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Company says DRM debacle has little to do with its unpopularity

Each year Consumer Union's The Consumerist site doles out a dubious distinction to one dastardly corporation -- the title of "Worst Company In America".  Last year pro-digital rights management Electronic Arts, Inc. (EA) beat out bailout whipping-boy Bank of America Corp. (BAC) for the crown.

This year BAC and EA emerged yet again as the top two contenders from a field of 30 gleaming prospects.  But when the smoke cleared it was EA who once more received the most votes, via a healthy 78 percent margin.

Perhaps the single defining moment that allowed EA to bring home the gold was its SimCity 5 DRM debacle, which saw thousands of gamers unable to play a game they paid for due to EA's lack of server support for its DRM-scheme.  Aside from the SimCity mess, many take issue with declining quality in titles from the top gamemaker, which saw its financials slide this last year.  

In a recent blog company COO Peter Moore acknowledged that his company was in contention for a second win, but looked to shift the blame, claiming it was a homophobic conspiracy that was driving votes.  He points to players ability to create cross-dressing/transgendered characters in certain titles and gay relationships in other titles as leading to a boycott.  Mr. Moore failed, however, to cite any specific examples of these posts and we were unable to locate any at the time of publication.

EA COO blames homophobes for his company's "worst" win, not his firm's own DRM missteps.
Last year EA released an official statement to Kotaku after the award was handed out. We'll see how they respond this time around.

Sources: The Consumerist, EA

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By 7Enigma on 4/11/2013 7:16:56 AM , Rating: 5
That is one impressive excuse his PR people came up with. Seriously? You think gamers care that other gamers can cross-dress!? My hunch is this was a joke by a PR brainstorming session that got taken up the chain and latched onto.

Heck, at least his comment was original! Something that can't be said for 99% of products EA releases. :)

RE: Amazing!
By StevoLincolnite on 4/11/2013 7:41:50 AM , Rating: 2
It's more like... Their lack of refunds even in countries where it is law, DRM schemes, Origin, dropping servers for even relatively new games, buggy releases...

And not to mention, buying great developers, re-organizing them to get better margins and then they put out a bad game that sells poorly so they shut them down....

Also sitting on franchises for years and not doing anything with it like Black and White and Dungeon Keeper that springs to mind.

Also the lack of customer service, blame shifting onto consumers like this "apology" doesn't help either.

And... Milking franchises with annual releases with little change or improvements.

Yep. EA deserves the poop award.

I stopped buying EA games years ago and instead I spend that cash on more worthy developers and kickstarter.

RE: Amazing!
By Manch on 4/11/2013 7:52:21 AM , Rating: 5
Also sitting on franchises for years and not doing anything with it like Black and White and Dungeon Keeper that springs to mind.

With their track record do you really want them to ruin your memories of these games?

RE: Amazing!
By StevoLincolnite on 4/11/2013 9:59:13 AM , Rating: 4
Nah I wouldn't.

But they could sell it to someone else who would do it justice. :)

RE: Amazing!
By Motoman on 4/11/2013 10:56:27 AM , Rating: 3
That's what Ubisoft did for me with the Heroes of Might & Magic franchise.

Their uPlay it's-not-DRM-it's-fun thing is such a horrific tragedy that all the BS I had to go through to get the latest Heroes title to install and run actually ruined my love for the series.

HoMM had been my all-time favorite game franchise...forever. But the pain I had to go through with their uPlay DRM utility was so awful that by the time the game was finally able to run, I didn't even want to play it. That was months ago...and I still can't bring myself to play it.

F%ck you, Ubisoft, EA, Microsoft, etc. - anyone and everyone who's going off the deepend with your "always-on" internet-requiring DRM bullsh1t.

You're never getting another dollar from me, and I'm informing everyone I know exactly why.

EA richly deserves the golden poo...but they should probably share it with Ubisoft, Microsoft, and whoever else is doing such crap.

RE: Amazing!
By Andyy5 on 4/11/2013 11:38:32 AM , Rating: 2
EA Licensed Dungeon Keepers to NetDragon, a Chinese company for them to develop an MMO that would be available in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan ect.

RE: Amazing!
By Samus on 4/11/2013 12:25:27 PM , Rating: 1

RE: Amazing!
By inperfectdarkness on 4/11/2013 8:24:27 PM , Rating: 2
Needs a 6. And EA needs to DIAF.

By Amiga500 on 4/11/2013 8:09:40 AM , Rating: 2
When you think of all the resources EA has at its disposal, this is simply astounding.

I wonder what their entire executive board renumeration is? I reckon I could do a better job by myself. Of course, the focus would change from screwing every last dollar/pound/whatever out of gamers and would be on quality games. Revenue and profit would follow.

- Forget marketing. In fact, make the marketing budget little more than the review distributions for every game and get rid of all the marketeers. Its a waste of time and money - review sites and word of mouth will do the job better.

- Just focus on getting fewer well made titles out the door, and don't constrain the programmers to deadlines. If they slide, they slide.

- Open up the games for the mod community. Forget the incremental DLC stuff, consider charging only it is a substantial update to the kernel itself (that doesn't fix bugs).

- Hire a few top coders with managerial acumen and get rid of every single last clown in the company that has an MBA but f**k all experience of coding. [Unless they are accounting functionaries - and that particular tail should not be allowed to wag the dog.]

(Basically, stop being a shower of c**ts and you won't be held in such distain.)

RE: Wow...
By BRB29 on 4/11/13, Rating: 0
RE: Wow...
By StevoLincolnite on 4/11/2013 10:06:39 AM , Rating: 2
1. Forget marketing? marketing sells games. COD proves that

Minecraft. Never marketed, sold in droves. - Hence Mojang/Notch needed less capital to make it a successful game.

3. Opening the game up to mod community is great for gaining popularity but doesn't make you money. You put all that money into making the engine, games, characters, etc... and let someone mod it and steal your sales?

Doesn't make you money? You're kidding right?

DayZ, when that went nuts, people bought the game "Arma 2" in droves.
Arma 2 actually sold better years after release thanks to DayZ than when it was first launched.

Left 4 Dead, Dota all spawned from mods and make significant money for Valve.
So yes, mods -DO- make money, just not directly and it's not something that should be underestimated either when a developer properly supports modding.

I doubt Skyrim or Oblivion would have been as popular on the PC without mods, in-fact Bethesda have even stated they take inspiration from mods to improve the next game that they are working on as it's a good way to see what people really want and what people were trying to fix or improve.

RE: Wow...
By Amiga500 on 4/11/2013 2:13:32 PM , Rating: 2
^^^no idea what he's talking about

I sense the stench of managerial BS off you. You may or may not believe it, but I know my way around very large technical projects.

1. When the game is good, review sites will have it front and centre - people will read it and they will react. Word of mouth from there is infinitely better than any advert.

2. If something is not ready, it is not ready. Yes, dates should be aimed for, otherwise things would never get done. But they are not inflexible. I've seen far too many project managers insist on compromising quality too far to meet schedule. EVERY SINGLE TIME it comes back to bite. Do it right first time, even if it takes a bit longer.

3. Popularity = More sales of that game and of subsequent games.

4. You are right, the very high-end specialists usually do not want to manage and couldn't do it well. That is where instead of the brilliant, you get the very good - those that understand deeply what is going on. The number of meetings I've sat in on where time is completely wasted and actual time-to-completion lengthened 'cos project management doesn't have a f**king clue what is going on is unreal.

Management done right with the right systems in place does not take half as much time or effort as the majority of the clowns that end up doing it would purport.

RE: Wow...
By Just Tom on 4/11/2013 3:30:28 PM , Rating: 2
While I am all for setting reasonable schedules and not shipping sub-beta software if you let programmers decide the schedule no project will ever be done.

There is a lot more to shipping software than just pressing DVDs or uploading a digital file. Review sites and magazines work on schedules and if your fantastic new game's release date keeps slipping it impacts their publication scehdule. If the game is sold as a DVD there are distribution timelines.

In my professional experience involving large projects, admittingly not in the software industry, the real culprit behind less than ideal work and slipped deadlines is the constantly changing requirements for those projects. Nothing blows up a deadline like "Well, add this to the project. It is not a big deal."

RE: Wow...
By Motoman on 4/11/2013 4:11:12 PM , Rating: 2
When I was in college taking computer science classes, I couldn't understand how anyone could release software that had bugs in it.

After my first few days working as an intern for a major insurer, writing COBOL and some other stuff on a major project of theirs, I became astounded that anything ever worked at all.

RE: Wow...
By Amiga500 on 4/12/2013 7:37:07 AM , Rating: 2

In my professional experience involving large projects, admittingly not in the software industry, the real culprit behind less than ideal work and slipped deadlines is the constantly changing requirements for those projects.

Indeed - military programs are notorious for changing requirements. But, a lot of that is due to an ever evolving threat environment and the requirements that cascade from that.

However, in this environment, things are relatively stable - so if the people planning the project understand the work area - then it'll all follow through much easier.

Additionally - setting deadlines before fleshing out basics will lead to problems too, as things are invariably forgot.

By Motoman on 4/11/2013 10:24:18 AM , Rating: 2
Nice for Mick to pick up this story a couple days after everyone else in the world.

Might want to start by doing the tiniest bit of research though. The Consumerist hasn't been part of the Gawker network for years. They've been part of Consumer Reports for a long time now.

You might notice that I started posting links on another article 3 days ago on this:

EA has made plenty of missteps, but I think the most horrible are their efforts with DRM - the latest being the ridiculous requirement to have SimCity always be online.

Up yours, EA. Not doing your always-connected thing. It's retarded, and so are you.

RE: Wrong
By Motoman on 4/11/13, Rating: 0
RE: Wrong
By JasonMick on 4/11/2013 10:39:03 AM , Rating: 2
Yikes, it's fixed now, thanks! :)

And thanks for the email tip about EA's "win", Moto!!!

RE: Wrong
By Motoman on 4/11/2013 11:35:23 AM , Rating: 1

And now it appears that the trolls are in here, once again disapproving of my references to reality. Love how people think it makes sense to downrate someone for pointing out an important error in an article.

On the other hand
By KFZ on 4/11/2013 12:12:49 PM , Rating: 3
While much of that blog post was bad PR and a delusion that could be compared to defending the quality of pop music by the number of Youtube views, there is something to take away -- Moore actually passes by a point of relativity:

If gamers spent half the energy that they do lobbying, petitioning and redressing grievances with the company spitting out $60 blocks of foul entertainment criticizing companies (even governments) that have screwed the world in bigger and more costly ways, maybe we wouldn't have so many problems.

While there's much to be said over how EA is run as a company, the most dastardly super villain of earth is apparently a company that's most heinous plots include requiring Internet connections, vomiting on IP and being a fat, greedy bastard -- it's a bit of a double-edged sword to bury a company that produces what a lot of naive, greedy and uncaring gamers throw money at for EA to have sponge baths in cash. It can't be any more evil that people actually enjoy the products.

RE: On the other hand
By drlumen on 4/12/2013 7:39:18 AM , Rating: 2
It's a matter of numbers. While companies like BofA may screw 20,000 people over for thousands of dollars, EA screws over millions and millions of people. Also, since gamers are typically more technically minded when it comes to PC's and the internet, the mom & pop users getting screwed by BofA may not know about the poll or know how to get to it if they did know about it. Even if all people knew about the poll and could easily vote, the BofA customers would still likely be in the minority.

Also, like the point the Consumerist article brings up, EA won in SPITE of all the other sleazy companies out there. What does that really say about the perception of EA with the mass of consumers?

As to Moore's comments... While there may not have been any documented voting bias from the LGBT (is that correct?) community this year, I bet there will be next year!

Congrats EA!
By Fidget on 4/12/2013 10:07:36 AM , Rating: 2
I almost bought Sim City. Glad I didn't after suffering through the same issues with Diablo 3 I think I'm done with online only DRM

RE: Congrats EA!
By wempa on 4/12/2013 11:03:55 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. I will never buy a game or console that requires an online connection to be able to play. I hope more people do the same and vote with their wallets. People who buy into this are just letting the software companies know that they can get away with using such ridiculous restrictions on us. If the companies just forget about all that nonsense and focus on making great games, they will make the money they want.

With that attitude....
By Manch on 4/11/2013 7:38:09 AM , Rating: 3
They may win a 3rd. I refuse to buy anymore EA games despite my desire to play some of them. If MS implements always on for the new XBOX, they may steal EA's crown of poo.

I like the 360 better than my PS3 but, the new consoles aren't even out yet and I'm already leaning towards just a PS4 and I usually buy all of them. The twitter jack@$$ hasn't helped the matter, nor has MS refusal to confirm or deny.

Indie games are the future
By Ammohunt on 4/11/2013 12:05:17 PM , Rating: 2
Indie Developers are kicking ass and taking names companies when coupled with distribution systems like Valve's steam have made otherwise completely obscure games with little or no distribution mechanism become mainstream like the Arma series. To be honest i have bought more indie games via steam in the last 6 months they i have in the 10 years prior. sorry to make this sound like a Steam commercial but Games like Arma II $18, Torchlight II $19, Faster Than Light $5 have got me back into being a regular gamer and systems like this break the monopoly big companies like EA have over our game time.

Not a SimCity 5 issue
By Trisped on 4/11/2013 7:25:41 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps the single defining moment that allowed EA to bring home the gold was its SimCity 5 DRM debacle, which saw thousands of gamers unable to play a game they paid for due to EA's lack of server support for its DRM-scheme.
I pre-ordered the game and played it the day it came out. Since all the servers were full the game automatically assigned me to a Europe West server. I then switched to a Europe East server (since that would be physically closer) and was able to play that night. Since the game had only been released in the US, the non-US servers were always open. By the time the game was released, the number of servers had been doubled and a few performance changes had been made to lesson the server impact.

While the game may not be very friendly to noobs and has a number of bugs, it is not the reason I hate EA. Personally I hate the way EA treats me. They buy rights to great franchises and push out mediocre and buggy games. They tell me that they are going to give me a $20 coupon when I buy a game, but don't tell me that it covers a very limited selection of games (95% I would never play), that I need to have a total of at least $30, and that all of the software is priced at #9.99 (so you really need to pay at least $40 to use the coupon). No big deal though, I see a game I sort of want and one my brother wants, but to use the coupon I have to use my account to buy the games and there is no way to gift the games to another account (so my brother would have to use my account to play the game).
Finally they release the game I originally bought (SimCity). I start the installer before I leave for the day, expecting to play once I get home. But, when I get home I find that despite the fact that the installer said it would be using GB of space to install my game, it only installed another installer, so now I have to wait till tomorrow to play. A few days latter (after playing for a while) they take the server down with with my cities on it, so I can not play them until tomorrow (it wasn't a big deal as that server had my first 5 cities which I had managed to drive into the ground, and now I have cities on 4 different servers). Those are the problems I have had with EA in just the last month. I personally have avoided buying anything from EA for the last couple of years because of all the bad experiences I have had before that.

When SimCity came out I decided to give EA a chance to prove that they had changed. I can safely say now that while the Maxis team is doing a pretty good job (not perfect, but it is a complicated title) EA is still a mismanaged company and deserves this award. It is too bad, as I think EA could be a great company with leadership who is more in touch with what gamers want and how to get it to them.

And now...
By Motoman on 4/11/2013 11:34:16 PM , Rating: 2
...yeah, this is exactly what EA needs to be doing now:

...the workers being laid off worked mostly in quality assurance.

Yup. No need for quality assurance at EA. After all, some of those people might have noticed that their sh1t stinks.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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