EA – Cack of All, Master of None

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!

Fynn Buckland

5 Under 5000: Beautiful Bangers

SoundCloud remains as one of best ways to access unique and underappreciated music. 5 Under 5000 spotlights five artist who haven’t yet hit the milestone of 5000 followers on the platform, but really should’ve by now.

King Malone

King Malone’s latest body of work, an EP entitled Chill, may be a brief one, but it’s a project that exposes a plethora of personality that defines his work. His motormouth flow is packed with comical bars, such as in opener ‘NovacayN’ where he rightfully mocks the cheese/tomato distribution in a certain pizza chain – “You Pizza Hut, cause you too cheesy.” However, one of the most impressive aspects of King Malone is that his flow is as malleable as it is speedy, throughout Chill, production such as the skeletal trap bounce of ‘Ok!! Yah!!’, the blown out ominous synths of ‘Ransom’ and the gothic glitches of ‘I Ain’t Worried’ all prove the be the perfect home for his skills to thrive.

His Soundcloud channel may be an essential avenue to access his material, but he uses YouTube to further expose his personality, where he easily adapts to recent chart mainstays like Lil Pump’s ‘Gucci Gang’ and Future’s ‘Mask Off’ while he’s accurately burrowed the styles of Ski Mask and XXXtentacion and rightfully earned a high play count for it. There’s a sense that King Malone is king at anything he attempts, so hit the follow button.

MERAKI

MERAKI’s music leans heavily into current R&B and hip hop, so, production-wise, you’ll know what to expect, deep bass rumbles and dense synthscapes, however, her voice is a central draw as its defined by its unpredictable quality and versatility. She has a variety of vocal tricks to deliver, such as the detached flow on ‘EXCLUSIVE’, the falsetto wails of ‘Raspberry’ and breathy intimacy of ‘Thing For Me’. ‘Bells’, her most recent release, is her greatest accomplishment so far though, as she blends a whimsical vocal into the bubble bounce to craft a striking track that reveals an exciting future for MERAKI.

Mongo

Video games somewhat plays into Mongo’s aesthetic, the artwork for ‘Clearly’ shouts-out the classic Mega Man series and ‘Chop’ greets you with Crash Bandicoot’s familiar “WOAH”, yet it’s refreshing to see an artist who knows how to play these influences a little more subtlety, considering the garishness that plagues artist in the depths of SoundCloud when it comes to incorporating these influences.

‘All Stars’ reveals how that boy effortlessly floats over beat, ‘Clearly’, which is produced by XanBaby80k, (easily the best producer name discovered on this Soundcloud excursion), reveals he can be simultaneously braggadocios and introspective, while ‘Workin’ is a quietly hilarious. Each new track exposes a new facet of his musical personality, and, as he continually polishes his sound, it’s surely not long till we get the definitive Mongo sound.

Jay James

Instead of a long-winded list of plaudits, personal endeavours and accomplishments, Jay James’ websites bio is a simple list that reads “20. Independent music producer, composer, audio engineer & songwriter” – there’s a sense that this is all you need to know about him, and speaks to how he’s an artist whose life is deeply defined by music. This musicality is found within the music that can be sampled via Soundcloud, but what really draws you in is the emotional impacts released by the sonic backdrops. ‘come as you are’ is a meditative combination of piano rings and sleepy brass, drenching it in thoughtful melancholy, while ‘polaroids’ features three vocalist in redd, chrxstal and lydon, who accurately interpret the vibe of the track, yet the James’ instrumental still shines with its jazzy playful guitar and omnipresent warm bass. Jay James is the perfect artist for those who have a deep appreciation for masterful instrumentals.

felix lee

Despite promise of a 2017 (soon come), the London based felix lee’s (who also doubles as an accomplished DJ) Soundcloud channel has been deserted all year, however, that doesn’t exempt it from a visit, because 2 extraordinary eps still reside there. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> is full of intriguing soundscapes, dominated by untameably colourful synths that simultaneously recall Arca and Rustie. While 5TARB01 EP is the more intense experience driven by pulverising beats and razor-edge roars. Regardless of the style felix is trying out on an ep, they’re remain reliably transcendental experiences.

Connor Cass

If Rappers Made TV Shows

Rappers headlining their own TV Shows is becoming far more common recently, Action Bronson is devouring food around the world with Fuck, That’s Delicious, a mischievous Tyler, The Creator is discovering how his favourite things work in Nuts + Bolts and VICELAND prove that they fuck with Kevin Abstract with American Boyband. Continue reading “If Rappers Made TV Shows”

Shofu’s Trap Ketchum Is A Passion Project That Obliterates Its Competition

It’s an auspicious coincidence that Trap Ketchum – the Pokémon-themed debut project from video game YouTuber extraordinaire Shofu – shared a release date with In Tongues, the first commercial EP from lo-fi singer-songwriter Joji. Continue reading “Shofu’s Trap Ketchum Is A Passion Project That Obliterates Its Competition”

UTM Podcast #10: Another Fair & Balanced Quiz

We went and did another bloody quiz, didn’t we?! Back due to popular demand (but mostly because we had no other ideas), the Fair & Balanced UTM Quiz promises great questions, great gaffes and not so great answers.  Continue reading “UTM Podcast #10: Another Fair & Balanced Quiz”