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EA Founder Criticises Nintendo's "Feudal Dark Age"

Posted by James Newton

Evil overlords clash

EA founder Trip Hawkins isn't afraid to speak his mind, doing just that at a recent games conference in San Francisco.

Hawkins criticised Nintendo for ushering in a "feudal dark age" with its hardware, in which "developers don't own the land they're tilling," a reference to Nintendo's licensing and certification process that requires all developers to submit ideas to Nintendo for approval before entering production.

He also noted that few third-party developers have made a name for themselves on Nintendo platforms, something he again attributes to the closed hardware:

Look at the world wide web and how many great companies have been built on that open platform. Nintendo is a great, amazing company, but how many companies have been built on the back of Nintendo's platform in the past 25 years?

EA's distaste for locked-down consoles stems back some 20 years. In the early 1990s EA had considerable success on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis thanks to its own ingenuity. Unable to acquire an official development kit from Sega, EA picked up a machine from another developer, tore it apart and put it back together to understand its architecture. Hawkins' justification?

We fought for our freedom. We didn't accept the feudal system.

Of course, Hawkins has long since left EA and now runs Digital Chocolate, a producer of casual PC, mobile and console download games. Is Hawkins bitter or does he have a point? Let us know what you think.


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User Comments (27)



alLabouTandroiD said:

While i understand Nintendo's desire to determine which games will release on their platform their choices are strange considering shovelware.
I'm not sure i get his point but we all know most of the reasons why 3rd parties couldn't really shine on Nintendo's platforms so far. And i don't think it's got much to do with restricting their ideas.



ImDiggerDan said:

In my experience as a developer, Nintendo don't do concept approval whereas Sony do and I believe Microsoft also do.

To get developer status with Nintendo you have to submit an initial game design and show them that you are a real developer company staffed with experienced console developers, but this is to stop naughty people getting their hands on sensitive development equipment, not a quality control thing.



C-195 said:

Bitter, Totally bitter.
Sorry, I can't take a guy in charge of something called 'Digital Chocolate' seriously.



jaguarman said:

How many companies baught the EA? to many, and how of them closed the last few years? to many.OK Mr EA boss? OK.



Burning_Spear said:

This doesn't sound like an overly restrictive policy. If you want access to our technology, show us you're serious. This is big business, and in big business you make proposals for joint ventures. He sounds like one of these, "I'm the artist; don't restrict my creativity" characters.



triforceofcourage said:

How did they ever approve Wappy dog!?!?
I think this guy has a point. Developers should be able to develop what they want. I really can't imagine that they gave too many games the stamp of rejection though... If so, how did they let all those terribad games in?



melechofsin said:

He's talking about the fact that developers pay royalties to Nintendo, Sony, microsoft and Apple for games developed by 3rd parties. If you made a game for the PC you didnt pay anything to anyone. This is a common thing and he has his point, which is famous. He just focused on Nintendo since it's the biggest, most successful, most experienced etc videogame company in the world.



Ren said:

bitter. live with it, dude. Nintendo is pretty massive, it's their right to require at least a little checking on who develops for them. Nintendo shop is NOT the Web; no comparison.



NintyMan said:

Odd comparison. I can somewhat see his point and somewhat don't. While paying a fee to place their game on a Nintendo system might be restrictive in terms of money, I don't see how that would put a shackle on creativity. Apparently the current EA CEO might beg to differ.



Number_6 said:

Looks like he took some of that Digital Chocolate money, took a trip down to the local mall, and got him some Glamor Shots. AND he payed a little extra for the bonus halo (not Halo, the good kind with Master Chief). Makes it perfect for his profile picture on



TheGreenSpiny said:

@burning spear: LMAO dude. I hardly call anything EA does "artistic." They produce nothing but "functional shovelware." Just like they did after they reverse engineered Sega's 16-bit hardware.



Mr_Nose said:

Trip is one of the early rock stars of gamedom, why do I get the feeling that most here are too young to know who he is, and what he's responsible for?

EA was an incredible company with him at the helm. 3D0 was a bold, and impressive attempt, his recent accomplishments are equally impressive.

He's a brilliant man that really cares, even tried to keep 3D0 alive with his own money.

I respect his opinion more than most in the industry.



DarkKirby said:

I agree with what Trip Hawkins said. Nintendo said it would be more 3rd party friendly, but to what extent they plan to take it I don't know.



Token_Girl said:

It almost sounds like he's referring to the NES days or something. Their dev kit process doesn't seem any worse than Sony/Msoft (though they could be a little nicer with letting WW devs know when their games could be released - their download sales policy is over the top restrictive).

His ethos obviously isn't with EA anymore. They love buying out he little guys and stifling their creativity/slapping obscene drm on games.



Number_6 said:

@17 - I'm old enough. EA wanted to pay less for licensing, so they reverse engineered the Genesis, pirated Sega's development kit, using those pirated development kits and developed games for the Genesis, then demanded a reduced fee structure from Sega for the games they developed using pirated development kits. Some very good games I own(ed), in fact, Madden Football, Populous, Road Rash come to mind.



emiru69 said:

Kind of funny coming from a company that takes content out of the disc to charge extra for the DLC and charges for online modes that should be included. A hypocrite is YOU!



hYdeks said:

yay but the feudal system has lasted since 1986 in the video game market while the system you had free play with is now a 3rd party. sure ea won in that deal but sure doesn't look like sega did at all. So, Nintendo's system works...but they could be alil more resilient with there 3rd party.




Does that mean that mediocre, non-compelling Digital Chocolate games will not come to Nintendo consoles? I can only pray to the holy lawn for this hope.

In all seriousness, I do not like this guy. The 3DO was a hilarious attempt, for one. Then he sits there complaining about EA pushing the employees too hard, and starts Digital Chocolate to fix that. And I promise you this company has absolutely no potential to become the next Popcap.



Widdowson91 said:

I would have taken this comment a little more seriously if it wasn't for the fact that Trip Hawkins founded the money-sucking Electronic Arts. I'm still pissed off at EA for not supporting the Dreamcast. And then they had the nerve to buy all the rights to NFL becuase Sega's own NFL games were ten times better than Madden. Instead of EA improving their games, they stopped the competition from showing them how to reallty make good games using just money.

Also, he can't really give Nintendo advice when you consider that his own foray in to the console market, the 3DO, was a complete flop. That thing cost £600. Sure the thing was a monster compared to the SNES and Mega Drive, but did he seriously think he could be competitive at that price? Yeah Trip, good business.



Crunchy_in_milk said:

Googles what games digital chocolate has made, Sony's and Microsoft's liscensing systems, the 3do, and Trip Hawkins himself
Am I supposed to take this guy seriously? It seems as if to me this guy is just taking a cheap shot at Nintendo. All of the big three's liscensing systems are the same, the 3do was a disgrace price and gamewise, judging by what I've read, all that reverse engineering the Master system/genesis did was take money away from Sega that they needed to function as a company, and Digital Chocolate is, simply put, an awful company that has no influence on the current gaming landscape.



motang said:

Well at one point Nintendo needed to do that, well all know about the video game crash.



Henmii said:

"Of course, Hawkins has long since left EA and now runs Digital Chocolate, a producer of casual PC, mobile and console download games"

Okay, you lost me there. He makes casual now. And his words go against the excitement from the EA boss from today.

But he has a point: Nintendo is to restrictive all the time. That's why Nintendo consoles becoming the havens for third-party developers probably will always stay a dream!

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