Technically, nothing that Steve said in his piece condemning EA is untrue, and the company certainly should be held accountable for all of those things. However…I would argue that ALL major video game publishers are guilty of all of the same crimes – some even more so – and that EA is no worse an offender than any of the other giant publishers and they often get disproportionately criticized for doing things that everyone else is doing.
EA Isn’t The Only Company Who Has Mishandled and Sullied The Name of Great Franchises
How are you feeling about the Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, Tony Hawk, Silent Hill, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man, and Sonic the Hedgehog franchises these days? How about the much-hyped and long-awaited reboots (or sequels that just took so long they FELT like reboots) to Alone in the Dark, Golden Axe, Bionic Commando, Turok, Pool of Radiance, Final Fight, ToeJam & Earl, and Duke Nukem, each dragging a fondly remembered franchise out of retirement just to ruin it completely? EA had nothing to do with ANY of those. Sure, they are responsible for examples that could go on those lists, but that’s just it: they certainly contribute to the problems, but aren’t the only ones causing them. EA also isn’t the only company who tries things that nobody seemed to ask for or want. How about reinventing Bomberman as a gritty cyborg in a post-apocalyptic world? Or making Shadowrun into a generic multiplayer FPS? Or making a Yakuza game all about zombies? Again, not EA.
EA Isn’t The Only Company Who Rushes Buggy Games Out
Battlefield 4 was a mess, no doubt about it, and that’s definitely the current go-to example of a AAA title being rushed out in a clearly unfinished state. But to imply that EA is the only company who rushes games to market and/or releases games that are a buggy, nearly unplayable mess is letting a LOT of other companies off the hook. Bethesda doesn’t have the most stellar track record for having games be completely “ready” when they are released (see: Fallout New Vegas and Skyrim, specifically the PS3 version). Should we not call them out for not waiting another year to iron out the bugs so they could meet a deadline? The last couple of Call of Duty games have had launches frought with online issues, likely due to the franchise’s annual schedule and absolutely needing to be out in Novemeber no matter what, beta testing be damned. Batman: Arkham Origins had a slew of documented bugs and glitches, some of which made it impossible to progress past certain points of the game. Games like The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and last year’s Star Trek movie tie-in game are clearly unfinished and only aren’t “broken” in the sense that your machine doesn’t reject the disc outright. Again, none of these can be pinned on EA.
EA Isn’t The Only Company With DLC, Microtransaction, and Pricing Problems
Forza Motorsport 5, released just a couple of weeks after Battlefield 4, does the exact same thing in terms of being a full priced game that constantly offers you the chance to spend additional money on add-ons and upgrades. Besides that, EA hasn’t cornered the market on letting you pay a few bucks to get the perks that you’d normally need to earn through hours of gameplay – that practice has been around for years now, and while I can’t say for certain that EA didn’t invent it, they definitely aren’t the only ones doing it. Nobody really has a handle on all of that yet, and it’s going to be a long time before there’s any sort of consistency or universally agreed-upon “standards” as to the value of DLC and microtransactions. I haven’t seen EA be guilty of significantly worse infractions in that area than any other publisher.
What EA Does Right
I’d like to end on a more positive, less defensive note. At the end of the day, what makes a game publisher successful or not, “good” or “bad”, are the games they put out. People don’t necessarily love Rockstar as a company, but they’ve made some of the best games of the last 10 years and that’s all that ultimately matters. So here is a list of some of the games and game franchises that EA is responsible for publishing or co-publishing, just in the last 5 years:
Mass Effect trilogy
Battlefield (the good ones before 4)
Need for Speed series
Left 4 Dead 2
Rock Band series
Plants Vs Zombies 2
Fight Night Round 4
P.S., Activision Is Actually The Worst
…and partnering with “do no wrong” PC gamer darling (and favorite of Steve) Blizzard doesn’t change a damn thing. Activision has been wrecking franchises and shuttering developers for years. Also, Bobby Kotick is the devil. Don’t believe me? Type “Bobby Kotick” into Google image search, and the second and third autofills are “Bobby Kotick money” and “Bobby Kotick devil.”