Ethical Gaming The Game Industry 15 Comments

My 2013 Resolution: no more EA games

I’ve kind of fallen out of video games so far this month. It happens sometimes — I played so many games over the holidays that I think I just felt like consuming other media for a while. I’m sure I’ll be playing again in another week or two, but in the meantime I’m going to write about something I’m not playing instead of something I am, and that something is EA games.

I decided in early January that in 2013 I am not going to buy any games that are published by EA. This is not going to be an easy decision for me stick with, honestly. EA has many fingers in many pies, including Bioware games, Popcap games, and the impending new Sim City. There is a significant chance that Saint’s Row 4 will be an EA property after the THQ sell-off. I love these games!

So why am I doing it? This blog post by Corvus Elrod on his own reluctance to buy EA games covers many of my own reasons as well. EA is infamous for being a crappy place to work, and they were pretty skeevy about the links to real life weapons manufacturers on their website.

I have a few reasons of my own, though, that have finally lead me to this no-EA stance.

1. They have treated SWTOR exceedingly poorly. Whether you like the game or not, it’s hard to argue that it hasn’t been horribly mismanaged. Features that were promised before launch are still not in the game. The initial implementation of free to play was spotty with the laughable hotbar limitations, the Cartel Coin spam for old subscribers, and the fact that people who bought the game initially but are not subscribers have to pay roughly $40 to restore things they already had like titles or crew skills. And don’t even get me started on the “gay planet”.

EA has been too desperate to make money from their one-time cash cow. They started downsizing the Bioware Austin team four months after the game launched, which is not enough time to determine the success or failure of an MMO. The game was pushed out at a bad time, and was missing a lot of polish that came months later in patch 1.2.

2. I don’t like feeling as though a company is trying to fleece me.

I realize EA is far from the only publisher to dabble in Day 1, “on-disc” DLC, but they are pretty egregious about it. Fans of Mass Effect 3, again a Bioware-designed game, had sunk tens of hours into determining who the Protheans were and what effect they had on the universe by the time ME3 launched. They could find the answer to these deep philosophical questions by talking to a Prothean himself — but only by spending $20 on the Day 1 DLC. Yes, you could certainly play all of ME3 without “From Ashes”, but you’d be missing out on some serious lore, something any ME universe fan would be loathe to do. (Like me. Until now.)

EA is also big on using online passes to discourage used game sales. Players who are not the original owner of a game, whether you bought it used or leant it to a friend, are unable to access all of the content and other huge limitations. Hey, here’s an idea: stop charging $80 for a new game.

3. Their marketing is shady. American McGee recently took to Reddit to complain about EA’s marketing campaign for the Alice: the Madness Returns, accusing them of creating misleading trailers that overly emphasized hardcore horror and possibly alienated the original game’s female fans. The game sold quite poorly, possibly as a result.

4. EA is interested in the bottom line, not in making rad games. Under their banner, Bioware lost some of its glory and both of its highly influential leaders. EA bought popular casual game company PopCap and then rapidly let 25% of their employees go, including the creator of the incredibly profitable Plants vs. Zombies. (The game was George Fan’s baby, from start to finish, and he was let go days after EA announced that Plants vs. Zombies 2 would be coming soon.)

They have been repeatedly accused of making minimal changes to their sport game franchises and selling them at new game prices every year. How minimal are these changes? Check out a screen-by-screen comparison of FIFA 12 to FIFA 13. Would you be happy paying $50 for that?

So that’s it, Electronic Arts! We’re through. I will miss playing Sim City 2013, I will whine and grit my teeth when Dragon Age 3 arrives, but there comes a point after which I just can’t justify giving EA my money.

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  • Reply
    Wilhelm Arcturus
    January 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    I cannot say I could shun all EA titles, but I have to admit that seeing that a game is from EA puts a little extra distance between me and any possibility of actually buying it.

    I think Need for Speed: World is the only EA game I currently play.
    Wilhelm Arcturus´s last post: The Success of Krono? It Has Come to EverQuest

  • Reply
    January 21, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I understood the term “gay planet” was invented by Fox News.

    But man, let’s just hope that if they do purchase Volition, it doesn’t totally kill the studio like what happened with Bioware.

    **5 years earlier***

    Man, let’s just hope that if they do purchase Bioware, it doesn’t totally kill the studio like what happened with Westwood.

    **10 years earlier**

    Man, let’s just hope that if they do purchase Westwood, it doesn’t totally kill the studio like what happened with Bullfrog.

    EA has had too many chances already. To quote Dr Phil; THE COMMON DENOMINATOR IN YOUR FAILED RELATIONSHIPS IS YOU.
    Coreus´s last post: WoW’s real money transactions

  • Reply
    January 22, 2013 at 2:00 am

    EA is a demanding driver of the corporate gaming culture. Watching Bioware go down in flames over the past couple of years has brought me some real sadness. Profits are getting in the way of art and franchises are the ones to pay dearly for it. They even got so brazen as to create an EA Indie Bundle this past year.

    The biggest problem is, mainstream gamers just continue to eat it up, sponsor it, and procedurally go from fan to hater as time progresses. When a franchise I enjoy has EA behind it, I know to expect less. Which sucks.
    Grimnir´s last post: Nods Approvingly

  • Reply
    January 22, 2013 at 2:28 am

    I think too few people mention the decline of Popcap after EA bought them. Which is such a shame. They were such a fantastic company making my favorite casual games. I had no idea the creator of PvZ was let go. What a waste. If I didn’t love Bioware so much (still) I would vow not to touch any EA games myself.
    Kadomi´s last post: [Steam Review] L.A. Noire

    • Reply
      January 22, 2013 at 10:27 am

      PopCap was one of those companies that I dreamed of working for one day, perhaps in a community capacity. They were totally one of the “good guys” and then EA squashed ’em. Not cool.

      And I give you no flack for not being able to give up Bioware games. Tooootally understand. :)

  • Reply
    January 22, 2013 at 6:08 am

    It’s depressing how little these publishers can be held to account. The dev studio gets the bad press and the blame for a game’s failure regardless of how pivotal a publisher can be in sinking it – DDO did appallingly in Europe (under Codemasters) partially at least because Atari didn’t publicise it properly and forbade Codemasters from doing so themselves.
    Telwyn´s last post: GW2: hidden garden

  • Reply
    Commander Sirow
    January 22, 2013 at 9:46 am

    (*Attention* – Negative sarcasm at EA *Attention*)

    Well, I guess after making your “no-more-EA-Games” resolution, you are kind of sad, that you will not be able to do all those awesome game-enhancing micro-transactions in the upcoming Dead-Space 3 ( *sad-face*

    You are really missing on a great new opportunity, paying money to improve single-player performance… maybe you reconsider? :)

    (*Attention* – Negative sarcasm at EA *Attention*)

    • Reply
      January 22, 2013 at 10:24 am

      Ha ha, Commander Sirow! It looks like my personal EA ban could not have come at a better time.

  • Reply
    January 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Speaking strictly about Alice: Madness Returns, I’m not sure I’d call marketing it as a “horror” game too strictly out of line. Maybe psychological thriller is closer to it? I don’t know. But, for me, what made that game far worse was the game-breaking bugs (especially surrounding keybinding) that made it so that I literally could not progress – specifically, I got my game into a state where I could not block with the umbrella. Right before the “this is how you block with your umbrella” boss.

    Retroactively pulling games from Steam due to pissing contests over digital distribution platforms was also frustrating, especially since Origin nowhere near as mature as Steam. Being at the forefront of the “HAHA YOU PRESSED AGREE SO YOU CAN’T SUE US – AND ALSO WE ALREADY HAVE YOUR MONEY” line is another bit of fine work from EA.

    So, in the end, I applaud your decision. I have been considering picking up an EA sports title (I do this about once every 3-4 years), but chances are good that, if I decide to do it, it will simply be used. And then I’ll take a picture and send it to EA’s feedback address. Or not, but I’ll think really hard about doing so.
    ThatAngryDwarf´s last post: Indie Games, Established Expectations

  • Reply
    January 23, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    I doubt I’ll have too much of a problem not getting DA3. I liked DA2 more than I expected–but that bar was set pretty low.

    I do think some of Bioware’s wounds are self-inflicted: that they’ve started to believe the hype about how they’re the best storytellers EVAH, and their games reflect this attitude by playing more like movies with occasional interactive content rather that a true role-playing game.

    But EA certainly bears the most blame in my eyes. DA2 might not have been as bad–and in particular, Act 3 might not have been such a train wreck–if Bioware hadn’t been rushing it out the door to meet an insane deadline. And without EA’s pressure to release the Next Big Thing fast, maybe Dragon Age fans would have gotten content that would actually bring our characters’ stories to a close. (Then again, judging by ME3, maybe it’s better this way.)

    It’s sad. I can honestly say that Baldur’s Gate 2 changed my life: I started writing fanfiction again, which led to me meeting a number of wonderful people, including my wife. I’ve always appreciated that the Bioware team does care about writing fully realized characters, and that they recognize that their demographic isn’t just 18-25 year old white men. But I’ve got choices now, including Rift and just maybe, Elder Scrolls Online. *crosses fingers*

  • Reply
    January 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Damn it EA, stop being such a bastard!! Good for you for taking a stand. I feel like I should too… but, but.. Bioware! I wish there was some way to contribute directly to a game development company, like if I could buy the game as a direct download from their website (and not through that EA not-Steam bullshit) instead of at the store. I guess that wouldn’t really work for console games, but at least it would be something.

    It’s hard because EA is the worst, but I really appreciate what Bioware is doing with their games, especially when it comes to having “story mode” or easier game settings and equal opportunity romances, like in DA2 and ME3 where you can romance all the characters regardless of gender. It just makes me sad that EA is trying to ruin all that!

  • Reply
    Zeki Elke
    January 26, 2013 at 2:06 am

    I like EA games, they are good for starters.
    Zeki Elke´s last post: Omerta – City of Gangsters Demo

  • Reply
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