How to Fix Electronic Arts

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Dreadjaws:

I honestly don't know where did you get that idea from, but every single thing I've heard the guy say implies the opposite. He's aware of what games are, yes, but that doesn't mean he understands the media at all, or that he actually play games other than to test them for five minutes and blurt "Yeah, it didn't crash. Sell it."

I got it from listening to his quarterly speeches to the company, and from actually chatting with the guy in line to get Coffee on more than one occasion about the current weeks new release. When the guy really geeks out about a new game that came out the day before (and not even an EA one at that) you know he "gets it."

Adam Jensen:
This stuff is so obvious to us gamers. Be sure to send this article to EA executives.

This is basically why Valve is so successful. Anticipating market changes and what consumers want is key. That's exactly what Valve did years ago with their digital distribution platform. They knew what the future holds before everyone else did and now they're reaping most of the benefits. Valve is a company of gamers. As gamers and software developers they have the full insight into the industry and how it works. That's why they're so successful at what they do. It's so painfully obvious, which is why EA's decisions frustrate me to no end. It isn't that hard to understand gaming industry. I've seen here on The Escapist that most users can predict which games and trends will prove successful and which ones won't. That's how fuckin' obvious it is. A random member of a gaming forum could have run EA better than that moron.

I agree with 90% of what you said, but I highly doubt a random member of a gaming forum would be able to run EA. EA is a big business, which means that you're feeding a LOT of mouths, they are kind of past the point where in which they can make a 180 and immediately change their ways. I'm not saying they can't, but I am saying they need someone who knows how to do what's best for both ends, and as far as forum members go...yeah I'd rather take my chances with Vladimir Putin running EA.

I need to take the time and say that you've got to be by far my favorite column in The Escapist right now. I found the site through Zero Punctuation, got pretty hooked to Extra Punctuation and most of Andy Chalk's works, but you really seem to wipe the floor with everyone every week. Hell of a job.

Plus you get to talk about EA without making it sound like a rant and are still apologetic about it, that alone deserves a small trophy.

I see people saying "screw it let EA die".
let's not forget the damage that would do to countless people's livelihoods and to the industry in general. No guys, as much as I hate to say it I think EA going under would do more harm than good.

I don't want to pee on anyones parade but history has shown that studios usually do not survive the death of the parent. Bioware and Maxis will not be dancing on EAs grave because they will have been shut down before that happens. Yes the IP may survive and something like Fallout going to Bethesda is possible (ie it ends up with someone who understands the genre) but it is just as likely that Mass Effect will wind up at We Only Make Shooters Inc.

Honestly, I don't even care if the new CEO plays videogames. I just want someone who understands the needs of the community and finds a way to make money without ruining everything.

Maybe Valve could buy up EA...

"Leadership takes vision. And you can't have a vision unless you have passion. The leadership of EA does not have a visible passion for videogames."

I absolutely agree with that statement, and it feels like once a generation (console) or so that this comes out. Then they get complacent and happy to cash-in on that waning passion...then the next console comes out and we rinse and repeat.

Shamus Young:
A bit of passion would go a long way towards repairing EA.

You make some good points, but I'm actually going to have to defend EA to a certain extent here. The big problem is that this is not, in fact, a problem unique to the gaming industry as you suggest. Management is inherently an entirely different job requiring an entirely different skill set from the people they are managing. For example, hospitals are rarely managed by doctors. This is for the obvious reasons that doctors have dedicated their lives to being doctors; not only do they lack any training in management, most have no desire to spend their time shuffling paperwork when they could be out doctoring. It can be a problem sometimes, when the management and doctors don't understand each others' point of view, but for the most part it's unavoidable because neither has the skills or inclination to do the job of the other.

Gaming is no different. Of course it would be nice to have games companies managed by people who enjoy making and playing games. But those people want to spend their time making and playing games, and they can't do that if they're responsible for the management of a large company. So just as in every other field, the people actually doing the work will stay doing the work, while dedicated managers are employed to do the management part.

I think the main problem with EA isn't that the management don't understand games, it's that they don't understand games but think they do and interfere with their production. As long as both parties understand their respective limitations, they can get on just fine. A developer may not have much understanding of finances, tax codes and various legal thingies, so they need to listen to the managers on those points. On the other hand, the mangers need to accept that they don't know much about games development and need to listen to what the developers say on that front. It's only when one of the sides starts interfering in the work of the other that problems start appearing.

Well, my vote is for Shamus to take over EA.

Antari:
The only solution to the EA problem is the company going under and freeing up the IP's to be taken up by people who actually give a shit about making a game. No matter who is at the helm of EA, its owned by investors. And they won't let off the leash of mediocre money maker titles. As a company it is totally dysfunctional to its customers. There is no fixing this level of broken. Sometimes you just have to admit that its a complete failure, and start over from scratch.

This so much.

EA is beyond redemption. It badly, BADLY, needs to go under.

I would squee if I heard Petroglyph bought back Command & Conquer and renamed themselves Westwood Studios.

Hey Shamus, I know don't know if you ever look at the stuff posted here, but aside from yourself and Extra Credits, I have a hard time finding any gaming media that looks at games in such a thoughtful, forward-thinking manner. Admittedly I don't spend my time scouring the net for these kinds of things, but video games aren't my profession and I would rather not spend my time sifting through the same and the hype for something worthwhile. Is there any place you frequent that you could recommend (or frankly, anyone else who appreciates this kind of view of the world of gaming)?

Shamus Young:
Imagine a Starbucks where the decision-makers didn't really care for coffee and just thought of their product as any other beverage.

So, exactly like the Starbucks in the real world.

Zing!

Seriously. The Starbucks corporation doesn't care about coffee. Fortunately for them, neither do most consumers. This is why they roast their coffee so dark. It's not better. It masks the inferior quality of their beans. The other reason why they're successful is because they mimic the appearance of an Italian coffee shop. They aren't one in reality. More like the amusement park facsimile of one. This works because most of the US doesn't have a strong coffee culture and can tell when it's fake, like Starbucks.

Fixing EA?
It is possible
It will require locating their HQ, gathering all the shareholders in it, a lot of gasoline and some fire source >:D

I didn't realize Shamus was posting articles again, he had been away for so long. They are always thought out and well written, thanks Shamus!

The leadership of EA does not have a visible passion for videogames.

This is why I hate EA in a single sentence. This is why we call EA greedy and not Valve. I feel like Valve made a great product then asked "How can we use this to pay the bills?" I feel like someone at EA said "My money fort only has 2 rooms, how can we squeeze more money out of these fools? Guess we will have to make another game."

Another is the marketing method. If marketing were a conversation, Valve came over to my house, brought a coffee and a sample box for me and said "you can buy any of these, look we even reduced the price a stack!". EA came to my house with a gun, bundled me off to the Origin warehouse, pointed a gun at my head and said "LOOK BUT DON'T TOUCH UNTIL YOU PAID FOR IT! WE'RE ON TO YOUR CRIMINAL WAYS!"

Lets boil this down to a single concept that the column strongly hinted at - EA's practices are so bad they made me not want to buy Mass Effect 3 or SimCity 5. Congratulations EA, you win the award for anti-marketer of the year.

Cid SilverWing:

This so much.

EA is beyond redemption. It badly, BADLY, needs to go under.

I would squee if I heard Petroglyph bought back Command & Conquer and renamed themselves Westwood Studios.

You are hoping the IP can be saved. I wouldn't be surprised that if EA were to go under so much IP would go down with it, just because it is so contaminated with EA's bad practises.

True, Shamus, but to do that would probably uproot more than just EA's CEO. We might be talking a new board of directors too, and I don't think those people are very inclined to give up their seat in a (still relatively) profitable company.

While I'm hoping that EA eventually evolves into the gamer-run company that would benefit the industry, I think we'd have to wait a couple of years for that reality to happen.

well i would post that clapping Gif from Citizen Kane but for one thing...

i don't think they'll follow the advice.

i personally think there's a good chance that "the big publishers" will instead end up producing bland uninspired risk averse "focus tested" "suit" picked product much like the big textbook, staple, back catalogue and and "pulp" print publishers or "the big movie studios".

hopefully the "cutting edge" of games development will instead become the preserve of "independents" or sub companies and/or collectives who may still be "distributed" by "the big publishers" to augment their bottom line/increase their cache in the market but that actually probably need less "help" in this department than perhaps any other creative media industries because of the ease and acceptance level of digital distribution and the fact that, lets face it, it isn't very hard and it doesn't cost very much to manufacture even a physical CD/DVD/blu ray product in this day and age.

i also think its possible some kind of "demand led consumerism" is could emerge with a serious role to play in the game industrys future development.

such a (continuous) feedback process between gamers and game developers could provide a healthy industry work and a sales backbone perhaps somewhat equitable with the value of the back catalogue (and the market demand assessment that derives from it) that exists in other media industries where technology doesn't periodically make entire slabs of previously created product "obsolete" in the eyes of the average consumer.

especially in a "downturn" like this why not just "give us what we want" ?

its the surest way to get money out my currently tight wallet and the surest way to make sure i appreciate your business in the long run. something i really want would fair cheer me right up right about now :P

and i know what i want.

i could fill a page easy.

so could most other people.

and quite a lot of our views handily converge in fairly large numbers on fairly common ground...
common ground that would almost definitely "shift a lot of units" if anyone actually paid attention...

someone should start a website with a "make this game naow" nomination process and voting...and no i don't mean kickstarter...i mean just one for and for developers (and the public) to post concepts and suggestions on and "the industry" to be able to look at it and go "you mean they want me to make that ? wow...well i suppose that could be an alright project y'know...and there's X million folks say they'd buy it and Y million people say they might y'say...interesting...lemme phone a few people..."

Revolutionary:
I see people saying "screw it let EA die".
let's not forget the damage that would do to countless people's livelihoods and to the industry in general. No guys, as much as I hate to say it I think EA going under would do more harm than good.

I strongly disagree with this fearful sentiment. If EA were to go under there would be a massive bid for the IP's and studios meaning a lot of people WON'T lose their job just transfer to a new company. For those that lose their job they will do what ever other person who loses a job does, find another one.

I really hate the whole "too big to fail" mentality that cooperations are trying to make people believe. People losing their jobs would be a short term damage to the industry while keeping EA as they are now is a LONG TERM damage to the industry.

The fact DICE had to literally beg EA to give them the go to make Star Wars Battlefront 3 shows us that they're leadership is still woefully out of touch of the gaming culture; that match was made in heaven really and EA didn't see it until they were beat over the head with it by DICE guys.

How to fix EA?

*grabs clippers*

Same way you fix a schnauzer.

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