Inflamed with a controversial reputation, EA has breached the boundaries of notoriety a video game industry can achieve over the years. Well, at least from the public’s point of view. At Electronic Arts, Matt Bilbey, the company’s EVP had a different message to convey. Namely, he found himself struggling with a devastating fact. After 25 years with the organization, EA is still being viewed as “a bunch of bad guys.”
While explaining, Matt Bilbey had the following to say:
“25 years at EA and I still struggle with the external perception that we’re just a bunch of bad guys. We love making and playing games. Unfortunately, when we make mistakes on games, the world knows about it because it’s of a size and scale.”
It certainly wouldn’t take great lengths to stumble upon an answer to this statement. Nevertheless, Matt Bilbey did make an effort to point out some of the positive sides to the company later on. One of those being the EA Originals, with whom Electronic Arts look to overcome the dullness in creativity organizations face as the years pass. The label will be aiming for small game developers, helping them publish their titles. Allegedly, they will be returning all the earnings to the creators.
However, the object of the discussion conducted with Gamesindustry.biz didn’t draw attention, due to Electronic Arts philanthropic endeavors. On the other hand, EA found itself hitting the headlines with an immensely dense statement once again. Thus, they reminded us why they remain labeled as the bad guys of the gaming industry.
Related: FIFA 20 REVEAL: EXCITING TIMES AHEAD
It makes you wonder if statements like these are orchestrated. Not so long ago, we saw EA comparing loot boxes to Kinder Eggs, calling them “surprise mechanics,” which therefore makes them highly ethical. Such remarks come at an unpleasant time, considering that they face a poor fiscal year. As a response to that, Electronic Arts CEO, along with numerous other executives, refused cash bonuses. In an official explanation, they had the following to say:
“While we are disappointed with our fiscal 2019 results, we understand the challenges we face, and we will continue to focus on how we can apply the strengths of our Company to capitalize on our opportunities”.
So, when you look at it, EA is regularly receiving publicity, sometimes as good and sometimes as bad guys. However, it is never used to address the real problems the community points out to them. One way or the other, they always find a way to bypass it, effectively neglecting it with their media shenanigans. To disentangle the mess, I will attempt to point out why EA will always be the bad guys of the industry, no matter how hard they strive to sweep it under the rug.
Why do people consider EA to be the bad guys?
During his interview, Matt Bilbey, EA’s Executive Vice President of Strategic Growth, made a wise attempt to victimize the company. After the presentation of EA Originals, and his extraordinary remark, you might have ended up wondering if the public was too harsh on them. Don’t be too hasty with the conclusion, as Electronic Arts has a long history with the promotion of underrepresented developers.
EA is one of the most well-established companies in the gaming industry. As such, it never hesitated to stretch beyond its boundaries, sinking smaller companies along the way. Once they notice an assuring gaming series from less-known developers, EA makes sure to capitalize by drawing it to their cause, and adjusting it for “broader audiences.” Although the game might end up being successful in terms of sales, things change in the long term. The once strong base of supporters departs due to inconsiderate changes, forcing the franchise to vanish along with them.
Some of the more memorable developers that EA has drained would be: Westwood Studios, known for the Command & Conquer series; Maxis, responsible for the making of Sims and SimCity; good old Pandemic Studios known for the evergreen StarWars Battlefront; and of course, DICE, recognized for the Battlefield series. The list stretches even further, but I assume this will be enough for an answer to why EA is still being viewed as “a bunch of bad guys.”
Command & Conquer: Rivals
With the Command & Conquer series, EA has shifted its focus to mobile gaming, which made up to 10% of sales in fiscal 2018. However, Command & Conquer: Rivals has gone unnoticed and has received miserable traction so far. Besides, reducing such a memorable franchise as Command & Conquer to mobile gaming sounds depressing.
Star Wars: Battlefront 2
When talking about Star Wars: Battlefront 2, only a scarce introduction is needed to point out what went wrong. With the coming of the long-anticipated Battlefront 2, so came unexpected innovations. With the introduction of loot-boxes, known as crates, players were required to make in-game purchases if they wanted to achieve the full experience that Battlefront has to offer. Being under immense pressure, EA decided to change to this. Now, cosmetics are the only microtransaction available in the game.
The Sims 4
Maxis is still active as a game developer but has little to tie it with the once-known goods. There is no denying that Sims 4 is a successful game. However, the problem lies in the content cut, which was later on added through numerous extensions. Even though you paid for the game, sooner or later you’ll be required to make additional purchases, or the experience will become wearisome. Of course, a good DLC is always welcomed. But when you combine all of the expansions, stuff packs, and game packs, you have a list of 30 purchasable additions to the game. From a personal standpoint, that’s a bit too much.
Considering that its predecessor is Battlefield 1, the new addition to the franchise really had to prove itself if it was to succeed. However, this time around, EA decided to take a more public-friendly approach to the game, which resulted in various employees leaving statements on what should be expected of the game. As you might imagine, something had to go wrong.
EA’s chief design officer, Patrick Soderlund, found himself unsettled with the criticism the game has been receiving for its historical inaccuracy; in particular, by the fact that some individuals disapproved of the introduction of female characters. Although he had a righteous point, saying that “if you don’t like the creative decisions that went into the game, you don’t have to buy it,” was a little too much for the fans.
It also came at an inconvenient time and certainly did reflect on the sales. Besides that, the game received criticism for not achieving desired results in neither multiplayer nor singleplayer.
There’s no denying that Electronic Arts holds in its arsenal some of the most memorable titles published so far. That may be the reason why we are drawn back to them despite their public goofs. Still, it’s uncertain for how long it will stay this way. Instead of giving us false hopes and money drawing deals – honesty and commitment to the titles we all treasure would be enough to remove the stain of EA being the gaming industries bad guys.
You might like: 6 OF THE BIGGEST RAGE INCIDENTS IN GAMING