Unless you’ve been living under a rock, yo’ve heard all about Electronic Arts’ recent negative publicity. They’re officially replaced Square Enix as “most evil game company.” SE may spit out some of the world’s crappiest RPGs (the Enix/tri-ace stuff doesn’t count), but the last time I checked, they weren’t the subject of a class-action lawsuit for slavedriving their employees; EA’s already been served. Nor is SE trying to buy out another top publisher and ruin them; EA is currently attempting a hostile takeover of French giants Ubi Soft. EA denies its a takeover, but actions speak louder than words here. EA has purchased phenomenal game developers in the past, only to flush them down the toilet after acquiring them (like Westwood and Origin). Luckily, the powers-that-be at Ubi Soft are treating any and all actions by EA as hostile, and making damn sure EA won’t steal them. Even one of Ubi Soft’s fellow French rivals, Infogrames (aka Atari), is helping them fight off EA’s machinations.
Then there’s that whole NFL exclusivity mess. I’m aware that the whole thing is benificial for EA and the NFL, but it really is a slap in the face to gamers. Platformer game fans can play Mario, Sonic, Ratchet & Clank, etc.; RPG fans can play Final Fantasy, Xenosaga, Dragon Warrior, etc.; FPS fans can play Halo, Metroid Prime, etc.; but now football fans can only play Madden NFL. Limiting a genre so severely only encourages stangation and lack of innovation. The new Madden titles could be monstrous steaming piles of dog shit, but football fans will have to play them, because they’ll be the only game in town. Sure, they could make their displeasure known by not buying the newer Madden game, but we know that won’t happen.
EA may be the world’s largest third-party publisher, but they put out consistently shitty games, and there seems to be no signs of that slowing down anytime soon. We can only hope that their legal woes will be a harsh reality check for them, but that’s a best-case scenario. More than likely, EA will continue to eat up publishers, spitting out horrible games as remnants. Pity.