In 2012 and 2013 EA won The Consumerist’s (not so) coveted “Worst Company in America” award. Now, in a world where BP, Citibank, Walmart, etc… exist, I really don’t know that EA stacks up in terms of being literally the worst company in America. As a gamer though, I feel that they have absolutely earned every ounce of hate they get.
EA wasn’t always the lumbering titan of commerce that it is today. After all, SimCity 2000, quite possibly the best SimCity game ever made was published by EA. These days though, a coveted franchise like SimCity is shoved out the door broken, and packed with unnecessary and unwanted features that have never been a staple of the series. I know it’s old news by now, but the most recent SimCity game (simply titled SimCity) was pretty terrible by the series’ standards.
It’s not just SimCity though. Dungeon Keeper, another beloved PC franchise was recently given the EA treatment. It was repackaged as a mobile game and so packed with micro-transactions and pay-to-play-now type of pay walls that it was immediately shunned by the community.
Pushing Stuff We Don’t Want
Dead Space 3, a full $60 retail product, has micro-transactions. That’s a concept I find hard to understand. Battlefield 4 has “Shortcut Packs” allowing players to unlock vehicles and weapons without earning them through in-game means. Sims expansions from years ago are still listed on Origin for $20 and $30. To bring up SimCity again, the games design “forced” players to be online and in a multiplayer environment to even play, not to mention complete certain projects.
For a company whose clear focus is to create video games, EA seems to care very little about what gamers want and don’t want. The general belief is that Battlefield 4 was rushed by EA in order to beat Call of Duty: Ghosts to the market. It succeeded in doing that, but also caused Battlefield 4 to launch in a broken and nearly unplayable state. But EA doesn’t care if Battlefield 4 is good or not, they only care if you paid the $60 to own the game. On top of that, they certainly don’t care that the people cleaning up their mess – DICE in this case – have to eat a mouthful of crow.
EA Just Doesn’t Care
The bottom line about EA isn’t so much that they’re a terrible company in the sense that they’re actively trying to kill video games. Obviously that is not their agenda. The true bottom line here is that EA just doesn’t care about quality. They care about quality only in as much as it pads their wallet. If the bad press of SimCity or Battlefield 4 causes sequels to those games to make less money, then EA will care. But if Battlefield 5 sells as many units as Battlefield 4, then the company will continue to believe that they can churn out mediocre junk and us gamers will just eat it up.
I’ve had my beef with Nintendo in the past, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog you know that I’m kind of a Blizzard fan-boy, but those two companies produce pretty spectacular products on a consistent basis. Not everything they do is perfect, and in Blizzard’s case, there is certainly some amount of consumer gouging (at least when it comes to WoW). Both Nintendo and Blizzard make great games though, and they do so because they care about the games they make, not just about their financial bottom line. Unfortunately, at least in Nintendo’s case, creating quality products apparently means sacrificing the financials. To me this is backwards; EA, with all it’s mediocrity should be suffering, while Nintendo’s market share increases.