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Why people hate Electronic Arts

Apr 22 // Vito Gesualdi
Lack of creativity Electronic Arts is terribly afraid of the word "creativity." Being creative means taking risks, trying things which haven’t been tried before. EA, meanwhile, prefers to release the same game as many times as possible, seeing just how much money they can milk out of a franchise before the public realizes they probably don’t need the “Extreme Farming” expansion for The Sims.  I've said it before, but this is still the stupidest thing ever. For a good example of how shameless Electronic Arts is about their lack of original ideas, look no further than Goldeneye: Rogue Agent. After snatching the Bond license away from Rare and churning out an endless procession of uninspired shooters, EA finally decided to just try and trick people into thinking they'd crafted a sequel to the N64 hit. The game wasn’t even based on the movie Goldeneye, it was about a dude with an actual golden eye, which makes literally no sense whatsoever.  Worst of all, EA doesn't even have the decency to recognize when they've published another uninspired piece of crap. Medal of Honor: Warfighter was universally panned by critics, though rather than recognize their failure and learn from it, EA execs decided to loudly whine about how unfair the scores were. Is there anything more pathetic than a bunch of filthy rich executives crying because reviewers judged their game based on its merits rather than its gigantic marketing budget? Buying out the competition As established, EA hates coming up with new ideas, and nowhere is this more apparent than their massive lineup of cookie-cutter sports titles. Of course, who can really fault them for taking advantage of those knuckle-dragging cretins who are happy to pay $60 for the exact same game they bought last year? Look at how excited John Madden is about his royalty check.  That being said, it’s pretty pathetic to see how terrified EA is of their competition, likely aware that any developer with even a sliver of respect for the customer could easily blow their half-assed efforts out of the water. That’s exactly what happened in the case of Sega’s NFL 2K5, a game which was not only hailed as one of the best football games of all time, but actually sold for $10 less than EA’s latest lazy installment in the Madden franchise. Sweating profusely as they considered the idea of actually having to work for their consumer's money, the EA execs frantically called up their chums at the NFL, negotiating an exclusive contract and killing off any competing NFL game series, including NFL 2K and NFL Blitz.  Of course, Electronic Arts themselves actually brought back the NFL Blitz franchise in 2012, which is pretty disgusting when you think about it. It’s one thing to commit murder, it’s another to reanimate your victim's corpse and force it to dance for nickels.  Treating workers like Slave Labor You might argue that EA can’t be faulted simply for being good at business, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve got nothing against good old fashioned capitalism. Problem is, Electronic Arts is a little too old fashioned, the company clearly pining for the days when where treating your workers like slaves was just par for the course. Ah, the good ol' days. See, in America we have something called “overtime law,” where any employee working in excess of forty hours in a week get paid at 1.5 times their normal rate for those additional hours. It’s supposed to encourage companies to hire additional workers, rather than simply hiring a burly guy with a whip to provide encouragement. Somehow though, EA never got the memo about not forcing your programmers to work like sweatshop laborers. In 2004, Erin Hoffman, the so-called “EA Spouse,” posted a scathing expose on how the electronic giant had treated her husband and other employees, forcing them to work as many at 84 hours a week  without any overtime compensation. Her speaking out led to three separate class-action lawsuits being filed against EA, the software giant forced to shelve their plans for motivational shock-collars. Beatings will continue until morale improves. Ruining companies In the 90s Electronic Arts set about buying up every awesome PC developer they could find, with the hopes of working with these talented studios to create great software values for the consumer... Wait, that’s wrong. What EA actually wanted was to buy up a bunch of already popular franchises, then force the developers to release an endless stream of crappy bug-laden sequels. Remember the biblical story of Abraham, who was commanded by god to take his son Issac up to a mountain and stab the kid with the first sharp rock he could find? It was kind of like that, except Issac was the Command and Conquer series and Electronic Arts wasn't kidding around about the “murder your child” decree.    C'mon Abraham, just ship Ultima IX. Who cares if it sucks? Not that EA cared as they helped run studios like Westwood and Origin into the ground. Once the studios were no longer profitable, they simply fired everybody and pocketed whatever cash they'd made. Everybody wins, except of course for those developers who were forced to stab their most-beloved creations to death.  Poor Richard Garriott. I hope he's happy now that he lives in space. Shamless Money-grubbing Though most publishers these days have resorted to a variety of tactics to earn some additional cash, Electronic Arts is perhaps the most shameless about these practices, eagerly trying to squeeze every possible dollar out of your wallet. Countless hours of login screen fun. Downloadable content - You can be sure every EA release will come loaded with it, much of which probably should’ve been included in the retail release.  Used games - Sorry buddy. If you want to play with your friends, you’re gonna need this ridiculous online pass.  Micro-transactions - Because your favorite video games are made better when you're constantly being asked to feed them quarters Digital-rights management - EA promises to make sure that playing the game you bought is as frustrating as possible, either loading your computer up with DRM software, or forcing you to wait weeks for them to fix the servers before you can actually play that copy of SimCity you bought. See, the reason gamers love companies like Valve, is because Valve makes it clear they loves the consumer. Gabe Newell has proven you don’t have to constantly shit all over your customers just to turn a profit. Every time I buy a game on Steam, I feel like I’m supporting a company which actually cares about me as a customer. With Electronic Arts, I get the feeling my money is being used to purchase orphaned children, whose souls are used to power EA's massive fear engine, gradually opening the portal to the hellish nightmare realm where their demonic overlords plot the total enslavement of humanity. Call it a hunch. Non-Existent Customer Service It’s interesting to see how different companies approach the issue of customer service. Many retailers hold by the old adage “the customer is always right,” going out of their way to please every patron. Electronic Arts goes by the motto "we hate you, give us your money," something which has unsurprisingly earned them few fans. Hi! How can we make your life miserable today?  EA's inability to care about their consumers was less of a problem back in the retail days, though the move towards digital downloads has forced people to deal with Origin's incompetent customer service reps. Got charged twice for Battlefield 3? That's a banning. An opponent swore at you during a game session? That's another banning. You pre-ordered Command & Conquer: Generals 2 before it got announced as free-to-play and now need a refund? Sorry bro, better luck next time. The recent SimCity debacle was excellent evidence of how little Electronic Arts cares about their customers. When you sell somebody a $60 product that doesn’t work, the right thing to do is offer them a refund. However, the idea of swimming in a slightly smaller money pool was enough to send EA executives to tears. No refunds for anybody, though you do get a free copy of whatever game EA calculated would least affect their bottom line. So, Electronic Arts has established the precedent that they are allowed to sell you something that doesn’t work, then refuse to give you back your money, and potentially ban you for complaining about it. If that’s not enough cause to cancel your Battlefield 4 pre-order, I don’t know what is. Preorder your inexplicable Origin banning today! In summary, Electronic Arts is like most American companies, their blind greedy love of money resulting in a terrible experience for the consumer. Though we can't argue that they put out some great games now and again, it's their crappy business practices which are the problem. The Worst Company in America? Maybe not, but they're definitely working hard to keep the title.  
Why EA Sucks photo
Worst company in America? You decide.
It wasn't much of a surprise when Electronic Arts was recently voted the Worst Company in America by readers of Consumerist for the second year in a row. Though the game publisher's sins are arguably less substantial than tho...

Review: NFL Blitz

Jan 27 // Samit Sarkar
NFL Blitz (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade [reviewed]) Developer: EA Tiburon Publisher: EA Sports Released: January 3, 2012 (PSN) / January 4, 2012 (XBLA) MSRP: $14.99 (PSN) / 1200 Microsoft Points (XBLA) In almost every respect, the game plays like NFL Blitz as you remember it, for better and (sometimes) worse. Yes, it’s a shame that the NFL’s recent focus on the dangers of concussions has forced EA to excise the original Blitz’s post-play antics. But while you can’t perform elbow drops after tackles anymore, anything goes until the whistle blows -- and it’s still funny, over a decade later, to see a linebacker deliver a powerbomb to a wideout. It’s also as frustrating as ever to dive at someone from behind, or grab him and spin him around, subsequently flinging him forward for a few extra yards. Almost all the old animations have returned, which unfortunately means that players still have no sideline logic -- you can’t manually step out of bounds before enabling a cheat code, but CPU receivers never go out of their way to keep their feet in-bounds. And the game still endows defenders with superhuman speed, even without turbo, so they can catch up to receivers who might otherwise have scampered into the end zone on a long passing play. (Really, Vince Wilfork shouldn’t be able to outrun Hakeem Nicks.) In fact, there’s not a whole lot of player differentiation to speak of. EA didn’t even account for left-handed quarterbacks, so Michael Vick and Tim Tebow are both righties as far as Blitz is concerned. And while teams’ home and away jerseys exist, users have no control over them, so games will sometimes feature both teams in their home colors or road whites. Players do actually have ratings in four areas, but the only place you can view them is within the Elite League mode. And I didn’t have more trouble defeating supposedly better teams, or less against worse teams. I’m guessing that’s a function of the designers’ desire to ensure that games ultimately come down to the skill of the players holding the controllers, not the ones on the virtual gridiron. Balance always had paramount importance in Midway’s arcade classics, and this game is no different. One welcome concession to modern football games is the inclusion of an option for icon passing, so you can throw to receivers with the face buttons instead of having to switch between them with the left stick. Today’s gamers also expect more out of an arcade title than exhibition games, and NFL Blitz is no slouch in that department. For a $15 downloadable release, this game is packed with content. The single-player Blitz Gauntlet mode lets you customize a team for a three-tier ladder. Each tier includes games with three NFL teams and a boss battle -- with power-ups scattered on the field -- against a squad of fantasy characters, like horses, hot dogs, or zombies. There are twelve different characters, so you’ll have to complete the Gauntlet four times if you want to unlock them all. The online package is even more impressive. EA has included a trading-card mode, Elite League, which resembles the Ultimate Team setups in simulation franchises like Madden and FIFA. Here, you create a team and are given a smattering of cards featuring decent players. Completing online games earns you Blitz Bucks, which you can spend on a wide variety of content, such as card packs to improve your team, or power-ups and cheats to help yourself out online. (Thankfully, you earn Bucks even when you play poorly and lose.) Elite League also offers Risk and Reward games, in which you can lay cards on the line and try to take some from your opponent. NFL Blitz’s online co-op offerings are similarly robust. You can simply jump into a co-op game with up to three different friends, including a guest on the couch with you. For those who want a deeper experience, there’s the Blitz Teams mode, in which you create a team -- with a custom name, logo, and banner -- and invite a buddy, whether local guest or online friend, to be the co-owner. Then it’s up to the two of you to take your Blitz Team to the top of local, regional, and national leaderboards. None of the games I played were lag-free, but the latency wasn’t so bad as to be a hindrance. EA has gone the extra yard online, with a feature set that rivals full retail games. But Blitz was always meant to be played with friends in the same room, and by bringing back all of the fast-paced thrills of the old games, EA has not only evoked nostalgia, but rekindled ancient rivalries and their attendant arcane rules. Back in the day, my high-school buddies and I played NFL Blitz 2000 all the time, with an important twist: “no wimps.” That is, we always had to go for it on 4th down, and we always had to go for two after a touchdown. I played NFL Blitz with some of the same friends last week, and once I reminded them of “no wimps,” it was as if nothing had changed in a dozen years.
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The long-in-the-works high-definition revival of NFL Blitz has finally arrived, less than three months after EA officially announced it last fall. It’s an idea that gamers of all stripes could get behind; after all, you...

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Max and Tara play NFL Blitz, fail miserably


Jan 04
// Tara Long
If there's two things I can be absolutely certain of in this world, it's that I will never be good at sports and I hate olives. Disgusting, salty, vomit-inducing olives. They may as well be rabbit poop. But, I digress. Sport...
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The DTOID Show: EA lawsuits, NFL Blitz, & new releases


Nov 21
// Max Scoville
Hey gang! It's Monday again, so here's The Destructoid Show. (Seriously, I have completely run out of ways to introduce episodes.) Today, we talk about the week's releases, EA getting sued for being jerks again (serious...

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