Electronic Arts (EA) is the second oldest independent video game publisher in existence (since the demise of Acclaim). Beginning life in 1982 as the brainchild of electronics entrepreneur and corporate raider Trip Hawkins, the company first made its name publishing titles for the home computer market on machines like the Commodore 64 and Apple ][ rather than attempting to follow Activision into the home console market. As a result of this, they largely avoided becoming embroiled in The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 that killed off many of their rivals. In their early days, they justified their name by attempting to treat computer games as art, and the authors as artists in their own right, sending them to network television interviews and nationwide press junkets. They also did various non-videogame projects during the era, including the animation in the title sequence of the British gameshow Catch-Phrase for its' first few years.
The modern company is divided into two main domains: EA Sports and EA Games. The company's first modern-day big break was the Sega Genesis release of Madden NFL, one of the first football games to represent the game to a reasonably accurate degree (true to their tagline, "If it's in the [real] game, it's in the [video] game") that was also fun to play. Their sports games would eventually expand to become their most profitable line after signing licenses with the NHL, NBA, PGA, FIFA and others, and a new title for each sporting organization comes out every year like clockwork.
The "Games" half of the company has also grown over the years, acquiring many other smaller companies and their intellectual properties: Maxis (SimCity, The Sims, Spore), Origin Systems (Strike Commander, Ultima, Wing Commander, Wing Commander: Privateer), Westwood Studios (Command & Conquer), Bullfrog Productions (Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Syndicate), Pandemic Studios (Star Wars: Battlefront), BioWare (Knights of the Old Republic, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, Dragon Age) and Pop Cap (Bejeweled, Plants vs. Zombies). Occasionally, EA even publish their own unique games, such as Mirror's Edge.
A lesser-known, third division of the company is called EA Partners, which handles publishing duties in the West for many games developed by Japanese publishers that lack a publishing presence outside Japan, as well as offering publishing and distributing channels for smaller Western developers that wouldn't normally have access to those channels by themselves. The most prominent of those was a short-lived partnership with Squaresoft in the days before their merging with Enix. Today, EA Partners is the publisher of a number of titles from smaller developers, including the Rock Band series, the Crysis series, the Shank games and, surprisingly, being the retail distributor of games developed by Valve.
EA is notable for loving Region Coding. Many games published by EA for the Xbox 360 are region coded, as are some of their games for the PlayStation Portable. They have even announced their intention to region code the PlayStation 3 version of Army of Two, but fortunately stepped down when numerous angry fans threatened to boycott the game. Unfortunately, online play remains region segregated, and the Xbox 360 version of the game remains region locked. EA is also notable for winning Consumer Media LLC'snote "worst company of America award" for 2012 and 2013, though we'll leave the discussion of why they deserve it to another article.
On May 6, 2013, about a month after LucasArts' closing, it was announced that EA Games and its subsidiaries, DICE, Visceral Games, and BioWare (which previously worked on both Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Star Wars: The Old Republic) will be taking over duties for creating Star Wars video games.
On EA Play 2016, Electronic Arts announced the EA Originals program, giving support to independent developers and helping to publish their games.
In November 2017, the company's community Reddit account was consistently downvoted, especially when discussing complaints about the Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) progression system, culminating in it becoming the most heavily downvoted account in the site's history by a significant margin.
- BioWare Edmonton
- BioWare Austin
- BioWare Montreal (absorbed by Motive Studios)
- Criterion Games
- EA Digital Illusions CE (formerly Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment, DICE)
- DICE Los Angeles (formerly DreamWorks Interactive L.L.C., later EA Los Angeles, and lastly Danger Close Games)
- Ghost Games (formerly EA Gothenburg)
- The Sims Studios
- Motive Studios
- PopCap Games
- Bullfrog Productions
- Mythic Entertainment
- Origin Systems
- Pandemic Studios
- Quicklime Games (formerly EA Black Box)
- Westwood Studios
- EA Maxis
- Visceral Games (formerly EA Redwood Shores)
Early Electronic Arts games:
- The Bard's Tale Trilogy
- Haunting Starring Polterguy
- The Immortal
- LHX Attack Chopper
- Need for Speed (their oldest non-sports series still in production)
- Pinball Construction Set
- Project Firestart
- Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic
- The Seven Cities of Gold
- Sid Meier's SimGolf
- Strike Series
EA Sports properties:
- NBA Live
- The Fight Night boxing series
- EA MMA and EA Sports UFC
- Disney Golf (with Disney characters)
EA Games properties:
- Army of Two
- Black and White
- Dead Space
- Dragon Age
- Official games based on the Harry Potter movies.
- Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
- Official games based on Hasbro properties
- Official games based on the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings movies.
- Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
- Mass Effect
- Medal of Honor
- Minions Paradise
- Mirror's Edge
- NBA Jam (2010-present; from Midway Games)
- Need for Speed (see above)
- NFL Blitz (2011-present; from Midway Games)
- The Saboteur
- The Sims
- Official games based on The Simpsons.
- As of May 6, 2013, official games based on the Star Wars franchise.note
Properties acquired through buyouts:
- Command & Conquer
- Dungeon Keeper
- Pet Society
- Plants vs. Zombies (Google Play)
- Strike Commander
- Superhero City
- Theme Hospital
- Theme Park
- Wing Commander
- Charm Girls Club (except for My Perfect Prom which is published by Griptonite Games)
- Gatling Gears
- Hellgate: London (in most parts of the world)
- Rock Band (until Rock Band 3)
- Shadows of the Damned
- TY the Tasmanian Tiger (console only)