November 24, 2014

Trendsetters in Animation

Mike Vogel | 12/1/2009

Philip Holt

Philip Holt
[Photo: Jeffrey Camp]

EA Tiburon / vice president / general manager / Maitland

Home: Winter Park

Interests: Cooking

Reading: “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” by Joseph J. Ellis

Career advice for game developers: “Get the best computer science or engineering degree from the best university you can.”

You can trace Philip Holt’s job leading a 600-employee video game developer back to age 12, when his parents hogged the Atari 2600 they gave him. His father, a Boeing engineer, and mother, a technical editor, were so taken that they founded a game company in their log cabin in the Cascade foothills of Washington. “High tech in the most rustic setting,” Holt says.

Suffice to say, he had a lot of exposure to gaming. “I would literally come home from college, and there would be a programmer in my bedroom,” he says, referring to his parents’ employee, who used his room as workspace.

The liberal arts major found programming tedious but proved adept at managing. When California-based game maker Electronic Arts bought his parents’ business, Manley & Associates, in 1996, Holt stayed for two years, then joined a company later acquired by interactive developer and publisher THQ.

He rejoined EA in 2005 in Orlando, where it makes EA Sports games, including Madden NFL and Tiger Woods PGA Tour. His challenge is recruiting talent and fostering an inspiring culture. In the marketplace, his challenges are shifting game dynamics — the growth in online play, for instance, and how to make as much money on it as on store-sold console games. To explore, this year EA Tiburon released an online version of Tiger Woods PGA Tour. As part of a companywide cutback, EA Tiburon laid off 51 in November.

Holt, 39, is active in PRISM (Promoting Regional Improvement in Science and Math) Project. His message for Florida: “If Florida wants to attract and retain key knowledge-based jobs, the state will need to address the current economic disadvantages it faces versus places like Georgia and Louisiana.”

Tags: Trendsetters

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