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The Triad of Evil – Part 2: Electronic Arts

We continue with the second of our two part series on the Triad of Evil. You might notice that it seems like I am going out of order by focusing on EA instead of DeBeers, but this is not the case. You see, there is no real order or ranking in The Triad. I consider them all evil and haven’t put much thought in deciding which is more evil than another. Anyway, we all know who EA is. They gave us wonderful titles such as The Sims, Need for Speed series, and Madden. If you are an avid gamer like myself, you know you sit in front of your TV or monitor and you say the following when the game starts up:

“EA Sports. It’s in the game!”
or
“EA Games. Challenge everything!”

Unfortunately, you don’t rise to the top without stepping on some people along the way. EA is no different and in their case, it’s their employees and the public that has had to squirm under the feet of this 800lb gorilla.

1. EA mistreats their employees particularly in regards to overtime and compensation. They exploit a clause in the employer rights code that deals with management being exempt from overtime. They also lie to their employees with regards to the hours they will work and once they sign a contract, it’s too late. They are retaliatory. They push their employees, even those with families, to work very long hours, including weekends.

EA Spouse – What started it all. The spouse of an EA engineer started writing about her husband’s ordeal in an anonymous Live Journal.

Overtime coming to Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts faces overtime lawsuit

Game makers see workplace changes

For developers, it’s not all fun and games

Electronic Arts promises workplace change

EA considers changing rules on overtime payments

EA settles overtime lawsuit with USD 15m payoff

It seems like they are making plenty of changes right? Word is, not much has changed.

2. EA inhibits competition in an almost monopolistic way. For example, they signed an exclusive agreement with the NFL. That means other publishers could not make a football game, or at least one that used NFL characters. Which is basically the same thing. I mean would you play a football game with characters named Jack Smith and Reggie McDonald?

Electronic Arts plays hardball

GameSpy: Electronic Arts Signs Exclusive NFL License

3. EA releases incomplete games. The day Battlefield 2 came out, gamers were greeted with a very large patch. How is it possible that I just paid $50 for a game, come home ready to play, and I have to download a patch? Not a 5MB patch, more like a couple 100 megs. This clearly shows that EA releases games prematurely and expects the user to beta test it for them. They also release horrible “expansion packs” such a Special Forces, which are nothing more than a few maps and a few weapons. It doesn’t add much to the game at all. Then more patches come.

From TweakGuides.com

Following on from my rant against the BF2 1.03 Patch (see further below), I’ve received a lot of supportive emails agreeing with my feelings on this issue. Truth be told, people are well aware of just how badly the electronic entertainment industry is behaving towards gamers and they don’t need me to tell them. For those of you curious as to why this is happening more and more – the simple reason is because we are allowing it to happen. Only in the computer/gaming world do people accept the concept of purchasing half-finished products in the hopes that they’ll be “fixed” at some point down the track. If you console gamers think you’re safe, think again as online services for consoles will also tempt games companies to use the Release, Wait and Patch approach.

4. EA swallows up quality game studios and then either eliminates them or tosses them into oblivion. No more quality ever comes out again. A partial list of their victims – Westwood Studios, DICE, Origin Studios, Lord British.

Probably the biggest problem with EA along with many other things mentioned, is the fact that they are single handedly destroying the gaming industry because of their business practices. Not only to they seem to buy up any no-name developer that has a glimmer of hope, but they constandly release sequel after sequel. based on purchased franchises and crushed companies.

Sequels are the easiest way to make money in any industry. You take a tried formula and update it a bit here and there. Boom, you’ve got a new “hit game”.

EA was set to release 26 or 27 games (I forget the exact number) this fiscal year… guess how many were new games? one (that is an exact number). That new game is based on a licensed property (Godfather).

Where’s the innovation? Where’s the love of the industry? All I see is the love of the almighty dollar.

With EA’s gargantuan resources, they should be the company trying to be innovative and try out new products… instead they work their employees’ fingers to their bones updating the same tired formulas… When have they really added anything new and exciting to Burnout or Madden?

In conclusion, I admit that I love some of EA Games just like some people love Wal-Mart’s low prices. Is it too much to ask for quality, good prices, and good corporate community citizenship? I say nay. Look at Costco, who is one of the members of the Triad of Good. [Look for an upcoming feature]

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