Do not miss week's Extra Credits. If you only have nine minutes this week to spend on videogames, then stop reading my article and check out Extra Credits as Daniel Floyd, James Portnow, and Allison Theus take EA Games to task for their abominable and offensive marketing campaigns. I think this is the most important thing to appear on The Escapist in a long time. (Which is saying something.) But if you've got more than nine minutes, then let me jump on the EA-bashing bandwagon for a minute, because this ties together a lot of ideas I've talked about in the past.
Whenever I take a major game company to task, I often see a lot of people shrug, "Ah, they're just a big evil corporation. Nothing you can do about it." They say this in the same way someone else might say, "Hater's gonna hate." This response makes me sad, and I don't think it's necessarily true.
For the benefit of those who didn't watch the video, the three events discussed in Extra Credits were as follows:
1) When EA launched the Sin to Win campaign for Dante's Inferno, aiming their marketing several notches lower than any previously established lowest common denominator. They invited people to commit "acts of lust" with (their?) booth babes, which meant they either wanted crowds of men to sexually harass the models, or they were offering the models as whores. They also hired people to pretend to be Christian fundamentalists and picket their game.
2) In Medal of Honor, there was an outcry when it was learned that players could play as the Taliban. EA caved, and removed the Taliban label from the game.
3) The Dead Space 2 marketing campaign tried to sell players on the title by saying "your mom will hate it," a claim that is only appealing to people who are too young to buy the game. Once again EA seemed eager to generate controversy in a foolish bid for attention. While the EC team didn't talk about it in their video, I want to point out that there is a case currently working its way through the U.S. Supreme Court on whether it should be legal to ban violent videogames. A major part of the defense in this case is that these games aren't being sold to minors. EA's timing here is foolishly self-destructive, not just to themselves, but to the entire industry.
But the problems at EA aren't just in their marketing department. The problems are widespread and affect everything from development to funding. It's the corporate culture of EA, and it is poisonous.
Remember that EA was one of the early adopters of online activation. (They weren't the first, though. That honor goes to 2kGames for BioShock.) They were eager to embrace the most anti-consumer policy in the videogame industry since the decision to refuse refunds. It was a movement that regarded the customer as the enemy, and EA was on the forefront of it when they put online activation on Mass Effect and Spore. In the case of Spore they took it one step further with the introduction of re-authentication. You know, in case your copy of the game ... becomes pirated?