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EA pins its console success on 3DO, Amiga flops

"Bad choices ended up being brilliant choices."

Early EA failures on the Commodore Amiga and 3DO helped paved the way for the company's subsequent rise to super-publisher status, according to the company current creative director.

Speaking in an interview with Gamasutra, Rich Hilleman, who's been at EA since the '80s, explained that though its efforts on the Amiga home computer and failed 3DO console were commercial flops, the lessons learned helped it succeed on subsequent systems.

"There are two real cases in EA where I think we made bad choices, and ended up being brilliant choices," said Hilleman.

"When we built Amiga titles for the first time, we were coming out of the 8-bit world. We were building some IBM PC stuff, but for the most part it wasn't high quality, relatively high resolution high color stuff.

"And so the Amiga, for us, taught us a whole bunch of new things. We had to get good at music, we had to get much better at art, we had to get better animation that wasn't all sprite animation, we had to do 3D for the first time - a whole bunch of things that we had to do."

Hilleman admitted that, apart from Deluxe Paint, all of its Amiga titles failed to make money.

"But how it paid it off is almost all of that stuff went straight to the [Sega] Genesis. And so really what happened for us is the Amiga was sort of a pre-run of what the Genesis business was for us."

And exactly the same thing happened with the 3DO system in the early '90s. Though the platform, and EA's supporting games, were failures, the expertise EA gained set it up for success on the first PlayStation.

"We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how do you build products for disc-based media with this particular set of characteristics," he said.

"And although 3DO didn't achieve the commercial results we were after, [PlayStation lynchpin] Ken Kutaragi was definitely paying attention, and that product carried a lot of the same characteristics that [former EA exec] Trip [Hawkins] had wanted in the 3DO titles.

"As a result, everything we did on 3DO was a preface for what we could do on PlayStation 1."

"So what's been good for EA is even sometimes when we don't get it exactly right, we're in the neighborhood of where something's going to happen; we just showed up a little early. And what that does is it makes you ready for the future," Hilleman concluded.

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