By thordain 3 Comments
For years, Electronic Arts has been seen as the evil empire of video games. EA is maybe the most resented company in gaming. However, this accepted hatred of EA is no longer deserved and should be focused on a different company, namely Activision. EA has made numerous moves to expand it's forces but has helped gaming as a whole by doing so.
In 2004, EA acquired the sole rights to the NFL and ESPN, a move that has earned the ire of gamers for years. Electronic Art's Madden franchise is now the only game out there that can feature the NFL, while before that Madden competed directly with the 2K football series. The common opinion was that the 2K franchise was far superior to Madden and with this deal through, football fans would now have to go to Madden for their videogame fix. EA has also picked up exclusive deals to NCAA football, FIFA, the NHL
However, a light of sorts shined in 2007 when John Riccitello became the head man at EA. Since then EA has continued it's policy of acquiring developers like Pandemic Studios and Bioware. However, Riccitello has made sure that EA did more than just publish sports titles. This holiday season has his fingerprints all over it, beginning with Battlefield: Bad Company. Rather than make another standard Battlefield game, developer DICE made some nice changes to the formula, adding an interesting story and plenty of explosions. EA has also released a number of unique new IPs this season. Spore was one of the oddest games of the season, but was definitely one of the most innovative and got on Time Magazine's list of the 50 best inventions of the year. Dead Space had a spooky and disturbing feel to it to go with it's interesting menu system. Mirror's Edge has received mixed reviews, but took a radical approach not seen from EA in a long time. EA will not lose it's title of the sports game publisher any time soon, not with the money those games rake in. But the idea that all EA does is crank out games each and every year is outdated. However, there is another large company that could very quickly steal that name away from EA.
While EA was working on expanding its horizons with new IPs, Activison was making deals to become a monster. Early this year Activision had a corporate merger with Vivendi Games, creating the largest game company in the world. This new lumbering beast, termed Activision Blizzard, has become a bigger threat to a gaming monopoly than Electronic Arts. Activision was already one of the "publish a game in a series every year" company with Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero. But with the increased manpower from the merger, they have made some terrible decisions. Call of Duty is one of ActiBlizzards(shortened for the sake of laziness) main franchises and their mishandling of it is one of gaming's greatest shames. In order to make sure that a Call of Duty game is published each year, ActiBlizzard has been alternating between the founders of the series(Infinity Ward) and the makers of the Spiderman games(Treyarch). While this strategy may have ActiBlizzard taking in dough ever holiday season, it has created friction between the two developers, one that has not been healed by any ActiBlizzard producers(rhymes with Hoah Neller). In August ActiBlizzard fired 100 people from the staff of Radical Entertainment, developers of the once-promising Prototype. They have cut several games from their plans, including Ghostbusters, Brutal Legends and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand(okay, so it's not all bad). This once promising merger has led to a series of major mistakes made by this new monstrous company.
ActiBlizzard has become the new EA and lucky many people are now seeing this. Still, there are those who haven't realized this yet, so let me fill you with understanding. Electronic Arts has made a quick turnaround and even though they are still an expansive empire, John Riccitello has tuned down the bad image of EA among gamers. ActivisionBlizzard however, is becoming one of the worst run companies in the business. They continue to tarnish their relationships with their own developers and seem hell-bent on getting rid of games with potential to be great from their roster. That company's appearance has fallen drastically among the industry. Yeah, EA still has some of their old money-grubbing habits, but they aren't nearly as bad as the people running ActivisionBlizzard. So fickle gamers, turn your undying hatred away from Electronic Arts and unto the horrors being unleashed by ActivisionBlizzard.