An evening @ EA Sports

Our May monthly event organized by the chapter was sponsored by EA Sports. It proved to be a very informative and entertaining one on a beautiful evening. They say we remain kids at heart our entire lives and the presentation by the keynote speaker Natali Altschuler (Senior Director of Product Development) brought to the forefront the kid in all of us.

A few “Did you know?…” pieces of information about the World of video games included:

  • Average age of video games players is 35
  • Average age of video games buyers is 37
  • The percentage of female players is 50%
  • The percentage of households to own a video game console is 51%

These and an increasing number of analytics are collected as part of their data mining. The vast majority are used for improving the games and experience for all players, being part of their AIMS model (Awareness – Intention – Map – Success).

The role of the Project Manager with them covers: staffing, scheduling, dependencies, risk management, budgeting and of course product delivery. The projects are managed within a framework consisting of 3 main areas:
A) Development
B) Release
C) Live service
The early stages of each project are most likely using waterfall methodologies, while the designing part of the games use agile methodologies. EA Sports has offices located in 7 different time zones, giving them flexibility to work on projects round the clock as necessary. From a staffing perspective there is a Project Manager for about every 10-15 team members of various skills and designations. An impressive point they made indirectly was their work stability: Natali and a couple of other department leads have been with the company for 15-20 years, some of them being hired right after finishing University!

QA was originally based on historical data; lately it is also based on current data gathered by analytics from players. Of course as the online/ mobile gaming World increases considerably, cyber security has become of utmost importance and it is an important aspect of the activity. Players must be confident their accounts and personal information are safe at all times. Last but not least when it comes to cater for the mobile platforms, EA Sports is using the following approaches:

  • Porting existing games into mobile platforms
  • Taking existing concepts and using them for the mobile platforms
  • Introducing fresh concepts specifically for the mobile platforms

Overall it was a very nice and engaging evening. The Q&A part at the end of it would have gone far into the night if we could follow the wish of those present. Don’t we just forget about time when we play and have fun? Thank you EA Sports for being such great hosts!

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