (Score:2, Informative)

        by TC (WC) (459050)
        No... Oring was purchased in 1992 [bizjournals.com]. Wing Commander 3 in 1994 was most definately produced when Origin was part of EA. Otherwise they wouldn't have had the needed cashflow to pay for the budget. Privateer was also released under EA (1993)
  • All you need to do is have "business" as part of your website; to show you have some sort of business plan I guess.

    I mean Business2.0.com is like the lamest thing I've heard since the "Every kiss begins with Kay" slogan.
  • No Sweat! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dmomo (256005) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:54PM (#4913336) Homepage
    EA is not quite there yet!!

    "it's almost absurd to compare a $2 billion software maker with a $25 billion diversified media giant.

    If you are reading it... chances are, Disney is aware of the same information.


    money Gordon hints could be used to expand into movies or music. In any event, Probst is clearly way beyond thinking of EA as merely a creator of software toys. "Our goal," he says with no hint of self-consciousness, "is to become the greatest entertainment company ever.


    So, given the quoted valuation differences, and EA's stated goal, my question is.. how hard would it be for Disney to make EA an "offer they can't refuse"?

    Maybe the next version of Sim City is going to include a big fat Epcot Center monument!!
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bleckywelcky (518520) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @10:57PM (#4913345)

    Woa, that's really weird. Disney owns ABC, makes (er copies) tons of movies every year, releases so many old movies every year from the "Disney vaults", owns and operates several multi-million (billion on some?) theme parks and recreation centers, etc, etc, etc ... and yet EA can somehow get to their reaches by producing video games? Ming boggling. Yes, I did not read the article.
    • EA may have a diverse base of game genres it releases, but its real moneymaker are its sports franchises. NFL, NHL, NBA, NASCAR, etc... tweak the graphics, update some AI elements, new UI, update the rosters, add in some new bennies, slap on a new logo and charge millions upon millions of people $50 every single year for what is essentially the same game that came out last year. Yes, there were big leaps when EA migrated from the Genesis to the Playstation and introduced 3D graphics as well as other platform changes and subsequent leaps in graphical detail and game depth, but a slant left pass is the same play as it was 10 years ago. You really can't beat that.
      • True, but you'd have to think that Disney makes an equal or greater amount of money off those same sports via ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPN News, and Various ABC broadcast sports contracts. It is a bit mindboggling that EA could get anywhere close.
      • That's why I buy Madden games a year later.
  • by ACK!! (10229) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @11:02PM (#4913381) Journal
    I remember Archon. I remember saying that Activision and EA were the ones along with Sierra that could really go all the way. I liked the Atari computer too so I was not all right and everything.

    The game industry is taking over. The media conglomerates are going to keep messing around and ticking off consumers and playing politics. One day the suckers will turn around and realize no one is just dumb watching anymore. They are all playing.

    Most of the time I would rather play a good computer or console game than watch tv. There are still some good movies out there for sure, but I would rather play a good game than watch a bad movie. The media guys have to realize they are not the only game in town anymore. Yes, BTW, there are plenty of bad games too just the industry is growing by leaps and bounds.

  • If Linux took over the desktop market, I don't think a title of "Linux As Next Microsoft" would be appropriate. Why? Because that brings a long not only that Linux has taken over the desktop market, but also all the negatives that can be attributed to microsoft. Why does this matter? Well, I don't think EA is becoming the next Disney in the way I think fo Disney. Disney use to conjure up warm feelings, but I think the slashdot community as a whole would agree that since Walt got cryogenically frozen (or whatever), Disney has done plenty to rise the ire of observers. And I see no reason to apply those negatives to EA (not yet at least).

    F-bacher
  • Lobbying? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by yerricde (125198) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @11:08PM (#4913402) Homepage Journal

    Electronic Arts won't be the next DisneyCo until EA starts lobbying to the United States Congress for copyright laws that further restrict consumers [pineight.com] and other authors and publishers [pineight.com]. Look how much money DisneyCo contributed [opensecrets.org] to get the Bono Act passed in a desperate attempt to keep Mickey Mouse locked up [bumperactive.com].

    • to get the Bono Act passed

      Wasn't the Bono act a good thing? To keep our kids from accidentally skiing into trees or something?

      Thank you... I'll be here until my Karma burns up. Don't forget to tip your waitress.
  • Looking over their past, the only current well selling game I can think of is the Sims (admittedly, I'm not to sure about this and am too lazy to check up on this). Also, I've heard that their sports games, while being quite good in the past, now suck.

    And an even bigger reason why I doubt EA will be the next disney is because of mismanagement. Check out places like fatbabies.com for information from the inside...doesn't look good, does it?

    But the biggest reason is this...the next disney for the games industry is aalready shaping up to be Microsoft; they bought Rare, Bungie and a whole host of other companies. That, plus their expansive inhouse dev section put them at the top of the heap, I'd think.
  • by herrd0kt0r (585718) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @11:15PM (#4913451)
    EA has made 1.5 billion in revenue last year, and reaped 100 million wingwangs this year alone. you can read about it here [wired.com]. the scale of their sports franchise alone is staggering: with tens of millions of clams being spent for marketing their sports games this year!

    you might think of EA churning out craptastic games that leave you consistently overwhelmed, but the truth is that there are lots of people out there playing their console games. i mean, people i normally don't associate with, like, you know. people who play sports. and exercise. and stuff. physical exertion. pull-ups. push-ups. i dunno. i'm outta my league here now. but you know, like, THOSE people. the meatheads.

    they like EA games.

    and there are lots of meatheads out there.

    me? i prefer more academic pursuits. if EA came out with a game like Madden for people like me, i'd give them a lot o my coin. say, instead of Madden, they had Fiercesome Librarian 2003. or Raging Geeks League Slide Rule Competition '02 (RGL '02).

    but nooooo. they did their market research and realized that these sports fans can beat people like me-- the people who program these games, up. so they make stuff to appease them.

    and it's gotten them a lot of moolah!

    why, i remember loading up Racing Destruction Set on my c64, and watching the big square/circle/triangle change colors. i also remember modifying my 1541 drive with JiffyDos, which was a small add-on cache for the drive. SUPER LOAD TIMES!

    i'm rambling. the point i'm trying to make is that yes, EA really is that big. and they're getting bigger. the sports nuts/meatheads control the market. and their population grows! fellow slashdotter, you know how always find yourself at home, alone, on friday nights? that's cause all the HAWT chix0rz are out getting their mack on, and their clothes off, with the big burly men who buy EA Sports games.

    CITIZENS OF SLASHDOT! SCREW THE RIAA! SCREW THE MPAA!
    FOCUS YOUR EFFORTS ON EA!
    WORK HARD! GET MUSCLES!
    AND TOGETHER WE CAN SCORE TEH HAWT CHIX0RZ!
  • Just because video games are a good market means that Wing Commander and the Sims == like 1/3 of radio stations and, ohh, ABC, and a huge chunk of cable (ESPN etc) to name but a couple holdings... whatever, video game companies will never equal dominant mass media for influence or size. Until you can get opiate tabs with your GTA...

    Sounds from the article that the CEO doesn't even know how to exploit women for their image... Jesus Christ, Disney was good at that and he didn't cater to the teenage male market like EA...

    Business 2.0 is 0wn3d by AOL/Time Warner anyway, its in their interest to make it look like our modern media megaliths are still threatened by West Coast programmers... And yes i feel sorry for the poor losers that are going to fork over all that money to play an online game which is actively being infiltrated by fucking Intel and McDonald's advertisements.

    I think it makes sense to say that EA type big releases will start to acquire a stronger gloss of professionalism because they can import Hollywood talent, (effects. art and voices) but yes even the SuperMcSimsOnline is just a video game.

  • by _ph1ux_ (216706) on Tuesday December 17, 2002 @11:42PM (#4913572)
    I hope not. I recently came back from disneyland - and I must say - what a rip-off farce that place is. It is nothing but corporate marketing and a store with the very thin veil of a theme park.

    Space Mountain - Brought to you by FedEX.
    Star Tours - brought to you by Energizer.
    and many many others. (problem is that Disneyland has very few actual rides - go to great america, far far far better place)

    The place was terrible - an army of strollers and every ride practically exits you into a store of some sort.

    I bought a single piece of Pizza and a water - and that was $10.00 - I had to get a sweatshirt because it was freezing, and my wife really wanted to see the parade, $60.00. A disney cup, $10.00. The same Lego Pieces you can buy at lego.com were literally twice the price. 9.99 for a 3 man starwars set rather than the 4.99 I paid for the same set online. All of this on top of the $45.00 per person we paid to get in (and mind you that this is only for the TRADITIONAL disney SIDE of the park - if you wanted to go to both California Adventure AND Disneyland, well that'll be $90.00 Buddy, thats per ticket.)

    If EA turns out to be anything like Disney - I will certainly boycott them. The only reason we went was because my wife had never been there before.

    Once a lifetime is enough, go when you are 5 or 6 and never again (unless you are forced to take your kids - which I would recommend against)

    Fuck Disney - they dont represent anything but corporate greed and the fact that the consumer is justa number with a pocketbook full of money that the arebent on liberating you from.....
  • There are 2 problems with this article. First off, as the article says it really isn't fair to compare these two companies as their individual focuses are entirely different. Disney is a media giant, and is not focused on its video game market solely-- so it would make sense that ea could surpass them. its the same reason why nintendo has a better shot of surpassing the more diversified game makers. It also fails to recognize brand recognition. A lot of parents (the ones with the money) buy video games for their kids purely on the brand name of Disney (albeit a misleading name). Just a few things I noticed.
  • by Richard Mills (17522) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @12:00AM (#4913648)
    Hey guys, how quickly we forget our video gaming history! Wing Commander was made by Origin (anyone recall that "Lord British" guy?), which was, sadly, gobbled up by EA.
    • Chris Roberts (Score:4, Informative)

      by asv108 (141455) <alex@phata[ ]o.org ['udi' in gap]> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:22AM (#4913968) Homepage Journal
      To avoid any misinformation, Chris Roberts [mobygames.com] was the mind behind Wing Commander, not Lord British. The wing commander series was way ahead of its time. I remember begging my parents back in 1990 for an 8 meg upgrade for my Compaq 286 in order to get enough "expanded memory" to play wing commander. It was really the event that got me interested in the nuts and bolts of computers. Back then you had to play around with config.sys and autoexec.bat files in order to play memory intensive dos games. BTW, that 8 meg upgrade cost $700.
  • Simulated life.

    Hours in front of a computer in a make believe world.

    Does it count?
    Does Saint Peter check off the simulated good deeds and intentions and take off for the bad? Or does the time show up as blank holes in the real-world continuum when they get the big book out.

    Sometimes when I listen to gamers I get the impression that given the opportunity to live in a Matrix-like world, many gamers would surely rather 'jack-in'... For good.
  • then I'll be first in line for the Road Rash ride at their theme park.

    Hope I get the billyclub... :)
  • EA made a crappy word processor for the C=64 called Cut & Paste. We took it back and got Paperclip 64 from Batteries not Included which had a dongle that plugged into the joystick port and seemed to have about a 50% chance of working.

    Other early EA software that I had included Music Construction Set and Hard Hat Mac. I was pretty sad about Hard Hat Mac since I had asked for Jumpman for Christmas, but Hard Hat Mac turned out to be pretty fun. The games came in giant boxes that resembled an LP sleeve.

  • I was having a lot of trouble understanding this article. Basically, I hit the part where they were talking about a booth babe named Hecubah. Well, I couldn't proceed any until I had some imagery to work with. Found some too. Thanks Google!

    Hecubah, the booth babe from the article:
    photo [sharkygames.com]

  • by Jace of Fuse! (72042) on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @12:41AM (#4913814) Homepage
    I once read a very well respected Japanese developer said (I think it was Yuji Naka) [Some companies]"...make games at the desk." He was refering to game companies making games to make money, not to create something fun to play.

    Electronic Arts is in the video game industry making sound business moves and producing disposable rubbish for an eager consumer base. They are no longer Electronic Artists and they no longer make great video games. This shows in the huge amount of crap they spew out each year.

    Other companies were getting to be guilty of the same thing, but they seem to have realized it and are trying to make a turn for the better. Capcom, for instance, has pledged a shift towards quality and innovation, and shortly afterwards announced 6 new fairly unique looking titles.

    3DO claims to be making a similar shift, and has cancelled many projects to focus on a few unique titles. Trip Hawkins even forked over his own personal money to help fund the company further along. How many CEOs do you know of who would do that? (Well, the President of Sega did that, too, then died shortly afterwards.)

    Many of the more respectable publishers and developers are making this shift towards quality, but Electronic Arts openly clings to "tried and true" titles, even if it means saturating the market with crap.

    I don't rant about it like I used to. I just stopped buying the shit [ea.com]. After all, there are other [nintendo.com] great [bioware.com] video [blizzard.com] game [capcom.com] developers [sega.com] out [konami.com] there [rockstarnorth.com].
  • Good. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sj0 (472011)
    I actually like EA. Their policy on releasing classic games is absolutely superb(they actually -- gasp! sell them!), and I've picked up dozens of old titles that way. It's refreshing to see a company which sees that there's some money to be made by deciding not to ignore the abandonware crowd. So... I don't think there's a problem if they become larger than they are.

  • It's a shame that Wing Commander was mentioned, and yet is about as dead of a series as they come. That is a series that has more-or-less gone to Microsoft in all but name (Starlancer and Freelancer), and is the closest that Mark "Aren't you that Skywalker Guy" Hammel will ever get to non-voice over fame.

    I also noticed that where the Sims got a lot of time, their other biggest stable, EA Sports, only got two short blurbs. Madden has been the standard for Video Game Football for years, and most likely will continue to be for a while. Other notable titles like NBA Street, SSX Tricky and Medal of Honor were left off.

    I don't get the reference to EA being the Microsoft of the gaming world. I could have sworn that Microsoft was the Microsoft of the gaming world, but who knows. I mean, Microsoft Games is one of their good points (and I know there are few), and they make a huge amount of games as well. That little X-Box thing, and AoM/AoE, plus their sports stable.

    EA will never be another Disney in the sense of what Disney is. However, they could easily be to Software what Disney is to animated features and children's programming: the standard. I'm not sure if I own more Sierra or EA games. For the PS2 it's hand's down EA, and for the computer it's a little closer.

    For them to really go into the entertainment industry, they would have to pull in something that could move them past being just a software company. Someone like Blizzard or Square Soft (I thought they used to have a stake in Square USA) could be what moves them closer to Digital Movie entertainment. I know that the Warcraft 3 made me think that Blizzard would someday go movie instead of game. But for now, they can rest on being the best publisher out there.
  • EA's great moment will come when some major sport goes on strike, and EA's game goes on TV as a substitute.
  • by ccnull (607939) <null AT filmcritic DOT com> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:13AM (#4913939) Homepage
    Like most interesting journalism, this is largely wishful thinking. EA will need to prove it's more than just a game company to become the player it wants to be. The company is largely beholden to other media companies for its content (LOTR game, James Bond game, Harry Potter game) and sports games are really a dime a dozen. Only The Sims has long-term promise as a stand-alone franchise... and once they try to make a Sims movie (and you know they will!) that will be the end of it. (Anyone remember the Wing Commander [filmcritic.com] movie? Still trying to forget it, huh...)

    But really, EA needs to look beyond gaming if it really wants to challenge Disney or any other major media concern. Sure, it's a powerhouse in the gaming world, but my mother's never heard of Electronic Arts, while she sure as hell knows who Disney is.
  • EA only creates software for all platforms. Disney does all of that. Plus they have their own channel. Plus they own ABC. Disney also has a enormous video library. I don't see EA doing any of that.

    And finally does EA have a Magic Kingdom? Disney does actually three, plus also MGM, Epcot and Animal kindom theme parks.
  • by asv108 (141455) <alex@phata[ ]o.org ['udi' in gap]> on Wednesday December 18, 2002 @01:39AM (#4914024) Homepage Journal
    EA dominates the sports game market. The best thing about successful sports games is that consumers want to purchase the latest release every year in order to get the latest stats. Nobody complains about having to buy a new version of madden every year, I'm sure M$ is jealous. So every year EA tweaks the previous release, updates the graphics, and puts in the new rosters. So its not like they have to do a complete rewrite for the next version of madden.

    Another aspect of sports games is that they are very capital intensive due to licensing and the amount of statistical data. This prevents any small upstart from coming out with a noteworthy competitor.

    Loyalty amongst sports game fans is another factor, people who have played madden for the last 10 years are not going to switch to NFL2K3. EA has made the wise decision to release their sports games for just about every platform. One other plus for the sports game genre is that it appeals to the growing market of older gamers.

  • Ooh, that brings back some ancient memories of mine... Hardly a game that has contributed to EA's greatness very much. :-) I personally think they made more money and has got more attention from the NHL series, etc. (that aren't just developed for consoles either, like you'd think from the summary posted here).
  • that they didn't mention CNC Generals, looks to be an amazing game and it is one of the games that EA is counting on to increase market share according to Yahoo News [yahoo.com] bit. For some great info about cnc generals, check out RenegadeGenerals [renegadegenerals.com], cool fan site with lots of screens.

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