Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil

Poor old EA, apparently they’re the worst company in America. Worse than The South California Crack Cocaine and Heroin Company, worse even than pre-tournament favourites Puppy Kicking Inc. (motto: “We Kick Puppies!”), EA beat the Bank of America in the final vote.

Back in 2004, when Erin Hoffman’s EA Spouse post drew attention to the working practices of the industry, and when EA had a reputation of swallowing up and crushing smaller studios, it would’ve made more sense, but since John Riccitiello became CEO in 2007 they’ve improved considerably. Course they’re not perfect, they’re a big company ultimately focused on profits, but *worst* company? How could they possibly earn such a title in a series of internet polls where a comparatively small number of motivated tech-oriented people across the world could easily swamp the… oh… Right. I suppose, in hindsght, those hit hardest by the financial crisis that the Bank of America played no small part in might have been a bit more worried about finding a job, food and somewhere to live than voting in an internet poll. The slackers.

Maybe there’s a little clue to the most monstrous evil of EA in the post on The Consumerist awarding the Golden Poo:

“Traditionally, the Poo has been delivered on its little red pillow. But this year, we’ll give EA three different color options for its pillow, though in the end it’s still the same old Poo.”

Even without the explicit reference it wouldn’t be a massive leap to connect a campaign expressing displeasure with EA to the Retake Mass Effect efforts. At least they’re gamers, though, motivated by their passion for games they love, if perhaps a touch overzealous in places, unlike some other online campaigners. It seems EA have been targeted over the inclusion of same sex relationships in their games, with Star Wars: The Old Republic being particularly singled out by the Florida Family Association. There’s a link in the GamesIndistry.biz piece, I’m not going to replicate it here (oxygen of publicity and all that), but you couldn’t ask for a better example of Poe’s Law. It’s headlined by an image of RuPaul’s head superimposed on Darth Vader’s body and the question: “Will the makers of Star Wars video games create Darth VaPaula, a (mock) transgender version of Darth Vader – RuPaul, for kids to choose as their action character?” I’m pretty sure the answer is “no, you deranged fuckwits”, EA’s Jeff Brown puts it a bit more diplomatically: “In short, we do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don’t tolerate hate speech on our forums”.

A cynic might suggest it’s PR driven, with EA pointing to the support of the Human Rights Campaign over their stance in a response on Kotaku to the “worst company” award. With the stock price of Starbucks climbing since a “Dump Starbucks” campaign was launched to protest the coffee company’s support of same sex marriage, possibly in part because of a backlash against the original campaign, maybe it’s just a sensible business decision, but regardless of EA’s motives it doesn’t sound like the behaviour of The Worst Company In America to me.

7 thoughts on “Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil

  1. Stabs

    I’ve been reading about gold farming recently which apparently has branched out into clicking on various internet measuring links. Likes, dislikes, Friends, etc.

    I wonder how many votes for EA as worst company £50 buys. Probably rather a lot.

  2. Stabs

    Actually I’ve got a game idea. Well, actually I should say a “game” idea.

    I launch a company to design some mindless game clicking cows then raise venture capital. I use the venture capital to buy several million logins from Chinese click farmers then go back to my investors and say “it’s going great – look how many players we have.” Then I ask them for more money to “take it to the next level.”

    Oh wait…

    it’s already been done.

  3. Tremayne

    So just to be clear – Goldman Sachs can be likened to a giant vampire squid going hentai on the planet’s economy, various healthcare insurance companies can screw people out of ever more money for ever less cover, and Apple can be the centre of a global mind control cult, but the epitome of evil is releasing a video game with a disappointing ending?

    I suspect a lot of gamers out there have First World Problem Syndrome (I.e. this thing that they think is a big deal, in the opinion of six billion other human beings really isn’t)

  4. flosch

    While I totally understand (and kind of agree with) Termayne’s reasoning, at least now I can point to another reference when I claim with utter conviction that EA is the gaming antichrist. You know, with all the devouring of game companies and then releasing another “FIFA 2017b second edition” or similar gems.

    capcha: fapple. Umm… that conjures some vivid images.Is that like a snapple, just for…? o.O

  5. Attic Lion

    I think it’s a bit of a reach to connect EA winning the Golden Poo to the crazed anti-gay ratings of some obnoxiously loud idiots.

    While I have no doubts that ME3s recent launch straight into the mire of disillusioned fans played a part in their winning, especially thanks to websites like reddit and such, I still can’t fathom defending EA. Even if it’s hard to put them on the same economy crashing level as BoA and other financial superpowers, they’re still easily one of the worst companies in the game industry. Right up there with Acti-Blizzard, Zynga, and Ubisoft.

    Hell, just look at ME3s DLC: day 1 squadmate you have to pay for (unlike ME2 and DA:O), random packs of stuff for the multiplayer making it difficult to get the stuff you really want; multiplayer which conveniently effects how the single player campaign plays out, the tie-in $7 iphone game that lets you shell out $50+ to buy your way to a better ME3 single player ending, etc.

    Compare this to say, Red Dead Redemption: most expensive DLC it has is an entirely different game mode and there’s a mix of paid and free multiplayer DLC which offer more stuff than just skins and weapon unlocks.

    I’d say the ME3 DLC clearly feels more manipulative and focused on milking the customer than the RDR stuff.

  6. Vic Sandman

    Honestly, I think EA doesn’t even remotely deserve a “worst company of the year” award. Mass Effect 3’s ending was satisfying; the gameplay was excellent; the romance options were great; what more could a gamer ask for? Now take any bank on the other hand. What have they done FOR people? What have they done to harm people?

    Yeah. EA end up looking like angels compared to most other corporations. This poll is, in a word, bullshit.

  7. Zoso Post author

    @Stabs +1 Like Follow your business plan!

    @Tremayne Indeed, slight loss of perspective…

    @flosch Heh, they certainly were the gaming antichrist, they’ve improved a fair bit since 2007 though (or maybe they’ve improved very slightly, and the rest of the industry has sunk to their level…)

    @Attic Lion No, I think the Retake Mass Effect campaign would’ve brought far more clicks than the Family Values fruitloops (though slightly ironic that both groups could view it as a good result), and no doubt they weren’t the only ones voting for EA, but with a relatively small number of votes (in the global internet scheme of things) it might well have been enough to swing the result.

    There’s certainly stuff to be concerned about, across the entire gaming industry; the pricing of The Secret World pre-order prices/packs, for example, but a yes/no “Worst Company” poll doesn’t allow any nuance to express whether it’s zero-day DLC, the artistic decisions of the company about a game ending, or the inclusion of same-sex relationships that makes them so terrible.

Comments are closed.