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SmallLogoNeedforSpeedHotPursuit2SmallLogoNeedforSpeedUndergroundSmallLogoNeedforSpeedUnderground2SmallLogoNeedforSpeedMostWantedSmallLogoNeedforSpeedCarbonSmallLogoNeedforSpeedProStreetSmallLogoNeedforSpeedUndercoverSmallLogoNeedforSpeedWorldSmallLogoNeedforSpeedTheRunSmallLogoBlackBox
Electronic Arts Black Box (formerly known as Black Box Games) was a video game developer founded on May 28, 1998[1] by various ex-Radical Entertainment developers[2] and was originally based in Suite 2000 of the One Bentall Centre in Vancouver, Canada.[3]

Their first devleoped games included; NHL 2K in 2000, published by Sega; NASCAR 2001 in 2000, published by EA Sports; NHL Hitz 2002 in 2001, published by Midway Games; and Sega Soccer Slam in 2002, published by Sega.

It was announced that Black Box Games would become a subsidiary of Electronic Arts on June 11, 2002, three months prior to the release of their first credited game in the Need for Speed series; Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2.[4][5]

Their contribution to Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 included both assisting in the development of the game with EA Seattle, and also developing their own rendition of the game for the PlayStation 2, which has a long list of differences over its GameCube, PC, and Xbox released counterpart from EA Seattle.

Re-branded as EA Black Box, the studio's first lone-credited developed game under Electronic Arts was 2003's Need for Speed: Underground, which was a best-seller and a high charting game up to four months after release[6][7]

NFSU2 PromoArt 1
In 2004, EA Black Box's Need for Speed: Underground 2 released in November, after first being shown on June 18, 2004.[8]

It set a new record in the UK for longest unbroken run of ten consecutive weeks at number one for the all formats chart, and was Christmas No. 1, beating other games such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and EA Sports' FIFA Football 2005 for the spot.[9]

NFSMW PromoArt 1
In 2005, EA Black Box's Need for Speed: Most Wanted released in November, after being first shown on April 11, 2005 after rumours circulated in January.[10]

It matched Underground 2's previous charting in the UK, with Most Wanted reaching the Christmas No. 1 spot.[11] It peaked at 16 million copies sold, making it the best-selling game in the Need for Speed series.[12]

NFSU PromoArt 1
The studio continued to release games in the Need for Speed series; Need for Speed: Carbon in 2006 and Need for Speed: ProStreet in 2007, with 2008's Need for Speed: Undercover becoming a point of contention for the studio and Electronic Arts.

Need for Speed: Undercover was revealed on June 18, 2008 through an interview with then Electronic Arts CEO; John Riccitiello, and gave insight into the development of the upcoming game alongside the increased development cycle for Need for Speed games from 12 months to 24 months.

Last summer we added head count and split the team in two, so now there are two teams on a 24 month cycle. And this is sort of their first 16 and-a-half month game...Because we didn't do it far enough ago to give us a full two year dev cycle.
We were torturing a very talented group of people up in Vancouver, which makes it harder to be as innovative every year. So, I think we are going to get better from here.
I'm confident that Undercover is a much better game than Pro Street, and I expect that from this point forward they will do a lot better.
— John Riccitiello, CEO[13]

The release of Undercover in 2008 was met with mixed to negative reviews, leading to rumours as to the fate of the Need for Speed series[14] and, alongside the under performing early 2009 release of Skate 2, lead to lay offs involving the majority of EA Black Box's staff.[15][16][17]

On January 30, 2009, three individual Need for Speed games were announced; Need for Speed: Shift being developed by Slightly Mad Studios, Need for Speed: Nitro being developed by EA Montreal, and Need for Speed: World being developed by EA Black Box.[18] Later that day, a fourth secret Need for Speed game was announced by Electronic Arts' Keith Munro.[19]

On February 19, 2009, John Riccitiello gave a speech at the 2009 DICE Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, with regards to Electronic Arts' current development budgets and disappointing revenues.

Junk is hard to compete with [...] We did get fat in too many places. It seemed like anyone who could draw a guy with a gun with a crayon could get funded. At least for EA, we got a little too fat, and a little too reliant on where things were.
— John Riccitiello, CEO[20][21]

Layoffs at EA Black Box continued on November 9, 2009, with EA Black Box being part of 1,5000 worker lay offs outlined by Electronic Arts to be completed by April 2010.[22][23]

NFSW PromoArt 1
Need for Speed: World was made available through several open beta test weekends in early 2010,[24] leading up the game's release on July 27, 2010, and its later free-to-play re-release on September 9, 2010,[25] two months prior to the release of Criterion Games' Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010).

Layoffs at EA Black Box occurred again in October 2010, for the third year in a row, leading to an "indefinite delay" for NBA Elite 11 and following the release of Skate 3.[26]

NFSTR PromoArt 1
Need for Speed: World continued with support from EA Black Box, alongside another Need for Speed game being developed at the same studio; Need for Speed: The Run, which was first revealed on April 28, 2011 with a teaser trailer.[27][28]

The 2011 release of Need for Speed: The Run was the result of over two years of development, using DICE's Frostbite 2.0 game engine. With a greater emphasis on a Hollywood film style and storytelling, it was going to set a new precedent for the Need for Speed series.

It released on November 15, 2011 to mixed critical reviews,[29] backlash for its short story length,[30] and disappointing sales.[31]

In 2012, Criterion Games replaced EA Black Box as the main developer of the Need for Speed series.[32] EA Black Box was re-branded on July 23, 2012 to Quicklime Games during the 2nd anniversary celebrations of Need for Speed: World.

On April 25, 2013, it was announced that Electronic Arts was undergoing an organisational restructure, which resulted in the closure in Quicklime Games and PopCap Vancouver.[33] It wasn't for another month, on May 8, 2013, that the number of employees would be revealed; 900 employees, 10% of Electronic Arts' workforce at the time of the restructuring.[34]

Credits (Electronic Arts)

Game Release Meta Rank Platforms
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 Sep 30, 2002 8988.01%PS2
NHL 2004 Sep 22, 2003 8784.79%GC, PC, PS2, Xbox
Need for Speed: Underground Nov 17, 2003 8584.29%GC, PC, PS2, Xbox
NHL 2005 Sep 14, 2004 7577.15%GC, PC, PS2, Xbox
Need for Speed: Underground 2 Nov 9, 2004 8283.50%GC, PC, PS2, Xbox
Need for Speed: Most Wanted Nov 11, 2005 8383.05%360, GC, PC, PS2, Xbox (As EA Canada)
Need for Speed: Carbon Nov 11, 2005 7878.47%360, GC, Mac, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox
NBA Street Homecourt Feb 20, 2007 8182.17%360, PS3
skate. Sep 14, 2007 8686.23%360, PS3
Need for Speed: ProStreet Nov 13, 2007 7472.87%360, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii
Mirror's Edge Nov 12, 2008 8180.23%360, PC, PS3 (as QA Test Team)
Need for Speed: Undercover Nov 17, 2008 6564.58%360, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii
Skate It Nov 19, 2008 7071.90%Wii
Skate 2 Jan 21, 2009 8484.03%360, PS3
Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box Feb 5, 2009 8788.09%PC (as QA Test Team)
Need for Speed: Shift Sep 15, 2009 8483.59%360, PC, PS3 (as Black Box Studios)
Need for Speed: World Sep 15, 2009 6263.83%PC
Skate 3 May 11, 2010 6281.42%360, PS3
Need for Speed: The Run Nov 15, 2011 8069.92%360, PC, PS3

Meeting the Development Team

References

  1. Website: beta.canadasbusinessregistries.ca (2019) BLACK BOX GAMES LTD. - Registry ID: BC0565419. Available at: https://beta.canadasbusinessregistries.ca/search/results?search=%7Bblack%20box%20games%7D&status=All
  2. Website: straight.com (2009) Vancouver's video game family tree. Available at: https://www.straight.com/article-198534/video-game-family-tree
  3. Website: bloomberg.com (2019) Black Box Games. Available at: https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/company/99760Z:CN
  4. Article: gamasutra.com (2002) EA Acquires Black Box. Available at: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/92273/EA_Acquires_Black_Box.php
  5. Article: nytimes.com (2002) Technology Briefing | Software: Electronic Arts Agrees To Buy Black Box. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/12/business/technology-briefing-software-electronic-arts-agrees-to-buy-black-box.html
  6. Article: gamespot.com (2004) Rumor Control: Microsoft buying Midway and more Need for Speed. Available at: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/rumor-control-microsoft-buying-midway-and-more-need-for-speed/1100-6090894/
  7. Article: gamespot.com (2004) Electronic Arts posts $24 million profit. Available at: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/electronic-arts-posts-24-million-profit/1100-6103247/
  8. Article: gamespot.com (2004) Need for Speed Underground 2 First Look. Available at: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/need-for-speed-underground-2-first-look/1100-6100892/
  9. Article: gamesindustry.biz (2005) UK Charts: Need for Speed Underground 2 enters the record books. Available at: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/uk-charts-need-for-speed-underground-2-enters-the-record-books
  10. Article: gamespot.com (2005) EA revs up Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Available at: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/ea-revs-up-need-for-speed-most-wanted/1100-6121987/
  11. Article: gamesindustry.biz (2006) UK Charts: Ten weeks at the top for Electronic Arts. Available at: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/uk-charts-ten-weeks-at-the-top-for-electronic-arts
  12. Article: gamespot.com (2009) Need for Speed series sells 100M, Shift moves 309K. Available at: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/need-for-speed-series-sells-100m-shift-moves-309k/1100-6237491/
  13. Article: gamesindustry.biz (2008) Riccitiello: We were torturing Vancouver studio. Available at: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/riccitiello-we-were-torturing-vancouver-studio
  14. Article: engadget.com (2008) Rumor: Need for Speed series has been canceled -- or has it? [update]. Available at: https://www.engadget.com/2008/12/14/rumor-need-for-speed-series-has-been-canceled/
  15. Article: gamasutra.com (2009) Report: EA Black Box Lays Off Majority of Staff. Available at: https://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=21974
  16. Article: gamesindustry.biz (2009) Over 200 staff axed at EA Black Box. Available at: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/over-200-staff-axed-at-ea-black-box
  17. Article: gamespot.com (2009) EA Black Box staff sent packing. Available at: https://www.gamespot.com/articles/ea-black-box-staff-sent-packing/1100-6203548/
  18. Article: eurogamer.net (2009) Revamped NFS series launches this year. Available at: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/revamped-nfs-series-launches-this-year
  19. Article: eurogamer.net (2009) EA Black Box doing secret NFS game. Available at: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/ea-black-box-doing-secret-nfs-game
  20. Article: gamasutra.com (2009) EA's Riccitiello: Recession 'Blessing In Disguise' That Can Clear Away 'Junk'. Available at: https://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=22394/
  21. Article: gamasutra.com (2009) DICE 09: Electronic Arts' Tactics For Tough Times. Available at: https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/113346/DICE_09_Electronic_Arts_Tactics_For_Tough_Times.php
  22. Article: gamasutra.com (2009) Report: Layoffs Hit EA Studios Including Tiburon, Black Box, Redwood Shores, Mythic. Available at: https://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=25999
  23. Article: eurogamer.net (2009) EA cans 12 games, lays off 1500 staff. Available at: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/ea-cans-12-games-lays-off-1500-staff
  24. Website: ea.com (2010) EA LAUNCHES BETA FOR NEED FOR SPEED WORLD. Available at: https://www.ea.com/news/ea-launches-beta-for-need-for-speed-world
  25. Article: engadget.com (2010) Need for Speed World goes free-to-play. Available at: https://www.engadget.com/2010/09/09/need-for-speed-world-goes-free-to-play/
  26. Article: shacknews.com (2010) Source: EA 'Roll-Offs' Lead to Cuts at EA Canada and EA Black Box; As Many as 100 Affected. Available at: https://www.shacknews.com/article/66215/source-ea-roll-offs-lead
  27. Video: youtube.com (2011) Need for Speed The Run Teaser Trailer. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR693MTwzq8
  28. Article: eurogamer.net (2011) EA announces Need for Speed: The Run. Available at: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-04-29-ea-announces-need-for-speed-the-run
  29. Article: kotaku.com (2011) Need for Speed: The Run Crashes Into a Wall of Criticism. Available at: https://kotaku.com/need-for-speed-the-run-crashes-into-a-wall-of-criticis-5860071
  30. Article: gamesindustry.biz (2011) Content Tourism and the Value of Gaming. Available at: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/digitalfoundry-content-tourism-and-the-value-of-gaming
  31. Article: forbes.com (2011) Need For Speed Loses This Run, Electronic Arts Stock Skidding To $20. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2011/11/28/need-for-speed-loses-this-run-electronic-arts-stock-skidding-to-20/#41f308da5057
  32. Article: wegotthiscovered.com (2012) Criterion Behind The Wheel Of The Entire Need For Speed Franchise. Available at: https://wegotthiscovered.com/gaming/criterion-wheel-entire-speed-franchise/
  33. Article: polygon.com (2013) EA restructure results in hundreds of layoffs, two studios closed. Available at: https://www.polygon.com/2013/4/25/4266122/ea-layoffs-popcap-vancouver-quicklime
  34. Article: polygon.com (2013) Electronic Arts laid off about 900 employees during restructuring. Available at: https://www.polygon.com/2013/5/8/4311958/electronic-arts-laid-off-about-900-employees-during-restructuring
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