Friday, October 28, 2011

Electronic Arts: What It Means For Daytona USA & My Future Career

Okay, there's still a few things on the stack for me to talk about but this is one of 'em and it's sort of relevant.


Here at FIEA, there's this HUGE wave of advertising for Electronic Arts.  EA has studios all over the country.  Speakers show up on occasion to talk about stuff.  Even my programming teacher worked at EA for some time.  The main reason why is because EA is probably one of the most accommodating to entry-level game designers.  Clearly, one of their goals is to stroll by the building, advertise, and hire as many new employees as possible.  Then assign them to Madden, FIFA, Rugby, whatever the hell there is.


But I'll get to careers at EA in just a second.  We had a speaker from EA today who has 17 years worth of experience with them.  What his name was, I forgot...I'll probably update this if I find out.  EDIT: It's Dave Ross.  He was talking about licensed content.  About how you must balance working within the demands of the license's owners come hell or high water.  He was talking about Madden, NCAA Football, Lord of the Rings, all that good stuff.  Also, he mentioned EA is bringing back NFL Blitz...awesome, though I thought NFL Street 1 & 2 were awesome too (though NFL Street 3 and NFL Tour sucked ass).

He got to the subject of NASCAR (this is when the vast majority of the audience groans).  He was talking about the hoops they had to jump through to get the games made.  They needed the actual NASCAR license which also came with the drivers & teams.  Then they needed advertisements and all that crap.  They also needed to license the tracks which were separate from the NASCAR name.  It costs about $10,000 per track to license.

Now this is where things get dicey.  We all know that Sega made Daytona USA (1994), Daytona USA 2 (1998), and Daytona USA 2001 (uh...2001).  Now I actually asked this guy after the presentation what he knew about the Daytona license and how it pertained to EA.  Now some may have a hunch about what happened, but this is what I got out of this.  I think I'm right but I'm not 100% sure.  Please correct me politely if I'm wrong (with proof, of course).

Sega got exclusive rights to the Daytona name back in 1994.  How did they pull it off???  I don't know...but basically, EA couldn't put the Daytona track in their NASCAR games until 2001.  That's right--Sega basically denied EA the Daytona track.  So while we hate on EA for taking the Daytona name from us, bear in mind that Sega did the same thing back in the day.

Yeah, TAKE IT EA!!!

This also explains why Sega had an influx of Daytona games in the late 90's.  Daytona 2, Daytona DC, Daytona CCE/Deluxe.  Sega was sort of "obligated" to make an arcade sequel to Daytona 1 so they went ahead and did it.  Scud Race (1996) was originally some Daytona 2 prototype but they changed it to the touring car them we know today.  Then they went ahead and made an actual Daytona 2 (1998) based off the engine they used for Scud Race.

This game did not have Daytona in it thanks to Sega.  Hmm, would you rather Daytona USA 1 & 2 OR a Nascar '98 game with Daytona in it?  The choice is obvious.  Although I am eternally grateful to EA and NASCAR '98 for introducing me to Flirting With Disaster by Molly Hatchet.

By 2001 (give or take a year), after the license had run its course, Daytona struck exclusive rights to three companies--EA, Papyrus, and Monster Games.  This meant that Sega couldn't make another "Daytona" game even if they wanted to.  So basically, EA returned the favor with a haymaker to Sega's face.  But that's to be understood since EA made a friggin official NASCAR game WITHOUT the hallmark Daytona International Speedway.

Then again, even if Sega could've used the Daytona trademark, odds are they wouldn't have because they're incompetent like that.

After EA made their last NASCAR game (2009), the Daytona licensed was liberated.  Then anyone could get it.  Which explains why NASCAR: The Game (made by Eutechnyx) and Daytona USA (XBL/PSN) both held the same license.  So the Daytona trademark owners were just stingy like that.  Now they've loosened up a bit which is good.  No excuse now for Sega to make more Daytona games!  I guess.  Once Nagoshi-San wakes up from the tanning salon.


Speaking of the great gods of gaming over there at EA, let me describe this drive for EA to hire new students.  Like I said, they do a lot of advertising over at FIEA.  You know they're gunning for us newbies.  When entering the marketplace, it's like the NFL draft.  Except that EA owns two-thirds of the picks.

In the eighth pick of the FIEA draft, EA selects...Eric (last name excluded).  You'll begin working on Need for Speed immediately.  Have fun!

Other companies that have expressed interest in new students is Xynga (oh boy, love working on gimmicky games like Farmville), Interactive Studios (Epic Mickey), and uh....I think Bioware (Dragon Age, Mass Effect, OMG ROXOR MY SOXORS).  They had a couple of FIEA alumni from Bioware come back to speak so maybe this means they're hiring...?  I don't know.

Compare that to companies like Blizzard and Valve who have little interest in "newbies"--they go for experienced employees more than anything.  Though that's not set in stone--if you're a good student and you strike gold, you MAY get lucky.

Anyway, I'm not going to come on here and bash EA more than I do.  Yeah sure, many of their games are mediocre.  Yeah sure, Origin is spyware in a box.  EDIT: They're going over the line pressuring game journalists over Battlefield 3 reviews.  Way too easy to take pokes at "evil corporations" these days.  Although if you hate EA for that reason, then you might as well hate Sega too since they're on par (sort of...Sega isn't as strong as they used to be).

Though my main goal is to work Sega.  Well DUH, you know that.  But Sega is risky business.  For one, they're located in California...San Francisco to be intact.  Is that good for me to travel that far to an economically-reeling state where you can smoke pot all you want but can't even get toys in your Happy Meals anymore?  EA has studios everywhere in North America so they're much more flexible to work for.  They're even opening a studio near Baton Rouge (an hour drive from my hometown of Slidell, LA).  It's a stable company and working for them would be easy sailing.

But is that why I entered the game industry to begin with?  To work on perennial Madden titles for the rest of my career?  I don't think so.  We're here to HELP SEGA.  That's one of my primary goals.

Take the blue pill, go work for Electronic Arts.  It's an easy job with a decent salary but hardly rewarding at the end of the day.
Take the red pill, try to work for Sega.  Travel half-way across the country and be forced to live a different lifestyle.  Possibly get fired and are stranded from home.  But you get a shot at flying to Japan, meeting the Sega crew & Yu Suzuki, and working on a new Daytona title.
So what's it gonna be???

Though EA is prevalent here, not everyone kisses up to them.  Some say that EA is a good place to begin working at to gain experience but it's not someplace that many people want to stay.  While EA publishes a lot of self-made sports titles and coolio games like Mass Effect, they're stale when you think about it.  So if I do work for EA, just consider that it's not permanent at all.  Though this makes EA sound like a revolving door of good little drones and that's not fun.

Anyway...not much else for me to say.  EA is EA.  Haters gonna hate.


  1. interesting story on the daytona license. great details, awesome angle!

  2. Now this makes me wonder if Sega's going to do a recall of Sega Racing Classic, change the banner and add a patch to replace any SRC name with Daytona, and put it back out there. "It's always been Daytona!" Yes, yes it has. I kind of figured that was the case with the Daytona license.

    Of course, I hope they make good use of the license and decide to deliver Daytona 2 after all these years.

    Now I wish I really went to a real game school. We don't get people in the industry coming here at all, then again Denver's not exactly a haven for gaming companies. I have similar gripes about EA, and yeah, I'd look at their recruiting the same way. Use them to get your foot in the door, let them rent your soul for a bit, work there for a bit and head elsewhere, while you can point to EA on your resume.

    And yeah, I'm on the same boat about going to Cali if I wanted to work for Sega (at this point I don't even know if it's the American branch I get stuck with). You know what they say, save the planet, eat a hippie. Might even have to start independent.

  3. Yes, I wonder why Sega bothered with Sega Racing Classic so soon. Well, at least Sega can still make some profit off of it from whatever reeling arcade businesses that still exist.

    Maybe I'll work for EA--we'll see what opportunities rise in the next 8-12 months. Though I won't give up on Sega, that's for sure. Besides, EA may refuse to hire me if they find out about this blog. Or it may "backfire", like "This kid's got balls, hire him immediately!"

  4. Take any opportunity you can get, my friend. Until Sega comes calling, that is.