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Worst Company in America 2012
April 4, 2012 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Just beating Bank of America, Consumerist readers have voted Electronic Arts the worst company in America
posted by Artw (96 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
The semifinalists.
posted by Artw at 10:16 AM on April 4, 2012


Where's Goldman Sachs? Shouldn't they have at least been in the playoffs?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:20 AM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


Their readership must be made up of a bunch of whiny 12-year-old gamers who will liek fucking hack u becus y cheat u asshole
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:21 AM on April 4, 2012 [28 favorites]


Man people are irrationally upset about Mass Effect 3's ending.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:22 AM on April 4, 2012 [22 favorites]


...if they think EA is the worst the business world has to offer.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:22 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Goldman Sachs is awful, but they're probably not directly awful to their customers in such a way as to give a strong showing on a website called Consumerist.

I'm amazed that Sallie Mae lost to Ticketmaster. The company that's going to dominate your every financial decision for the next thirty years, vs. a company that gouges you on a luxury item.
posted by gauche at 10:23 AM on April 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


There is a disturbing lack of food/additive, chemical, or petrochemical companies in that list of finalists.
posted by jquinby at 10:25 AM on April 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Glad to see the company that bought ATT's name near the top, though.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:30 AM on April 4, 2012


People people people. We don't have to badmouth the voters. There's plenty of evilness for ALL these companies to enjoy across a wide variety of dimensions.
posted by DU at 10:30 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm a big fan of Consumerist, and I voted in all through the brackets. And I know it's all in good fun, but it is kinda disappointing to see the result. One of those two companies had a huge hand in the destruction of our economy, in ways that affect me and my friends on a daily basis and will continue to do so for years and years. And it wasn't EA.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:31 AM on April 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'd like nothing more than to see these companies burn to the ground, so many of them are like goddamn cancers in our political/labor environment.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:33 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


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 as someone who has his own set of disappointments over ME3, I wish I had a high enough Paragon rating to tell those people to get the fuck over it already.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:34 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The vote was rigged. There's no way EA plays in the same league as AT&T. That match-up was like your high school JV team going against the Yankees.

There were rumors earlier in the voting that Comcast was getting employees to game the voting against its opponent. Maybe they weren't the only one?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:35 AM on April 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sad fate for an outfit that started out so down-home and artsy.
posted by steinsaltz at 10:35 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oops..sorry...Replace AT&T with BOA. They all smell alike...
posted by Thorzdad at 10:36 AM on April 4, 2012


Man people are irrationally upset about Mass Effect 3's ending.

Nice canard. People's grievances with EA are long-standing and completely reasonable. They essentially murdered several beloved small developers after absorbing them & promising to nurture them within EA's structure.

They routinely fuck over their loyal customers in multiple ways, big and and small.

They are notorious for endless "crunch-time" schedules which destroy families and lives.

I could go on, but you can find it all out for yourself. Dismissing this as "whiny gamers upset at a game ending" is completely disingenuous.
posted by Aquaman at 10:36 AM on April 4, 2012 [26 favorites]


If the vote was rigged, it was rigged by being held on the Internet.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:36 AM on April 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nice canard.

Pretty sure that's sarcasm, dude.
posted by joe lisboa at 10:37 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed that Sallie Mae lost to Ticketmaster.The company that's going to dominate your every financial decision for the next thirty years

If you aren't paying off student loans in the ten year repayment plan, you're doing it wrong. Seriously, I borrowed more for my car than my undergraduate degree. They serviced my FFEL loans in accordance with the DoEd's liberal policies, including suspending payments during grad school and 6 months grace period post graduation.

Ticketmaster, on the other hand, is a company designed to be the bad guy in the supply chain. It isn't the venue or the artist turning the screws on fans, it's Ticketmaster. Nevermind that the artists and venues get more money thanks to their machinations, we have Ticketmaster as a (profitable) scapegoat.
posted by pwnguin at 10:38 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. That seems sort of odd to me. I've worked for EA, and would certainly not claim that anyone in upper management is in it for anything but the money, but as a company they're so fragmented and have so many cooks in so many kitchens that I have trouble thinking of it as a monolithic evil corporation. Yeah, their acquisitions have historically caused the industry to suck more, and they haven't really figured out how to reward innovation, but (since the lawsuit) they mostly don't treat their employees like crap and some of the divisions do turn out good games from time to time.

I mean, that's not a glowing review, but even in the game industry I'd put Zynga far, far ahead of them on the Evil Scale. And I'd put the game industry as a whole well behind the financial sector. It's a fucked-up industry, but it's not destroyng the national economy.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:39 AM on April 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


Pretty sure that's sarcasm, dude.

Didn't read like it to me. It sounded like somebody being unfairly dismissive to people with strongly-held grievances. Where's the hamburger tag when you need it?
posted by Aquaman at 10:40 AM on April 4, 2012


EA's a bad company because they don't price according to the movie/music industries? Why would they? And there's a name for the whole "release it now, fix it later and charge for it" thing. It's called "software".

Seems there are worse offenders on the list.
posted by 27 at 10:42 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


They essentially murdered several beloved small developers after absorbing them & promising to nurture them within EA's structure.

Someone did a good job of pointing out on Reddit that Pandemic was losing money, largely because their recent games were just not good. Is it "murdering" when a money losing company gets shuttered?
posted by adamdschneider at 10:44 AM on April 4, 2012


EA has already announced "Worst Company 2014" for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, PC and Vita.
posted by Talez at 10:46 AM on April 4, 2012 [14 favorites]


Electronic Arts: Too Big To EPIC FAIL!
posted by spicynuts at 10:46 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


but as a company they're so fragmented and have so many cooks in so many kitchens that I have trouble thinking of it as a monolithic evil corporation

my husband works for one of the big wireless companies and i can say this exact thing for his company, yet they're pretty widely held has being an evil megacorp. their entire corporate mission seems to be CYA, hiring enough middle managers, contractor liasons, and consultants to spread the blame around just enough that nothing ever gets fixed and no one ever takes responsibility. you don't have to be well organized to be evil.
posted by nadawi at 10:49 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


And yet, the games keep selling.
posted by blue t-shirt at 10:50 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


and yet, people still bank at bank of america and shop at walmart.
posted by nadawi at 10:53 AM on April 4, 2012


I have to agree, even though I have a lot of respect for the Consumerist, this really makes me think twice about their audience.

Granted, we were just talking about EA's unnecessarily harsh "always-on DRM" plans for the new SimCity. And I agree that it can be annoying to pay $2 for a bit of DLC that you think should be included with the game.

But EA hasn't destroyed our environment like BP, destroyed our health like McDonalds, destroyed our towns like Walmart, or destroyed our economy like Bank of America. It hasn't aggressively made the lives of poor people worse, like the check cashing/payday loan companies. It hasn't marketed push-up bras to pre-teen girls like American Eagle. It hasn't vacuumed cash from the pockets of the elderly like the pharmaceutical companies.

It hasn't even charged for DLC as badly as Zynga, for pity's sake.
posted by ErikaB at 10:54 AM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


I mean, that's not a glowing review, but even in the game industry I'd put Zynga far, far ahead of them on the Evil Scale

I think one of the common threads behind most of the companies "won" in the tournament is the fact that as a consumer you are forced one way or another to use their services. Zynga is annoying and makes crappy games but there are much better browser games out there and the fact that Zynga exists doesn't really ruin any of the other games. Whereas with EA, if you want to play an American football sim, they make damn sure that their game (which they haven't made any major improvements on in 10 years) is the only one you can buy. And they also buy existing game franchises and make them worse. It would be like if Yahoo, instead of being largely irrelevant and only ruining a few moderately successful web apps by acquiring them, was by far the biggest web company and routinely did things like buy Gmail and change it to require micro-payments or get an exclusive contract to replace YouTube and Vimeo and all other streaming sites with their own crappy one that they never update.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:55 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Most of the comments here seem to be insulting the voters rather than focusing on the evil companies.

Is EA the worst company ever in the history of the world? Unlikely. On the other hand this is an internet poll so one kind of expects a little silliness. What is true is that the video game industry is huge and (last I heard) is still growing.

EA is pretty much one of the vanguards of the industry, and a company that everyone looks to to set the tone of the market. And EA in turn... promotes sexist/racist cliches games, institutes DRM and DLC policies that harm the consumer, overcharge for their products while squishing out "mom and pop" competitors, has an oppressive work culture (or so I've heard third hand), and on top of it all they keep making shitty games.

You know the crap the MPAA has been pulling lately? Game publishers are gaining that kind of influence, and EA is first in line to call the shots. Being wary of them is not such a waste of time.
posted by jess at 10:55 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


But EA hasn't destroyed our environment like BP, destroyed our health like McDonalds, destroyed our towns like Walmart, or destroyed our economy like Bank of America. It hasn't aggressively made the lives of poor people worse, like the check cashing/payday loan companies. It hasn't marketed push-up bras to pre-teen girls like American Eagle. It hasn't vacuumed cash from the pockets of the elderly like the pharmaceutical companies.

It's interesting, isn't it? Just going by Mefites you'd expect these all to be pressing day to day concerns for American consumers, but when it gets down to it the partern of voting seems to show that what really pisses them off is to be the provider of some good or service they want, and to annoy them in the way you provide it.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on April 4, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think it has to do with reach. Mortgage companies, AT&T and all that suck, but they're limited to people who use those things.

EA - they make video games, and own the rights - mostly through treachery, backstabbing and assholery - on some of the biggest franchises around. Everyone I know is affected by EA's pointless douchebaggery.

They've bought and killed off tons of small publishers as way of eliminating the competition (including the game company I worked for) and pretty much abuse the shit out of their employees. They've created inane DRM schemes and picked fights with honest publishers (Steam, etc.) over stupid nonsensical bullshit. They're working hard to kill off the game market and this whole overpriced-and-should-have-been-in-the-game-to-begin-with DLC nonsense is almost entirely their design. The list goes on.

MS got their ass in a sling over their anti-trust nonsense and had the good sense to at least pretend to knock it off. EA has had no such teachable moment and continues to suck forever and ever and always, amen.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:00 AM on April 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


kill off the USED game market....

Sorry. The people responsible have been sacked.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it has more to do with the people who frequent Gawker properties having poor perspective.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2012


If EA made shitty games, then no one would buy them. Its when they make good games that you want to play, that's when the DLC and DRM crap matters.
posted by yifes at 11:03 AM on April 4, 2012


EA's response.
posted by 27 at 11:08 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it has to do with reach. Mortgage companies, AT&T and all that suck, but they're limited to people who use those things.

You think a company who makes a few blockbuster games has more reach than AT&T? Or Bank of America? You're a few orders of magnitudes off...
posted by yifes at 11:10 AM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


More like Electronic Arseholes, amirite?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:11 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


They essentially murdered several beloved small developers...Everyone I know is affected by EA's pointless douchebaggery.

Guys, please. Do we really need to have this discussion again?
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:11 AM on April 4, 2012


It's interesting, isn't it? Just going by Mefites you'd expect these all to be pressing day to day concerns for American consumers, but when it gets down to it the partern of voting seems to show that what really pisses them off is to be the provider of some good or service they want, and to annoy them in the way you provide it.

Or the internet poll was gamed, which was very likely the case. Every time EA came up to a vote it seemed to magically appear on /r/gaming, and was frontpaged on reddit within a couple of hours. It also appeared on the cesspool a few times as well.

The anger with EA is the trifecta of DLC, DRM and Mass Effect 3's ending.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:12 AM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: Guys, please. Do we really need to have this discussion again?
posted by Chrysostom at 11:14 AM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


And EA in turn... promotes sexist/racist cliches games, institutes DRM and DLC policies that harm the consumer, overcharge for their products while squishing out "mom and pop" competitors, has an oppressive work culture (or so I've heard third hand), and on top of it all they keep making shitty games.

And yet, Consumerist's voters seem to have voted EA in for one of the reasons you state. From the article:
...video games have continued to be priced like premium goods.

There have even been numerous accusations that EA and its ilk deliberately hold back game content with the sole intent of charging a fee for it at a later date. It's one thing to support a game with new content that is worth the price. It's another to put out an inferior — and occasionally broken — product with the mindset of "ah, we'll fix it later and make some money for doing so."
Does this make them evil? Sure, if it floats your boat. Does this (and this alone) make them the worst company in US, beating other worthies such as ComCast, BestBuy, Sony and Target? I think this entire thing shows the limitations of a playoffs model more than anything else.
posted by the cydonian at 11:15 AM on April 4, 2012


I think it has to do with reach. Mortgage companies, AT&T and all that suck, but they're limited to people who use those things.

EA - they make video games, and own the rights - mostly through treachery, backstabbing and assholery - on some of the biggest franchises around. Everyone I know is affected by EA's pointless douchebaggery.


You don't know anyone who has a cell phone, cable internet, or bank account, but everyone you know plays EA games?

Who the fuck are your friends?
posted by Aizkolari at 11:15 AM on April 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


They essentially murdered several beloved small developers...Everyone I know is affected by EA's pointless douchebaggery.

Guys, please. Do we really need to have this discussion again?


Maybe EA's Mergers & Acquisitions department is way more hardcore than I thought and Aquaman meant "murdered" literally? That's the only way I can see EA winning over the likes of BoA.

Except oh wait, this is a fucking Internet poll in the age of 4chan and reddit. Thinking it means anything is a mistake.
posted by kmz at 11:18 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


People's grievances with EA are long-standing and completely reasonable. They essentially murdered several beloved small developers after absorbing them & promising to nurture them within EA's structure
All of this sounds like normal American business practices. The only reason you think it's egregious on the level of, say, Goldman Sachs or AT&T, is because you have a personal stake in the gaming industry.

Giant banking companies control finance. Giant media conglomerates control how you get your information. But you think some company shutting down an indie game developer to streamline profits is bad?
posted by deathpanels at 11:20 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


promotes sexist/racist cliches games, institutes DRM and DLC policies that harm the consumer, overcharge for their products while squishing out "mom and pop" competitors, has an oppressive work culture (or so I've heard third hand), and on top of it all they keep making shitty games.

Wait, I thought this thread was about EA, not Activision?
posted by kmz at 11:28 AM on April 4, 2012


Consumerist hasn't been part of Gawker for several years.
posted by drezdn at 11:30 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


You don't know anyone who has a cell phone, cable internet, or bank account, but everyone you know plays EA games?

Everyone I know has a cell phone. Few people I know use AT&T.

Everyone I know has a place to live. Few people I know have mortgages.

Everyone I know does some sort of banking. Few people I know do it with Bank of America.

Everyone I know plays video games of some sort. Everyone I know has to deal with EA's distortion of that market, even if they don't play EA games. EA is that much larger than pretty much every other player there.

The comparison to MS is apt.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:31 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


A classic sophie's choice.
I despise them all equally.
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:32 AM on April 4, 2012


This seemed weird to me, not because I don't hate EA (I really hate EA) but my reasons wouldn't apply to the general public.

Back in the 90's I worked for a startup and EA published a title that I created there. EA conned our naive CEO into signing a publishing contract that was in retrospect like a rock band's first record deal. The product was a hit and sold more than 2 million copies, but EA's creative accounting let them pay us hardly any royalties at all. In the end we went out of business.
posted by w0mbat at 11:35 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just as a sort of an aside – it seems like doing voting in brackets is sort of silly, isn't it? Bracketed contests are for sports where matches are necessarily between only two competitors; they're designed to solve the lack of a way to test all competitors at once. Breaking voting down into brackets this way seems about as weird as having people run the Boston Marathon as a series of several thousand head-to-head races.

Unless this is intended as some sort of "March Madness!" analogue; in which case, yeah, okay. Math me is still a little perturbed, but it's not the end of the world.
posted by koeselitz at 11:39 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everyone I know plays video games of some sort. Everyone I know has to deal with EA's distortion of that market, even if they don't play EA games. EA is that much larger than pretty much every other player there.

What I am trying say - inartfully - is that everyone agrees that their cell provider sucks, and their bank sucks and their mortgage companies suck. But those are all different companies - and people disagree as to who sucks more; AT&T or Tmobile ?

But everyone agrees that EA sucks, so, they get the most votes.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:41 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


27: "EA's response."

Thought for sure that link would be going here.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:41 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Come the fuck on. EA isn't a great company, but the worst company in America, compared to these others that have done actual damage to the entire country and the world? Again: come the fuck on.

Just more evidence that Internet polling is completely useless because it will inevitably be skewed into meaninglessness, like how Ron Paul wins every online poll by 1000000%.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:44 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


The problem with Consumerist's yearly Worst Company in America poll is that it does not spell out exactly what 'worst' means. Is it 'worst' in terms of "they are evil and seek to do harm to others" (Ticketmaster) or 'worst' as in "they are inept and not very good at running a business" (Sears)?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:45 AM on April 4, 2012


&ndash I have to say, though, that I have a feeling the bracketing system is what's responsible for EA winning this thing. EA causes a lot of annoyance and consternation right now, due to lots of things but particularly because of the ending of a certain recently-released video game. So it makes perfect sense that, whenever matched head-to-head with some other single company, EA is likely to bring out a lot of annoyed people to vote against it. That doesn't mean that, seeing all of the companies laid out together at the same time, more people wouldn't vote against a different company.

I mean, really, the only thing this tells us is that people seem to think EA is a worse company than Bank of America, Comcast, Best Buy, and Sony. It doesn't tell us that EA is thought to be the worst company in America. It doesn't even tell us that EA is thought to be the worst company on the board.
posted by koeselitz at 11:50 AM on April 4, 2012


Or the internet poll was gamed, which was very likely the case. Every time EA came up to a vote it seemed to magically appear on /r/gaming, and was frontpaged on reddit within a couple of hours. It also appeared on the cesspool a few times as well.

This, hard as a headshot from an M-98 Widow. And, as much as people want to rationalize it as being a critique or EA over all, or on the basis that your buddy's game startup got eaten alive by EA, it simply wouldn't have happened if the release of ME3 had been offset from the Consumerist poll (based on, and deliberately coinciding with, NCAA March Madness) by about six months or so.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:09 PM on April 4, 2012


Where's UPS???
posted by MangyCarface at 12:11 PM on April 4, 2012


Forbes weighs in: EA is the Worst Company in America, Now What?
posted by Malor at 12:13 PM on April 4, 2012


Apple beat Google? Must not have been many mobile adherents voting in that round. </derail>
posted by Brak at 12:16 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


The real problem with Consumer's yearly Worst Company in America poll is that anyone takes it seriously. Internet polling is only ever "just for fun" - it's worthless for actually gauging public opinion. And public opinion is a pretty limited way to judge "badness" of a company.

Regarding koeselitz's complaint, if "worse than" is transitive, it does show that EA is the worst company on the board. If it's not transitive, then it's probable that there is no single worst company - you could have a worse-cycle. (e.g., EA is worse than Best Buy, Best Buy is worse than Target, and Target is worse than EA). Because these are people and opinions, there's no reason to think that "worse than" would be strictly transitive.

The only people who should take this at all seriously are the companies themselves, who all have real PR problems.
posted by aubilenon at 12:20 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, Sony is not an American company.
posted by aubilenon at 12:30 PM on April 4, 2012


Sixty-one comments and no one has mentioned the dangling modifier?
posted by caryatid at 12:31 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't play video games. Then again, we aren't friends.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:35 PM on April 4, 2012


Actually now that I think about I'd say most people I know don't play video games.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:38 PM on April 4, 2012


Not insinuating anything here (dammit! just saying that makes it seem like I am insinuating something! hopefully this parenthetical aside will neutralize the effect...), but just to ask a gee-whiz question: How did Forbes have their response article to the poll results ready to go with a dateline of:

4/04/2012 @ 12:02PM

...when the original article revealing the results of the poll is dated:

April 4, 2012 12:00 PM

? Or had the final results already been revealed before the reveal? Or might they have gotten advance notice on the results over at Forbes? The Consumerist and Forbes don't have any kind of affiliation or partnership do they? Must suck being an online writer if you only get two minutes to write your features...
posted by saulgoodman at 12:40 PM on April 4, 2012


Where the hell are RJ Reynolds and Phillip Morris?
posted by double block and bleed at 12:45 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding koeselitz's complaint, if "worse than" is transitive, it does show that EA is the worst company on the board. If it's not transitive, then it's probable that there is no single worst company - you could have a worse-cycle.

Even if any given person has a strictly ranked list from best to worst and uses that to vote, EA might not be ranked worst for anyone voting and still win. As pointed out above, almost everyone hates their phone company or cable provider, but since the big cable and phone companies split up the customer base, that cuts down on the total number of people that hate any one of them. So if EA goes up against Time Warner, a lot of people who are indifferent to Time Warner because they have Comcast or DirecTV and mildly dislike EA will win over the smaller group of Time Warner customers who vehemently hate that company. Whereas if the voting system was "vote for your worst company" directly and everyone put their phone company or cable company ahead of EA, EA would get almost no votes.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:47 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


When based solely upon the end consumer's personal interaction with the company rather than the wider actions of the company upon the world as a whole, this makes a lot of sense. On a person-to-company level, EA is an unfeeling entity which is bent upon squeezing money out of consumers in the field of video games. Mind you, many of these gamers recall the near death of the industry and revival led by Nintendo with a philosophy of completely amazing customer service. Game companies for the longest time were not seen as soulless corporate monoliths.

Aquaman also brings up a solid point. The way EA treats its employees particularly at "crunch time" reaches a point of madness. I fully agree that Bank of America does some pretty terrible stuff, but pushing 13 hour days every single day of the week on employees with no overtime or comp time is not amongst said stuff. In terms of how a company treats its employees, it would be quite like "high school JV team going against the Yankees" as suggested above. EA being the Yankees for clarification. The 1927 Yankees with sabermetrics.

Say what you want, but in terms of how terrible a company is to the individual user and in comparison with other companies in their same field, EA is a very reasonable competitor. If you want to consider the company as a whole, do realize that they promote games which are sexist, remarkably violent, and promote all manner of psychopathic behavior in-game. On top of that, their DRM activities and their silent support for SOPA show how much they want to stomp on intellectual property rights for the end consumer. Given the effects SOPA would have, I'd say that's very serious business that affects everyone.

I understand people disagreeing with EA being the worst company, but to insult the voters and consider this some "gamed" poll and bad joke is turning a blind eye to a company simply because they're involved in a field that appeals to a certain segment of the population. It's like saying "I don't listen to music or watch movies anyway, so the RIAA and MPAA can't be all that bad. Besides, the vote was probably rigged by a bunch of kids who just want to pirate music."

Perhaps Bank of America has had a worse impact on the population as a whole. Same would go for AT&T. EA didn't win this competition on the back of Mass Effect 3. They won it over several years of carving a path of destruction through a beloved industry, introducing themselves to loathsome politics, and treating their own workers worse than anyone on the list with the possible exception of Wal-Mart.
posted by Saydur at 12:50 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whether it's deserved or not, I'm glad the poll turned out that way. The chances of BofA being affected by an internet poll are laughably small. The chances that seeing the scale of the wrath of the internet against EA might have some effect on the gaming industry are somewhat, microscopically, larger. Maybe EA will reconsider their DRM on upcoming games, maybe they might try a more hands-off approach to a franchise. Or, much more likely, smaller publishers might realize they have a chance to differentiate themselves from the most hated company on the web.

One of the most frustrating things about gaming these days is the knowledge that, if you find an obscure game that you just love, and you play it to death, the odds are that by the time a sequel comes out the company that made it will have been sucked into EA's maw, and the product that comes out the other end is... well, what you'd expect.

Maybe now, it'll be easier for companies to be able to resist being assimilated, and maybe more games will stay true to their creators' intentions. It might actually turn out that this poll will help the gaming industry stay diverse and creative, instead of going fully industrial.
posted by MrVisible at 1:03 PM on April 4, 2012


It's not a worst list without Monsanto in the running.
posted by tatiana131 at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I honestly don't understand how EA became the number one gaming company to hate over Activision. I mean, I can understand Ubisoft getting a pass on their way worse DRM because they're relatively small fish nowadays, and Zynga is still too much on the periphery of "real" gaming for people to hate them beyond passive dismissal, but I remember when Bobby Kotick was pretty much persona non grata amongst gaming circles. What happened? Are people feeling sorry for Activision after Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero fizzled out? Bleedover goodwill from Blizzard?
posted by kmz at 2:09 PM on April 4, 2012


I mean, really, the only thing this tells us is that people seem to think EA is a worse company than Bank of America
NO.

This tells us not to believe everything we're told.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 2:18 PM on April 4, 2012


kmz - it's like why do people hate coke over pepsi. it's just about who is more in the forefront at any given time. EA has been fostering ill will as of late (and i disagree that it's all ME3 related, as i've had a growing annoyance with them and i've never played any of ME games and don't care a whit about big budget game endings). worry not, activision will fuck up in a public way soon enough and the hate machine will turn their giant eye that way.
posted by nadawi at 2:21 PM on April 4, 2012


I'm sure Diablo 3 will get the hackles up, if that particular font of outrage isn't completely spent yet.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:36 PM on April 4, 2012


@27: No shit! Apple and MS have continually released terrifying games † priced like premium goods and then charged for 'upgrades' and 'service packs' for them for decades! (And just forget their sound design departments! Sosumi much?)

† 'OSx', 'Windows'
posted by Twang at 3:15 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't understand how EA became the number one gaming company to hate over Activision.

Because Activision wasn't in the poll. They would probably have beaten EA if they'd been directly matched against each other.
posted by Malor at 3:34 PM on April 4, 2012


The sheer greed and money-grubbing in Diablo 3 is both appalling and disgusting, by the way. That's the first game in probably twenty years I plan to pirate, if they crack it. In fact, I will go way out of my way to do so.
posted by Malor at 3:36 PM on April 4, 2012


Or you could, y'know, not play it.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:50 PM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I play World of Warcraft, I have the one-year thing (Because a friend bought me a year of playtime as a holiday gift) and that gives me Diablo 3 for free. I still haven't downloaded my pre-play because of the lack of interest.

(the beta, though... I've been hoping for pandaren for a while and now we have them.)
posted by mephron at 3:52 PM on April 4, 2012


me: “I mean, really, the only thing this tells us is that people seem to think EA is a worse company than Bank of America...”

Critical_Beatdown: “NO. This tells us not to believe everything we're told.”

Wait, what? Isn't that what the poll said? I guess if you want I can qualify "people" to mean "the people who responded to this poll," but aside from that – they did vote that EA was worse than Bank of America, right?
posted by koeselitz at 3:58 PM on April 4, 2012


EA has been a problem for a long long time now. In 1995 they gobbled up Bullfrog Productions, Peter Molyneux's studio and developers of such legitimate PC gaming classics as Populous, Syndicate, Magic Carpet, Theme Park, Dungeon Keeper and a whole mess of excellent variations/sequels (Molyneux left in 1997, though he was vice-president at the time of the acquisition so it's technically partially his doing).

They also ate Origin Systems. These folk, you may recall, developed the Ultima games (including the Underworlds - absolute corkers, both of 'em), the Wing Commander games (which pushed hardware to the limit), Bioforge and my all-time favourite game System Shock. (It's true, though, that this happened in 1992, long before any of those great games were produced, so it could be argued that this was actually a good thing.)

In 1998 they swallowed Westwood Studios. Admittedly that's a bit of a "whatever" but Westwood did bring out some great stuff, such as the Legends of Kyrandia games, the Blade Runner adventure game, the two Eye of the Beholder games that weren't exactly amazing (compared to Myth Drannor) but were still pretty good, the Dune RTS (which kicked-off the whole RTS thing, really), and a little series called Command & Conquer.

These three studios alone (well, we'll throw id Software, now owned by Bethesda, into the mix) pretty much defined PC gaming for much of the 1990s. And because of this, I humbly submit, they pretty much defined PC gaming. The 90s was when PCs got big. Like crazy big. And it wasn't because people wanted to do their finances in Excel or write letters to the editor in Wordperfect 5.1. It's because they wanted to play Doom and after they played doom they became addicted to the pixels and they went out and bought everything I listed above. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anybody these days in, say, their thirties, who hadn't played a whole bunch of those games.

We'll never see anything like that coming out of EA again. There's the annual tired-ass rehash of legit moneymakers like Command & Conquer or The Sims (along with The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, The Sims is probably the greatest single reason for the proliferation of "microtransactions" in gaming today), the disgusting defilement of the good name of Origin for their "online content delivery system" (a sick, palsied shadow of Steam, riddled with problems and corruption), Madden after Madden and Battlefield after Battlefield, System Shock knockoffs like Dead Space, and pretty-decent-but-what-the-fuck-is-this?-and-THIS? RPGs like Dragon Age and Mass Effect (mainly thanks to Bioware, though) and a game I've got at home that's basically Dragon Age but is called Kingdoms of Amalur. They're the 20th Century Fox of the gaming business. Nothing unique or interesting will come from them, just blockbusters (which have their place, sure) and sad little shooters like Bulletstorm and the Syndicate reboot. They'll play around with "different" stuff because they've seen what a buttload of money Minecraft has made, but it will be crippled by Origin and DRM and won't be as good so they'll just continue swallowing the innovators, dissecting the technology, possibly using bits and pieces of it but mainly just patenting it and copywriting it and putting it in a vault to never be seen again.

Their other problem is an absolute reliance on multiplayer games. With a multiplayer game you don't need to craft a story or an atmosphere, or even an experience. You just need to create a playing field and give the players a loadout and fool them with a sense of achievement because they got a "killstreak" and unlocked gold pistol grips (well, the option to microtransact gold pistol grips, at least). And they make absolute squillions of dollars from this bullshit. Once upon a time you'd sell 100,000 copies of a game like System Shock in a year and you'd be pleased as punch because you made an awesome-ass game and got a couple of bucks for it. Now, if you're not shipping a million units in the first week, you're doing helmet textures for Madden until they find a fucking bin to put you in.

Massive monolothic corporations like EA have literally never been good for anything, ever, at any point in all of human history. They do nothing but subtract. They subtract innovation, they subtract talent, they subtract experimentation, they subtract risk-taking, and they subtract oodles and oodles of money, so that even if you do want to try something a bit different, a bit interesting (like the upcoming Legend of Grimrock, which I am actually almost-literally bursting with anticipation for), you don't have any fucking money left because you've already downloaded a bunch of new chairs for your Sims, because your Sims were, get this..."sad". Their fucking furniture bars were deep in the red so you bought them five bucks worth of new furniture. Guy on Battlefield just shot you in the face and he was wearing pink army boots so you need to get some pink army boots, which you will only unlock at level 34, and you can't get to level 34 because your rocket launcher isn't good enough. Mass Effect 3 didn't "end properly" so you download the "proper ending" for $15 when it comes out.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:16 PM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


tumid dahlia wrote:
In 1998 they swallowed Westwood Studios. Admittedly that's a bit of a "whatever" but Westwood did bring out some great stuff, such as ... the Dune RTS (which kicked-off the whole RTS thing, really)
Not really.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 4:38 PM on April 4, 2012


Yeah, okay, but if we go far back enough everything started somewhere else. I sure as hell have never heard of Herzog Zwei, but then I never had a Sega Genesis (wish I did, though). I guess I meant "genre-popularizer" like what it says on that Wikipedia page.

Also for the record, I've got no dog in the hunt, but I don't think EA is anywhere near being the "worst company in America", that's just what happens with an online poll. EA are still a pack of shitheads though.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:56 PM on April 4, 2012


I'll preface this by agreeing wholeheartedly that EA is a pack of shitheads. Most large game companies make awful choices (Ubisoft to PC gamers: drop dead, Activision to any non-Call of Duty game: drop dead, etc.) but EA's really ramped up the customer-haterade this year, possibly because its financials aren't looking so great these days.

But it's not quite as bad as tumid dahlia says above. Command and Conquer hasn't been rehashed annually; they just fucked up one and a half games in a row (you can argue for or against Red Alert 3). Generals was 2003, C&C3 was 2007, RA3 was 2008, C&C4 was 2010. Meanwhile Activision's put out a Call of Duty game every year since 2005. Battlefield hasn't been too awful either; 2142 in 2006, Bad Company in 2008, Bad Company 2 in 2010 and Battlefield 3 in 2011. Maddens and NHLs aside (sports franchises ALWAYS get yearly rehashes, and people keep buying them by the truckload), EA hasn't exhausted its franchises the way Activision has (ex. Guitar Hero, Tony Hawk).

A few years back, EA took a chance on a few titles outside the norm. Dead Space may be heavily inspired by System Shock, but it's not like the market was flooded with that kind of game; its competitors were games like Resident Evil 4, which was critically lauded at the time but feels ridiculously old now thanks in part to Dead Space. Mirror's Edge is even more out there, and though it didn't sell as well as it could have, it has a dedicated following years after its release for good reason. The only game that comes close to what Mirror's Edge tried to do was Brink, and that was a disaster.

Unfortunately, EA didn't have the wherewithal to follow through on its promise of renewed creativity; when the games didn't sell as much as they needed, EA went back to studied mediocrity. Medal of Honor was a skilled but ultimately cynical attempt to grab some of the Call of Duty pie; Dragon Age 2 (and to a lesser extent Mass Effect 3) are watered-down, simplified versions of their predecessors. Dante's Inferno... well, let's not talk about that one. But even now, there are glimpses of brilliance: Syndicate reviewed well and SimCity has been brought back from the dead looking very much like its former self (and not like, say, SimCity Socieities).

EA's problems don't actually have that much to do with their games; they really aren't microtransacted up the wazoo (The Sims is the sole exception I can think of, though even then we're talking expansion packs, not microtransactions) and they have about the same percentage of hits and misses as any huge game publisher, both critically and financially. EA's real problems have to do with customer service, or the complete lack thereof. BioWare's PR is universally awful, unable to respond to the most basic of player concerns without embarrassing themselves. EA routinely shuts down multiplayer servers for games less than two years old, including games that require used purchasers to buy an online pass; no other major developer shuts down multiplayer this quickly, and most never shut down the multiplayer aspect of their games at all. Origin is a Steam-like service in the sense that you need to run it in order to play recent EA PC games, but offers few of the advantages of Steam. Meanwhile, if you happen to be banned from the EA forums for any reason at all (including the crime of being mentioned in someone else's post alongside a bunch of swear words), you lose access to your Origin games.

All of these are pretty bad issues, especially the multiple ways in which EA takes your money and then keeps you from playing the games you purchased. But you can fix all of these things without having to change a single thing about the content of any of their games.
posted by chrominance at 6:08 PM on April 4, 2012


OK, all kidding aside, here is the actual EA response.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:41 PM on April 4, 2012


(The Sims is the sole exception I can think of, though even then we're talking expansion packs, not microtransactions)

I think that people are talking about the Store, not the Expansion Packs. The store sells items like new clothing and furniture, usually for about $.50 to $1.00. You can spend a lot of money at the store, a little at a time. (They obscure the cost slightly by having you pay in "simpoints" that you buy.)

EA even recently patched the game so that you can buy and install store content while playing, to make it even easier to buy that brand new sofa impulsively. If you have to reinstall the game (which is likely, because it's full of bugs), the Store button shines at you annoyingly until you click on it.

The common complaint is that the expansion packs contain gameplay options that should have been part of the base game, and that the store contains items that should have been in either the base game or an expansion pack.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:57 PM on April 4, 2012


EA managed to take the NHl series of games from good to great (1997-2001) and turn them into abysmal drek by 2010. For that alone I hate them.
posted by Vindaloo at 9:14 PM on April 4, 2012


Question re. Sims. I haven't played since the first one, is there no longer any fan created free mods and items? Has it all become a walled garden of for purchase content only? Because I remember the fan stuff from the Sims was the best stuff of the game.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:08 PM on April 4, 2012


It's been a rough couple of years for Bank of America. Coming in second this year has to be a blow for them after last year's competition, where Bank of America came in second to BP.

I have hope that they'll pull it together and come in first next year. Being second just means they'll try harder.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:26 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


EA defends itself against thousands of anti-gay letters

I should probably try finding time to play Mass Effect 3 given that series positive review, but I rarely make time for games.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:42 AM on April 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


There’s a slight problem with internet polls. And that problem is the internet.
posted by Artw at 9:45 AM on April 5, 2012


EA defends itself against thousands of anti-gay letters

Which puts a bit of a sinister twist on some of the block voting... though I suspect that in the online world people prepared to vote EA down for being too gay are matched by people prepared to vote them down for not being gay enough or not being gay in the exact right way, or people who don't care about gayness but wanted the exact right color of shoe or toothbrush included in the game and how dare they not do that, thus undermining the entire ethos of what it's about...
posted by Artw at 10:11 AM on April 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


EA In Full Damage Control Mode, Points To Anti-Gay Hate-Mail.
posted by ericb at 1:53 PM on April 5, 2012


Electronic Arts Will Not Give In to Anti-Gay Protests.
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on April 5, 2012


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