For the second year running, video game publisher EA has been voted Worst Company In America by readers of Consumerist. Worst Company in America — just think of the ground that covers. This year EA managed to handily beat out customer-screwing heavyweights like Time Warner Cable, Carnival Cruise Lines, FedEx and Bank of America. Most of these companies dwarf EA, but the pure white-hot intensity of disgruntled EA fan rage was enough to push EA past dozens of bigger, more important, more mainstream companies.
Last year EA sort of laughed off receiving this “honor”, but getting it two years in a row? That’s a serious PR black eye, and at this point EA has to be seriously worried about the prospect of scoring the hat trick next year. The time for Band-aids and half-measures is over — it’s time for EA to take drastic measures to revamp their image. Such as…
There never needs to be a Madden 14.
Keep Your Always-Online, In-Game Store Crap Where It Belongs — In Your Sports Games
EA desperately wants all its titles to be nice little DLC and microtransaction-laden closed ecosystems, to the point they’ve been awkwardly wedging in-game stores into games like Dead Space and trying to transform fundamentally single-player experiences like SimCity into always-online quasi-MMOs.
Oddly, even as they unsuccessfully tamper with Dead Space and SimCity, EA continue to take a relatively old fashioned approach to their bread and butter sports franchises, forcing fans to pick up a new $60 boxed Madden update each year.
EA should only release a single Madden/FIFA/NHL/NBA title this generation, and then support those games with a steady steam of their beloved DLC and microtransactions. Roster changes and new players, mechanics, modes and gameplay tweaks should all be downloadable, and hey, sports games are actually built around multiplayer! People will probably be a lot less cranky about a sports game having to be online most of the time. Hell, I bet there’s more than a few Madden fans willing to pay a small monthly Madden fee if it meant no more having to buy a new, hit-or-miss update every year.
Stop trying to make SimCity something it’s not, grow some balls, and give the MMO treatment to your sports titles. They can actually support it. Hell, they may actually benefit from it.
Oh, the 90s…
For The Non-Hardcore Sports Fans — Bring Back The Mutant League!
While I think hardcore sports fans would eventually embrace an MMO-like approach to EA’s core sports titles, what about us more casual sports-game fans? The folks who aren’t really playing Madden in the first place?
Bring back the Mutant League games for us! The Mutant League series took place in a post-apocalyptic world where mutants, zombies, aliens and robots all got together to play some nuclear winter football, hockey and basketball. Mutants and zombies are already in everything else — get them up in your football games EA, and get us jerks who haven’t played your sports titles since the 16-bit days back in the fold.
Madden. Pfft. Give me a little IKF World Championship Korfball.
Try Out Some New Sports
Okay, last list entry about sports, I promise.
I think it’s time for EA to break away from football/soccer/hockey/basketball and make a few games featuring some lesser-known sports. These games don’t necessarily need to be as deep, or obsessively detailed as a Madden of FIFA — just get the basic mechanics down, get a few of the sport’s most famous faces in the game and sell it as a $10 or $15 download.
Come on, where’s my curling game? I promise like, half the population of Canada would buy it. At the very least I bet a beach volleyball game would sell pretty well.
Consider it EA. Consider it hard.
Buy The Rights To The Alien Franchise For Visceral
So, EA has a problem — they have these guys at Visceral Games who are really great at making sci-fi horror games, but their Dead Space franchise just hasn’t quite taken off to the degree it has to. It’s not their fault — sci-fi horror is always tough to sell to the masses. So you know what? Screw it, buy the rights to the one sci-fi horror franchise people do care about and have Visceral make a really, really great Aliens game. Don’t worry, Sega’s not doing anything with the series.
Finally the Aliens franchise gets the kind of game it’s always cried out for and one of Visceral’s really awesome horror titles actually gets played for once. Everybody wins.
Just Focus On Making One Good Military Shooter
EA is desperately obsessed with replicating the success of Call of Duty. Medal of Honor, Army of Two, Battlefield games of all shapes and sizes — EA never lets up on its lukewarm stream of mediocre military shooters.
Hey guys, pay a little closer attention to what Activision is doing. They really only have one military shooter series. They do Call of Duty and they do it well. Slow down, take a breath, wipe the flop sweat from your brow and focus EA.