The infamous publisher we know as Electronic Arts has (unsurprisingly) made headlines again, for all the wrong reasons. EA has been hated for so long, it's getting harder to remember that they used to be a respectable company. Despite our various grievances, however, I say leave them alone.
Before you start sending angry comments, hear me out. From birth, most humans are taught to learn from their mistakes. Making mistakes is how we grow and shape our character, and the lessons we learn can be passed on to the next generation. The same can be said of EA, except other companies need to learn from EA's missteps, and avoid those pitfalls lest they too want to be reviled. Here is what I think we can learn from EA's past and present mistakes:
1. Don't get too big.
From what I've observed of current publishers, the bigger you get, the more unrecognizable you become. Kind of an ironic statement, don't you think? Traditionally, having a large business is seen as a sign of progress, but the reality is that when you become a multinational corporation, you identify with your consumers less and less. Employees become more expendable. The business becomes more about pleasing the shareholders rather than creating great products.
What can other companies learn from EA's mistake? Don't grow so large that your loyal fans don't know who you are anymore. Atlus has been around for decades, but because of how they do business, they've maintained a small-mid size. And thanks to that, they pay more attention to their tightly-knit fanbase. If they adopted EA's practices, they would cease to exist. They can't afford to make EA's mistakes.
2. Don't get bought out.
I'm cheating a bit here. It's not a mistake for EA to attempt to buy out a studio; it's a mistake if the studio accepts the offer. If you were an independent developer that made a string of hit games, ask yourself this: is it worthwhile to get bought out by someone like EA? Ask someone who worked at Westwood or Bullfrog for their opinion. Now, it is still possible for some studios to thrive under new ownership (Naughty Dog is a great example), but at the end of the day, you no longer have creative freedom, and the IPs you created are no longer yours. Even worse, those IPs you owned may never get used again. Or, they will, but not in a way you would approve of had you still been running the show.
Read this for some inspiring words from a studio that values their work and their ownership of said work.
3. Don't underestimate demand.
Many times, I've seen launches for persistent online games not go as planned due to server issues. Perhaps I'm just not knowledgable enough on the subject, but wouldn't it make sense to have redundant servers for the (often likely) event that the servers can't handle all the traffic? Diablo 3's launch was the same way; Blizzard should have anticipated that the demand for a game like D3 was going to be huge.
If you cook food for a bunch of guests, it's always better to make more food than necessary, rather than risk not making enough. Publishers and developers should be the same way with online games. If you think you have enough capacity, chances are you need more. Especially if your game is highly anticipated! Have a contingency plan in case things go sour.
The above points are just some examples of what we can learn from EA's blunders. While they're not the only company to make them, they are the ones putting out fires more than any other publisher. Hating on EA is a pastime that isn't going to fade away anytime soon, as long as they remain as they are. But I think we should let them be, and allow them to keep making the mistakes they've been making. EA serves as a great example of how not to operate if you want to be respected in this industry among your consumers, peers, and employees. EA has an important role to play--not a desirable one, mind you, but an important one all the same.