EA

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Electronic Arts, most commonly known as: EA, is an American video game company, based in Redwood City, California. One of the most, if not THE most, controversial VG companies today, due to a slew of unethical business practices. Also they're rated as one of the worst companies in America, so go figure.

However, their most infamous and unique practice that everyone absolutely hates is acquiring smaller studios with popular games like Bioware and Westwood, to assume direct control of their IPs. This is pretty common in business, if it wasn't for the fact that EA will do everything in its power to gain complete control over development of it's game, in order to maximize short-term profit, by force if needed (by firing or shelving people who disagree). Once the series is drained of life due to mismanagement, it's dead husk is then abandoned as a grim tombstone of what was once heralded as fun, as the EA then scouts out new franchises to ensnare and devour, in it's unending, ravenous need to feed it's coffers. Woe betide any franchise absorbed by, or will be absorbed by EA, its as foreboding and destructive as a looming Tyranid Hive Fleet.

Since EA holds the rights to these franchises now, its next-to-impossible for anyone else to pick-up their slack and try to revive them with new talent, unlike what some other people did recently with another classic game.


The Corpses of Past Studios[edit]

In /tg/'s vidya gaem scene, EA has been responsible for the decline and death of some of our timeless classics and their creators, such as:

Bullfrog Productions[edit]

Possibly the most historically notable, as Bullfrog is the first example most people go to when discussing EA's shutdowns, although it's also relevant that Peter Moloneux was also involved.

/tg/ relevance: Dungeon Keeper 1&2 are usually held to be "recommended reading" for many different kinds of DMs (in particular, ones looking to do an Evil Party Campaign) and designers of certain kinds of board games, for subtly different reasons.

Origin Studios[edit]

Likely the second example of EA's meddling in successful series that people will go to. For /tg/ purposes, they only made two series of note: Ultima, and Wing Commander.

Ultima[edit]

The Ultima series was one of the original CRPG series to explore complicated moral traits, and could likely be said to be the grand-daddy of the morality systems that plague today's games. At least until EA bought the series out for games 8 & 9, widely regarded as some of the worst pieces of shit to ever hit store shelves, and proceeded to bomb the series (already somewhat questionable) quality through the molten core of the earth. Bugs, glitches, impossible controls, and seeing as this was before the internet patches would have to be picked up in floppy disk form from the local games store, led to a remarkably unpleasant experience, and many fans either hated it, or just dropped the series entirely.

Wing Commander[edit]

Wing Commander is only /tg/ relevant in that it provides a good example of a space shooter series. For our purposes, it suffices to say that when the genre died out, so did the series. (It's a bit more complicated than that, but it suffices for our purposes.)

Bioware[edit]

There's an entire article devoted to it, but in a nutshell:

Dragon Age[edit]

First game was groundbreaking and touted as one of the company's classics. Second game was notably plain horrible, thanks to increased meddling on EA's part.

Third game, DA:Inquisition, was notably better, if only because the series fell so hard from grace, its a notable upgrade from the second game. Still though, its a pretty decent game, all around.

Mass Effect[edit]

Made the first game, which was touted as video game's answer to Star Wars. Then made the second installment, which many remember the best in the franchise.

The third game is where things went downhill, due to EA assuming direct control over Bioware's development in the game, taking away more creative control from them (infact the writers of the last two games quit), and shifting it away from a narrative, to a more action-y standpoint, placing less attention to story and more on gunplay (and the gunplay is good, the best in the trilogy, but that can't save a game that was known for its storytelling, than shooting mechanics). This all culminated to a lackluster ending that never really satisfied fans, even with the remade ending due to pressure.

Also there was a spin-off called Andromeda, which tanked so badly thanks to a myriad of issues, that its single-handedly responsible for sinking Bioware and the franchise altogether.

Westwood Studios[edit]

After buying out Westwood Studios, EA gained the rights to their crown jewel:the Command and Conquer franchise. EA's involvement with the series went largely unnoticed, at least until past 2005, where their meddling in the series has started a downward trend. From the somewhat gimped Tiberium Wars, to the "what the fuck is this even" Red Alert 3, the mind-boggling RA and Tiberium saga mobile game which nobody in their right mind asked for, and the cancellation of C&C Generals 2 due to negative reception by the playtesters, these were signs that EA didn't really know what to do with the series nor what direction to throw it at.

...Then 2010 came in and confirmed our suspicions: EA has no fucking idea what they're doing, but still pretending they do. C&C4: Tiberian Twilight is widely credited for putting the final nail in the coffin of the C&C franchise. The fanbase hated it. It gutted what made C&C fun in the first place, and overall a terrible exit to one of the founding franchises of the modern RTS genre. We'd make a joke on how this is familiar, but Sega didn't screw up this badly with another beloved franchise (they did, but still nowhere near as bad as C&C4).

Just recently in 2018, EA decided to parade its dead corpse like a Bretonnian Grail relique by releasing a mobile spin off called "Command and Conquer: Rivals". As if killing the franchise wasn't enough, they had to taunt its fans like they acknowledge their own infamy. It's likely this is an IP protection act, if they don't do something with it a long enough time, the C&C IP goes to market and they lose it. So they didn't just kill C&C and lay it to rest, but instead exhumed it and are jealously guarding the corpse for what few pennies they can milk from it, before the body once again collapses due to their incompetence. Another hilarious note about the existence of Rivals is that EA legitimately argued that "Gamers don't know what they want", when asked about it. We'd expand further of why this is bullshit, but their track-record speaks for itself about their knowledge in making a good RTS game.

Maxis Software[edit]

Back in the day, Maxis released at least a couple of interestingly weird titles every few years (SimCity, SimEarth, SimAnt, and The Sims, for example), up until Spore, a big-budgeted game that was less successful then EA anticipated (although this is mostly attributed to players pirating the game due to the horrible DRM implemented by EA. Its gotten to the point that Spore became one of the most pirated game in modern video game history).

That led into SimCity 2013. A game so transparently flawed in so many ways that it's hard to know where to begin. Let's just start with the Always Online DRM requirement that was (transparently falsely) claimed to be "necessary for the experience" (it was no such thing, infact someone managed to hack the game and force it to play offline before EA caved and released an official offline patch).

If you're wondering what this has to do with teegee, SimCity is a model for many different board games, and the early Maxis non-Sims Sim-games are good sources for anybody looking into game design from a Simulationist perspective.

Warhammer Online[edit]

This sums it up pretty well.

EA Redwood Shoes / Visceral[edit]

Most notable for the Dead Space series and being killed by Star Wars Battlefront II (2017), what you should know them for (back when they were Redwood) is LotR: The Third Age (a game about being a party who were not the Fellowship while still having the same adventure), and Future Cops: LAPD (Which was awesome, but was never further developed as EA didn't let their studios make anything that wasn't a movie tie in, or a licensed property from 1998 - 2008)

So, what's the direct relevance to /tg/?[edit]

Not much directly, but if you're interested in the business end of tabletop gaming (forex, why individual game lines or publishers succeed or fail), the EA graveyard is quite edifying to anybody interested in just about any badly run entertainment business (a set to which TSR, Games Workshop and FASA arguably all belong or belonged), for two simple reasons: (1) You can learn more from a failure than a success, and nobody's failed their fans in more ways than EA, and (2) EA makes a good reference bar for "Asshole" "Evil" and/or "Stupid", depending on context.

To provide an example of the latter: Games Workshop has probably only cleared the "Stupid" bar compared to EA; they've been fairly good about not sitting on IP, and while their product is overpriced, GW's failings have been sufficiently consistent to not quite qualify as "Evil" or "Assholish".