Electronic Arts (EA) are one of the world’s biggest publishers of video games. They were founded by Trip Hawins, who left his job as director of product marketing at Apple after witnessing the phenomenal speed with which video gaming grew as a pastime in the early 1980s.
Since then the industry has grown and grown, and is today said to bring in revenues of over $100 billion globally.
Because modern video games – whether played on games consoles, mobile phones or computers – are continuously online when they are being played, they are capable of monitoring the behaviour of players in great depth. Every decision or strategy which is played out can be recorded and analysed, to give the game developers insights into what players enjoy, how they adapt to challenges and what is just too difficult to be fun.
In 2012, EA were facing difficulties. Gamers seemed to be spending less on their core products – the shoot ’em ups, sports simulations and epic fantasy games they had scored successive hits with over three decades. On top of that, several widespread changes in industry models – such as distribution and payment, with the advent of “freemium” games – were disrupting their business. Chief technical officer Rajat Taneja unveiled ambitious plans to win back the fans they were losing – by working out how to use all the data they were gathering during online games to give them exactly what they wanted.