EA have, in my opinion, been a threat to the games industry for a long time. They’ve been known for their endless rehashes, sequels, and expansions for years but recently things like the EA Spouse and the purchase of the NFL and ESPN licences have only compounded the animosity that some areas of the gaming community have felt for EA. Even as real competition in the form of Ubi Soft has emerged, EA have constantly been attempting a hostile takeover, neutralising the threat to their growing monopoly.
I make no secret of the fact that I detest EA, and will now actively avoid their games at every turn. The ones that I’ve bought have been buggy (Battlefield 1942 still has bugs from launch after over 1GB of patches) and obviously rushed to deadline, and they’ll squeeze every last penny out of every franchise they have by pumping out cynical cash-ins on the brand names. I won’t even pirate their stuff because I don’t want to pollute my hardware with it. The kind of homogenisation that they practice and their gradual monopolisation is going to be nothing but bad for the industry and could destroy its chances of being taken seriously as an art form.
What really pushed me over the edge to write this was a story today on Happy Puppy that we may be looking at $70 EA games in the next generation of consoles. For the people who celebrated the fact that Madden would be the only NFL game after Sega’s ESPN series made serious inroads into the market, this will be your reward. ESPN sold for $30 but without that competition EA has no reason to compete on price. Madden is usually an early system seller so the manufacturers need it on their launch calendar, and people are going to have to pay it because there’s no other choice. It might only be speculation at this point, but I’ll bet that their stuff won’t be $50 anymore.
I have a feeling that this won’t be my last rant on EA for the forseeable future. Just wait for what delights E3 will bring from them…