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The Easy Target

Ryan takes issue with all the EA-hating.

It used to be…All Metacritics were higher once upon a time because it was ten professionals rating them. Now, sort of anybody with a pen can rate them and it ends up with a bit of a wider track some times.

EA doesn’t usually get the benefit of the cult - ‘everybody has to rate it a hundred’ thing going on - that happens sometimes even when they may not, based on the review, have played more than the first fifteen minutes of the game. But that’s a separate issue.

Much hay has been made over the past few days over this pair of comments made by EA CEO John Riccitiello during William Blair & Company’s 28th Annual Growth Stock Conference, and as someone who technically operates as a blogger, it’s all real goddamn embarrassing. If these comments were really so damning, they would’ve stood on their own just fine, without any additional poking or prodding.

If there’s anything to be taken away from these quotes, it’s the disconcerting fact that big publishers are still putting so much stock in Metacritic scores, which should be used by consumers to make purchasing decisions, not by companies to make business decisions. That’s something that’s always bothered me as a reviewer, because I don’t write for developers or publishers, and I doubt many others do.

Some, it would seem, have seen these quotes as an exciting opportunity to shit on EA. Despite now being dwarved by the lumbering machine that is Activision Blizzard, EA has this evil-empire taint, and I could see a thin-skinned reviewer taking offense at the suggestion that they’re doing their job half-assed, making it that much easier to chalk Riccitiello’s comments up to corporate vanity and hubris. Which, frankly, almost proves Riccitiello’s second point.

Sure, I’ll call bullshit on his “playing the first fifteen minutes” comment, but there’s some validity to pointing out that people seem to take inordinate glee in taking shots at EA. Year-in and year-out, EA honestly publishes or develops some of the most exciting games that come out, but all anyone seems to care to mention is annual Madden updates and charging for weapons. Is it that easy to forget that EA puts out awesome games like Skate, Burnout Paradise, Spore, Boom Blox, and Mercenaries 2, or has a hand in distributing favorites like The Orange Box and Rock Band? Maybe this is too far, but I’d venture to say that people wouldn’t be having half the tizzy over the DRM on the PC version of Mass Effect had EA not acquired BioWare.

What do you guys think? Do these comments make Riccitiello a pompous ass, or is there some truth to them? Do you feel the need to “like” the people who make your games, or is a good game made by jerks still good?

6 Comments
Posted by Ryan

It used to be…All Metacritics were higher once upon a time because it was ten professionals rating them. Now, sort of anybody with a pen can rate them and it ends up with a bit of a wider track some times.

EA doesn’t usually get the benefit of the cult - ‘everybody has to rate it a hundred’ thing going on - that happens sometimes even when they may not, based on the review, have played more than the first fifteen minutes of the game. But that’s a separate issue.

Much hay has been made over the past few days over this pair of comments made by EA CEO John Riccitiello during William Blair & Company’s 28th Annual Growth Stock Conference, and as someone who technically operates as a blogger, it’s all real goddamn embarrassing. If these comments were really so damning, they would’ve stood on their own just fine, without any additional poking or prodding.

If there’s anything to be taken away from these quotes, it’s the disconcerting fact that big publishers are still putting so much stock in Metacritic scores, which should be used by consumers to make purchasing decisions, not by companies to make business decisions. That’s something that’s always bothered me as a reviewer, because I don’t write for developers or publishers, and I doubt many others do.

Some, it would seem, have seen these quotes as an exciting opportunity to shit on EA. Despite now being dwarved by the lumbering machine that is Activision Blizzard, EA has this evil-empire taint, and I could see a thin-skinned reviewer taking offense at the suggestion that they’re doing their job half-assed, making it that much easier to chalk Riccitiello’s comments up to corporate vanity and hubris. Which, frankly, almost proves Riccitiello’s second point.

Sure, I’ll call bullshit on his “playing the first fifteen minutes” comment, but there’s some validity to pointing out that people seem to take inordinate glee in taking shots at EA. Year-in and year-out, EA honestly publishes or develops some of the most exciting games that come out, but all anyone seems to care to mention is annual Madden updates and charging for weapons. Is it that easy to forget that EA puts out awesome games like Skate, Burnout Paradise, Spore, Boom Blox, and Mercenaries 2, or has a hand in distributing favorites like The Orange Box and Rock Band? Maybe this is too far, but I’d venture to say that people wouldn’t be having half the tizzy over the DRM on the PC version of Mass Effect had EA not acquired BioWare.

What do you guys think? Do these comments make Riccitiello a pompous ass, or is there some truth to them? Do you feel the need to “like” the people who make your games, or is a good game made by jerks still good?

Staff
Posted by PixieNinja

I think the latter - a good game made by jerks is still a good game.  Sure, EA get more than their fair share of hate, but it's not like they're genocidal maniacs now, is it?  Well, not to my knowledge anyway.  I have my preferred developers, and EA have been increasing their shadow over the gaming industry recently with their buyouts - I'm not about to start hating them unless the games start to suffer as a result.

No sign of that just yet...

Posted by mernmern

Artists in any capacity have a right to take umbrage with those that review their products.  It is also their right to either ignore those reviews or to adjust future endeavors accordingly.  Sales cannot be the only guide for quality and success as poor products that sell well will certainly influence the future purchases of current disillusioned consumers. 
As for whether or not consumers care about the tone and attitude of certain game makers, they might, but a good game is a good game, regardless of who created it.  However, a feeble game from a disliked company is ripe for attacks and disdain.  In short, complaining about or rationalizing negative reviews might appease investors, but those comments have the potential to also fester in the minds of both reviewers and consumers.  As for me specifically, I tend to hold off on EA games until I am sure they are either not broken or worth playing.  Battlefield Bad Company is a perfect example of a game that I waited a few weeks before purchasing, but am currently playing regularly.  My most recent reason for hesitating can be traced back to Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix.

PS.  I won HPOTP in a giveaway ... dont clown me.

Posted by xruntime

If he's referring to metacritic - a compilation of the industry's best journalists, who have credibility and don't succumb to fanboyism, then he's definitely wrong.

However, among the general gaming community it's pretty "cool" to hate EA, and overlook the great things they've done to gaming, especially sports gaming.

Posted by Seanakin66

EA's business model is the kind that an investor would love.

As a gamer, though, especially as a disillusioned sports fan, it's difficult to forget all the reasons you can't spell "cheapskate" without EA.

In fairness, I'll give them credit for doing it right with Rock Band.

Posted by Generiko

I'm glad everyone loves them now