posted on January 16, 2014 in gaming, business

EA's long term goals - not caring about gamers

While browsing Gamasutra I found an article about the long term goals of EA, directly brought to you by the CEO. I think it is no secret that I find the current state of gaming frustrating and just cannot stand EAs attitude and behavior, treating gamers like second class idiots who are willing to put up with whatever they think of. But this just brings it to a new level.

Did you ever read any start up announcement, blog post or feature presentation? Most of them, sometimes even meaning it honestly, focus on what they are doing and how it will improve the life of their customers. Did you ever watch an Apple keynote? A Microsoft advertisement? Anything from another big player like IBM? Focusing how the customer gains an advantages from their product. From a fresh start up consisting of three people and a garage to multi-billion dollar enterprises - they try to focus on the advantage they bring to the customer.

This is marketing 101. They try to make money. We do not have to skip this part or believe all they do is trying to improve peoples live because they are so generous. This is purely calculated marketing. But even if it is marketing you should not lose focus of the actual product: it is build to make money. And it is supposed making money by bringing an improvement to the customers life.

Now let us go back to EA. I hope you have already read the article.

"They chose someone internal versus external … [the board members] like our strategy as a company, believe we have great talent internally, and they're looking for us to continue a strategy of building hit titles with the foundation of cost management."

Build hit titles as cost efficient as possible. Let us look back at all the hit titles. Pretty graphics, no content, no innovation and a load of add-on packs that should have actually been part of the game. This is what we will continue to see. Nice, isn't it? As much profit from "hit titles" as you can make. If I recall most games I enjoyed and most games that became a hit - it were not games that were considered hit titles being tied to an existing series. All of them were games build by people who wanted to see an awesome game.

"It was one of the more advanced-thinking of the divisions of [EA] in terms of digital, and our evolution into digital,

Fifa xyz, NBA xyz, NFL xyz,... I see the advanced thinking, pure innovation and the undoubtably evolution of... add new graphics and replace the year. Good job - only a genius could have thought of this.

I am aware that this is a bit frustrated and sarcastic. Wilson did a good job delivering something sport fans want to play. But this is not exactly what this sentence claims.

"We want to get to a view of EA as one company and one team, where we can truly manage and focus the investment on the biggest opportunities."

Read: no innovation. Investing on the biggest opportunities and not focusing on side projects or other small stuff means that you will only see game designs by scheme X which already proved to sell millions of copies. No particular new game play, no new ideas, no new story telling - sell what you already have in a new box with new graphics or add a dog. If it is part of a big franchise you will find enough people to buy it.

He added, "I'm the first CEO to come up through the studio system. [With that, the board is] saying that games are important. Platform is important, analytics are important, marketing is important, but at the end of the day, the future of this company will live and die based on hit, quality software. They wanted someone with a passion and an aptitude for that."

Everything is important but one thing is missing: Gamers. For who exactly are you building this stuff? Games are important? Guess which games are remembered 20 years later - games build for gamers. Ask the two Johns for example. They did not build games with analytics or marketing in mind. They build games they watend to see happening, they have build what they thought gamers will enjoy, what would break traditional rules and what is fun to play.

Quality software? You have to be kidding. Installing any recent EA game puts more root kits on my system than I had in over 16 years owning a computer. Having to hope that a game is only broken for some weeks after it is released is not quality. Being forced to stay online and connect to a DRM server, hoping it is only DDOSed for weeks by gamers who bought the game after the release. Scaling? Capacity planning? Not forcing people to put up with this stuff? This is neither quality nor is one thought spent on the gamers. This is just about profit.

Over the years I played many EA titles. I enjoyed them. But EA changed. Gaming changed. And this interview represents it perfectly. I just refuse to put up with this. I do not play many titles I am interested in because of those reasons. Publishers treat gamers like second class idiots who put up with everything. Me not buying their games will not change it - but if more people would actually remember the times when gamers where the focus of publishers and make sure that they notice it in their quarterly earning reports things could change again. If this ever happens I will gladly get a gaming system again. If this will not happen I continue enjoying indie titles or titles from a few publishers who actually deliver games worth the money and not continuously try to sell me add-ons that should be part of the game.

I would love to talk to you about this post, your ideas or awesome projects.

I am @fallenhitokiri on Twitter and GitHub or you can send me a mail.