Are They Really That Bad?

The Mark of the Beast?

Brace yourselves readers, I’m about to do something that I thought I would never have to do. Defend EA. Yup, well, I don’t really think they deserved to win The Consumerist’s ‘Worst Company in America 2012′ Golden Poo. “Why?”, I hear you ask. Well, it’s simple. Whilst they might be the dark side of the gaming world, they’re a hell of a lot more friendly than some of the previous winners.

The prize is awarded by public vote on The Consumerist website and EA beat Bank of America by taking 64% of the vote. Yes, Bank of America are arguably responsible for the current housing crisis and state of the economy. By and large as much as we might hate EA for their profiteering and often blatant arrogance, like their response to winning this award:

“We’re sure that British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren’t nominated this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide.”

I can’t help but think that they aren’t that bad in comparison to previous winners. Let’s face it, at least they didn’t take a ton of government money and then propose bonuses (AIG Worst Company 2009). Here’s a hint, bonuses are usually earned based on performance, posting a $61 billion loss is not good performance.

At least they don't send you these...

Anyway, this is a games site so I want to refrain from writing a business article. This award means pretty much next to nothing to EA. As they hinted in their somewhat brusque response.

It’s all too easy to get whipped up into voting online in these polls and awards and that’s what I think happened here. EA know that around about half of the people who voted for them to win this award will still go out and buy their next game.

Really, what we, as the consumers, have to ask ourselves is how much we are willing to put up with this so long as EA keep the games coming. For me, it was the insistence on using Origin for their own PC title. Whilst that is wholly within their rights to do so it is not something I want to be a part of.

They’re no stranger to receiving consumer ire, with numerous scandal-worthy operations under their belt. Day one DLC and Project Ten Dollar to name just two. Accusations of the ‘From Ashes’ DLC being on the disk also exploded onto the Internet and were met with anger.

This is a problem of scale, 150,000 people voted EA as the worst company of 2012 but Battlefield 3 sold five million copies in its opening week (I also don’t own that if you were wondering). EA have managed to annoy a very vocal minority but still, a minority. A drop in the ocean, if you like.

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of all my money."

The only way to deliver a message to such a big company is to vote with your wallet or purse. I know I often hark on about it but I still haven’t bought Mass Effect 3 and whilst that was an isolated issue I am 98% sure I’m not going to buy any EA games in the forseeable future. I’d probably make an exception for Dragon Age 3 but if it’s on Origin I still won’t get it on PC, maybe 360.

So readers, it’s as simple as this: If you don’t like EA, don’t buy their games. It sucks in the short term but it’s the only way that we’re going to be able to affect lasting change within the industry. Make them an example, they need us to buy their games, we don’t need them.


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