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

Moore raises other outwardly dumb arguments against his company — like Internet users voting for EA because they dislike the choice of athlete on the cover of the latest Madden game — and in so doing, suggests that these have more weight in the poll than they actually might. Yes, these are dumb reasons to be mad at EA, and the company is right to not only support same-sex characters and inclusive policies for its games, but to stand behind those policies when threatened. That’s commendable.

But Moore manages to completely gloss over the real reasons EA is hated by so many, and it’s not just because of the missteps surrounding SimCity, which he mentions. In fact, SimCity is another strawman argument, because by owning up to launch issues (and nothing else), Moore is able to point to a situation that is easily fixable and claim that EA made a genuine mistake and is doing what’s necessary to make it right. But that doesn’t get to the core of what EA’s doing wrong: It continues to implement features and execute strategies with the full and complete knowledge that its customers don’t like them. The company is willfully blind to what its customers want, and that’s to say nothing of the fact that it continually implements ideas that actively make gaming worse for its core group of customers.

Let’s take SimCity as an example, for a start. SimCity has a deep fan base that has been with the series since its inception, and there are certain things that those fans love about those games. SimCity also has always been a single-player experience. There’s something to be said for trying to bring innovation to bear on a game, but SimCity players are single-player gamers. They want the ability to play alone, as they always have. The latest release of SimCity crams always-on DRM down the player’s throat and forces them to play socially.

When SimCity’s launch turned into a burning train wreck, players were not angry with EA and Maxis because they didn’t have enough servers to cover the game — they were angry because the game was broken by features the most loyal players never wanted in the first place.

We’ve already discussed the problems with EA’s Origin platform, and Moore props it up as an example of gamers responding positively to EA’s outlook. That’s willfully delusional at best, openly deceitful at worst. Origin has “48 million registered users,” according to Moore, but those are players who 1. may have registered any EA game in the past, specifically when using online passes, before Origin existed, and 2. are forced to use Origin to play almost any EA game on PC. Moore points to 48 million registered users on Origin, but the truth is more akin to 48 million Origin hostages. These are not people who looked at Steam and at Origin and said, “Origin is for me,” they are people with no other choice but to register for Origin in order to play EA games. We can debate the merits of Origin (or lack thereof), but the simple fact is that the numbers are another smokescreen to allow Moore to avoid dealing with the larger issues.

While Moore’s goal with his post obviously is to soften EA’s image, there are some very real, very troubling practices that go on with the company. Customers routinely are made to feel as though they are the enemy, with EA enacting policies that often feel directed both at punishing fans as the company chases the elusive “casual gamer,” and at squeezing every dime possible out of a captive audience. It’s these practices, and not who’s on the cover of Madden or letter-writing campaigns from old, likely non-gaming conservatives, that push EA into the running on Consumerist’s lists. The buying and streamlining of beloved game franchises with more mediocre and generic sequels, the prevalence of micro-transactions and Day One DLC that can developers actively design games to be worse in order to sell more content, the rushing of games in order to hit launch dates and sales targets, the willful lack of quality customer service, the inclusion of unwanted features aimed at non-loyal, occasional customers — these are the things that EA has repeatedly forced on players and the reason people dislike it so intensely.

The fact that Moore doesn’t even acknowledge the real issues of how gamers feel they are treated by his company shows the continued problems of EA: an unwillingness to listen to its closest and most important customers, and an unwillingness to care about the experiences of those customers.

We love that EA is progressive in its corporate policies regarding LGBT employees and characters. We’re glad that EA tried to make its bobbled SimCity launch right by offering free games to customers. But we’re still waiting to see if EA cares to actually be a leader in the gaming community, rather than just the company most willing to try new things at the expense of the people who have been loyal to it the longest. Moore likes to say that the tallest tree catches the most wind — but it’s no coincidence the wind blows so fiercely in EA’s direction.


Read more of Phil Hornshaw’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @philhornshaw and @gamefrontcom.

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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.