EA: The Business of Telling People What They Want

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No idea how many of you are old enough to remember retro Simpsons quotes, but here goes. Remember Homer's half brother Herb? The one who owned an automotive company? At one point he found himself yelling at his engineers:

"YA HEAR THAT YOU DUNDER HEADS!? YOU'RE NOT LISTENING TO WHAT PEOPLE WANT, YOU'RE *TELLING* 'EM WHAT THEY WANT!"

And the topic came up when Homer was trying to describe the kind of car he'd like to drive, and every time he described a feature he wanted the engineers shot in down. IE:

Homer: I'd like a big car.
Engineer: We don't have big cars.
Homer: Well why not?
Engineer: Because Americans don't want big cars.
Homer: Oh...

And it reminds me ever so much of EA, because they love to pitch lines like that. They barge in on IPs, gut them for parts, and then re-purpose them into grey washed samey crap packed full of micro-transactions. And then when people complain they just up and shut them down, or ignore them completely.

Maxis Customer: I'd like an elaborate, transcendental life simulator please.
EA: Gamers don't want complexity. They want simplicity.
Maxis Customer: Oh...

Bioware Customer: I'd like a complex, choice and characterization driven story please.
EA: Gamers don't want story. They want cover based shooting.
Bioware Customer: Oh...

Sane Gamer: I'd like tasteful marketing campaigns that represent my tastes and sensibilities please.
EA: Gamer's don't want class. They want obnoxiousness. (IE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKkPFDEiC6Q , http://www.joystiq.com/2009/07/26/dantes-inferno-team-apologizes-for-sin-to-win-booth-babe-cont/ , and a few other godawful examples I can't recall off the top of my head...)
Sane Gamer: Oh...

Informed Gamer: Wow, it's really not surprising you guys won an award for shoddy business practices.
EA: We will continue to make games beloved by all and free of flaws.
Informed Gamer: ... I'm gonna go to the publishers across the hall now. Y'all take care.

And the discussion would be about....?

Chairman Miaow:
And the discussion would be about....?

... airplanes. Oh yeah, all that stuff mentioned above about gaming and EA and whatnot? Red Herring.

I wanna talk about airplanes. Please, share with me your knowledge of aviation technology.

Emiscary:

Chairman Miaow:
And the discussion would be about....?

... airplanes. Oh yeah, all that stuff mentioned above about gaming and EA and whatnot? Red Herring.

I wanna talk about airplanes. Please, share with me your knowledge of aviation technology.

I would love to know how planes work. It's crazy. I love flying. I can see why man had dreamt of it for so long. Damn, now I want to go to space.

OT: My point is, what is anybody meant to say to that, It's just you complaining. It's not got any real discussion value.

Edit: This image may interest you
image

More accurate it would be the business of "Telling People Want They Want and Getting Angry When They Disagree"

they lets us develope along the paths they desire, and when we achieve the level they want they harvest our wallets

How is what you've described any different from any developer/publisher? Games are designed with how people interact with them in mind, and as such the developer has to anticipate what people may or may not enjoy about a game. If a developer or publisher thinks that the vast majority of their target audience might not like a feature, then it only makes sense that they remove it. Every developer does this, assuming they're not just randomly generating code. You can argue that they prune to an excessive degree, or that their motivations are suspect, or that they usually aim for an excessively broad target audience, but as a whole you've just described something done by everybody in every industry ever.

It's called focus testing.

Of course, design something by committee and it always sucks, as it attempts to cater to all demographics and never really excels at any one feature/genre/whatever.

But then if the developer designs how they want, you get the gamers who go "ZOMG I wanted a RTS game, why did you make it a FPS game?!?!"

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Chairman Miaow:
And the discussion would be about....?

I'm not sure, but I think it would be about, "The Business of Telling People What They Want." Posts don't need a poll or one-liner dummy question at the end to have a discussion. The OP has presented an opinion, read it, agree or disagree, state why.

It seems like threads on the escapist can't get off the ground unless someone is holding the poster's hand.

So the OP seems to think that the people who make the games don't listen to us. I'll say that happens to an extent, but only with the companies who are the McDonalds of Video Games. If you go with big box companies, expect mediocrity. Products from big publishers with big budgets need to have a very narrow focus to sell enough copies to justify their existence.

Anything with broad appeal will very likely be watered down simply because so many people like it. It's not a game with a soul that a developer lovingly created out of their unique vision, it's a product contrived by marketing experts to have the right formula to sell a billion copies. This garbage is not going away.

Back in the 90's, games took a long time to sell a few million copies, sometimes years. The reason for this is not everyone was a gamer. Games were children's toys and they stopped being cool when you got to jr. high. Gamers were children and nerds in the 90's. The market wasn't so polluted and it was easier to pick out the voices of your customers.

The problem is that gamers who got used to this still look to see their values reflected on games on a shelf in a store. Sorry Charlie, but it's not our market anymore. Today, games are marketed to everyone. Facebook and smart phones are going after parents and senior citizens. Consoles are staying relevant with young males well into their 30s as titles feel more "adult" than they used to.

It's not that I think they are telling people what they want, it's that they just don't care to please every subset, even if you were the customer that nursed them until they were old enough to walk, talk, go to board meetings, decide you weren't worth their time anymore and started pursuing the "broader market."

ThriKreen:

But then if the developer designs how they want, you get the gamers who go "ZOMG I wanted a RTS game, why did you make it a FPS game?!?!"

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I don't think people complain they wanted a RTS and got a FPS if they were told from the beginning that it's going to be, indeed, a FPS. Now if they were told it was going to be a RTS, then I'd agree with them when they complain about it being a FPS, really.

And again, people who take their attitudes too far do not invalidate the complaints that are legitimate, say, "Hey, devs. This is kind of exactly what you specifically promised us it wasn't going to be."

Chairman Miaow:

Emiscary:

Chairman Miaow:
And the discussion would be about....?

... airplanes. Oh yeah, all that stuff mentioned above about gaming and EA and whatnot? Red Herring.

I wanna talk about airplanes. Please, share with me your knowledge of aviation technology.

I would love to know how planes work. It's crazy. I love flying. I can see why man had dreamt of it for so long. Damn, now I want to go to space.

OT: My point is, what is anybody meant to say to that, It's just you complaining. It's not got any real discussion value.

Edit: This image may interest you
image

Yup, that's pretty much EA for you. Milk a dev company for all its worth then kill it.

Good lord. Just because a company or game isn't catering to your niche/taste/sensibilities, that does not mean they have no idea what they are doing. They are directing their product at someone outside your demographic; whether that be teenagers, casual gamers, it doesn't matter.

If indeed EA's marketing is always completely in the wrong, then why the fuck do they still get more than a million sales? There are people who enjoy these games, whether you like it or not, and they are either easier to make games for, have a larger population and spending money, or both.

You do realize that just about every company does this to some degree. Look no further then Apple, the king of telling people what they want in a product.

Emiscary:
And the topic came up when Homer was trying to describe the kind of car he'd like to drive, and every time he described a feature he wanted the engineers shot in down. IE:

Homer: I'd like a big car.
Engineer: We don't have big cars.
Homer: Well why not?
Engineer: Because Americans don't want big cars.
Homer: Oh...

And it reminds me ever so much of EA...

As much as it pains me to say something which might be misconstrued as a defence of EA, but...
The car Homer designed was a hideous monstrosity that ruined Herb's company.

image

WAAAH! EA's a business! WAAH!

Haven't we cried wolf about this enough times as a community? EA goes with investments that ensure profit in order to stay in business. If you don't like that, then just don't buy the fucking game.

I'm guessing if EA was as terrible at making games as so many gamers like to delude themselves into thinking they are, they would have gone out of business years ago. At this point, I'm thinking you're just buying their games so you can feel ripped off.

You want sympathy? Look in the dictionary between "shit" and "Syphilis".

Emiscary:

Bioware Customer: I'd like a complex, choice and characterization driven story please.
EA: Gamers don't want story. They want cover based shooting.
Bioware Customer: Oh...

I think they might be right.

Do you remember how that episode of the Simpsons ended? Homer wound up building a poorly designed monstrosity that destroyed the whole company. In a similar way, customers don't know what in the fucking hell they want and left alone will create an abomination (see the lowest depth of fanfic). I support a company's right to make what game it wants free of the pressures of an over-barring publisher but I do not support for one second the idea of having the general public design games.

Loop Stricken:

Emiscary:
And the topic came up when Homer was trying to describe the kind of car he'd like to drive, and every time he described a feature he wanted the engineers shot in down. IE:

Homer: I'd like a big car.
Engineer: We don't have big cars.
Homer: Well why not?
Engineer: Because Americans don't want big cars.
Homer: Oh...

And it reminds me ever so much of EA...

As much as it pains me to say something which might be misconstrued as a defence of EA, but...
The car Homer designed was a hideous monstrosity that ruined Herb's company.

Well to be fair, Homer wasn't really designing a car the people wanted. It was a car he, and only he, wanted.

OT: This does seem to be a problem with EA (among many others). It's not that they dumb their games to appeal to a mass audience, it's that they tend to try to get them to do too many things to appeal to a mass audience (like multiplayer in a game that had an audience of people who didn't care about it.) This means the resources are to greatly divided and you get watered down gameplay since none of the mechanics got the attention they needed. As a result, instead of making a game that does a few things well, you get a game that does many things poorly.

So, we are still supposed to have an unquenchable rage at EA? Apologies for not being able to muster up so much anger.

Loop Stricken:

As much as it pains me to say something which might be misconstrued as a defence of EA, but...
The car Homer designed was a hideous monstrosity that ruined Herb's company.

Twilight_guy:
Do you remember how that episode of the Simpsons ended? Homer wound up building a poorly designed monstrosity that destroyed the whole company. In a similar way, customers don't know what in the fucking hell they want and left alone will create an abomination (see the lowest depth of fanfic). I support a company's right to make what game it wants free of the pressures of an over-barring publisher but I do not support for one second the idea of having the general public design games.

You two! Quit being so smart.

Just keep it the way it is because if you did a mass poll on what people want, you'd more than likely end up with a huge mess. The same thing can be applied to anything, sports teams, pizza toppings, drinks, movies.

Just let the professionals do their job, if you dont like the product then sadly its boo to you. Theres been plenty of things I've been less than satisfied with over the years, but you just have to realise that most of it means fuck all in the long run and carry with your life.

burningdragoon:
So, we are still supposed to have an unquenchable rage at EA? Apologies for not being able to muster up so much anger.

Loop Stricken:

As much as it pains me to say something which might be misconstrued as a defence of EA, but...
The car Homer designed was a hideous monstrosity that ruined Herb's company.

Twilight_guy:
Do you remember how that episode of the Simpsons ended? Homer wound up building a poorly designed monstrosity that destroyed the whole company. In a similar way, customers don't know what in the fucking hell they want and left alone will create an abomination (see the lowest depth of fanfic). I support a company's right to make what game it wants free of the pressures of an over-barring publisher but I do not support for one second the idea of having the general public design games.

You two! Quit being so smart.

I ran out of alcohol! I can't help it!

archvile93:

Loop Stricken:

Emiscary:
And the topic came up when Homer was trying to describe the kind of car he'd like to drive, and every time he described a feature he wanted the engineers shot in down. IE:

Homer: I'd like a big car.
Engineer: We don't have big cars.
Homer: Well why not?
Engineer: Because Americans don't want big cars.
Homer: Oh...

And it reminds me ever so much of EA...

As much as it pains me to say something which might be misconstrued as a defence of EA, but...
The car Homer designed was a hideous monstrosity that ruined Herb's company.

Well to be fair, Homer wasn't really designing a car the people wanted. It was a car he, and only he, wanted.

Which is the problem. No matter which part of your fanbase you choose to cater to, the part of the fanbase that went unfulfilled will complain. So what do you do? Do you cater to the masses, making money and pissing off the niche, or do you cater to the niche, pissing off the masses and losing money?

ThriKreen:
It's called focus testing.

Of course, design something by committee and it always sucks, as it attempts to cater to all demographics and never really excels at any one feature/genre/whatever.

But then if the developer designs how they want, you get the gamers who go "ZOMG I wanted a RTS game, why did you make it a FPS game?!?!"

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

See, what you just did there? That takes critical thinking. It's easier to shout and whine and blame.

Activision killed Troika and EA killed Westwood. Who am I supposed to side with now?!

Buretsu:

archvile93:

Loop Stricken:

As much as it pains me to say something which might be misconstrued as a defence of EA, but...
The car Homer designed was a hideous monstrosity that ruined Herb's company.

Well to be fair, Homer wasn't really designing a car the people wanted. It was a car he, and only he, wanted.

Which is the problem. No matter which part of your fanbase you choose to cater to, the part of the fanbase that went unfulfilled will complain. So what do you do? Do you cater to the masses, making money and pissing off the niche, or do you cater to the niche, pissing off the masses and losing money?

And still managing to piss off the niche, because every detail they wanted wasn't fulfilled. Oh and they still won't buy your game.

image

i dont mean to be sir buzzkillington but we all know EA is bad, why do people still insist on making threads about it, its the equivalent of making threads ranting about why rape is bad, we all agree, it hold no discussion value, posting about it wont stop it so what's the point of banging on about it?

HarryScull:
image

i dont mean to be sir buzzkillington but we all know EA is bad, why do people still insist on making threads about it, its the equivalent of making threads ranting about why rape is bad, we all agree, it hold no discussion value, posting about it wont stop it so what's the point of banging on about it?

inb4 idiots whine about someone comparing EA to rape! (Also awesome pic)

OT: Yes yes, EA is the devil, there is a reason they won the golden poo award!

Um... Isn't that the definition and goal of marketing? Kind of hard to fault a company for using a time-tested business practice. Especially when it seems to be making them money hand over fist.

Besides, I thought we wanted game companies to act like businesses, not art houses, didn't we?

Every single company EA has bought out and sunk was working at or near the height of their game right as they were bought out, and immediately fell (arguably with the exception of Maxis, but I still found SimCity 4 to be vastly inferior to SimCity 3000. That and I hated The Sims)

With EA, the original fanbase is ignored entirely, and the successful developer is no longer allowed to succeed as they had before (which is the OPPOSITE of what EA promises).

So rather than just letting the developer keep on doing what actually works, their IPs get milked until people realize what's up and when they fail to meet quotas, EA liquidates their company and keeps their IP so that they can't go BACK to being successful.

This is great from a quick-and-dirty money making scheme, but terrible for gaming as a whole.
It's the same exact problem that keeps me out of theaters. Nothing is especially interesting. I can tell by the trailer now whether a movie is going to be a dud or something I'd actually enjoy with alarming regularity just because of how formulaic it's become.

Of course, the problem with letting the fans decide what goes into the design comes back to the point that people think they know what they want, until they actually get it.

...Actually, that idea is in itself flawed, to the point where I'd call it a platitude.
People really do know what they like and what they want. They just don't understand the problems of instant-gratification, or the importance of context.

Some things just don't mix well together, even when we think they will.

Hasn't this already been discussed to death already?

Ethan Isaacs:
Hasn't this already been discussed to death already?

Oh, it is. But "EA Sucks" threads right now are still good ways to earn those Badges for having a popular topic.

I don't buy Bioware being forced into mediocrity by EA, I think they've been perfectly capable of doing it themselves and people should stop making excuses for them.

Bhaalspawn:
image

WAAAH! EA's a business! WAAH!

Haven't we cried wolf about this enough times as a community? EA goes with investments that ensure profit in order to stay in business. If you don't like that, then just don't buy the fucking game.

I'm guessing if EA was as terrible at making games as so many gamers like to delude themselves into thinking they are, they would have gone out of business years ago. At this point, I'm thinking you're just buying their games so you can feel ripped off.

You want sympathy? Look in the dictionary between "shit" and "Syphilis".

Emiscary:

Bioware Customer: I'd like a complex, choice and characterization driven story please.
EA: Gamers don't want story. They want cover based shooting.
Bioware Customer: Oh...

I think they might be right.

Meh, people can keep bitching about EA's business practices. But their opinion and voice has absolutely zero weight so long as they continue to support said business practices. And with the vast number of ME3 threads, my guess is large number of escapists fit that description.

If you hate the company, stop buying their games. Anything/everything else is just noise.

Vegosiux:

ThriKreen:

But then if the developer designs how they want, you get the gamers who go "ZOMG I wanted a RTS game, why did you make it a FPS game?!?!"

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I don't think people complain they wanted a RTS and got a FPS if they were told from the beginning that it's going to be, indeed, a FPS. Now if they were told it was going to be a RTS, then I'd agree with them when they complain about it being a FPS, really.

And again, people who take their attitudes too far do not invalidate the complaints that are legitimate, say, "Hey, devs. This is kind of exactly what you specifically promised us it wasn't going to be."

This was what basically happened to Westwood.

They made C&C and C&C Red Alert. Then they got bought up by EA who promptly gave them a bigger budget to try and expand the C&C series (this resulted in C&C 2 Tiberium Sun). Now at the same time EA made their own studio using the Westwood name (Westwood Pacific) and they made C&C Red Alert 2 (which were arguably seen as one of the best in the C&C series). Then came the problems starting with C&C Renegade. Renegade was a business failure (some liked it but it wasn't enough). This followed by "Earth and Beyond" (an MMORPG which too was a catastrophic failure) and a C&C based MMORPG (one that didn't even launch) basically killed off Westwood.

TL;DR:
EA killed off Westwood because of poor choices made by Westwood.

Captcha: forbidden fruit

Well I guess saying Westwood isn't the greatest ever is kind of like eating the forbidden fruit.

It sure is cool to 'hate' EA isn't it ;)

Everyone hates EA and yet they are just as big and successful as ever. EA is a shitty company but you can't put all the blame on them. Most people don't care who makes their games, they just want to play the new Madden with nothing changed except the roster, or the new Battlefield game which is just a shitty CODMW3 clone.

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