Devil’s Advocate for Electronic Arts
Electronic Arts is one of if not the most hated video game publisher in the industry. And that’s a shame. EA has incurred the wrath of gamers across the internet for controversial business practices such as micro transactions in fully priced games, always online DRM, and utilizing online passes to discourage used games sales. Not to mention the initiative to have all of their released titles to have some form of multiplayer, day one DLC, bloated costs and revenue expectations for less than triple A titles and the list goes on and on.
However, one thing that bothers me about EA is despite all the nonsense they put in their titles, they still make good games. I just finished Crysis 3 and I’m playing Brutal Legend on PC and these are good games that I could recommend to a lot of gamers. However, I know some won’t touch them because they’re Electronic Arts titles and they don’t like to support that company because of the crap EA tries to pull. I can’t even blame them, as I am fully aware of the downright anti consumer tactics the company will wholeheartedly employ. It’s self sabotage and sometimes, I have to wonder if EA is even aware of what they’re doing. For instance, including an online pass into Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, a brand new IP with no install fan base that actually lacked multiplayer, is such a ludicrous idea, I have to imaging that a big group of executives weren’t aware of what they were doing.
I am not going to say that all of their games are good. Sure, some of their titles are shovelware like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 or unoriginal sequels like Medal of Honor: Warfighter but there’s still fun games to be played from them. Electronic Arts has the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series, both beloved RPG franchises from a beloved developer, BioWare. They’ve released new entries in old favorites like NFL Blitz and NBA Jam. They even have more niche titles like Command and Conquer and Alice: Madness Returns. In fact, that’s why they are as big of a publisher as they are. I’m sure a lot of us have fond memories of titles like Road Rash and Mutant League Football. In fact, I even posted a blog about what I would like in an Electronic Arts compilation a few months back. The company makes a lot of not only good titles but beloved titles with big fan bases.
A good example is the recently released SimCity, which so many people were looking forward to. I was interested myself but then I heard it had to be connected to the internet at all times. Why!? I understand if there are all these features you want to incorporate but make that one mode. Include an offline mode so those who don’t have a steady online connection can still play. I don’t think I’ll ever play that game now because I don’t want to deal with the frustration of not being able to play my game in case my internet connection goes down or something happens with their servers. Which is what has happened. At launch, SimCity was down and not working for most people. From various reports, it still isn’t up. The game by all recent accounts is fine. In fact, it’s good; maybe even great. However, the business end of the company essentially got in the game’s way and now we, the consumer have to pay the price.
Electronic Arts is not very different from many other publishers. Nintendo, Ubisoft and Activision make the same mistakes. However, EA doesn’t seem to learn from its mistakes. These issues are consistent and gamers have learned to recognize them. However, EA remains one of the biggest publishers in the industry and it’s due to the fact that they still manage to make compelling and even crowd pleasing titles. As much as gamers like to hate on EA, it’s really only a portion of the company that needs to be loathed. The solution may be just a change in positions at the corporate level. I’m looking at you, John Riccitiello.