Exactly one year ago, voters taking part in The Comsumerist's "Worst Company in America" had award video game publishing giant EA with a first place victory. 2013 has rolled around, and once again, EA has defended its title after clobbering Bank of America in the final round with an incredible 78% of the vote. This makes them the first company to ever win the award two years in a row.
Last year, EA simply shrugged the poll aside as being gamer backlash against the rushed ending for Mass Effect 3. Winning the award a second year in a row leaves them without any excuses, as COO Peter Moore pointed out in blaming the poll on football fans and gamer homophobes in an extended "We Can Do Better" blog post.
The Consumerist took the side of gamers, standing firmly by their poll results and directly pointing out that the double award for EA should begin to make them rethink their policies and stop blaming scapegoats.
"Following last year's surprise Worst Company In America victory by Electronic Arts, there was hope that the video game giant would get the message: Stop treating your customers like human piggy banks, and don't put out so many incomplete and/or broken games with the intent of getting your customers to pay extra for what they should have received in the first place."
I will agree with most outlets out there that slapping EA as the "Worst Company in America" is a little bit of a stretch. Gamers are a passionate group of people, who also spend a lot of time on the internet, and probably care a lot more about their industry than the general population. Foreclosures, airline prices, gas prices, obesity, oil spills, insurance fraud, loan sharking. These are all much more serious problems than a corporation who makes entertainment.
At the same time, I 'm not going to fault gamers for venting their feelings, especially since the company didn't seem to get the message the first time around. Since polls closed last year, we've seen Medal of Honor: Warfighter get pummeled by critics, SimCity crash due to poor server preparation, dishonesty about SimCity's performance abilities, game hollowing micro-transactions, DRM issues, and continued $60 price tags during an age of disc-less publication.
Peter Moore's rant is just icing on the cake.
Gamers voiced an opinion to see change, and none occurred. Thus, they get the award again. As simple as that.
EA had my attention for one year in 2008 as maybe being able to break that mold and become more in tune with what gamers want. They cast aside their movie license deals, realizing that the poor reviews were beginning to harm their branding. On top of that, they put out Mirror's Edge and Dead Space, two exciting new IPs which were warmly welcomed. Plus, they gave BioWare the space needed to do what they do best and make great games, temporarily casting aside their image as a place where talented teams go to die.
Of course, they lost money with the attempted shift in style. CEO John Riccitello, who pushed for the gamer friendly change, got a slap on the wrist, and that side of EA hasn't made an appearance since.
Dig deep, EA. Stop blaming the rest of the world on your decisions, and maybe people will begin to respect you again. All those hundreds of millions of gamers who enjoy your products and are not voting, they don't care. The one's who label you the "Worst Company in America," they do care, and they will be back to haunt you year in and year out until you listen.
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