EA Admits That Gobbling Up Talented Studios Then Ruining Them Isn't Working Out So Well

from the now-witness-the-firepower-of-this-fully-armed-and-operational-battle-station dept

EA, a company right up there with Comcast in terms of consumer disdain, has a long and proud history of gobbling up talented developers, then either obliterating them outright, or homogenizing them until the products are the very pinnacle of bland. Studios like Bullfrog, Westwood Studios, and Origin were all near legendary game developers when acquired, but are now little more than fond memories after ham-fisted attempts to cash in on the catalogs (Ultima IX, anyone?). Other studios like Maxis were similarly legendary, but now struggle to put out rushed, highly-flawed simulacrum under the EA banner.

After twenty years of such stumbling, scorched-earth acquisitions, EA's bloated belly appears to be full, and the company has finally decided that perhaps it should focus on developing content with the acquired talent army it already has. Company CFO Blake Jorgensen would even go so far as to admit EA's history with such acquisitions is "marginal" at best:
"I think our history with acquisitions is somewhat marginal in performance," Jorgensen said when asked if EA has identified any acquisition targets in the industry. "We have some that are spectacular, and some that didn't do so well. It's a headcount business, right? You're buying headcount, and that's always difficult to manage in acquisitions. It doesn't mean we won't do them, but I think where we've been most successful is in smaller acquisitions that we've integrated very quickly."
In other words, EA finally has all the talent it needs to keep rolling out barely-interesting Madden after Madden updates (shielded from competition via their exclusive NFL arrangement) and a decade of new, semi-interesting Star Wars games courtesy of its deal with Disney. If EA's stock is any indication, investors think EA has learned a thing or two about making friends with consumers, and the company claims it's working hard to change its customer reputation in the market (EA gave away several free games as a promotional effort over the weekend). Though dysfunction may just be grafted to EA's genetic code, 2015 might be the year that Ubisoft steals EA's consumer annoyance crown.

Filed Under: acquisitions, studios, video games
Companies: ea


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2014 @ 6:52pm

    Re: Negative bias article ignores "CwF+ RtB" actions

    EA have a pretty mighty mountain to climb to win back hearts and minds. They have been a byword for everything that is wrong with games publishing for at least two decades.

    Personally, I'm not sure I'll ever forgive EA for the destruction of Origin, and the bastardization of the Ultima series. (And later, the shockingly, unbelievably offensive use of the name for the shitty DRM system! Talk about rubbing shit in the wound!)

    You don't get a pass on that just by "we're trying to do better", even if your post or Blake Jorgensen's actually went that far.

    It's not too late for any company, even EA (which is tied with Ubisoft IMO for "fucking awful people who don't seem to get why their potential customers hate them"). But it will take hard work, and a major attitude shift.

    Try:
    - Quit assimilating and destroying the developers we love!
    - Ditch Origin. Steam won, accept it, no one wants your awful DRM spyware.
    - Treat your customers like people, not thieves.
    - Ditch DRM, always-online, Zeroday DLC.

    I won't pay for an EA or Ubi game right now - I'd need to see 3-4 releases that try very hard to address the issues above before I'd even consider doing so again. When the cracked version is unequivocally *superior* to the paid version - *you're doing it wrong*.

    (Note - I willingly pay for multiple games each month. But I wouldn't pay for an EA/Ubi game - or even install them for free)

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