Not Greedy, Just Clueless

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Not Greedy, Just Clueless

There's nothing wrong with Electronic Arts wanting to make money, it's the way they're trying to do it that's the problem.

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Sir, you are a wonderful voice of reason!

You hit the nail on the head Shamus. I understand the need for big companies to change strategies and target different market segments but when you do it do it well from the start. I sometimes think companies believe meeting launch windows is more important and that we'll blindly dismiss any issues for the fact that it will eventually be fixed which ticks me off. Unless the game is something I really want to have at launch I usually wait for the dust to settle before making a purchase.

While I agree with most of what Young says I also think the comparison to a combo meal holds up entirely. The combo meal was a way to increase profit from sales, while DRM, Day 1 DLC, Always Online and similar hassles have been created in attempts to limit the unlawful pirating of the product. They aren't meant to increase sales by making people buy more, they are meant to increase sales by removing the option of not paying for the product at all.

In that regard all these anti-piracy measures are more comparable to the "pay gate" of the toilets in some fast food venues, where you have to pay a quarter or ask staff on hand for the key to get into the toilets. It is meant to decrease the "unlawful" use of the product. In both cases, paying customers are hassled for the sake of the company's profit. Steam as such isn't really applicable for comparison, because it is a delivery system and not the product itself.

Steam might be a good fast food venue, but most people aren't getting upset about the venues but rather the shoddy burgers they are offered. If they want fries and drink they need to pay extra.

with luck EA will go the why of S.O.E as i can't see things improving. thay need new leadership, something like how pixar changed disney's why of thinking about animation.

Very interesting, I mostly agree besides from the fact that if I love something enough i'll crawl through broken glass to get it.

On a side note, does anyone else think the title card makes Mr. Young look like a trainee Father Christmas?

So EA are the low-budget airline of the videogame world. So that makes Valve the eccentrically piloted hot air balloon?

DTWolfwood:
Sir, you are a wonderful voice of reason!

This article has been bookmarked for future "Why is [company] greedy" discussions. Thanks for this :D

CriticalMiss:
So EA are the low-budget airline of the videogame world. So that makes Valve the eccentrically piloted hot air balloon?

... which you pay for by throwing 100s of dollars worth of candy at orphans as you fly by. You spend just as much money, but it makes you feel better.

A huge difference is that Valve is a private company and EA is public.

Public companies only care about major shareholders, employees and customers are far down the list of concern. In an ideal world decisions that harm customers and employees would punish the shareholders by decreasing the stock price. In reality stock price is mostly coupled to quarterly earning reports so anything that increases the number on the reports is fair game regardless of the long term consequences.

With a private company usually the founder is in charge and it is "his baby". Until the dollar signs take over his brain he actually has some integrity about his decisions and cares about his reputation.

About the only "good" public company I can think of is Costco but that will probably change now that the founder retired from CEO. Hopefully he will keep tabs on his successor and has influence over policy decisions.

Its very true, service and consumer experience are the most important things nowadays.

Its why Steam sales are so good. Two particular sales they had worth mentioning are every Assassins Creed game for 30$ and every Deus Ex game for I think 10$. These are amazing deals. Steam provides great deals like this and access to a decent community.

Yes. This exactly.

No Shamus! What are you doing?

If you keep this up they might have a massive overhaul and become more popular than Valve. You must be stopped I'll be there in twenty minutes.

Would you prefer beheading or asphyxiation?

Mr. Young, that was brilliant, all of it. Well said, sir.

I agree 100% with Shamus. Valve gets it, EA does not.

Another interesting read and food for thought.

This is, by the way, why I hate buying games with "expanded" universes. I hate having to worry whether the experience I'm buying is complete or not (to say nothing of the fact that EU material breaks lore as often as not).

Excellent article, well thought out and it just feels so right on the mark. Feeling like I wasn't getting the full product when I paid $100AU for Battlefield 3 gave me this huge feeling of dissatisfaction that had me think twice about buying EA's games. It was when several games that followed openly announced that I was expected to put up with the same feeling made me decide I was better off simply not buying from them ever again.

I feel this hits it right on the head. The whole argument about "E.A is too greedy" "They are a company they exist too make money" is cyclical and not terribly useful as a medium of discussion. But this, this is right on the mark, E.A is a company that is being run by a group of howler monkeys rather than an intelligent board of sophisticates who understand how to engage with the customer base in a way that does not consistently poison relations between them and the company.

rembrandtqeinstein:
A huge difference is that Valve is a private company and EA is public.

Public companies only care about major shareholders, employees and customers are far down the list of concern. In an ideal world decisions that harm customers and employees would punish the shareholders by decreasing the stock price. In reality stock price is mostly coupled to quarterly earning reports so anything that increases the number on the reports is fair game regardless of the long term consequences.

With a private company usually the founder is in charge and it is "his baby". Until the dollar signs take over his brain he actually has some integrity about his decisions and cares about his reputation.

About the only "good" public company I can think of is Costco but that will probably change now that the founder retired from CEO. Hopefully he will keep tabs on his successor and has influence over policy decisions.

Really, lets examine this closely. TF2 has microtransactions and did so before it went F2P. Even after TF2 went F2P valve does not provide servers, what do you think their margins are on those microtransactions? Valve is just as ruthless but less transparent.

I really like the differences in their approach you pointed out. Haven't thought about it much that way and I gotta say that it is true... or at least feels like it when I'm looking at my steam library with sooo many never-played games.

One thing about the combo meal thing, though... it somehow feels like different companies are kinda trying to give you a combo deal by either giving you stuff for your preorders (I know, preorders are bad) or bundling DLC etc. into season passes/premium. It seems to be working, in BF3 most people had premium after a while and even my brother who doesn't like the whole DLC thing bought the Borderlands 2 season pass.
Though they still seem to be going wrong at it because they could certainly use season passes as their "online authentication" that prevents you from reselling but doesn't cost anything to new customers.

Oh so in other words EA isn't greedy, they're just incredibly incredibly stupid.

canadamus_prime:
Oh so in other words EA isn't greedy, they're just incredibly incredibly stupid.

It's not that they aren't greedy, that was said in the article. The greed of the individuals in charge at EA isn't a problem, their stupidity/irrationality is.

It reminds me of a Hershel of Otropol story where he tricks someone into trapping their hand in a jar of pickles. He only would tell him how to release it if the other guy would leave him alone. It turns out all the guy had to do is let go of the pickle.

EA really is greedy. They could just make money but they feel like they have make massive amounts of money by nickle and diming. All they're doing is making themselves look foolish.

Great article, it quite helped structure my own thoughts on the matter that were just about floating around to the point of "never attribute to malice that which could easily be attributed to stupidity".

TKretts3:

canadamus_prime:
Oh so in other words EA isn't greedy, they're just incredibly incredibly stupid.

It's not that they aren't greedy, that was said in the article. The greed of the individuals in charge at EA isn't a problem, their stupidity/irrationality is.

Well no more greedy than any other company anyway.

capacollo:
You hit the nail on the head Shamus. I understand the need for big companies to change strategies and target different market segments but when you do it do it well from the start. I sometimes think companies believe meeting launch windows is more important and that we'll blindly dismiss any issues for the fact that it will eventually be fixed which ticks me off. Unless the game is something I really want to have at launch I usually wait for the dust to settle before making a purchase.

We (the gaming culture) don't exactly help with the launch-window issue; We will heap scorn on anything that doesn't meet a deadline, even if such a deadline is laughably unrealistic. Peversely, we don't encourage long-term support either (The comment section for the news on the Scott Pilgrim DLC is just terrible). I think that they just expect the "fans" to get all upset either way, and they'd rather get the game out sooner rather than later.

I don't know if you're right about the nickle and diming, but this article certainly rings true to a consumer viewpoint. Hear hear!

"We (the gaming culture) don't exactly help with the launch-window issue; We will heap scorn on anything that doesn't meet a deadline, even if such a deadline is laughably unrealistic."

Wait; if only there were some way they could make deadlines that weren't laughably unrealistic...

We need more Shamus Young in our lives. Thanks for being awesome dude.

You don't get it. Businesses never do badly because of business practices, it's ALWAYS external factors. Like PIRACY and USED GAMES. This is the reason why EA is doing badly. PIRACY and USED GAMES. Until Congress kills torrents and Gamestop we're going to keep losing money. Steam does well because they came first and have trendy marketing. It just means we have to spend more money on marketers and time machines.

This article is brilliant.

I've been saying for a long time that the way EA handles costumer relations is amateurish. They simply don't know how to do things.

rembrandtqeinstein:
A huge difference is that Valve is a private company and EA is public.

Public companies only care about major shareholders, employees and customers are far down the list of concern. In an ideal world decisions that harm customers and employees would punish the shareholders by decreasing the stock price. In reality stock price is mostly coupled to quarterly earning reports so anything that increases the number on the reports is fair game regardless of the long term consequences.

With a private company usually the founder is in charge and it is "his baby". Until the dollar signs take over his brain he actually has some integrity about his decisions and cares about his reputation.

About the only "good" public company I can think of is Costco but that will probably change now that the founder retired from CEO. Hopefully he will keep tabs on his successor and has influence over policy decisions.

Also a very good point.

Very well said, Shamus.

So, what does it take for EA to get a clue?

Rembrandtqeinstein had a good point that Valve is a private company and EA is a publicly traded one, and my take is that perhaps that leads to an unfortunate cycle of decisions that may be foolish in the long run but are easy to justify to investors. Still, as I've pointed out, EA has lost over 2 billion dollars in the last three years, and as Shamus points out, EA appears to be downsizing (frame that as "reorganization" as you may like). Surely they'd rather be making smart decisions; what is it that obstructs their view of the fact that failing to make their customers feel that they're being treated with respect is killing their bottom line?

albino boo:

rembrandtqeinstein:
A huge difference is that Valve is a private company and EA is public.

Public companies only care about major shareholders, employees and customers are far down the list of concern. In an ideal world decisions that harm customers and employees would punish the shareholders by decreasing the stock price. In reality stock price is mostly coupled to quarterly earning reports so anything that increases the number on the reports is fair game regardless of the long term consequences.

With a private company usually the founder is in charge and it is "his baby". Until the dollar signs take over his brain he actually has some integrity about his decisions and cares about his reputation.

About the only "good" public company I can think of is Costco but that will probably change now that the founder retired from CEO. Hopefully he will keep tabs on his successor and has influence over policy decisions.

Really, lets examine this closely. TF2 has microtransactions and did so before it went F2P. Even after TF2 went F2P valve does not provide servers, what do you think their margins are on those microtransactions? Valve is just as ruthless but less transparent.

His point has nothing to do with the drive to make money. The point is that Valve is much more interested in doing it without alienating their costumer base. I think it is a valid consideration.

hentropy:
You don't get it. Businesses never do badly because of business practices, it's ALWAYS external factors. Like PIRACY and USED GAMES. This is the reason why EA is doing badly. PIRACY and USED GAMES. Until Congress kills torrents and Gamestop we're going to keep losing money. Steam does well because they came first and have trendy marketing. It just means we have to spend more money on marketers and time machines.

OTOH, Steam also kills PIRACY and USED GAMES... Or mostly, which is no worse than EA's services are likely to do.

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