EA is not evil, just incompetent.
Posted by Sam Hale
Electronic Arts is probably the most scrutinized company in all of entertainment. As I previously mentioned EA isn’t doing so well right now. For a long time, EA has been reviled and vilified as an evil corporate empire. The more ridiculous claims are that EA has plans to take over the world (of course!). These claims are a little extreme, but there is some logic to these opinions. That being said, I don’t think it makes sense to call EA an evil company. They are not by any means, the only people in the industry concerned primarily with money. EA is not evil, they are just misguided and out of touch.
Much of the hatred of EA comes from the perception that their only goal is to make money regardless of how customers feel. This is based on the fact that not a whole lot of creative content is made by EA. Whether it’s the annual sports games like Madden of Fifa, or sequels to established franchises, most of the gaming world agrees that EA only cares about turning a profit. While it’s true that the most creative video games over the past few years have come from publishers other than EA, this isn’t enough to suggest that they’re evil. It isn’t even enough to suggest that EA only wants money. There are plenty of other reasons for people to hate EA however, and these reasons are much more legitimate.
EA’s library of games includes by far the most controversial games in history. In 2008, they released Spore which introduced the world to Digital Rights Management (DRM). For those who don’t know, DRM is an anti-piracy tool that either limits the amount of installs per game disc, or requires a constant internet connection to access the game. The biggest criticism against DRM is that it punishes legitimate customers. For example, DRM handcuffs anyone who wants to lend a game to a friend. In response to the use of DRM, Spore became the most pirated game of 2008. The use of DRM caused a lot of people to believe that EA was more concerned about maximizing profits than rewarding paying customers.
The next controversy under EA came in 2012 in the months following the December release of Star Wars: The Old Republic. This game was created in order to compete with World of Warcraft and other popular games in the MMO genre. The estimated costs of making the Old Republic are between $150-200 million, which would make it the most expensive game ever made. Initially, the Old Republic sold well but with each passing month the game received less and less subscribers. There were server issues and other mishaps, but nothing substantial enough to shoulder the blame for this drop in players. As a result of a dwindling player-base, EA announced that they would make the Old Republic free-to-play, essentially changing their sales strategy less than one year after launch. Just for comparison, the Old Republic’s competitor World of Warcraft, has yet to completely go free-to-play. This is a sign of EA’s inability to understand their audience. For a game as hyped and as anticipated as the Old Republic to fail speaks poorly of EA. It’s clear that they don’t know what their customers want.
After Spore’s controversial launch and the dismal performance of the Old Republic you might think that EA had learned its lesson; you would be wrong. This past month, EA launched SimCity in an unfinished, nonfunctional state. Users are forced to maintain a constant internet connection to play a game that is almost entirely offline. To make matters worse, at launch the game’s servers were near inaccessible resulting in a lot of websites delaying their review of SimCity due to being unable to play it. Even after fixing the servers, several game-breaking bugs were discovered. To make up for this EA, is offering a free game to anyone who purchased SimCity, but for many the damage has been done. The launch of SimCity is being called the worst in the history of the industry. Once again, EA’s choices have resulted in a public backlash.
It’s ironic that a company named Electronic Arts, in tribute of the potential of the medium, is so obviously more concerned with making money than producing anything worth artistic praise. Not to say that EA produces strictly unartistic content, but their use of DRM clearly illustrates where their priorities are. EA isn’t evil, they simply care only about making money and they also happen to be really bad at it. EA seems unable to publish a game that doesn’t draw some form of unified criticism. It should be clear to anyone familiar with gaming that EA has lost touch with their customers. The bottom line is this. If EA keeps going the way they are, they won’t be around much longer and judging from the way people feel about them right now, no one will miss them.About the so-called elephant in the room known as Mass Effect 3. Personally, I think that all criticism of Mass Effect 3 should be directed towards Bioware, not EA. I don’t see how EA is responsible for Bioware’s creative decisions. I don’t buy the excuse that EA rushed Bioware into releasing the game early, thus causing the lacklustre ending. Bioware could have easily written a more “popular” in the same amount of time. That’s just how I feel.
About Sam HaleAutistic, young adult and lots on my mind.
Posted on April 4, 2013, in Editorials and tagged Ad Campaigns, controversial games, controversy, digital rights management, EA, EA isn't evil, gaming, Mass Effect 3, SimCIty, Spore, Star Wars, Swtor, The Old Republic, videogames. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.