Why I Won’t Buy from Electronic Arts

EA LogoI dislike Electronic Arts (EA) nowadays. I really quite strongly dislike them. I dislike them enough to not buy anything they put out there on principal alone. I consider that quite a feat for a gaming company, especially one that does produce quality games once in awhile. Let me also point out that this is not just because they’re a major video game studio: I have a healthy respect for the products and business practices of Blizzard. I’ve enjoyed a number of titles by Take-Two Interactive over time. Perhaps I should start a few years back.

Let’s look back to when things first started to go downhill, at least in my opinion. Back in 2009 EA was running some of the worst conceived marketing campaigns in the history of  the game industry. If you’d like a quick run down I’m providing a video by the folks at Extra Credits right after this paragraph, and it goes deeper into detail regarding what occurred. EA was promoting a game based off of Dante’s “Inferno”. They started off by hiring people to pose as Christians protesting outside their office. I kid you not.

The gaffes did not end with EA admitting to hiring people to protest the game. EA went on to run a “Sin to Win” contest that they ended up having to publicly apologize for, as the contest asked people to take pictures of their most “sinful acts” with booth babes at Comic-Con that year. For a community that’s tried to shake the stigma of being made up of primarily immature men that objectify women, well, this greatly hurt the average gamer’s image in the public eye.

Fast forward a bit to when their Deadspace 2 game was going to come out. Now, this was covered in the Extra Credits video as well, but I think I should speak about it a little bit here. Deadspace has been a pretty successful franchise for EA, and it has received a mature rating on all of its titles due to the graphic violence in the game. Well, EA decided to run the following ad in an attempt to market Deadspace 2.

If you can give me a good reason why I shouldn’t think that ad was targeting the 13-16 year old age group I’d love to hear it in the comments below. The ad is stupid, juvenile, and frankly makes me want to not buy the game. I honestly don’t know what EA’s marketing department was thinking other than possibly trying to make a grab for a teenage audience.

At least it’s not just me that can’t stand EA. They were awarded the Consumerist’s  Worst Company in America in 2012, and then again in 2013. They managed to beat out some stiff competition from Bank of America, Comcast, and Carnival Cruise lines. You may remember Carnival Cruise from the horrific “Poop ship” incident. Yes, EA managed to beat them all out. Consumers cited EA’s poor customer service, as well as policies such as withholding game content to be released at a later date to incur a higher profit.

Sim City 2013I feel bad for their in house developers, because they do produce good games. The Mass Effect and Sim City games look gorgeous. It really is torture for me not to buy them. Both franchises have had their share of issues, though. Mass Effect had issues with regards to their endings being too similar, among other areas. Sim City suffered from horrific server problems at launch. This after constant complaints from users in the Beta phase of the game that you had to always be connected to EA’s servers during play. Many considered this to be for DRM purposes, but EA will still deny that to this day.

I’m done with EA. They continually employ slimy business practices, and they continue to do so without remorse or apology. If you don’t believe me read EA COO Peter Moore’s response to the Worst Company in America Award. Instead of taking all this feedback and learning from it, which most sensible companies would do, they decide to mock the very people who are telling them they need to shape up.

Who am I to tell him how to run his business, though. People still buy their games. I just know he’s not getting any money from me.

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6 comments on “Why I Won’t Buy from Electronic Arts
  1. Alan Edwards says:

    I see your points, but you’ll take Mass Effect from me by prying them from my cold dead hands. Seriously though, I do think EA suffers a bit since their detractors have (obviously) a stronger online presence than the other companies, which I think are far more evil than EA, but as a juggernaut game company they use their weight in the industry to the detriment of all too often.

  2. Aviel Menter says:

    We really shouldn’t lend to much significant to the vote for worst company in America. This vote signifies the selfishness of consumers much more than it says anything about the company. Sure, EA has made poor business decisions, but the worst they’ve done is provide poor service to their customers.

    Companies like HSBC have laundered money for drug cartels and for Iran’s nuclear program, and Monsanto had a congressman anonymously insert an amendment into a budget bill to protect it from liability and judicial oversight for the foods it releases. Calling EA the worst company in America is like calling Perez Hilton the worst person to have ever lived because you forgot about Stalin.

    So mostly you’re refusing to buy from EA because their marketing was poor. But shouldn’t that speak for itself? If their marketing is poor then it will hurt them because it won’t be a successful campaign. If you have to go out of your way to refuse to buy games as the result of a marketing campaign to demonstrate that the marketing campaign was poor, then it wasn’t. A bad marketing campaign would result in fewer people buying the game regardless.

    As for whether Sim City’s “always online” feature was DRM, I’m actually inclined to believe EA that they didn’t intend it that way. I’m inclined to believe them because we should never attribute to malice what can more easily be attributed to incompetence. Do you think it’s more likely that they inserted DRM and lied about it? Or do you think it’s more likely that they were stupid enough not to realize that requiring a constant online connection was effectively the same as DRM?

    • I’d disagree that the worst they’ve done is provide poor service for their customers. They’ve treated their employees poorly (Google EA spouse and you’ll find where I’m coming from there), they continue business practices such as having DLC available the same day a game comes out (rather than package with the title), and this is in addition to their marketing practices not just being poor, but also warping the perception of gamers today in the public’s eye.

      The “always online” feature in Simcity is ridiculous. I recently played Starcraft II and was shocked to find that when my internet connection cut out one day I was still able to play. Apparently Blizzard actually has learned from their mistakes with D3 and decided to allow for offline play, unlike EA who not only ignored constant feedback on what was mainly a single player game, but also refuses to acknowledge the real reason behind the “always online” feature. And yes, I do believe they think we’re stupid enough to lap up their reasoning behind why they feel it should constantly be connected. Their arrogance comes through in their customer service, and the response to winning Worst Company of the Year.

  3. Alex says:

    Learned a lot from this article. I saw that “Mom hates” commercial but didn’t recognize the trend in EA’s marketing, not that I pay too much attention…

    Just to add my perspective, when I think of “EA,” I think of FIFA and Madden. Those franchises are monopolies on their own. The video post talks about the frustration that comes with watching EA misuse its massive “marketing muscle,” but what’s missed is that this kind of inefficiency comes with the territory.

    I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but if the games mentioned are sub-par, I wonder how much they gross from Madden alone. Could go a long way towards explaining inattention towards, well, every other one of their releases.

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