Fries fell in love with games while playing early arcade games like Frogger. Both of his parents were engineers, and he sees in his love for games something similar to his father's love for airplanes while working at Boeing. As a teen he programmed clones of popular arcade games on the Atari 800, and a publisher offered him the chance to have his games published. 
After earning a B.S. in Computer Science from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 1986 Fries returned to the Seattle area to join Microsoft on productivity software. He has referred to this time as being like Ender's Game and says "We were recruited as children to fight in their wars, Excel vs Lotus 1-2-3 and Word vs WordPerfect."  In the late 1990s he led the team that created the first version of the Xbox game console.
Fries left Microsoft in January 2004. He consulted with a startup company, FireAnt, that was later sold to Sony Online Entertainment. He was also involved with several startups including Ageia, which aims to bring the first "physics accelerator" chip for games to market, and Emotiv Systems, a company building an EEG based game controller.
Fries is currently[when?] working on bringing his favorite game, World of Warcraft, to three-dimensional life with his startup company, Figure Prints. The company makes 3D models of a player's characters using a fleet of Z Corporation printers. Within the first 12 hours of his company going live, over 4,000 people had requested an order for a model. Fries explains in an interview that each model can take about one week to complete.
- Brightman, James (February 5, 2014). "The Saga of Ed Fries". Gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved April 20, 2015.
- Bishop, Todd (January 14, 2004). "The game is over for Xbox's Ed Fries". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
- Beschizza, Rob (August 3, 2010). "Former Microsoft VP brings Halo to the Atari 2600". BoingBoing. Retrieved September 2, 2010.