Those who are familiar with my previous blogs should know that I am not the biggest fan of Capcom and Electronic Arts. Capcom’s downloadable content shenanigans and Electronic Art’s online passes and hoops to jump through make these two companies stand out amongst the shuffle. But is either of them the worst companies to ever exist? In gaming, there is strong evidence to say that they are. But outside the gaming industry, there are companies that have completely abused people and put people out of their homes over misplaced paperwork or have terrible customer service that only serves to irritate the customer, which puts things in perspective.
In a recent poll by consumerist.com, Electronic Arts won the popular vote as the worst company in America, taking home the impressive Golden Poo. EA certainly deserves this award what with their online pass system; spyware on their digital download service; Origin not paying athletes for their likenesses in their sports games; and their awful tendency to absorb game developers and then eradicate them. But I believe that the poll may have been just another popularity contest with angry gamers looking to have their voices heard much like the user reviews that usually give zeroes to games that are involved in some sort of controversy. Anger for any of the above reasons or the Mass Effect 3 ending which has been a hot topic since March seems justifiable from a very limited perspective. But Electronic Arts is a business and as much as I despise them, they have become very proficient at making money despite any shenanigans they may participate in.
Electronic Arts made a statement about this illustrious award on Forbes.com: “We’re sure that British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren’t nominated this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and service played by more than 300 million people worldwide.” In fact, Electronic Arts was the only game publisher in the poll among companies like Verizon, Chase, PayPal and even Google. This has me a little suspicious that consumerist.com added Electronic Arts to get a few extra hits on their website from the game websites talking about it which raised awareness and led us to EA overcoming Bank of America in the finals.
Michael Pachter, a longtime video game analyst, believes that the award is silly. “It’s not particularly scientific, and given that gamers are far more vocal (and bitter) than any other broad consumer group, it’s surprising to me that a game publisher doesn’t end up at the top of the list every year. I can’t think of anything that EA does that is bad enough to warrant this distinction.” He points the finger at the results of the poll to gamers that woke up on the wrong side of the bed over the Mass Effect 3 ending. “Appeasing the whiners here will only encourage fans to be even more vocal next time… gamers will feel more entitled and empowered than they have in the past, and will be even more demanding about changes to future games.”
In the grand scheme of things, there are worse companies out there than Electronic Arts, and like I’ve advocated in the past: The only way to let a company know what they’re doing is wrong is to not buy their products. If enough people boycott a product then the company won’t make money and change their business strategies.