Monday, April 22, 2013

Good & Bad Companies, Part 2

I remember the Sim City game series as being exceptional and everyone who played it was very impressed with each version of the game.  I was surprised to discover that for the newest release 2,100 of the 2,500 Amazon reviewers had given it the lowest rating possible.

Then I discovered that this new Sim City game was not created by its original company.  It seems that Electronic Arts had made this latest game.  I spent lots of time playing EA games in the past.  I've spent lots of time playing several of the Madden football and Tiger Woods PGA tour games. 

But something has happened to this once good company.  

I haven't played Madden since the switch to the PS3 consoles becasue the new games are unplayably awful, and missing content from earlier games.

Thanks EA, for ending the time I wasted playing Madden by making the new versions so awful.

I was recently interested in playing golf on my PlayStation too.  I looked at the Amazon reviews and discovered that the new golf game first requires $60 to buy the game and then you need to pay additional money in order play on half of the courses.

Thanks EA, for ending the time that I wasted playing golf on my PlayStation by requiring stupid extra costs for half of your content.

Then we come to Sim City. Even though 400 out of 2,500 reviewers gave it more than the lowest possible rating, even some of the 5 star reviews seem to be sarcastic.

for example, a 5 star review:
Some people just don't "get it," man...

Sim City 2013 isn't a videogame, it's art.

EA is quite obviously attempting to create a work representative of modern Dadism or protest art using a completely new medium. Anyone that takes a step back can easily see EA is making a strong statement against "the man" and their DRM tactics which constantly cripple the video game industry. Video games aren't a common medium so I understand the confusion. There will be plenty of people who aren't art aficionados who don't realize they're not spending $59.99 on a video game, but on a beautiful protest piece. The brilliant thing is the piece is so subtle that both the art and video game crowd completely understand and develop the ire for DRM that was intended in the first place. Probably one of the most effective pieces for the movement I've ever seen.

I mean seriously gamers... 5 servers at launch? Removal of key features to "reduce bandwidth constraints?" You don't seriously think EA could screw up that badly, do you?

Personally, I can't wait to see an instillation on the subject in the Museum of Modern Art, and I for one would just like to say: "Bravo EA, Bravo."
These comments seemed interesting, so I went to see the EA website to see if they had anything to say aboutthe awful ratings of a highly anticipated game.

Their CEO, Peter Moore, wrote a message on their blog.

Apparently lots of people are unhappy with EA.

from his message:
The tallest trees catch the most wind. 
That’s an expression I frequently use when asked to defend EA’s place in the gaming industry.  And it comes to mind again this week as we get deeper into the brackets of an annual Web poll to name the “Worst Company in America.”

This is the same poll that last year judged us as worse than companies responsible for the biggest oil spill in history, the mortgage crisis, and bank bailouts that cost millions of taxpayer dollars.  The complaints against us last year were our support of SOPA (not true), and that they didn’t like the ending to Mass Effect 3.

This year’s contest started in March with EA outpolling a company which organizers contend is conspiring to corner the world market on mid-priced beer, and (gulp) allegedly waters down its product.  That debate takes place in bars – our audience lives on the Internet.  So no surprise that we drew more votes there.

Let me cut to the chase: it appears EA is going to “win.”  Like the Yankees, Lakers and Manchester United, EA is one of those organizations that is defined by both a legacy of success, and a legion of critics (especially me regarding all three of those teams).
I don't think that a video game company is the worst in the country.  (Maybe GE is, though.)

After reading this CEO's message, I'm not impressed by what he means to do to rectify the problems with all of their new games (because he doesn't even allude to the fact that they are bad).  Instead I'm left with a desire to learn about all the methods of arguments, so that I can point exactly to where he is trying to be devious.

If I knew the correct names for all of his debating tactics, then I'd point to where he felt the need to explain that he doesn't like the Yankees.  (Did he think that I'd like him more becasue he doesn't like them?)

I could also give the correct name for the tactic that redirects the attention of his readers.  He lists some criticisms against his company, which we're expected to believe are the reasons why EA is not fondly thought of these days. 

One if these points is:
  • In the past year, we have received thousands of emails and postcards protesting against EA for allowing players to create LGBT characters in our games.  This week, we’re seeing posts on conservative web sites urging people to protest our LGBT policy by voting EA the Worst Company in America.
That last one is particularly telling.  If that’s what makes us the worst company, bring it on.  Because we're not caving on that.
People wrote unfavorable reviews on Sim City 5 becasue of loading times, removal of content compared to Sim City 4, the smallness of the map, etc.

How many people, do you suppose went to Amazon to give Sim City 5 a 1 star review and write about long loading screens becasue they oppose gay marriage?

Does this guy really think that by saying the right things on gay marriage (being politically correct) will show himself to be a brave and bold leader, worthy of support?

Note to Peter Moore, CEO Electronic Arts:
Your company is being criticized becasue you once made good games but they seem to get worse each year.  We also don't like your purchasing the exclusive rights to football video games preventing any competition, and leaving your shoddy offerings as the only football games viable.  Neither do we like the fact that all of your games seem to be filled with ads, and the idea that your marketing department has a larger budget than the people who actually produce the games.  Undo everything that you've done over the last 5, or so, years and we, your customers, will be happier.
 "The tallest trees catch the most wind."

What a dick.

1 comment:

  1. EA's CEO can afford to be a dick because his company has been pulling these kinds of stunts for twenty years and have yet to see any kind of blowback. Even during the golden days of video games, EA wrecked everything it touched. Some examples:

    1. I was a big fan of the old Command & Conquer games. When EA acquired C&C developer Westwood in the late 90's, they forced them to release C&C: Tiberian Sun two years too early with most of its planned innovative features (unit veterancy, day/night cycles, 3D graphics etc.) either removed entirely or scaled back to the point of meaninglessness. They then followed up with C&C: Red Alert 2, which proceeded to piss on everything the series stood for: it had dumbed-down gameplay, poor acting and a plot that had nothing to do with the previous games. Not only that, around this time EA instituted a "no teen/mature-rated games" policy, meaning all the blood and swearing (not that the C&C games were particularly profane/gory, but they're about war, so they had some) had to be taken out, leading to a laughable visual effect where whenever you killed enemy soldiers, their corpses instantaneously decomposed into skeletons.

    2. I also liked the old Ultima games (though VII and VII Part 2 were the only ones I played). Then EA bought out developer Origin and made them release Ultima VIII six months early, when it was literally half-finished: side-quests that were unfinished, whole plot points that went nowhere, massive amounts of bugs, and a glitchy jumping mechanism. And again, they followed up with Ultima IX, which completely wrecked the game's continuity on top of being an unplayable mess. When both VIII and IX failed to meet sales expectations, EA fired every single suit who was responsible for forcing Origin to release shoddy products. Just kidding, they actually shuttered Origin for cost-cutting reasons, and not a single EA employee lost his job.

    3. Like you, I loved SimCity when I was a kid. The Sims wasn't too bad either. EA bought up Maxis and proceeded to nickel-and-dime fans to oblivion with countless sequels, expansion discs and DLC packs. Five years ago, when Maxis released Spore, EA pulled off the coup-de-grace: a DRM scheme that only allowed you to install the game a maximum of three times, forcing you to get on the phone with technical support if you went over the limit; and naturally, the DRM was defective and locked out legit players from using the very software they paid $50 to play.

    And don't get me started on what they did to BioWare (Dragon Age II, Mass Effect 3). Point being, if I was in the EA CEO's shoes, I'd be laughing at all these "Worst Company" awards. Everyone bitches about how EA sucks, yet they have literally been screwing things up since the dawn of the video game industry and they're still around. Who's the worst here; the company with the anti-Midas touch, or the idiot consumers who keep buying their shitty games?