If you hadn’t noticed, EA have been voted the worst company in America twice in row over the past two years. That’s an impressive feat right there. I mean, it’s not a good achievement, but you have to really go some to be the worst twice consecutively. There are some really awful companies in the states, so to win the accolade just once is an achievement in itself. Perhaps achievement isn’t the best word for it, achievfail? Anyhow, I think we all have our own reasons for thoroughly disliking EA, they really work hard at pissing us off, so there are plenty of reasons to choose from. I’ve selected five of my top reasons for believing that EA couldn’t give two sh*ts about me (or you, unless you’re a Sheikh / Oil Baron with billions of monies to spend), and here they are! Whilst you’re reading, why not think of your own reasons for feeling like a walking wallet in the eyes of EA and leave them in the comment section below?
1 – FIFA Ultimate Team. Now, I know that there are a decent number of people (probably well in their millions) that love FUT, and I kind of understand why. It combines that love of football with all of those memories of opening a pack of Pokémon cards, back when we were kids spending our pocket money or begging our parents for a fix. But I have one major qualm with it, and that’s the amount of money that EA fleece their fans out of for the privilege of playing it. I know that you don’t have to spend money to play it, they don’t force you to buy the packs. But, every five seconds all you ever see on the FIFA homepage is ‘FUT Legends pack’ this and ‘Play FUT tournament’ that. Half of the damned achievements on that game are for playing FUT, and the majority of them are for completing pointless tasks or opening packs. Why? To force people to play it. Why? Because EA make millions of pounds from selling the various classes of pack. When you advertise something so much and pump vast amounts of revenue in to developing a game-mode, it’s no surprise that fans are so willing to pump their money back in to it. Yet, it’s obvious that they’re not doing it for the fans, they’re doing it for the money. In the next-gen FIFA 14 they removed the tournament mode. This was a game mode that had some popularity, I personally enjoyed playing it with friends in my living room – it was one of the only offline game-modes we would play together, rather than against each other. They removed it on the One and PS4 versions ‘in order to focus on the most important areas and modes in the game. We took those resources and budget, and focused on many other new areas of the game’ – EA Sports. I wonder what those ‘other new areas of the game’ might be? Add in the fact that, on release, the Pro-Clubs and Co-Op Seasons servers didn’t work for the first two weeks whilst (surprise, surprise) the FUT servers functioned perfectly, suggests to me that EA see us as big dollar bills rather than actual human beings.
2 – The Mass Effect 3 ending. Something that got BioWare fans (myself included) incredibly riled up, was the ending to Mass Effect 3. It wasn’t necessarily a bad ending, well, it kind of was I guess. There’s a fine line between writing an ending the way the developers want it to go, and writing an ending that will please the fans. Mass Effect 3’s ending did not please the fans. I won’t go in to detail about it, I don’t fancy spoiling a spoiled ending. But let’s just say that, considering the amount of hours that we’d put in to the Mass Effect series, the days grinded out levelling up Shepherd and choosing his path through the universe and the friends we’d gained throughout the journey, the ending was kind of a big F U. The ending didn’t seem to fit in with the overall series and, in truth, was incredibly anticlimactical. Then at the end of game we were greeted with this pathetic little message, the rotten cherry on top of the dog food sundae that was the ending of a magnificent series of games.
Oh thank you EA and BioWare! What a fantastic summation of your awful ending. I’ll definitely remember to buy the DLC (which you released on day one for me to purchase, rather than including it wit the disc). Luckily enough, that brings me on to my next point.
3 – Day-One DLC. There’s nothing more annoying than completing a game and being disappointed by a lack of (or lack of quality) DLC. Thankfully, EA have you covered with their day one DLC. Now that annoying waiting period has gone and in its place EA have held back a little bit of the full game for you to purchase as an added extra at the end, instead. How considerate of them, to let me pay a little bit more for something that could have otherwise been released with the full game for no added charge. Thanks, EA. I’m of course talking about Mass Effect 3 again and obviously I’m over exaggerating a little. In truth, or at least according to their statement on the matter, the day one DLC was in development after the game had been finished and was only ready for its scheduled release, rather than before the game was finished. So, instead of holding back the release of the game to put it on the disc, they instead opted for releasing it as optional DLC. Now, I don’t have a problem with EA releasing the game without the add-on, though they do have quite the reputation for releasing unfinished games. What I do have a problem with is the fact that they chose to charge for it. They have the money to be able to offer it for free, as a thank you to the fans of the series at its conclusion (even as an added bonus for sitting through their poor excuse for an ending). It was the charge that outraged the fans, not the DLC’s existence. Perhaps they could of given it out for free, or perhaps they could have released it a little later instead. Who knows, all I know for sure is that I very much dislike the concept of day one DLC, especially when the game itself wasn’t everything that I’d hoped for.
4 – Their servers. This is a simple one, and probably a complaint had by many. I cannot count the number of times I’vean read the message “you’ve been disconnected from the EA servers”, I also can’t count the number of times that it has happened and I’ve lost a match of FIFA or been forced to abandon a game of Battlefield. It’s not just me either, all of my friends have experienced this problem on a number of occasions (one of them multiple times a day, at times). How can a company as big as EA have such awful servers? How can they release a game such as Battlefield 4 and the servers function so terribly (as well as the countless other bugs in that title) that law-firms actually have grounds to take out a class-action lawsuit? How is any of this OK? When we give them so much of our money for rushed games that, once you’ve downloaded the countless patches to finally get a functioning game, still only function two thirds of the time because of their terrible servers. The short answer is that it’s not. It’s not OK EA, not in the slightest. If it wasn’t for the fact that I love Battlefield (when it actually works, that is), and that there is no competitor to the FIFA series anymore (sorry Pro Evolution fans, but I’d rather sit through the bugs than play Pro Evo) then I would have ditched EA games years ago. To add insult to injury, once EA had actually solved the issues with Battlefield 4 with a patch, it caused my save-game in the campaign to disappear, one mission away from completing it on hard. Thanks EA, thanks a bunch. The campaign wasn’t even that good, so I really enjoyed sitting through that crap for a second time to get the achievement … I did sit through it again though, because I’m an achievement whore.
5 – The fact that they’ve still not changed. A few years on and, with the launch of FIFA 14, it takes them almost two-weeks to sort out the Pro Clubs servers. Around a month since the launch of Battlefield 4 and EA are being sued because of their lack of respect for the gaming community. This just one year after being awarded ‘worst company in America’ for the second year running. But the FUT servers function perfectly well, of course. I mean, why would EA care about a service that doesn’t make them any money, other than the initial £50 disc charge? You can’t make any money from those stingy gamers who won’t spend their cash on Ultimate Team packs. So the question is, will EA ever change? I highly doubt it. They’ll always be looking for new ways to get our money and cutting costs along the way. Their servers will always run at low cost to save money, games will always be released before they’re technically finished to make more money. In the end, that’s all that matters to companies like EA, making more money. For as long as those people remain at the helm of those companies, things will never change. So I ask myself, why do I keep buying their games?
So there are my five reasons for throughly disliking EA and my little pieces of evidence to show you guys that they really couldn’t give two flying sh*ts about us (and I didn’t even mention Sim City). That’s why we at IM PLAYIN like the little guys. Those indie developers that take the time to talk to their audience and gauge our response to their games. We recently had a twitter conversation with PressPlay, the developers behind Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, where we briefly discussed how much we liked the game and the steps that they’re taking to improve the title for their community (not that it needs much improving, I’d like to add). It’s little things like that which make you feel appreciated as a gamer and a consumer, the feeling of talking to another human being rather than having a pre-written press approved response regurgitated to you every three seconds. OK, I’m no idiot. I know that PressPlay have about one thousand followers on Twitter whereas EA have millions, but you just get that faceless feel to their corporation … much like BP. Hopefully EA will listen to our complaints and take a good long look in the mirror. But who knows, maybe I’m just an optimist.