With an iconic portfolio across multiple platforms, Electronic Arts (EA) stands above the rest as a global gaming empire. For business owners, marketers, content creators, and anyone else who wants to learn from successful business stories, the history of EA provides valuable insights into harnessing technology and thriving in a competitive market.

At Business2Community, we’ve pulled on a range of sources to deliver a detailed account of EA’s 30-year journey. Dive in as we explore the key developments and milestones that shaped the startup game developer into a formidable force in the video game market.

A History of EA – Key Dates

  • Electronic Arts was founded in 1982 by Trip Hawkins, a former Apple employee.
  • EA went public in October 1989, raising around $80 million from its IPO.
  • EA’s net revenues surpassed the billion-dollar mark in 2000, with international sales accounting for 42% of this figure.
  • In 2023, EA’s revenues exceeded $7 billion.
  • As of May 5, 2024, the EA had a net worth of $34.63 billion.

Who Owns EA?

As a publicly traded company, EA is owned by its shareholders. Its three major institutional shareholders include Blackrock Inc. (9.59%), Vanguard Group Inc.(9.51%), Public Investment Fund (9.28%) and State Street Corporation (5.59%).

EA Owners

EA was founded by Trip Hawkins, a former Apple employee whose intention was to start a new kind of game publisher fashioned after Hollywood. In a 2019 interview, Hawkins discussed the original business plan:

We’re going to build a system. We’re going to find these independent, brilliant, creative artists, and we’re going to offer them a whole scheme of services and support. We’re going to build development tools and create the equivalent of a digital art studio, and then we’re going to invent new contracts, new packaging, new marketing methods, and a new channel of distribution.

With an initial seed investment of around $300,000 from Trip Hawkins, EA got its start on May 27, 1982. Initially named Amazing Software, Trip and the development team settled on Electronic Arts to reflect the company’s vision.

After raising $2 million in funding from investors Sequoia, Sevin and Rosen, and Kleiner over two rounds, EA went public in October 1989. The company raised around $80 million from its IPO.

Over the next few years, the share price increased, hitting a new high of $9.50 per share in October 1993. This upward trend continued through the late 1990s and early 2000s, reaching a new peak of $65 in March 2005.

EA Market Cap

From lows of $12 per share in 2012, EA stocks appreciated in value, surpassing the $100 mark for the first time in 2017. With a share price of $129 as of May 5, 2024, EA had a net worth of $34.63 billion.

Who Is the EA CEO?

The current CEO of EA is Andrew Wilson. Wilson has held the position since 2013 when he took over from John Riccitiello. During his tenure, Wilson has pioneered groundbreaking new experiences, reached record player engagement levels across its global franchises, and transformed EA into one of the world’s leading entertainment companies.


Riccitiello had resigned amid poor results for EA. In 2013, the company was facing declining sales and a tough industry landscape, which forced the CEO to quit. Lawrence Probst took over as interim CEO until Wilson was appointed.

Period CEO Name
1982 – 1990 Trip Hawkins
1991 – 2007  Lawrence F. Probst
2007 – 2013  John Riccitiello
2013 – Present  Andrew Wilson

Growth and Development of EA

Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) is a video game company renowned for developing and delivering games, content, and online services for consoles, mobile devices, and personal computers. Below, we track its journey to market dominance:

1982 – 1990: Early Successes

EA began operations in May 1982. EA’s early days were based on a model similar to that of the entertainment industry. Instead of the typical employer/game-developer relationship, EA worked with independent game designers. The company treated them as artists, giving them the same recognition their peers in other media enjoyed.

The second year in business, Electronic Arts shipped its very first games:

  • Archon
  • Hard Hat Mack
  • Mule
  • Worms
  • Pinball Construction Set
  • Axis Assassin

Packaged like creative rock albums, the games featured captivating graphics and displayed the designer’s names prominently on the front.

EA also pioneered the practice of involving celebrities in the design and promotion of games. This led to one of EA’s earliest hits, a basketball game that enjoyed healthy sales due to bringing legendary star players Julius Erving and Larry Bird on board.

EA One on One Game

In 1984, Larry Probst was appointed vice president of EA. Probst cut out distributors and dealt with retailers directly. The move made EA the leading supplier of entertainment software in the US by 1986.

Having focused heavily on computer games and software for multiple platforms such as the Apple II and Macintosh, the Amiga, the Commodore system, IBM PC, Atari 800, and Atari ST, Hawkins saw no need to enter the ailing video game consoles market.

However, that changed in 1987 when the Nintendo entertainment system brought fresh potential into the market. Shifting its game plan, EA released its first in-house development, Skate or Die, which was ported to NES in 1988. That same year, the video games company released John Madden Football. The Madden NFL games went on to become EA’s company’s best-selling and longest-running franchise.

Madden NFL Game

As the market shifted, EA sought to make the best games possible on the platforms chosen by the public. When Sega Genesis entered the US market in 1990, EA tried to negotiate a favorable licensing deal, but the company met resistance from Sega.

In a risky move, EA used reverse engineering to create its own games for the Genesis and threatened to release games for the console without Sega. Sega relented and signed a lucrative licensing agreement with EA. In June 1990, EA shipped its first games for Sega’s Genesis. Later in October, EA also signed an agreement to become a Nintendo licensee.

1991 – 1999: Strategic Acquisitions

By the time Nintendo brought its Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) to North America in the fall of 1991, Sega and its EA titles had already gained a significant portion of the marketplace. EA benefited from the intense competition, bringing its Madden NFL, NBA, NHL, and Strike franchises to the SNES while simultaneously enjoying healthy sales on the Genesis.

In 1991, Larry Probst accepted the position of CEO, allowing Trip Hawkins to step down and pursue development on the next generation of console hardware through a new company called the San Mateo Software Group, which later became The 3DO Company.

ea sports logo

Leveraging its dominance in sports games, EA launched the EA Sports brand name. The company also made its first acquisition: Distinctive Software, which later became EA Canada.

In 1992, EA acquired Origin Systems Inc., a leading computer games developer based in Texas. Origin was known for its Ultima series of fantasy role-playing PC and CD-ROM games. Having established a notable global foothold, international sales accounted for a third of EA’s revenues in 1993.

When the Sony Playstation hit the market in 1995, EA was quick to port its 3DO and flagship sports games as PlayStation titles. In its next major acquisition, EA bought designer Peter Molyneux’s UK studio, Bullfrog, in 1995. Bullfrog was eventually absorbed into EA UK in 2004.

In 1997, EA acquired Will Wright’s company Maxis. Influenced by system dynamics and architectural theory, Wright created SimCity in 1989. After the acquisition, Wright got started on The Sims, one of the best-selling computer games in the history of EA (and gaming in general). That same year, EA entered the online games market with Ultima Online.

EA Sims Game

By 1999, EA’s net revenues had surpassed the billion-dollar mark with international sales accounting for 42% of this figure. The company also had direct distribution in 75 countries and offices in Korea, Switzerland, and Austria.

2000 – 2008: Multi-Platform Dominance

Taking advantage of the increasingly multi-platform gaming world, EA released its key franchises across multiple platforms such as PlayStation 2, Gamecube, and Microsoft Xbox in 2000.

With the acquisition of Pogo.com in 2001, EA entered the casual games scene.

In 2002, 16 EA titles sold over one million units each. The best-selling titles of the period were Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Sims, and Madden NFL 2002.

EA Harry Potter Game

EA came under fire for the practice of “crunch time” (sometimes just called “crunch”), making employees routinely work excessive hours of up to 100 hours per week. Subsequently, EA settled two lawsuits filed by its employees for a total of $30.5 million and reclassified some employees for overtime eligibility. Unfortunately, this practice is still rampant in the gaming industry.

In 2005, the company acquired JAMDAT, eventually renaming it to EA Mobile. EA Mobile went on to publish 31 titles that sold over a million copies worldwide. Among them were two new sports games: FIFA Street and Fight Night. EA also purchased 19.9% of Ubisoft, a French gaming company, stirring up rumors of a planned hostile takeover.

EA was the first game publisher to release yearly updates of its sports franchises: Madden NFL, FIFA, NHL, NBA Live, Tiger Woods, etc. Realizing the risk of franchise fatigue among consumers, EA announced that it would focus on creating new, original intellectual property in 2006.

That same year, Nokia and EA announced a partnership making EA a major supplier of mobile games to Nokia mobile devices. By the year’s end, Nokia customers were able to download seven EA titles

  • Tetris
  • Tetris Mania
  • The Sims 2
  • Doom
  • FIFA 06
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06
  • FIFA Street 2

In February 2007, Larry Probst stepped down and John Riccitiello took over as CEO. Over the next few months, he reorganized EA into four labels, each responsible for its own product development and publishing. By the end of the year, EA’s games were published on 11 gaming systems.

A year later, EA put in a takeover bid for rival game company, Take-Two Interactive, however, after failed negotiations, EA dropped its buyout offer in September.

While the company made progress with its mobile plans and published 35 games throughout the year, the 2008 economic crisis proved challenging for EA. As a result of poorer-than-expected performance, the company laid off 1,100 employees, or 11% of its workforce.

2009 – 2017: Reputation Challenges

By October 2010, EA had acquired England-based iPhone and iPad games publisher Chillingo and Playfish Limited, further establishing a foothold in both the digital and mobile space.

In June 2011, EA launched Origin, its direct-to-consumer gaming platform. The move allowed gamers to purchase and download more than 150 games to their personal computers. The company also acquired PopCap Games, the company behind Plants vs. Zombies, for $1.3 billion to accelerate EA’s momentum towards a $1 billion digital business.

EA Starwars game

EA was named the Worst Company in America by Consumerist in both 2012 and 2013 due to its reputation as the industry’s “Evil Empire.” USA Today talked about EA’s pattern of buying up smaller studios or operations for a specific game and then either “stripping the game of its originality or running the studio into the ground”.

EA acquired an exclusive license to develop games within the Star Wars universe from Disney in May 2013 and began to assign new Star Wars projects across several of its internal studios.

After CEO Riccitiello left abruptly, the company welcomed Andrew Wilson as the new CEO in September 2013. To fix the company’s damaged reputation, Wilson got executives to rally behind the mantra Think Players First which meant making decisions in the best interests of their loyal gaming customers.

That same month, EA agreed to pay $40 million to settle lawsuits brought by former NCAA players whose likenesses were used without compensation in its games.

In 2015, Wilson’s marketing and restructuring efforts paid off and EA shares reached an all-time high of $71.63. The surge was also partly attributed to the highly anticipated Star Wars Battlefront launch. However, when the game was released, gamers criticized its lack of a single-player story as well as its repetitive multiplayer offerings.

EA Star Wars Game

EA’s early release of Star Wars Battlefront II in 2017 sparked even more ire. When gamers discovered that unlocking the best and most popular characters required over 40 hours of gameplay or hundreds of dollars on in-game purchases (effectively making it a “pay-to-win” game), the response was overwhelmingly negative. In what is now known as the Star Wars Battlefront loot box controversy, EA’s stocks lost 8.5% of their value in one month, a staggering $3.1 billion loss.

2018 – Present: Shifting Momentum

Following a share price decline of 13.3% (the worst since 2008) in February 2019, EA managed to turn things around with the surprise release of Apex Legends. The battle royale-style game, clearly inspired by Fortnite and similar titles, had a record 25 million players in one week, even eclipsing Fortnite’s record of 10 million players in two weeks.

In the first quarter of 2020, EA’s revenues reached $1.4 billion. This was due to lockdowns and the growing demand for online games. The company kept the momentum going, rebranding its digital offerings EA Access and Origin to EA Play in August.

In December 2020, EA acquired Codemasters, a British developer of racing games, for $1.2 billion to strengthen its racing game portfolio.

EA acquired GLU Mobile for $2.1 billion in April 2021 to fuel new experiences on mobile. In June, EA confirmed it had suffered a major data breach. While no player data was compromised, hackers stole proprietary source code and tried to extort EA.

Throughout 2021, EA delivered 13 new games, had over 42 million new players join its network and generated net revenues of over $5.6 billion.

In May 2022, EA and FIFA decided to part ways. EA announced FIFA 23 would be the last title published under the current license and that it would be rebranding the FIFA series as EA Sports FC.

In July 2022, a misguided move to hop on the popular Twitter meme trend “They’re a 10 but…”, led to an EA tweet mocking those who play single-player games. The tweet triggered backlash with fans and EA employees alike taking offense.

The matter was resolved internally and in the next earnings call, Wilson reassured investors that single-player games were still a crucial part of the company.

Overall, 2022 was a record year for EA, with the company reporting its highest-ever net revenue and net bookings.

In January 2023, EA announced that it had made the strategic decision to stop development on Apex Legends Mobile and Battlefield Mobile.

In June, EA CEO Wilson announced that the company was restructuring to empower its creative teams and realize its strategic vision. EA Games and EA Sports were divided into two and EA Games was renamed EA Entertainment to better reflect its expanding portfolio.

EA Fifa Game

EA’s annual revenue for 2023 was $7.42 billion, a 6.22% increase from 2022. Live services accounted for over half of those earnings and were Electronic Arts’ second-fastest-growing revenue segment in 2023. The trend continued into 2024, with live services in Q3FY 2024 accounting for 73% of the company’s revenue.

The EA logo has evolved over time, reflecting the company’s expansion and changing identity.

1983 – 1993: The Classic Blue Stripe

EA logo

Electronic Arts’ first logo was designed by Barry Deutsch. It featured a striped blue geometric logo consisting of a cube, ball, and triangle positioned above a simple grey wordmark.

1993 – 1995: A Vivid Twist

EA logo

Opting for a bolder identity, the EA logo’s pale blue and grey aesthetic was replaced in 1993. The new logo featured the word Electronic Arts in a black stencil-style sans-serif font. A dark blue square replaced the second ‘E’, a red circle stood in place of the letter ‘O’ and a vivid, lime green stood in place of the letter ‘A’.

1995 – 2000: The Wordmark Era

EA logo

2 years later, the colored shapes were removed and the wordmark logo was updated to bold, black serif-style lettering against a white background.

EA logo

The EA logo was updated to a wordmark logo that simply read “Electronic Arts” in a simple yet elegant black serif font.

2000 – 2020: The EA Monogram

EA logo

Abandoning the wordmark logo, EA went with a bold, black stylized logo featuring the initials ‘EA’ in 2000. The close proximity of the letters was reminiscent of a monogram logo and conveyed a sense of urgency and power. Over the next few years, this variation of the logo saw minor updates.

EA logo

The first variation featured the monogram logo in a deep blue color above the company’s signature wordmark in a soft grey. Another variation, launched in 2006, simply featured the monogram in a white font against a black circular background.

EA logo

2020 – Present: A Modern Refresh

While EA still uses some of its older logos, the company introduced a fresh, new version in 2020. The distinctive monogram logo and wordmark were updated to a fun coral-pink color and placed next to each other. The monogram was kept white but placed against a circular coral-pink background, while the wordmark’s font was updated to a modern sans-serif font.

EA logo

The Future of EA

EA’s history highlights the power of agility. By keeping in step with the rapidly evolving gaming industry, the company transitioned from its first software game to its first CD-ROM games, and then to multiple gaming platforms. This guaranteed the company’s survival, even during challenging marketing conditions.

Strategic acquisitions can add immense value to a company, allowing it to expand into new areas. Although acquisitions fueled EA’s growth, its aggressive game release schedule and reputation for shutting down newly acquired companies negatively impacted its public image. The company’s reliance on pushing microtransactions, as well as its refusal to meaningfully update its stagnant Madden, FIFA, and 2K series (despite selling a new version for full price every year), have damaged the brand even more.

So, while the bottom line is important, it should never come at the cost of brand reputation and customer trust. This can have costly implications (as it did for EA) and take years to set right.

As EA faces an era of rapid industry transformation, it is positioning itself to thrive by embracing AI for enhanced efficiency, expansion, and overall transformation. Recognizing the shift in player preferences towards blockbuster stories and online communities, EA is doubling down on its biggest franchises and the power of sports to deliver innovative and engaging experiences.


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