Hating on EA is a popular thing these days. I feel like this whole thing really goes back to their very publicized mistreatment of employees a while back. Today, EA gets slammed for pulling a lot of moves that aren't consumer friendly (e.g. unfair looking microtransactions). This probably won't be a a well liked opinion, but I argue that the games market is at fault for pushing EA into this position, though only to a certain point. I am certainly not saying that EA (and companies like EA) are cute little angels. Let me be clear: my opinion comes from observing the industry on a daily basis for many years, I do not claim to have insider knowledge of anything.
New, Well Known EA Published Games (this is off the top of my head, maybe I'm missing something)
Mass Effect 2* (check the edit, I know this one doesn't make too much sense)
Mirror's Edge (maybe not the best game ever, but certainly a shot at something new)
- What do these games have in common? None of them made the money that EA wanted them to.
- Why? Well I don't claim to know how EA operates on the inside, so I can only assume that they spent what would become too much money on a game's development and marketing cycle.
- Why not spend less resources? It does not seem plausible to me that you can make a Mass Effect or a Dead Space style game on a smaller budget. Real human beings make these games, and they deserve to be paid.
- For all I know, EA may have spent its money in a reckless fashion. But they're a huge company and I am operating under the assumption that their business guys are at least somewhat competent.
So if it takes an X amount of money to make a game like Mass Effect 2, and if the profits are minimal or nonexistent, why bother to even make Mass Effect? As we have seen, this idea is part of the Activision business model. I'm sure none of us would want EA to simply become the FIFA and Battlefield house. Game companies are as much of a business as any other company. They are not your buddies and they never will be. Gabe Newell is not going to invite you to hang out at Valve and eat delicious Half Life 3 branded ice cream with him. If the game market isn't going to buy certain types of games in numbers that benefit the company, then you potentially wind up with a situation where the company becomes more desperate.
THQ was in the same boat. Their new IP got shot down, they had no back up strategy, and look at what happened. Maybe all of those developers will go on to do bigger and better things, but maybe each and every one of those franchises will crumble forever. We can't honestly say for certain, but the disruption from such a closing could be felt for years to come. As the Bombcast pointed out, a lot of talent leaves in situations like this.
Ultimately, it seems that the game market is not interested enough in new experiences in order to successfully sustain them without monetizing them in ways that are not consumer friendly. As games get more expensive to make, the stakes only get higher. In EA's case specifically, I feel that a lot of the hate towards the company is unjust. The company reflects the market (at least in theory) to a point.
The Other Side Of The Coin
As I've frequently mentioned, I have made a lot of assumptions in this post. It is possible that EA has been actually spending money recklessly, and that their profit wishing is fueled by incredible greed. Who knows? Only the people at the company do. However, I want to point out that this rejection of new IP has been seen at other companies (like THQ), not just at EA.
So is it the fault of companies? Shouldn't they know the market better and adjust budgets accordingly? Is that even possible? Has the game market driven the likes of EA to pull off non-consumer friendly moves? At the end of the day, I don't know. But it seems to me that all parties involved have should be blamed to some degree. As consumers, we have many choices to make, and it is NOT our duty to buy a game just to keep the franchise going. Our purchases do affect the games being made (and the payment structures surrounding them) to a point though, so I don't think it's fair to just shit on EA. They're a business that wants and needs to make money, and unless they are mistreating human beings and murdering cute puppies, the level of hate they get is perhaps too extreme.
Edit 3: You can also make the counter argument to the original point that companies like EA incorrectly treat "hardcore" games as much bigger than they actually are.
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this subject and point of view, so let's see your two cents!
Edit: Oops, I fucked up with the Mass Effect publisher. Edited that to 2. My mistake! Also I realize that a sequel probably shouldn't count as new, but you guys get the gist of it! It's more of an example for budgets than anything else. Remember that all of this discussion is ultimately based in assumption since we're not EA insiders.
Edit 2: To be clear I am talking about EA published stuff. It doesn't really matter if the IP was bought or in house or whatever, clearly there have been changes since then.