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.