Colin Campbell sucks it long, hard and then swallows.
Glenn Greenwald often writes about members of the media who are so impressed and infatuated by those in the military and those with political power, that they often become true believers in their greatness. So when the military bombs funerals in the middle east, the powers to be must be defended at all costs. These journalists becomes subservient to the government powers that they are supposed to be the watchdogs for. Some of the most important issues facing not only America, but the world today are often ignored by the mainstream media because it would make certain people in power look bad. The reputations of politicians and military leaders are more important to the media than the dead children caused by our drone strikes.
I open with this sober paragraph for a reason. I wonder if the same has happened to the major gaming websites when it comes to publishers and developers. The accusation of bribery and pay offs often haunt IGN and many other websites dedicated to gaming and “gaming journalism.” Of course, it’s nowhere near as bad as mainstream news outlets covering up or defending war crimes committed in our collective name, but this corruption in ideal seems to have spread from big to small. When I read a review of a film by Roger Ebert or JoBlo.com, I can trust that it is the reviewer’s honest assessment of the film, rather or not I agree or disagree with that assessment. I cannot trust game reviews the same way, just as I cannot trust CNN, Fox News or MSNBC to accurately report on the US government’s activities both home and abroad.
It’s easy to assume that EA just handed IGN a wad of cash, who then tasked one of their minions to defend EA’s reputation and honor. As a matter of fact, I deeply wish that were the case. Selling out yourself for easy profit is something that I can understand and accept. Some would call it prostitution, but prostitutes have dignity and deserve respect as all women and people do. Selling out you’re voice to deceive your readers is not prostitution, it’s thuggery. It’s reprehensible, but I can understand it. Colin Campbell is not on EA’s payroll. I think he believes every word that he wrote, even if the entire article is complete horseshit.
The entire article is everything that is wrong with game journalism. The only thing I can think to do is to take on the article piece by piece. Let’s dig into this fucker and see the horror that lies at its core.
Why do people hate EA? When I say ‘people,’ I mean ‘some people,’ some of the time — a minority. And when I say ‘hate’ I mean mostly the writing of mean things on the internet.
In the first paragraph he has already marginalized EA’s critics and it’s even harsher critics. He equates the word ‘hate’ with people writing mean things about EA on the internet. I don’t think there is a gamer on the internet who hasn’t at some point typed the words “Fuck EA.” Even fans of EA will occasionally let out a short rant filled with foul language at the company. Hell, I am a huge Bioware fan and my most consistently read article on this blog is why Bioware’s Artistic Integrity is Bullshit.
Note also the vagueness of the statement. This could have just as easily been a statement released by a grandstanding politician about cyberbullying or whatever imaginary crisis their sociopathic nightmares have conjured up. Of course when he says ‘people’ he means ‘some people’, so as to not offend the ‘people’ not included in the poorly defined ‘some people, who he then calls a minority. This minority of course, elected EA as the worse company in America for the year. What I dislike about this statement is not the message that he is trying to convey, but the fact that Campbell can’t grow a pair of balls big enough to make a definitive statement.
This brand, this company, this group of people, creates some of the best and biggest games in the world with an average Metacritic rating that’s high and rising. It is profitable, but not outrageously so, and is under-valued by the stock market. So how has it managed to create enough ill-will to be voted the worst company in America? And even if it wasnt, even if we put that down to a temporary ‘Mass Effect ending‘ negative blip that everyone has already forgotten about, there’s no doubt that ‘EA Hate’ is a thing.
I didn’t want to put down entire paragraphs in this post, but it’s going to be tough because every sentence so far is worth going into. First of all, his assertion that “EA creates the best and biggest games in the world” is a fucking lie. Bioware created the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games. Will Wright created the Sims. Dead Space 3 is being done by Visceral Games. Battlefield 3 was done by Digital Illusions. A lot of their IP comes from developers that EA bought then closed down or sucked dry.
Now for “it is profitable, but not outragesouly so, and is under-valued by the stock market.” Yes, Campbell uses the fact that EA sucks at business as a defense of EA. Seriously, what the fuck Campbell? Video games are one of the most massive, money-making industries in the world right now. EA is one of the biggest brands in the video game industry. How are they not a corporate juggernaut in the larger corporate world right now, or at least rising as such? They should be, but they make incredibly stupid decisions like IP being more important than profit, so there will not be any Steam-like sales on Origin. So how exactly is EA’s Origin supposed to compete with Steam, a product that is not only superior to their own but also cheaper? Don’t expect an answer from Campbell. Bringing up that question only marks you as an EA-hater.
Then there is the worst company in America thing, which Campbell attribute’s to Mass Effect 3’s shit ending. EA consistently does well on that poll every year. This year though, everyone just happened to get sick of Bank of America constantly winning it and decided to highlight EA this year. It shows that anti-consumer practices are bad not just for the big issues like foreclosures on homes that didn’t even have mortgages on them, but small ones as well. Then he refers to the Mass Effect controversy as a negative blip for EA, as if EA had a pristine reputation among gamers and consumers before Bioware fucked it all up for EA. Yes Campbell, EA hate is a thing. It has always been a thing. It has been a thing since EA raped the Ultima franchise back in the late nineties. Ultima 8 & 9 are more than enough reasons for an entire generation of PC gamers to hate EA until their dying breath.
The point of this question isn’t really to exonerate EA for every foolish or greedy thing it’s ever done, but to investigate the depth of emotion that the company attracts — to try to understand why.
It’s not that fucking hard. Next.
Corporations are actually dogs. They exist to eat and grow and reproduce and occasionally they make people feel good. But if you leave the pantry door open, they’ll make away with the sausages. They just can’t help themselves.
What the fuck are you talking about? Products make me feel good. I like the taste of Mountain Dew, it tastes good. Pepsi happens to make Mountain Dew. If they stopped making Mountain Dew than I would stop giving money to Pepsi. It’s not the corporation its the product that makes us feel good. The corporation is simply the means to deliver us the products that we want. If they don’t, then fuck them. And fuck EA too. The rest of the paragraph is just stupid nonsense.
The best you can hope is that the corporation is managed by people who don’t let them poop on the pavement, or bite small children.
Which EA does, constantly. So fuck EA.
As companies go, EA is not as cuddly and nice as, say Valve. But then, Valve isn’t publicly traded. Valve isn’t owned by banks.
And here Campbell may have hit the root of the problem without even knowing it. EA is incapable of being consumer friendly because it got sucked into an anti-competitive culture that the banks and stock markets have created. The problem is though, is that EA is not not-competing with other non-competitors, but it’s trying its hardest to not-compete with an actual competitor like Valve. Valve is going to kick EA’s ass. Valve has to compete, they are a private company who has to make the best product possible. EA doesn’t want to compete, it wants to control. EA brought an umbrella to a tank battle.
So the question is valid. Why EA? Probably because EA makes games and people care about games in ways that they don’t about gasoline or shopping bags or laptop accessories.
Once again, EA doesn’t make games. They buy companies who make games and then squeeze every bit of life and soul out of them before tossing them aside like a used tissue. I’m not going to touch the Moore quotes in the article as they are what you expect from EA, except this one:
Moore says, “There is this underlying belief in a lot of gamers that games shouldn’t be profitable enterprises”
Do I even need to point out why this a stupid statement? Most gamers understand that for more games to be made, they have to make money. That’s why we buy games in spite of day one and on disc DLC, online passes and all the other shit EA shoves down our throats that we hate. I gotta move on before I completely rage here.
Judging by the forums and articles on this subject, EA’s most grievous error seems to be in its attempts to get more money out of its customers. Its tinkering with DLC models has enraged many people who believe the firm is gouging the most loyal fans of the great games it makes.
It is undoubtedly true that tricks like Day One DLC and extra downloadable content is an area where EA and other games companies are toying with our emotions, our loyalties, and our wallets.
This shit speaks for itself. Before this, you could just assume that IGN was running an article defending its meal ticket, but here it seems as though Campbell truly does not understand what all the fuss is about. Believe it or not Campbell, consumers get a little annoyed when companies are nickel and diming them. Just about everyone hates movie theaters because they charge fifteen bucks for popcorn and a soda, plus a ten dollar ticket only to show twenty minutes of Sprint commercials. It pisses us off. It makes us feel less like consumers, supporting a product they enjoy and more like assholes who are being robbed of every scent we have. Jesus H. Tap-Dancing Christ, this shouldn’t have to be explained to you.
If EA was the only company in gaming trying to figure this stuff out, in a way that suits its shareholders and its customers, and sometimes getting it badly wrong, then there would be an easy explanation for the hate. But it’s not. Every company is trying to figure it out, because if they don’t they’ll go broke.
There isn’t exactly a lot of love for Ubisoft, Acitivision and Capcom right now is there? These companies are constantly getting hammered by gamers for their stupid fucking DRM and DLC policies. Did you miss that week where everyone and their grandmother got pissed off at Blizzard because of their server issues with Diablo 3 and the fact they couldn’t play single player offline? Did that miss your attention? Sure that pretty much blew over and most of these things do, but its not like we are picking on EA and only EA. And this fucker of a line needs repeating right here.
Every company is trying to figure it out, because if they don’t they’ll go broke.
If video game companies can’t make money selling video games then whose fucking fault is that? It’s becoming more and more obvious that EA’s AAA development model is financially unsustainable. Ripping off gamers with bullshit nickel and dime DLC isn’t going to save that. In order for someone to buy the DLC they have to buy THE FUCKING GAME FIRST! If a fucking video game company can’t sell and make a profit on a fucking video game, then the fucking problem isn’t with the fucking consumers but with the fucking company.
Sure, the people making these decisions want to get it wrong in a way that doesn’t get them fired, in a way that sucks in money as opposed to blowing money out.
Maybe these people should be fired and EA should hire people who know what the fuck they are doing.
The $60 game is dying. The mid-range game is no longer profitable. EA has to focus its energies elsewhere in order to meet those quarterly targets.
All problems created by companies like Activision, Ubisoft and EA. These problems sure in the Hell weren’t crippling the industry back in the PS2 era. The mid-range game is dead because EA bought up all the developers and choked mid-range games out of the market and now we are all suffering for it. EA’s fault, not ours. A perfectly reasonable reason to type “Fuck EA” and keep on hating that company.
I am not one of those free-market fundamentalists who shrugs and says ‘if you don’t like it, don’t buy it’. In my view, brands have a hard-wired moral responsibility towards their fans to behave in a way that is respectful.
Except when EA needs to fuck over those consumers with DRM and shitty DLC to increase profits right Campbell? In that case don’t even bother breaking out the lube.
But it is useful that your dollar has power. Brands that fail to align with our expectations, sooner or later, lose customers.
Which EA is doing as its stocks continue to drop.
Unfortunately EA is slightly different, and this is the second reason for the hate. EA is the only company where you can buy Madden. Mass Effect, Battlefield, Need For Speed….
This is a phenomenon that works equally well with, say, George Lucas. If you want a different sort of Star Wars movie, you’re kind of powerless.
If you don’t like Star Wars you can watch Star Trek. If you don’t like Battlefield you can play Call of Duty. If you don’t like Need For Speed you can play other racing games. If you don’t like Madden you can play……..fuck EA.
But we’re not talking here about ‘criticism’. We’re talking about hate, that mindset where whatever EA does, however harmless its motives, it’s going to get flak.
The problem with EA is that their motives are never harmless. It’s not just a few isolated examples of bad business that fuels the EA hate machine. A hate machine needs constant fuel for it to continue, a fuel that EA is more than happy to supply on a regular basis.
When EA attempts, absolutely necessarily, to get into the digital distribution business, it becomes the focus of ire because it makes use of its best brands to create an exclusive advantage in a sector where it is a long way behind the established market-leader. Good business? Maybe. Good PR? Probably not. EA has done some very smart things with Origin. And its done some very stupid things, like banning accounts for no good reason or failing to invest sufficiently in customer support.
Everyone hated on Origin because they knew it was going to suck. Surprise of all surprised, Origin turned out to suck. Granted, it doesn’t suck as bad as Games for Windows but Valve isn’t losing sleep over it. And no it wasn’t good business. Because now they’ve entered into a minefield of potential anti-trust and price fixing accusations. EA needs to be very careful with its digital service, but they won’t be. They’ll be fucking stupid and bring the entire game industry down in flames with them.
Back in the real world of grubby commerce, EA has a history of less-than-ideal behavior. EA Spouse, for example, showed the company tolerating a culture where work-life balances were out of kilter. This was in the middle part of the last decade and, thankfully, it was addressed.
My guess is that EA is probably no worse a place to work than anywhere else, probably better. If the focus of your hate is working conditions at EA, I want to gently suggest you also consider clothing factories in southeast Asia or diamond mines in southern Africa, or fast food outlets in the mid-west.
Colin Campbell I will never forgive you or IGN for this. Ever. Fuck you for making me do this you worthless shitstain. I will have to do something horrible now. Put the women and children to bed this is going to be ugly. Campbell, you have forced me to paraphrase Bill O’Reilly. You can’t justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior. Fuck you.
Then there were all those awesome developers that EA bought, back in the day, and neutered and destroyed through overbearing centralized management or neglect. All those things happened. Talk to, say, Bioware today, and it becomes evident that they were not merely horrible mistakes, but also expensive lessons. EA learns, because it must. Mistakes are made and new dictates come down. We change. Or else.
Does it learn? No, EA never learns. It’s why the keep doing the same dumb shit over and over again and further fueling the hate machine. As Ice Cube once said, some motherfuckers won’t learn until you put lead in them.
I know that I place myself in the firing line by daring to suggest that EA is flawed, imperfect, sometimes idiotic, but not hateful. I know it’s uncool to side with a corporation and say ‘well, they have good reason to behave in this way’. And I also know that EA’s phalanx of PRs will not thank me for bringing this whole subject up again.
But EA makes many of the biggest and best games that we play. And it employs some of the smartest people in gaming. So although EA deserves to be analyzed and scrutinized and criticized, it’s weird and it’s unjust that — so often — we see this company portrayed as something that’s purely malevolent.
If they wish to stop from being seen as malevolent, then maybe they should stop buying small developers, stealing their IP and then squeezing the soul out of it. Does this really have to be explained to you?
Peter Moore says, “In gaming the highway of innovation is littered with roadkill, developers and publishers that just couldn’t figure it out, couldn’t find ways to bring money in so they could pay their employees and pay their rent and keep the electricity on and everything else you need to do. That’s why we try different things. We don’t gouge. We don’t sit around a boardroom and say, ‘okay, how can we can squeeze five dollars out of this guy because he won’t realize what we’re doing’. It’s none of that. None of that. It’s a very small minority [haters]. I think the average gamer enjoys what we do and gets what needs to happen for a business to exist and evolve and grow.”
Is this why you are trying to turn every fucking IP you have into a goddamn Call of Duty clone? You try different things Moore? Bullshit. This whole article is bullshit. IGN is bullshit. This whole court room is bullshit.
In conclusion: Fuck you EA and fuck you IGN.