Social Gaming Summit

EA founder: I've made the most mistakes out of anyone in gaming

December 6, 2010: 11:45 AM ET

Trip Hawkins went through the wringer, but now the Digital Chocolate CEO is sitting pretty atop the biggest industry trend to emerge in a long time: social and casual gaming.

Trip Hawkins, Founder and CEO, Digital Chocola...

Image by TechShowNetwork via Flickr

Trip Hawkins will be the first to admit that his prescience on gaming trends can be both blessing and curse. It obviously paid off in 1982, when he founded Electronic Arts, (NASDAQ:ERTS) which today is one of the largest publishers in the industry with franchise properties like Madden football, Rock Band, and The Sims and reported revenues of $539 million last quarter. But in the 1990s, Hawkins miscalculated with 3DO, a company that produced the overpriced console of the same name that would eventually abandon hardware, focus on software, and then file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003.

Then came reinvention. Hawkins became an outspoken champion of social gaming and focused his energies on Digital Chocolate, the San Mateo-based startup that's released more than 15 chart-topping iPhone apps, like Crazy Penguin Catapult and New York 3D Rollercoaster Rush. To date, downloads of company games top 100 million, with 25 million new paying customers this year alone.

Fortune met up with Hawkins at last week's Social Gaming Summit in New York City, where he discussed social and casual gaming's ongoing disruptive influence on the industry, what he thinks of Microsoft and Sony's new motion-based controllers, and the long road from profit to bankruptcy to profit again. Here is an edited transcript: More

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