EA ‘Can Do Better,’ Starting With Peter Moore’s Letter

Electronic Arts isn’t the worst company in America, but don’t tell that to the Internet.

For the second year in a row, EA was named Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America,” through a March Madness-style run-off that’s determined by popular vote. EA “won” the battle last year on the back of issues such as Day One DLC, the ending of Mass Effect 3, and the rise of micro-transactions. That was against a field of companies such as Bank of America and other U.S. financial institutions, some of which were shown by investigators to have been foreclosing on the homes of people who hadn’t actually defaulted on their mortgages. Yes, you read that right — EA was voted worse than banks who were taking people’s homes away.

EA has won the “award” again this year, and despite the fact that the voting is obviously flawed and the poll obviously meaningless, the whole controversy is doing well to draw attention away from real issues concerning Electronic Arts and its customers. In response to EA hitting the “finals” last week — as the poll is again being dominated by angry people on the Internet, and not by a real debate over which companies are actually worth chastising — EA Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore wrote a blog post for the company with the title, “We Can Do Better.” The apparent mea culpa on EA’s practices drew a lot of positive comments from the gaming industry, including from developers and journalists.

The trouble here is that Moore’s letter is a bait-and-switch of feel-good language that hides EA’s greater issues while pretending to own up to them. Sure, EA is not the worst company in America, but Moore’s letter is a distraction meant to take the heat off. Even the subheader of the post, “The tallest tree catches the most wind,” serves to take EA off the hook for its practices. Obviously, being awesome and huge, EA will get (undue) scrutiny, Moore implies.

The post itself is sure to dodge the bullet proposed by its headline, first and foremost: it never commits to saying what EA is doing wrong, or what it means to do to “be better,” and only owns up to the botched launch of SimCity as a problem for the company. Instead, Moore spends the bulk of his time propping up a few strawmen that he can knock down, the biggest and most troublesome of which is the idea that the people voting EA as worst company are doing so because they hate gay people:

“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.”

EA has caught flak, as have developers such as BioWare, over issues of same-sex politics such as this one, but I think it’s entirely facetious for EA to equate the reasons why gamers dislike the company with some political campaign waged by conservatives, many (possibly most, maybe all) of whom are not EA’s core customers. After all, a similar attack was aimed by conservatives at JC Penney over images in its catalogs, and that company didn’t end up a finalist on Consumerist’s poll. In a story from Polygon, Consumerist’s Chris Morran addresses this issue directly:

“If there is such a campaign, the people involved in it have not reached out to us, nor have we seen evidence of this traffic to our pages,” Morran wrote. “EA received hundreds of nominations from Consumerist readers this year, by far the most of any contender in the bracket, but not a single one mentioned anything about sexual orientation.”

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

14 Comments on EA ‘Can Do Better,’ Starting With Peter Moore’s Letter

Llloyd

On April 9, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I don’t think anyone really believes EA is the worst company in America, but the fact it’s won this poll two years running cannot simply be ignored as ‘flawed’. They’re winning it for a reason, and that reason is that they’re disliked by a large section of the gaming community. Saying they “can do better” is meaningless, as Jim Sterling stated in an article a few months ago aimed at biased/blinkered fanboys ANYTHING can improve. Even Citizen Kane, one of the best films of all time, has a horrendous plothole that sets the ball rolling. Nothing is perfect. The big difference is that EA has made no effort in the last several years to do what’s even remotely moral or ethical towards its staff or customers. They deserve this award for the simple act of refusing to listen. Scum.

lsaac Clarke

On April 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm

The only way they can get better is if all the dev companies signed up with them leave them so they can actually have the needed time to make their games without EA demanding multi-player and a half assed single player full of explosions and such to try attract the COD fanbase, they also would not have half the game been locked on disc awaiting a dlc to unlock it. The way this will make EA better is that such a action would surly be the death of this once great company and some people will remember them that way. They will never get better otherwise not a chance in hell.

R.J.

On April 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I have to wonder just how naive Moore thinks the people reading this letter are. It isn’t exactly hard to see through the claim that Origin is competing with Steam when any of those registered users will be able to tell you that they were forced to use Origin. Things like this show just how dangerous it is to listen to people who have a financial interest in getting you to believe them without doing your own investigation, but a little bit of critical thinking can help people avoid being duped by such obvious misdirection.

Aedelric

On April 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm

My money is on three years in a row, EA 2014.

As the idiom goes “a leopard can not change it’s spots”. EA will not change how it operates, they may pump more money into marketing and spin to gloss things over, but at the core they will remain the same. How could they ever change? The do not even recognize their own shortcomings.

JawaEsteban

On April 9, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Anybody else remember the Iraqi information minister during the opening days of the war? You know, the dude who was on camera with a straight face talking about how the forces of Saddam would crush the infidels and drive them into the sea and whatnot while there were US main battle tanks visible driving around in the desert behind him?

Peter Moore really reminds me of that guy sometimes.

Derek

On April 9, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Still waiting for EA to deliver a PC title which is not any of the following:

A console port, lacking full gamepad support for PC, lacking launch content reserved for DLC, containing micro transactions, disallowing community mods, always-online, lacking launch server issues, origin exclusive, an unoriginal MMO flop, or a loved IP with a paradigm that hasn’t been gutted to turn into a cash cow.

quicktooth

On April 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm

The solution is as simple as not buying their products. What the h3ll people, just vote with your wallets. Nothing compels you to buy their stuff (or to keep them afloat, either).

The Defenestrator

On April 10, 2013 at 2:49 am

The whole “pro-LGBT” thing is a canard anyway. I work for a Giant Faceless Corporation who loves to tout their record on equal rights but that’s only because they don’t want to turn down potential employees who are willing to work way too hard for too little pay, including mandatory overtime and six day work weeks. And, besides, what does your sexual preference matter when you’re spending all day in a cubicle?

It is, as all decisions are with places like EA and other Giant Faceless Corporations, a matter of money. It just has the distinction of being useful as a cudgel to beat back other, more valid, criticisms.

sep

On April 10, 2013 at 3:50 am

@quicktooth

Most of us just talk the talk but come release day, most morons flock like idiots to get EA . The last straw for me was SWTOR. I shall never buy anything that is touched by Electronic Faeces ever again.

SevenCell

On April 10, 2013 at 10:44 am

Wow. That bit about the LGBT crowd threw me for a little.
This Peter Moore guy is a bonafide Palpatine.

Ted

On April 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Yeah I think EA is crappy, but worse than the banks that has and still tanking the global economy let alone the US’s? Exxon?

T-Wal

On April 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm

“It’s the evil conservatives! They’re conspiring against us! Everyone hates evil conservatives, right? That makes us the good guys!” Got quite the convincing scapegoat, don’t they?

Brad

On April 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

@T-Wal: While I’m not a fan of conservatives in general, even I saw that was BS.

psycros

On April 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm

You could easily replace “EA” with “Microsoft” in much of this article.