Why do Electronic Arts games for Genesis (Mega Drive) have a different cartridge size?

Jungle Strike Cartridge:

Jungle Strike



The Immortal:

The Immortal

"Normal" USA/Europe cartridge:

Sonic 2


3 Answers 3


EA originally reverse-engineered the Genesis and made their own carts.

When EA inquired about publishing its games on the Genesis, the executives felt their proposal would be met with open arms.

Instead of embracing the logic in EA’s proposal, Sega of America president Mike Katz had other ideas. Sega wanted to emulate the Nintendo licensing agreement system, leaving little to no negotiation room for third-party publishers.

The discussion went back and forth for nearly a year, until a Sega executive boldly told Bing Gordon, “If you want a different deal you’re going to have to reverse engineer the system, aren’t you?”

Sega had thrown down the gauntlet, and EA gladly picked it up. Under the guidance of its legal counsel, the company gave two of its most talented engineers the green light to attempt a clean room reverse engineering job on the Genesis.

...EA’s hardware group built several reverse engineered development systems. Unbeknownst to Sega, EA ramped up production on several Genesis games.

Sega was caught in an uncomfortable position. If EA went ahead with its licensing program, the console manufacturer would be losing a significant portion of the profit that traditionally comes with the territory. EA could essentially reach out to other publishers and offer better returns and cheaper manufacturing costs than Sega was willing to do.

In exchange for agreeing to join Sega’s licensing program, EA would be allowed to manufacture its own Genesis cartridges, could make as many games as it wanted, and received a more favorable royalty rate.

Source: Blue Toad (via Wayback Machine)

  • 4
    I think you cut a bit too much out of your excerpt; without something about EA's threat to license its reverse engineering work for less than an official Sega license there's no explanation for why Sega caved and granted EA the license they originally wanted. Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 16:46
  • 3
    @Dan Or edit this one to plaster over the narrative gap. (I noticed it too.) Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 18:01
  • 1
    There is a narrative gap but it isn't necessary to answer the question. Feel free to edit. I'll just refrain from writing answers in the future. I thought I could write a quick, casual response with a relevant link for more info, but apparently this isn't enough for this community's standards.
    – Cory J
    Commented Feb 11, 2013 at 19:35
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    @CoryJ - As a community we strive to obtain high quality, relevant information in the form of detailed questions and answers. Noone is saying your answer isn't fine the way it is (you have 6 upvotes and no downvotes) but what Dan & SevenSidedDie are saying is that the answer could be more complete. This is why we allow community edits, to improve upon existing answers so that future visitors can get the best answers possible. I actually see it as a compliment, someone went out of their way to edit my answer, improving it, bumping it into the limelight, and (hopefully) getting me more upvotes.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 3:54

Complementing Cory J's answer, after some research, I found that the cartridges really have different PCB sizes.

According to this source (2nd answer), EA games PCB were slightly taller and harder to open:

Madden 93 "guts": Madden 93


Long story short, they were made to fit into all systems since all EA games were region free and Japanese MD had locking tab which disabled EU/US games to be played on JP system

  • Whether or not that is true, it doesn't explain why EA's carts were taller. The tallness wouldn't affect it's ability to be placed in a region's console - they're all top-loaders
    – Robotnik
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 23:34

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