The words “Electronic Arts” probably make most of you throw up a little in your mouth, and it’s not without cause. They have unfortunately earned a reputation as a bit of a tyrant in the gaming industry in recent years for a series of ill-advised blunders and decisions that reek of greed stank. However, their aptitude for business has to be respected – as hard as that is to admit.
Now the owner of many successful franchises such as Battlefield, FIFA, The Sims and Star Wars Battlefront they have certainly become a household name. However not all games that now bear the scorching brand of EA across their metaphorical ass were always that way. The Californian based company have acquired a knack for taking over successful franchises already beloved by their respective fan groups, and morphing them to their own twisted interests. If you cast your minds back to the original PS2 and XBOX release of Star Wars Battlefront (you know, the good one) they were focused on simply bringing enjoyment to the player for the price of purchase.
Since then however, the industry has dramatically changed. Micro-transactions and pre-order bonuses plagued EA and DICE’s remake and aside from a few die-hard fans refusing to let go that game has more or less died a slow and painful death. Paying extra money to get a helping hand in your already £60 AAA game is now an expectation and not a bonus, optional path. This is all thanks to companies like EA doing what is essentially taking away our Halloween candy and putting razor blades in our marshmallow flumps – it kinda still works, but you don’t really wanna do it. This is not an EA witch hunt (as fun as that might be) because frankly, you’ve heard that all before. Instead, shift your attention to the ingenuity of EA’s marketing and cloak and dagger approach to their input on other companies’ games.
Very recently, the company Respawn (responsible for the recent parkour/robot kicking Titanfall 2) was sucked into the gelatinous money blob of EA. Within hours of this acquisition the Internet was awash with rumours of the fate of Titanfall 3. Loot boxes and game altering micro-transactions were a hot topic of debate for a game that hadn’t even been announced. This is the effect we have come to expect from EA. You see, Respawn was praised for its release of free DLC packs for Titanfall 2 and allowed players to work for any game altering mechanics, not offering them as purchasable assets.
Like the eye of Sauron in Mordor, EA’s gaze was soon focused on snuffing out such foolery and finding a way to exploit it for profit. I don’t doubt that current CEO Andrew Wilson is already thinking up a way to charge players £0.50 to fire their gun in the inevitable sequel but that’s not the interesting thing here. Much like Apple’s removal of the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and all-succeeding models (still pissed about that) they are creating a market trend that all others will follow suit with, e.g. Google’s Pixel 2. By making micro transactions a normality in the industry they are more accepted in the future versus the blood boiling outrage they would have been met with a few years ago. By sticking their name around other more liked companies like Dice, Respawn and FIFA their perceived influence is lessened even though they possess full creative control.
EA have created a monopoly on the entire industry, un-challenged in their dominance and unthreatened. EA will always be a tyrant of games as unoriginal and hated as they might be because they have the perfect business model: buy good stuff and make it evil, but just evil enough that no one will notice.
As much as we hate EA for what they have done to gaming in the past few years you have to admire their nous for real cold-hearted fuckery, but hey, it earns them our money and It will never, ever stop… Happy gaming!