Hey, Geeks. Welcome to Your Favorite Thing Sucks, where I get to talk about all the worst parts of your favorite things. And while I’m pretty sure that NO ONE actually considers Electronic Arts their favorite thing, we need to discuss it anyway. Because EA is worse than being your favorite sucky thing. EA actually absorbs your awesome favorite things and then makes them suck when they didn’t before. And that’s getting pretty old. Let’s talk about it.
The Things They’ve Ruined
EA has absorbed so many unique and interesting game development companies over the years. Studios that focused on deep storylines, interesting characters, expansive lore–all the things that EA apparently decides afterward are not aligned with their goals and then drops in order to churn out two-dimensional characters and plots that you have to slog through with other people for a “broader experience” than solo campaigns could evidently provide.
Mass Effect. Dead Space. Battlefield. The entire Star Wars universe. There are more, but I have a word limit on this article. But you’ve seen it. All the serieses that started off as deep worlds filled with interesting characters made by developers you respected and wanted more from. Games you loved and lived in. That you played on your own and then sat staring at the credits after you’d finished because you weren’t quite ready for the game to be over.
That last part is all that EA heard. “You don’t want the game to end? Great. We can do that.” Bring on the open, always-online games of the now. That’s what you asked for, right?
The worst thing is EA truly believes they’ve improved your gaming experience when you followed your favorite franchises to their overreaching umbrella. They’ve said on several occasions that “People don’t like linear games anymore” (we’ll discuss the EA fans that agree with this in a bit) and thus will continue to put out what they’ve seen a profit on. But we’ve seen linear, single-player games come from other companies that were loved by the masses and drew in huge profits. So, it can’t be the linear games that are the issue. Instead, EA needs to recognize that people just don’t like the linear games that they release. And how could they? Even EA’s solo campaigns are filled with microtransactions, game-finishing DLCs and multitudes of other money grabs. Because why sell you one game when they can sell it to you in pieces?
The Profit Formula Works Because Players Have No Alternative
It’s pretty obvious by now that EA has a formula made of a certain number of checkable boxes. And each one of those boxes has a number of dollar signs next to it. Microtransactions, loot boxes, paid-for vanity items. They push multiplayer games and drop solo-campaigns early on in development because you can make a lot more money off of games where everyone is watching you and your gear/abilities all the time. They know that no one likes to be the lowest name on the leaderboards.
If you care more about profit than content, then EA is a living god. Buy a solo game, and you buy it once. Maybe they can get a DLC or expansion out of you (or 20 if it’s The Sims), but for the most part solo/linear games are (or should be) a one-time purchase. But multiplayer games? Where if you don’t keep up everyone else will outpace you in a paycheck? That’s where the real profits are. And they know it.
Luckily, people are starting to figure it out. We’re finally getting to the point where profit formula games are struggling at release because players know what to expect. And they want to be done with it. But instead of EA addressing the problem and returning to a franchise’s roots, it just… folds. And a bad game in a universe you love is better than no universe at all. So you keep paying for it. Just to keep it alive.
As for the pay-to-win plans of EA’s games — I can already hear a few of you screaming that you can still get some semblance of the pay-for items through grinding play. But “grinding” is the optimal word, often taking upwards of 40 to 60 hours to unlock content that is necessary to progress (or at least keep up with other players). And it’s so easy for people to look at your lack of this progress and laughingly remark “Get good, noob.” Which brings us to…
The EA Apologists Are Terrible and Toxic
People that DO consider EA fantastic really have two arguments for why they love it. There’s the idea that 1) a game isn’t worthwhile if you can’t prove you’re the best at it, and 2) the equally stupid idea that anyone who complains about an EA game is only doing so because they’re bad at whatever game they’re complaining about.
Do you remember when we were able to enjoy games because we enjoyed them? When we didn’t have to be the best or defend our tactics and/or builds to anyone else as long as we loved the game and the time we got to spend playing it?
EA sure doesn’t.
Because EA doesn’t want us to live in a world where stories are important. Stories take time to tell and can only be sold once. And EA thinks that the people with the most time and money for games seldom have the longest attention span or desire for a good tale. So they make games that make a profit off of competition, jealousy, and greed. Because those things are a lot easier to find and finance than a team of talented writers. Those are the things that their toxic apologists are good at and understand, and will pay for again and again and again.
EA doesn’t want you to live in the rich, now-decimated worlds that they built their empire on top of. They want you to live in the world where everyone wants their gamertag in lights.
And they’ll sell it to you, letter by letter.
Tahani Nelson is a “Geek of All Trades.” She’s dabbled in pretty much everything, but holds a special place in her heart (and schedule) for video and tabletop games. Other interests include attending Renaissance Faires and Cons in full dress, practicing calligraphy, writing fantasy novels, discussing comparative philosophy and morality, and apparently listening with a blank smile on her face anytime someone tries to convince her that Magic: The Gathering is as much fun as D&D.