Electronic Arts: Greed Is Not the Problem

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For the most part as is normal I agree with you with some exceptions.

The rally cry "Greed is Good" is not only over used but as far as I'm concerned a complete fallacy.
Making well deserved profit is good. Excelling in your chosen field and prospering from it is very good. Greed is the want of money for it's own sake and some of the worst evil has been justified in the name of greed or undeserved profit. How many workers standing up for their human rights have been gunned down in the name of greed? How many have died in completely perilous working conditions because of greed? How many people have had their lives destroyed in the name of greed? How many advances that would greatly benefited the human race have been squashed in the name of greed? How many people have been denied life saving products due to greed? How many products were thrust upon an unknowing public that were defective in massively dangerous manner due to greed?
Greed is one of the 7 evils for a reason. It can motivate people to unthinkingly do great acts of evil and dismiss them because it was necessary to maintain their level of wealth. Less greed would only change the world for better.

But I do agree that greed isn't EA's main problem. To me it's as you stated in your last paragraph a lack of direction and vision. Well I wouldn't say lack of, more completely wrong. I have to point out that there's one big comparison between EA and Valve you missed. EA is a public company and Valve is not. So what you ask? Well I've posted it here and in other forums that the current concept of maximizing stockholder worth is killing big business. EA isn't failing because of a lack of talent or IP. They're not failing due to laziness and incompetence. Their failing because their focus isn't making great games and entertaining experiences no matter what they say to the contrary.

It's because their primary focus is maintaining and improving stock performance, and they're not the only big company to fall into this trap. Anytime you point to a company making just stupid short sighted decisions, if you dig even a little bit, you'll find it's often as not the reason behind it. Microsoft's blunder with Win8 and their own branded tablets? Ballmer was having the screws put to him over the fact that MS was late to the mobile party. There's a reason that Dell took his company private. Too much stockholder input and control makes long term vision impossible to implement.

Every too early release is due to stockholder unrealistic expectations of performance. Every denial of missteps and mistakes is to prevent a potential run on the stock that honesty would bring. Every poorly thought out design decision is due to trying to maximize return to impress stockholders. I've said this before and I'll say it again. Gamers are not EA's customers, stockholders are. And everything that EA has done lately is because they're disappointing their true customers. The only thing that will change EA for the better is a (sigh, I hate this overused term) complete paradigm shift. EA needs to ask themselves how every decision will affect gamers, not stockholders. Until they do they'll continue to lumber along, close to death, but "too big to fail". And those that love this hobby will suffer for it.

I don't have a huge amount to add to this, but I do believe that while the basic desire for money may not be the problem fixation on bottom line is. There's a fine line between keeping one's eye on survival and outright gluttony.

I've often heard it said that we can't really blame companies for trying to make money at the expense of whatever particular cut corner is being discussed in a given conversation, because the purpose of a corporation is to make money.

I have something of a dispute with this notion.

If we can compare the body corporate to the human organism from which they emerge, it's a bit like saying the purpose of a human is to eat food. We need food to survive, corporations need money to survive as a matter of basic energy intake. But this is a means to any number of other functions, not an end unto itself. Treating it as an end tends to be unhealthy. You may do what you perceive you must to consume what you feel it is your purpose to consume, but with no inclination to accomplish any other purpose what are you really going to accomplish?

For most healthy humans, even in communities that are struggling, one fulfills a purpose for which they are fed or provided the means by which to feed themselves.

As an extension of that, the purpose of a corporation is to provide goods or services for which they are paid.

I feel that the first step towards correcting the pathological behavior of companies like EA is correcting this perspective. Until one does, they will continue to get caught up in trying to awkwardly ape the appearance of success in others without understanding the principles behind it as they have done for virtually every high profile failure they have exhibited over the past several years.

Eclectic Dreck:

Eri:
Very nice article~

I would not be surprised if EA ends up winning a 3rd consecutive worst company in usa award. God knows they haven't tried shaking their shitshow of an image.

I consistently find it surprising that the company manages to win this award. They do, after all, manage to make products liked by many and the atrocities to their name amount to little more than petty squabbles about what ten bucks ought to buy someone. While no means a bastion of nobility, to assert that a company that at the very worst makes a product you don't want is somehow the worst one in the US is silly.

Compare EA to any number of banks and investment houses, or a host of companies in the agricultural industry, or a selection of companies in petroleum exploration and exploitation or any of a variety of other firms. These are companies that have destroyed lives and communities and helped foster disasters on a global scale. How is it that EA somehow manages to be worse?

People expect companies like Bank of America to be utter shit. Game companies are supposed to be fun so to speak. When a bank acts like a bunch of assholes, everyone shrugs and says it's a bank acting like a bank. When a game company does it, not so much. People don't get invested (hah) in their banks, but they invest in their games heavily, so they take it more personally.

Zachary Amaranth:

We can look at EA, though. EA has posted consistent losses over the last couple of years and seen hits to their stock price.

I don't know if Valve is doing better, though I have a hard time imagining a company where so much of their money is involved in DD doing poorly.

I don't doubt that, you're probably right about EA.

Back to the greed thing, EA being a publicly traded company, prodded by investors to continually produce increasing profits, probably has a lot to do with why they make so many greedy, dumb decisions that end up hurting them.

So many game developers, for instance, say that it's pressure from ignorant investors that pushes their executives to initiate DRM processes that do nothing but waste money and alienate customers.

I don't think greed is quite the same thing as making money. Greed is when you want money so much you don't care what you're doing to get it. When you're willing to screw over people to get it. Valve doesn't really have a problem with greed in that regard. They have other problems.
And while EA certainly does have that problem at times, I think you're right. EA's biggest problem is outright incompetence.

Shamus Young:
Intellectual Property is the most valuable asset a videogame company can have. Talent can come and go. Machines and software are regularly replaced. But creating and maintaining titles and brands is how you make your money.

Cue the posts screaming "BUT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DOESN'T EXIST!" Despite the fact that it is legally recognized around the world, and is valued and traded as property on the markets.

I agree with Shamus, although Greed might be the wrong word. Greed implies selfish excess. I'm not sure if it's something we should be encouraging, if only because of that implication. Meritocratic pursuit of success and profit? That might be more like it, if a little bit more difficult to summarise in one word.

But yes, the overwhelming point of Shamus' article is right. For a company that is clearly comfortable with focussing on their bottom line, they aren't very good at it. They haven't seemed to cotton on to the fact that systematically destroying their goodwill isn't actually going to make them any money. The amount of money that they'd make from Dungeon Keeper Mobile, for example, is probably going to be offset by the tremendous amount of bad press they got. Same with putting Simcity online, same with declaring that Steam Sales -much loved by the community, and generally profitable- are bad for the value of their IP.

Shamus is right: you'd be livid if you were a shareholder. Even if I only cared about EA's profit, and I don't, I just want to play their games, I'd still be annoyed by their general incompetence. I'd be annoyed by the fact that almost every news article about them or their management is negative, and even when it isn't the comments section is overwhelmingly negative anyway.

So yeah, it isn't just pursuit of profit. It's pursuit of short-term profit, with a rather outstanding lack of awareness or care towards the industry or their customers. Which is probably closer to the definition of greed* than just pure pursuit of profit, and yeah. It isn't good.

Anyway, good article regardless. Thanks Shamus.

*Edit: Depends on how you define greed, I suppose.

There's something to be said for a company that dominates their market-space by being really good at what they do versus one that tries to dominate their market-space by clamping down control over everything they could conceivably be said to own- IPs new and old, data, customer base...

Valve will never be EA. This is not to say that the near-monopoly they enjoy couldn't turn from something seen as benevolent to something more sinister; some will no doubt say they're on their way already. But even the little steps show the difference in culture between the companies as they currently exist. Valve's AR people wanted to go another way; Valve released the technology they'd been working on to them and allowed it. A team wanted to re-create the original Half-Life in the current Source engine as a mod; unsolicited, Valve gave their blessing for a commercial release. Valve generates new IPs; EA buys the groups responsible for previously successful ones and manages to misplace the people responsible for those IPs' creation.

It would be beating the dead horse to write more articles about EA's failures if there were more signs that their management seemed to fully grasp why they're the target of so much hate. For every moment where they show signs of improvement or at least pay lip-service to being better people, there's a new Dungeon Keeper Mobile.

They can definitely still make good games, but there's so much baggage with every half-way promising offering that it becomes hard to stomach.

I'm not entirely sure I agree. I very much think Greed *IS* EA's problem and at the root of most things pointed out in this article. I do not see making a profit and striving to get rich as being the same thing as being "greedy", especially in a capitalist society. Look at how the two companies being used here have been making, or trying to make, money. Valve by and large releases stand alone games that are self contained and shine on their own merits, making people want to buy them. EA tries to do the same, but loads them up with tons of DLC right out of the gate, engages in elaborate lies about what their products are going to be (Mass Effect 3, and the reveals that came with it's behind the scenes app), and puts micro transactions into single player games like "Dead Space 3". Their service "Origin" has nothing to recommend it, I've told my tales about their customer service and why I won't use it many times, it's little more than a digital platform to sell their games for top dollar and load your system with DRM that they control and spies on your system. In comparison while Valve has put micro transactions/DLC into their games they have been very careful about how, where, and when they do it, as opposed to aiming to pull money out of their customers constantly. They did not for example launch "Portal 2" with the requirement that you need to gather X number of Macguffins to upgrade your portal gun to reach the next section, attaching it to a huge grind, and then offering to sell you Macguffins to see the whole game and be less annoying. Where EA charges a premium for their games and loads them with extra fees, Valve manages to win customers by offering a great value and slashing prices frequently, making it so people WANT to spend money and wind up being happy about it, and feel they are getting a reasonable deal, as opposed to EA which does nothing but gouge customers and make them feel resentful. One of the first things EA said was they had no real plans to do the same kinds of sales that STEAM does, yet at the end of the day it's those kinds of sales that have made Valve tons of money and generated good will.

Both EA and Valve are profit oriented businesses, with the same basic goal... to get you to part with your money. But the way they go about it is entirely different, and really Greed and wanting to get people to literally pay as much as possible for everything and everything is exactly how EA has gotten the reputation it is. With Valve you can buy a bunch of cheap games, and if they blow chips it doesn't matter as much because they were inexpensive. With EA they provide a premium product which acts as little more than a gateway to sell you other things, with entire features and key content missing or locked out behind annoying timers and boring busywork until you pay. Valve might say sell you a hat for "Team Fortress 2" which does pretty much nothing, ditto for a costume for your favorite DOTA2 champion, EA on the other hand will make you pay extra money for a crucial part of the Mass Effect Storyline (Prothean Squadmate) and things like that, or vend salvage to you in "Dead Space 3" specifically to get around mechanics they added to make upgrading all your gear annoying and encourage people to pay just to experience the entire product they bought.

I get what the article here is saying, but I think the reason for the incompetence is greed having gone too far with EA and saturated everything they do, to the point where it simply doesn't know how to act like a reasonable company. It's already said flat out that it's not going to go the same route as Valve, and at the end of the day that's because EA isn't that comparatively generous (as generous as someone who is still trying to sell you products can be that is). It's argument against sales was that they "devalued the products" which seems to be a fancy way of saying that EA feels entitled to gouge money and since people will so far pay it, there is no reason for them to act any other way... which on some levels is a valid point, but it does lead to everyone hating them.

The thing about EA is that they have their periodic highs every 6-7 years and lows inbetween.

High around 2000: Release of Clive Barker's Undying, American McGee's Alice

Then they got MOHAA and decided to just go sequelish and E-ratingish.

High around 2006-2007: Release of Mirror's Edge, Mass Effect, Crysis, Dead Space

Then they just got sequelish and Origin-ish.

High in 2013: EA Humble Bundle, sort of. Okay it was crap but at least something.

So, see ya around in 2020 EA if you're still around.

On the other hand, Activision is just on a steady decline and so they don't attract that much attention.

And Valve is evil.

I'd like to put EA through a meat grinder alright, oh the joy of hearing their death-cries as I slowly turn them into mush.

Sadly we all have to settle for watching atrocity after atrocity as they slowly lose what they have until they have nothing left to lose.

Either way is going to be painful to watch this unfold.

CATPCHA: vocal minority
Only in EA's mind captcha.

Wow, that might be harshest take down I've seen of EA. It's not at all unfair either but you did glance over their few quality works. Titles like Mirrors Edge is a unique IP that despite failing on the front end of its release still has people talking about it in a good way. Dead Space 1 and 2 were fantastic new IP's that came and filled a perfectly shaped hole I was missing in my gaming experience. C&C Generals was taken from Westwood studios and turned into something unique and familiar, and then of course Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Though I suppose those had more to do with the developers then EA arguably, I mean I can't really think of really brilliant marketing strategy or a moment where EA came off as the good guys, unless they were fighting Zynga or wrestling over the rights to the word "Edge" but that was like Darth Vader vs Hitler you're only the good guy by comparison... their humble bundle last year?

A-fucking-men, Seamus, a-fucking-men. Some consultant needs to read this wholly to EA's Board of Directors stat. They'll probably get fired, because no one survives telling truth to power, but it seriously needs to be said. Most of EA's problems seem to stem from too much micromanagement ( or not enough in regards to their marketing).

I completely understand that there is a huge difference in running a company and being a creative and that, in general, creatives suck at business and business people are soul-less and uncreative, but can't EA separate their creative enterprises from the soul-deadened shallow portions of their business? Yes, a development team needs structure, a deadline and a strict budget, but they most certainly do NOT need focus groups and suggestions from the financial side of the company. Let talented people do what they do and let the suits decide where to invest their profits next, then get out of the way and stop interfering.

KungFuJazzHands:

Jasper van Heycop:
Ugh all the comparisons to Valve, a company that tries to stuff increasing amounts of the same anti consumer bullshit down our throats (and bafflingly gets away with it too, unlike EA and Ubisoft). Why not compare to a company that is actually doing it right (CD Projekt) rather than one that is just as bad, if not worse?

Seriously. This whole article came off as a gushing love letter to Valve, not the supposed EA critique the header offered us. The only example Young could be bothered to provide of wrongdoing on Valve's part was the silly L4D2 fiasco?

Misleading journalism at its finest.

Valve worse than EA? Are you being serious?

They're not the Archangels some make them out to be for sure, but Gabe would have to dig 50 miles straight down before he could even freaking SEE EA trough a glass floor.

EA is consistently raping franchises and Developers. They have been doing that for years. They rip-off their customers at every corner, deliver subpar if not outright broken products en masse and then shift the blame for said Bullshit on everyone else. They actively lie to and belittle their customers.

Theres a ton of stuff Valve could improve, especially in steam. But EA is probably THE worst company currently calling shots in the gaming industry. And considering that they are competing against the likes of Capcom and Activision, that's saying a lot.

Jasper van Heycop:
Ugh all the comparisons to Valve, a company that tries to stuff increasing amounts of the same anti consumer bullshit down our throats (and bafflingly gets away with it too, unlike EA and Ubisoft). Why not compare to a company that is actually doing it right (CD Projekt) rather than one that is just as bad, if not worse?

I know what you're saying but I would think CD Projekt would make an even worse comparison. There are basically two sides to them, the Polish publisher that translates and releases titles in Eastern Europe, and the guys who make The Witcher. I'm guessing you were talking about the latter but they only have a single IP they have to worry about, that makes it far easier to properly nurture and grow.

EA is so massive that they're juggling dozens of IP's. It would be nice if they could do what CDP does for each game, but that many games in development requires massive amount of funds which requires investors who require corporate structure. Honestly that latter seems to be the biggest downfall at times, as EA often seems to rush games not because they're over budget but because they have a quarterly sales projection to meet.

Scorpid:
Wow, that might be harshest take down I've seen of EA. It's not at all unfair either but you did glance over their few quality works. Titles like Mirrors Edge is a unique IP that despite failing on the front end of its release still has people talking about it in a good way. Dead Space 1 and 2 were fantastic new IP's that came and filled a perfectly shaped hole I was missing in my gaming experience. C&C Generals was taken from Westwood studios and turned into something unique and familiar, and then of course Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Though I suppose those had more to do with the developers then EA arguably, I mean I can't really think of really brilliant marketing strategy or a moment where EA came off as the good guys, unless they were fighting Zynga or wrestling over the rights to the word "Edge" but that was like Darth Vader vs Hitler you're only the good guy by comparison... their humble bundle last year?

I think that a popular consensus is that EA's games are generally rather good. Although Metacritic isn't a perfect indicator of game quality, it's usually at least close to the mark. And EA comes near the top rather often:

http://www.metacritic.com/feature/game-publisher-rankings-for-2013-releases

http://www.metacritic.com/feature/game-publisher-rankings-for-2012-releases (where they won)

http://www.metacritic.com/feature/game-publisher-rankings-for-2011-releases

Which makes it all the more baffling that everyone hates EA. Or, it's fairly obvious why people hate EA. It's baffling that EA still manages to piss everyone off.

Their humble bundle last year actually gave me some hope that they were trying to turn everything around. That and firing Riccitiello. They've goofed up again with Dungeon Keeper though, so that hope might have been a bit premature.

Greed (as in the simple desire for money) may not be a problem in an of itself, but sometimes the actions resulting from it can be bad, such as ruining a game by trying to force an unnecessary and occasionally faulty online multiplayer component to combat piracy, or littering a respectable franchise with pay-to-win mechanics. I like this article, but I feel that it tries to attribute off too much of EA's problems to incompetence when some of it's mistakes came from a sheer lack of care or decency.

I enjoyed that article, good work Shamus.

Honestly, hasn't EA really only been managing to succeed as a company by assimilating devs that were already doing well on their own?

I mean, for one, there's BioWare and their Mass Effect and Dragon Age works. Since EA is the publisher, they get a pretty tidy percentage for all of the prophet that BioWare makes from their products.

Not that I'm really defending EA here - their inability to properly innovate combined with their need to outright disband developer groups that no longer meet a quota for them (see: Pandemic, Origin) helps keep them in the black, but it certainly doesn't paint a picture of longevity for any video game developers that begin to invest in Triple A development, and this practice in itself can be seen as self-destructive. As EA is the publisher and, thus, is not the one actually MAKING the games, it's only a matter of time before it stabs all the geese laying the metaphorical golden eggs.

Fair is fair, making money isn't the problem. Its that they seem to care about nothing else, and there is seemingly nothing they won't do to make money.

Also they've been really getting ready for this year's Worst Company In America competition. They really seem to want to pull off a hat trick of golden poo.

I think the big difference here is corporate structure. EA is slow on the uptake of new ideas and technologies because it has a thousand small hoops to jump through. It has shareholders, division directors, the board of directors and the C.E.O it all has to get the go from, after each of these have lengthy meetings and approvals processes. Valve doesn't have half of that.

EA would have to streamline it's creative control, but that would mean giving up power. And no one wants to do that.

Hi there. I enjoyed this article but I do have a bone to pick with it. I agree that EA is an impenitent company but I would argue that it's incompetence comes from greed. As far I as I believe greed is bad and forever will be. Being competitive is fine, wanting to increase your stock and make money is fine too. However, greed is when you strive to make money and damn any morality and consequences in the result.

I know you only used Valve as an example but I'd hardly call them the gold standard. I'd like to point that that Steam wasn't started because Valve saw the future, but rather because it was a security measure that was put in place because Half-Life 2's source code was hacked.

Also steam had a turbulence starting and lot of people hated it. For the first time you need to connect your computer to the internet and many people had to miss out. Even then not everyone could get their game to work.

It's worth remembering that just because something took off and is now popular and and highly presided doesn't mean that it's good. Example Call of Duty; A game I despise not just because of it's popularity and influence but the game itself is horribly designed.

For me GOG will always be the gold standard. I'm not sure if I'd call Valve greedy but I certainly don't get any sense that they care about their customers with the lack of a refund policy, quality control and lack of customer support.

Valve started to get a monopoly on digitally distributed games and now it looks like that monopoly is starting to back fire. Honestly, I'm glade it is. Case and point, greed is and will get you in the end.

Jumwa:

Blood Brain Barrier:

I don't know the financial statistics, but isn't EA considered successful as a company? How much compared with Valve?

There is no way to compare, since Valve is not a publicly traded company, it is privately owned. So therefore they are not compelled to release any statistics or numbers they don't care to.

And this is the true difference between EA and Valve. EA are beholden to shareholders and everything they do is to add value for those shareholders. Executives flail about trying anything they can to satisfy the hoards baying for more and more profit. Valve however, are beholden to no one. Publicly listing a company is a good way to make some money in the short term for those that founded it, but it is hardly ever a good move for the actual company involved.

RandV80:

Jasper van Heycop:
Ugh all the comparisons to Valve, a company that tries to stuff increasing amounts of the same anti consumer bullshit down our throats (and bafflingly gets away with it too, unlike EA and Ubisoft). Why not compare to a company that is actually doing it right (CD Projekt) rather than one that is just as bad, if not worse?

I know what you're saying but I would think CD Projekt would make an even worse comparison. There are basically two sides to them, the Polish publisher that translates and releases titles in Eastern Europe, and the guys who make The Witcher. I'm guessing you were talking about the latter but they only have a single IP they have to worry about, that makes it far easier to properly nurture and grow.

EA is so massive that they're juggling dozens of IP's. It would be nice if they could do what CDP does for each game, but that many games in development requires massive amount of funds which requires investors who require corporate structure. Honestly that latter seems to be the biggest downfall at times, as EA often seems to rush games not because they're over budget but because they have a quarterly sales projection to meet.

I was talking about how they make DRM free games. I can buy the Witcher 2 of the shelf and install it without some shady company "needing" my private information and having to install a "service" on my computer. I can then resell or give it to friends or family when Iīm done with the campaign.

Donīt tell me EA can't do that, as they already did exactly that until some time after the release of Mass Effect 2. Then they of course had to follow Valve and lock their shit behind DRM, as EA is very good at following bad examples (see also attempting to copy Call of Duty)

Jasper van Heycop:

I was talking about how they make DRM free games. I can buy the Witcher 2 of the shelf and install it without some shady company "needing" my private information and having to install a "service" on my computer. I can then resell or give it to friends or family when Iīm done with the campaign.

Donīt tell me EA can't do that, as they already did exactly that until some time after the release of Mass Effect 2. Then they of course had to follow Valve and lock their shit behind DRM, as EA is very good at following bad examples (see also attempting to copy Call of Duty)

I'm guessing you weren't around for the Spore debarkle then?

Before EA used Steam and eventually Origin they loaded their games with a DRM system called SecuROM which limited the number of installs you could make and often mistook upgrades as a different PC, which would after a set number (usually 3 or 5) and kill your 'licence' of the game. It also remained even if you uninstalled the game, rather like a rootkit.

Someone high up at EA really needs to read this. Excellent points and a cautionary tale for anyone at Valve in case they ever 'do an EA'

Why do i have the feeling that someone at EA said just that?
"Greed is not the problem - its the solution!"
followed by "mwahahahahaha" and the burning of the kittens?

meh, its not that bad.

Shamus Young:
Greed is not the problem.

The problem with 'greed' is people conflate 'greed' with 'making a buck'; they decide on their own 'that's too much profit; must be greed/bad!'.

I'd use the term 'short term thinking' instead, but it's a more clumsy expression and, though more accurate, will never catch on.

Shamus Young:

Intellectual Property is the most valuable asset a videogame company can have. Talent can come and go.

Disagree. Talent is what makes new IP; the assumption that 'I just need someone with x job description' instead of 'I need someone just like My-Hanh, or, better, retain My-Hanh' is a plague on budget, schedule, and success that represents among the worst of corporate fail-think.

EA talking about greed. What the?

EA is the most biggest cancer in game industry along with Activision.

It's funny but the marketing really is all I remember about Dante's inferno game. I didn't even buy it but I still remember the terrible marketing campaign they did for it.

The last thing this thread needs is another opinion, but screw it I'm going to say mine.

First off, I wouldn't exactly call Valve a model company, especially of late. They do some things really good, but they do some other things really bad. But that's not really what I came to talk about, just wanted to get that out of the way.

As has already been said (several times) by others, wanting success and money is not quite the same thing as greed. Someone suffering from avarice does more than want money - they want it so bad that they're willing to cross a few lines to acquire it, generally don't spend it on things that may benefit others because that would defeat the purpose, and often defend what they see as their rightful profit from others trying to earn money. Whether or not EA is completely given into greed is up for debate, but there are certainly some elements of this mental illness present that would cause the company to act so annoyingly.

And that's not to say I hate EA either - in fact, I like quite a lot of games they've put out, and like them very much. It's more the principle and logic of their recent decisions that irks me than the quality of their product. Their problems are more a problem in their mode of thinking than their decision making, I think. Following a certain train of logic, the decisions they're making could be seen as perfectly valid and clever. The only problem is that that logic is mostly bullshit.

Ed130 The Vanguard:

Jasper van Heycop:

I was talking about how they make DRM free games. I can buy the Witcher 2 of the shelf and install it without some shady company "needing" my private information and having to install a "service" on my computer. I can then resell or give it to friends or family when Iīm done with the campaign.

Donīt tell me EA can't do that, as they already did exactly that until some time after the release of Mass Effect 2. Then they of course had to follow Valve and lock their shit behind DRM, as EA is very good at following bad examples (see also attempting to copy Call of Duty)

I'm guessing you weren't around for the Spore debarkle then?

Before EA used Steam and eventually Origin they loaded their games with a DRM system called SecuROM which limited the number of installs you could make and often mistook upgrades as a different PC, which would after a set number (usually 3 or 5) and kill your 'licence' of the game. It also remained even if you uninstalled the game, rather like a rootkit.

If memory serves secrurom also had a "small" issue of destroying your cd drive in some instances. Or that could have been one of activisions little gifts. It was a long time ago. In short, the drm screwed with cd rom in such a way that it was essentially bricked.

EA's biggest problem is that they are a publicly traded company. This means that they (unlike Valve) have to appease stock holders. For some businesses, this isn't a huge problem; largely because they sell something that's easier to quantify. For a gaming company, however, it's damn-near suicide, because the games industry is still in a very-much experimental state. In the past 30 years or so, games have undergone several drastic changes while they work their way into a comfortable niche. This means that gaming companies need to be free to experiment and take risks to keep-up with the new trends. I mean, really, look at just about any product 30 years ago and usually it's sold in the exact same way today as it was back then (which is to say, you go to your local department store and buy it). Meanwhile games have hopscotched between arcades, home consoles, portable devices, and PCs at seemingly random intervals, and digital distribution is just a whole new element to add to the jumble; and every failed experiment is millions of dollars lost.

In short, EA is doomed to its current fate until the gaming industry settles into a nice groove so that the investors can use their charts and figures to know the best way to market a game, rather than having to constantly play catch-up every time the trends change.

octafish:

And this is the true difference between EA and Valve. EA are beholden to shareholders and everything they do is to add value for those shareholders. Executives flail about trying anything they can to satisfy the hoards baying for more and more profit. Valve however, are beholden to no one. Publicly listing a company is a good way to make some money in the short term for those that founded it, but it is hardly ever a good move for the actual company involved.

I would be very hard pressed indeed to come up with more than a handful of positive outcomes from the system of public stock trading we have. It seems to push otherwise healthy, well-functioning companies to take destructive actions on a regular basis. The human cost to employees that are constantly "downsized", shuffled about or tortured with unreasonable expectations is immense, not to mention the hurt it often does to consumers as well.

Intellectual Property is the most valuable asset a videogame company can have. Talent can come and go. Machines and software are regularly replaced. But creating and maintaining titles and brands is how you make your money.

Gonna have to disagree with you on this one. Saying that an IP is worth more than the talent that made it is like saying Zero Punctuation is more important than Mister Croshaw, the man who does the video. That's like saying Movie Bob isn't important and that people will still come to see Escape to the Movies if you fired him and put some random schmuck off the street in charge of those videos.

Valve was able to make the new IP because they trusted themselves to make good content because they had top notch development talent at the helm. They knew that whatever they made would sell because the people who make their stuff are a group of the most talented individuals in the industry.

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