EA COO: We Get Votes For 'Worst Company' Because We're Awesome And Voters Are Homophobes

from the uh-oh dept

Following the SimCity launch debacle and recent ridiculous comments made by EA’s Label President, it’s beginning to look like we’re seeing some kind of inter-company contest amongst EA executives over who can step in it the most. The company is somewhat recently infamous for being voted “The Worst Company In America” in a poll by The Consumerist and, congratulations, they have made the final match-up in that same poll again this year (voting ends tonight). I can certainly understand that executives for the company aren’t too pleased about this chance at repeating the “award”, but certainly cannot understand why their COO would come out with one of the most obfuscating attempts to create a sympathetic narrative ever devised.

Yet, that’s exactly what Peter Moore did on EA’s site, in a rambling half-pushback semi-admission on the company’s missteps that ultimately concludes that EA is super-freaky-awesome and homophobes are generating The Consumerist’s poll results. Seriously, just look at how he begins.

The tallest trees catch the most wind.

That’s an expression I frequently use when asked to defend EA’s place in the gaming industry. And it comes to mind again this week as we get deeper into the brackets of an annual Web poll to name the “Worst Company in America.”

He goes on to equate EA with the Yankees, Lakers, and Manchester United, suggesting that the company only gets so much criticism because they are so awesome and successful. It’s a very interesting position to take, given the company’s stock has plummeted by roughly 60% in the past 5 years. That number alone shouldn’t be taken as a tell-all, of course, given how the financial crisis generally effected most industries this past half a decade. Considering that the company has had a net-income positive result once in that same time span, on the other hand, with outlook for 2013 being negative, I’m not sure the positioning of the company as some kind of perennial industry force holds much merit. Still, the complaints in the polls haven’t been focused on revenue, so let’s let Moore tackle those questions head-on.

Some of these complaints are 100 percent legitimate – like all large companies we are not perfect. But others just don’t hold water:

He then lists of these non-water-holding complaints, beginning with the idea that SimCity’s always-online component is DRM (he notes that EA has said repeatedly it isn’t, which means it’s so, I guess), then that Origin isn’t successful (ignoring the massive security flaw), then he takes on the tons of people who hate playing games for free (wut?), Madden cover athletes (right game, wrong complaint), and then he finishes with my favorite of the list, a massive voting backlash against the company because of its inclusion of homosexual, bisexual, and transgender characters in their games.

In the past year, we have received thousands of emails and postcards protesting against EA for allowing players to create LGBT characters in our games. This week, we’re seeing posts on conservative web sites urging people to protest our LGBT policy by voting EA the Worst Company in America. That last one is particularly telling. If that’s what makes us the worst company, bring it on. Because we’re not caving on that.

See, Peter, the thing is that if you’re trying to combat the idea that your company is the most horrific of them all, it’s probably best not to attempt to falsely co-opt the plight of those actually suffering true prejudice against their nature just to drum up sympathy. As someone fairly in-tune with both gaming news and politics, let me assure Moore and everyone else reading this that any attempt at backlash over gay characters in games like Mass Effect was a complete non-starter. In fact, there seemed to be a much bigger backlash against the earlier games not including those characters. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of my generation, that the tide is finally turning against bigotry for our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. Moore’s attempt to use their suffering to shield EA from criticism is beyond shameful.

Adding to that shame is the complete dodge-job the post commits on all of the actual criticism against EA. Reasons for the polling last year cited the day-one DLC use and EA’s notorious tendency to gobble up smaller developers and murder them to the despair of their fan base, along with their stranglehold exclusive sports licensing. As Consumerist itself notes:

Instead, it looks at EA’s history of buying up smaller, successful developers with the intention of milking — and arguably ruining — the intellectual properties that made these acquired companies so attractive. It also discusses EA’s exclusivity deals on popular sports games, that some say effectively sets the bar for retail prices for the rest of the gaming industry.

Then there’s the issue of microtransactions, in-game purchases that EA has made no secret are at the center of its business model. Many customers believe that EA’s view of microtransactions isn’t to simply charge customers a little bit of money for something that is additional, but not integral, to the core game, but rather to put out broken or deliberately incomplete games with the ultimate goal of selling add-on content that should have been included in the $60 price tag to begin with.

Add to the continuation of those practices the failure and lying about SimCity and it’d be a bigger surprise if EA didn’t find itself amongst the most hated companies again this year. And if there’s anything they could do to position a subsequent run in 2014 better than trying to milk the plight of the LGBT community, I can’t imagine what that would be.

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Comments on “EA COO: We Get Votes For 'Worst Company' Because We're Awesome And Voters Are Homophobes”

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79 Comments
JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Re: The same kind of beast.

EA may be an entertainment company but they have a similar effect in their industry. They are a company that’s been hated for years and is notorious for sucking the creativity out of the industry and generally anti-consumer practices.

They have more than earned their place next to the likes of Walmart and Bank of America.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Dumping perceived “non-essentials” seems to be a really bad habit for larger corporations.

The same thing happened to several of the big record labels when they cut the promotions and artist development departments. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that at the same time, music quality began to decline as well.

Digdug (profile) says:

I’d probably have to vote BoA over EA if those are the two finalists. EA can destroy my favorite franchises but outside of that they don’t have much power, especially when compared to a major bank. Still, in terms of public relations EA certainly takes the cake according to what I’ve seen thus far.

One can only hope the shareholders see this and start asking VERY pointed questions. Didn’t they just fire their CEO/COO/head jackoff?

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Although I dislike EA, this statement is true. How many times does Google get criticized for infringing search results, even though they are doing more than any other company to remove links? Same for McDonalds, who reliability prints nutrition information on the backs of all tray liners, but is slagged for bad food. Or Walmart and their treatment of employees, even though they are more likely to obey the rules than a mom ‘n’ pop.

The leaders of the industry are always held to a higher standard.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The biggest criticism of each of those companies are not what you say:

The biggest criticism of Google’s behavior has nothing to do with infringing search results.

The biggest criticism of McDonald’s is not the availability of nutritional information.

The biggest criticism of WalMart is not whether or not they adhere to labor laws.

What you’re saying here is the same as EA claiming they were voted worst because of people upset about the Madden cover or LBGT issues — it ignores the actual, major criticisms at play and focuses on relatively insignificant edge-case issues.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Same for McDonalds, who reliability prints nutrition information on the backs of all tray liners, but is slagged for bad food.”

Erm, printing the information about how bad the food is for you doesn’t stop it from being bad food. It’s a step in the right direction to let people know what the crap is they’re eating and how bad for them it is, but the fact that they were forced to do this doesn’t exclude them from their many other criticisms. They’ve improved in many ways, to be sure, but they have a long way to go.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It means people probably know it’s bad food ( and incidentally, McDonalds is far from the worst fast food. AFAIK, they use proper meat, not MRM, Pink Slime or AMR meat (basically, pink slime/MRM/AMR meat is pretty much the same- the bits of meat still stuck to the bones after deboning) and I generally find Mcdonalds the tastiest fast food, though it is still bad for you. It’s probably better to encourage the other fast food companies to be more like McDonalds than to get McDonalds to improve, though.)

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Catch 22

heh, can’t tell if you are kidding or not.

The used market supports the primary market in many ways. The most obvious one to me is that you can’t have people buying used without people buying new.

Also, many people will buy new games for such high prices (60$, whatever) only because they know they can sell them and recoup a good portion of the cost when they are done with them. Most games aren’t actually worth 60$, and most are a complete gamble as to whether or not you will like them, but fortunately, the cost of buying a new game is lessened by the ability to resell it.

Also, since there are only so purchased games out there, driving up demand for used games will drive up demand for new games.

Then of course there is your regular word of mouth, having more players making networky type games better, potential to buy direct download crap for the game and that stuff.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Catch 22

This is why it is so entertaining to see companies like EA bitch about the used market. Do they really think I’d pay $60 for a game if I can’t sell it? It is already starting, with first-purchaser codes. A few days after Bioshock:Infinite came out, it was worth $26 at GameStop. I used to be able to sell week-old games for $40.

In a year or so, cue big game publishers complaining that the new game market has “unexpectedly” crashed.

MystiK (user link) says:

Re: Catch 22

There are alternatives like CitiesXL. When there is competition you can chose to spend your money with someone else. Supporting competitors will allow them to improve their game and at the same time tell EA they need to change or else be left behind.

As a gamer, I avoid games with ‘use-once codes’, Shuts off the MP/CoOp Servers after 3 years, Reuses the same engine over and over and over (CoD), or includes DLC on the disc you already bought!

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

The funny thing is, reading the consumerist article on this topic, is the worst company in America, possibly two years in a row, still doesn’t understand why they are the worst company in America. Which is probably why they will remain at that spot for years to come. You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make them drink, and no matter how much bad press the EA is getting, if they aren’t willing to understand why they suck so bad, and want instead to rationalize it away, they won’t change.

It isn’t homophobia or bad choices for a game cover, it is the abject failure to understand your customer and provide them a reason to buy. It is the antithesis of CWF:RTB, played out far better and quicker than the MPAA/RIAA example.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Unfortunately, from the looks of things, not changing will pose no problem for them anyway.

It kept me from buying a number of their games. I have not bought a single game (except through DRM safe GOG.com,) from either Activision or EA since this madness started. With Activision, it was Warcraft 3. With EA, SPORE. I would have bought SimCity 5, since I have all the other ones and love playing them, but EA proved a while back they didn’t want my money.

Sure, they have a large community still willing to throw money at them, but how long before they burn all their goodwill and through all their funds. They can’t live forever. But that being said, Scientology still exists, so it takes a long time to kill off hellspawn.

varagix says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m sorta similar. I’m more forgiving with Activision/Blizzard because they still make good games, but I don’t buy them at the drop of the hat anymore since I burned out on WoW several years ago, and Diablo’s always on requirement and pacing really left much to be desired.

But, with the exception of some Bioware stuff, I haven’t touched EA since Spore. Haven’t even touched Bioware in a while as they’ve fallen further under EA’s influence as time went on.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I’m more forgiving with Activision/Blizzard because they still make good games, but I don’t buy them at the drop of the hat anymore

But that is the problem. They still make a few “good” games, which they can milk over and over again to make up for all the crap that loses them customers. So long as people are willing to buy them despite their best efforts to screw their customers, they won’t learn and will continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Only by removing all funding do we convince them that a change is necessary.

Of course, that requires the assumption of sanity, and we have pretty much confirmed over and over again that they don’t have any, so I suspect a total lost of funding will be rationalized as a 100% increase in piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

“He goes on to equate EA with the Yankees, Lakers, and Manchester United, suggesting that the company only gets so much criticism because they are so awesome and successful.”

Well, that’s not totally false. People have heard of EA because they make games that lots of people have played. A company like, say, Prenda Law, is not going to be voted worst company in America. And that’s not because Prenda Law is a better company than EA. It’s because people who don’t read copyright blogs have never heard of Prenda.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: ME Backlash

Am I the only one who thinks that ME3’s ending kinda made sense given the overall feeling of the game. The whole point of the game was: “In the grim darkness of the far future there is only war”.

Wait, no, that’s Warhammer 40k.

But yeah, if EA can’t tell that the reason they’re so loathed is because… well, they’re effectively the corporate version of creativity-killing Necrons without the awesomeness and all the common sense of goddamn Husk.

And they wonder why gamers/the Internet has declared an unending WAAAGH on them, leading them to be voted worst company ever for two years in a row…

Simon Dufour (profile) says:

Re: ME Backlash

Ending was for ME3. There was an event around ME2 release where FOX talked about ME relationships, having sex with aliens and all. I don’t remember if they included LGBT in that but if I remember well, there was an episode where BiowEAre wasn’t sure if they’d include the option in the second game. Now, when ME3 was released, there was a real position by the company to include same-sex relationship.

IMO, it was a marketing push because it was at the same time as the whole gay marriage debate.. but that’s just me.

Amy (user link) says:

I voted against prop 8

While BoA’s various execs deserve to be marched out of their corporate offices in chains, any idiot who wants to claim it’s homophobia that’s getting them a golden poo potentially two years running gets my vote for the worst company just because the statement trivializes the rights that are being fought so hard for.

I wonder if the no h8 campaign might rally in making this idiot eat his golden poo topped words. Too bad there isn’t much time left to rally people.

Anonymous Coward says:

One could argue that the arrogance and complete denial is a job-requrement for public relation guys. On the other hand it didn’t work that well for Muhammed Saeed al-Saha.

We have the right hand of the former CEO, the COO, coming out to defend his legacy and spread the blame out by focussing on all the claims that he percieves as unfair. While he didn’t say “We never did anything wrong”, it is as close as you come to smearing externalities for your own downfall.

– Simcity 5s always on is percieved as DRM. It may not have been thought of as such, but claiming it is not, is to patronise a lot of customers. It is a loosing point to say that “the customers are always” wrong, when he cannot proove they are wrong!

– The seeming misrepresentation of “Steam is better than Origin” is amusing, but likely doesn’t completely explain even one of the negative votes he is defending against…

– A completely fallacious conflation of Free-to-play and microtransactions is being presented as a problem causing negative votes, while he cannot see where the specific problems occur. This point is very sad and shows a lack of listening to the customers.

– Mailing lists claiming Madden curse as a reason for voting EA down is likely more of an eyeopener for people and if the customer actually reads the poll, this point would help them avoid being voted down if they did as good of a job as he claims…

– Given that the internet has a very large liberal bias, the conservative bigots are probably not well represented on an activist consumer protection site. It is probably the only point that could explain some of the hate, but again it is likely a minority…

The rest is a pep-talk to rally the employ?es and that is completely fair game, but it doesn’t tackle any of their real problems or contain any regret of their past. It is a shame, but EA is still on the wrong track with the COOs head in the clouds even after their CEO got fired.

Jamie (profile) says:

Overstated

It does suck to work for EA, as best I can tell and this is what happens when accountants take over product development. I had a coworker 11 years ago that fled for saner pastures, stating not doing 3D dev was easier than being sucked dry.

Spare a thought for the cole miners that power EA servers.

And then buy different video games, because what is the point if they suck? There are lots of options.

Trails (profile) says:

The problem with Origin

then that Origin isn’t successful (ignoring the massive security flaw)

The problem with Origin isn’t the security flaw. That was bad and dumb and whatnot, but that isn’t what makes Origin suck. It’s Origin that makes Origin suck.

As a delivery mechanism and game mgmt tool it’s idiotic. Consider by comparison Steam. While Steam is not perfect, it’s done for distribution of games what iTunes did for distribution of music. It’s brilliant, and game changing.

Origin, by comparison, is a poorly executed “me-too” afterthought. I didn’t buy Mass Effect 3 simply to avoid Origin. I would have. I bought ME2 on Steam. I played ME3, EA just didn’t get my money because of Origin. I know many similar (albeit anecdotal) stories.

Moore implies that the number of subscribers to their mandatory game management platform indicates success. Is it though? Should the passport office point to the number of people with passports as an indication of people’s desire to have a passport? Or how awesome it is to wait in lines to submit a form? Or is it an indication that people will deal with bullshit to travel?

His points regarding Origin can be summed up as “fuck you we’re making money”. This is typically a death knell for companies as it means they’re leveraging their current position. This strategy has a shelf life, customer good will must be continually “topped up” not “borrowed against”. That some of his other points carry the same underlying message does not bode well for EA’s shareholders.

Anonymous Coward says:

EA can make any claim they wish. I could care less. Let them figure out why I ceased to buy their games. I truly hope a majority of their customers decide the same thing and we will then see how fast EA can change it’s tune if it wishes to remain in business as a gaming company.

If you bought one of their games and got stung by the always on line, you deserved what you got. It isn’t like EA just started this practice.

I will not accept the need to be on line to play, the need to have internet as the condition to play, nor the restriction of only so many installs as a condition of using the game, whatever game it is.

So I have a return Fuck You for EA.

Anonymous Coward says:

EA is crap. I bought a copy of Battlefield 3 last Black Friday from their store for $20 for the 360. 5 days later I get an email saying I had not paid for it (paid through pay pal) and they had cancelled my order. Went online with their India customer service. Chatting online was the only way to get a hold of them. Had to wait 80 minutes to chat. Then they admitted I had paid but couldn’t reinstate the order so they had to send the case to a different division. I got an email saying they would refund my money. I asked them how they could refund my payment if they had no record of it and I really wanted the game not a refund. So they ignore me at this point. A week later I get an email saying to purchase the game at $40 and email them and they’ll refund $20. I told them they hadn’t refunded my original $20 yet. Silence at this point. So I file a dispute with Pay Pal. I have to wait 3 weeks for the seller (Origin/EA) to respond to my claim. They don’t respond so Pay Pal gives me money back. 2 weeks later Battlefield 3 shows up at my door. I will never order anything online with them again.

Anonymous Coward says:

They just don't get it

I’ve never heard EA claimed to be LGBT-friendly, but they do get accused of sexism a lot.

Just this year, in late January, their VP Gabrielle Toledano was in the news for saying that sexism wasn’t responsible for the lack of women in the gaming industry. Roughly two weeks later, EA announced that they were putting (ex-Pussycat Doll) Ashley Roberts into bodypaint to promote the launch of Crysis 3. Their reasons for using a painted near-naked woman to promote a first-person shooter were not explained.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

yes, I did miss that, until I did some normal checking, but then I found “Florida Family Association”, and now I understand about the ballot stuffing you speak of.

the Ned Flanders of the US !!!!!

According to “Florida Family Association” (who want to censor everything).

All Muslim’s are “RADICAL”,

Al Jezeera is EVIL,

Florida Family Values, wants to impose THEIR values on everyone, and they do it by bullying companies, people and stamping on free speech…

But if it suits the Authors of TD they are the hero’s..

Didn’t you have some oil leaks there recently, the company behind that is not as bad as EA, that HAS become the target of Extremist and Radical Christians, conducting their own version of a Jihad.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

And just where did TD say they were ‘heroes’? All TD is doing is saying that EA is crap and so far deservedly so. And then calling out Moore on his bullcrap. Saying he’s talking nonsense about ‘anti-homosexual bigotry’ is almost the opposite of what FFA are saying, even though what they say is utterly irrelevant to this piece, and probably Tim.

Anonymous Coward says:

“In the past year, we have received thousands of emails and postcards protesting against EA for allowing players to create LGBT characters in our games. This week, we?re seeing posts on conservative web sites urging people to protest our LGBT policy by voting EA the Worst Company in America.”

he is simply stating a fact here, and it is a valid argument by EA that, that fact that he is seeing concervative web sites trying to make EA REMOVER functionality even further supports his argument, he is NOT accusing anyone of being a homophobe.

Masnick is the one who has made the connection between ‘conservative web sites’ as homophobic. NOT the COO of EA.

Anonymous Coward says:

How would you feel if you entered the Magic Kingdom anticipating a normal day of fun with your family only to witness thousands of same-sex couples holding hands, hugging, kissing and wearing tee-shirts that promoted their lifestyle?

These are the types of things, FFV are worried about, “SAME SEX COUPLES HOLDING HANDS !!!!!!!!”.

and wearing tee-shirts, and exercise their freedom of speech and expression, but if they are attacking EA, they are Timothy’s hero’s..

love this one

This campaign appears to be propaganda intended to neutralize the meaning of the Islamic word Jihad in the minds of the American public.

ok, what is the meaning of jihad ?? or defined in the Koran ??

The meaning of Jihad, means “struggle” or “to struggle” or “noble Struggle”

or

“to struggle to build a good society”

the Christian version is called “reformations” or Christian holy war.

it’s all the same, and Christians have been doing for just as long as Muslims.

Anonymous Coward says:

Muslim Jihad, Christion Reformations..

Roman Catholic Church of their day. In the course of this religious upheaval, the German Peasants’ War of 1524?1525 swept through the Bavarian, Thuringian and Swabian principalities, including the Black Company of Florian Geier, a knight from Giebelstadt who joined the peasants in the general outrage against the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Martin Luther, however, condemned the revolt, thus contributing to its eventual defeat. Some 100,000 peasants were killed

So it is amusing Timothy, and Masnick are relying on groups like the Florida Family Association, as their ally in their fight against a game company !!!..

Good work TD… up to your usual standard….

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Muslim Jihad, Christion Reformations..

Given that Tim and Mike sound normally like they would be against the kind of bigotry and stupidity that FFA demonstrate, I don’t know why you have your panties in a twist about them trying to force their stories into some ‘singing the praises of FFA’. Maybe it’s your own bigotry and stupidity showing?

Tom says:

Do you believe that LGBT is sick or something that would make you write:

“… to milk the plight of the LGBT community…”

Come on guy, these are human beings who want inclusion in games. Their lives are not ‘dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unfortunate’, they probably think their lives are incredible because they are alive and human.

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