• SourceCode: EA, Are They Really That Bad And What Does That Mean?

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    Welcome, welcome everyone to another edition of SourceCode. Today we will be discussing the argument whether or not EA is the worst company in America.

    Is EA really that bad of a company, what does that mean, and how does that affect the future of EA, and gaming as a whole?

    For a little back story EA was founded on May 28, 1982. It is one of the oldest and most successful game publishing companies still around today and are responsible for putting out games such as Ultima Online, Need for Speed, Medal of Honor, SimCity, Battlefield, Mirror's Edge, and are worth over $5 billion dollars. On the outside looking in you might say they have been a respected staple of the gaming industry... But we aren't on the outside looking in, are we?

    As gamers, we have a certain connection with the people who make our games; unlike most other industries out there today. We used to expect our games to work, at the very least, and when they didn't we would scream out loud and say “why is this shit broke!?"

    So what changed, and what does that all have to do with EA? Technology obviously. With great new technology comes a great new responsibility to use it wisely. In 2011 the Supreme Court of the United States officially gave games and game developers rights under the constitution as art and artists. I think we had already given that distinction to those fine men and women in the industry and this, in part, with new technologies, has given us a sense that we can do better.

    So why is EA so bad? Well first of all we need to clear one thing up. EA is a publisher of games, so you maybe thinking "how does the publishing company effect the quality the games it publishes?" One word. Money. They are paying for it, so in their eyes they have the final say on what is or isn't in the game. I might add that this isn't just EA by the way. Some accuse EA of dipping their fingers mid way into development of a game and changing things as they go, but I suspect it is the other way around. EA either tells developers how it will be from the start or they tell them to "come up with something show it to us and then we can change it." I am partial to the latter than the former, and it would explain all the failed launches of many of EA's prime IP's.

    EA has also been notorious for alienating the fans of many of its games with the one process I just described, as well as many other ways. Sometimes I think EA just flat out ignores its consumer base and thinks it can just do whatever it damn well pleases. It is my opinion, though, that EA doesn't bear the brunt of the blame here. Activision uses the same strategies and that was long before EA become a problem child in the industry. I am of the opinion that EA, who after the 2008 market crash found themselves in a rather tight spot, decided to emulate their more successful brother Activision, and what they did with Call of Duty. Only they decided to mix it up a bit by using that idea with all of their properties, leaving no time for creativity and using brand names for the quick cash they would generate.

    With two of the biggest publishers force feeding the gaming industry crap game after crap game, it changed the face of the industry. The philosophy of these two companies gave rise to the microtransaction and DLC revolutions. This, in my opinion, literally gave them an excuse to release half completed games for full price, then giving you the rest for $10-$15 bucks. Distasteful, isn't it? But it didn't stop Capcom from selling you their DLC on the exact same disc you had already purchased the full game on from them, for more money to unlock.

    Then suddenly a light switched on for a brave few individuals, and the future of the industry looked bright once again. The indie game scene exploded, but there was one thing that was missing: Where was the money for advertisement and product placement going to come from? And boom, just like that, Kickstarter came on the scene, saving those lost few who had the talent, but not the means to fund it, into something. We have yet to see the full effect of Kickstarted games yet. Many of those games that received their funding are still in development and it pains me to say that even after meeting their Kickstarter goals they still have struggled with finding their games. However those are very few and far between and many of the projects that have been Kickstarted have manged their funds well and are on track.

    So what does that mean for EA and any big publisher, really? It means people are using their dollars as their voice and saying, "We aren't going to take this anymore! Either EA listens to our criticisms or look, here we have this wonderful new thing we can use to bypass you."

    This could mean death for the big publishers and really, who would miss them? I know I wouldn't. As an artist/writer myself stifling the artistic vision of the developers under the big publisher's wings killed whatever respect I had for them.

    Now that we have all that out of the way, I probably made EA look pretty bad, but are they that bad? I don't think so. The title of Worst Company in America is quite the feat for a game publisher to pull off, especially if it is the second year running. Personally I don't think they throw nearly as much weight around as the runner up Bank of America though. Yes, of course I am speaking of the Consumerist's Worst Company in America poll, but to call a game publisher Worst Company in America? I mean, I could think of a few companies off the top of my head that could trump EA in a heart beat, but since this is strictly a poll for how well they treat their consumers I could overlook that. EA is bad, but I think fumbling around with peoples hard earned money is much worse, and yes I am looking at you Bank of America. So what's the deal then? EA admitted it could do better and recently fired their long time CEO John Riccitello, claiming to want to turn over a new leaf. Hell, I am all for that but I will believe it when I see it.

    Regardless, EA has changed the face of the gaming industry many times; most for good, but in recent years that hasn't been the case. As one of the oldest game publishers out there, nothing lasts forever, and things must inevitably end. Does this mean the end for EA? Probably not, but it has begun to change them, that’s for sure. Will that change be for the better? Who's to say, but I hope so. Many of EA's games hold a special place in my heart and I enjoyed the heck out of them. However, if there was ever a silver lining to the dark grim cloud that is the big publishers hanging over the gaming industry, that would be the indie game scene explosion, and with the help of Kickstarter we could see a revolution in how games will be funded in the future.

    Thanks for joining me once again for another SourceCode Input. I know it was a bit more of a read this time around, but I thank you for coming this far, and I will see you guys next week. And really people, "Worst Company in America?" I mean, come on, let's be real, okay?
    Comments 7 Comments
    1. Predecessor's Avatar
      Predecessor -
      I have boycotted EA and Blizzard games for a couple years now.
    1. salty99's Avatar
      salty99 -
      Good read. I too thought the same thing about the title. Worst company? I think a company whose fallacies lie completely within the realm of the entertainment industry would have to do some utterly detestable things to be thought of worse than Bank of America. Anyhow, It would seem we share common opinions on the matter. I enjoyed your article and look forward to future Source Code installments.
    1. Gunny's Avatar
      Gunny -
      Agreed! Good Read Source.
    1. Toker's Avatar
      Toker -
      I will not be buying BF4...... Believe that.
    1. WileECyte's Avatar
      WileECyte -
      EA isn't just a "publisher". It's true that not everything EA puts out, it created, but they wholly own several studios, including EA Digital Illusions CE (a.k.a. DICE).
    1. Rad's Avatar
      Rad -
      They may be more interested in profits than how much fun the players are having with their games, but that doesn't make them the worst company. ; )
    1. SourceSkills's Avatar
      SourceSkills -
      Thank you all for your words and keep on the look out for more SourceCode.