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Gaming His Way To The Top: Hawkins Makes It Big, Twice
By the time 1982 rolled around, Hawkins says, "It was definitely time to get going, and I founded Electronic Arts." Under Hawkins' leadership, Electronic Arts grew to be the largest video game publisher in the world. It was a pioneer in the early home computer games industry, and later, would begin developing its own games and consoles that further propelled its profits. It would also acquire several other smaller successful developers. Today, Electronic Arts continues to rank among the top third-party gaming publishers in the world.
Although Hawkins would stay on as chair of the board, he decided to leave his daily duties at Electronic Arts in order to form his second company, 3DO. 3DO was a partnership between Electronic Arts and several other companies, and focused on creating video game consoles. But the company would prove more difficult to get off the ground for Hawkins than his first.
At the time it was released in 1993, 3DO had the most powerful video game console on the market. But at $700 each, it was at least six times more expensive than his competitors. Hawkins had hoped that Electronic Arts would grant 3DO exclusive rights to several of their hottest new games, thus helping to secure its future. All of that changed, however, when Sony released its own console, the PlayStation in 1993.
Cheaper than 3DO, the Sony PlayStation was Hawkins' downfall this time around as Electronic Arts hesitated in partnering with him. "When I founded EA I was 28, but by the beginning of 3DO I was 37. Older, but apparently not wiser," admits Hawkins. "Chip manufacturing is expensive and political. I should have known a company with deep pockets like Sony could pull the rug out from under us...We should have waited another year to launch, to give the software time. Or maybe we should have just waited until the end of time." Eventually 3DO would go bankrupt.
Not one to give into his failures, Hawkins launched his third company, Digital Chocolate. This time, he was creating games for cell phones, an industry he saw as having potential explosive growth. And this time, he fared much better. D-Choc, as Hawkins calls it, has won over ten awards in the past two years, including Best Game Developer of the Year from both IGN and Mobile Entertainment.
Meanwhile, Hawkins is just enjoying his third entrepreneurial venture, saying, "It's like being an explorer who discovered North America and the found out, hey, there's South America and Antarctica, too."
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