Objectively, Electronic Arts probably isn’t the worst company in America, but that’s not likely to stop gamers from pushing it to an eventual “win” in Consumerist’s Worst Company in America tournament. In response to the poll, EA chief operating officer Peter Moore is in full damage-control mode.
Moore directly addressed the tournament, which is in its “final four” weekend with EA facing Ticketmaster and Bank of America taking on Comcast.
“It appears EA is going to ‘win,'” Moore wrote in a blog. “Like the Yankees, Lakers, and Manchester United, EA is one of those organizations that is defined by both a legacy of success and a legion of critics. Are we really the ‘Worst Company in America’? I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve made plenty of mistakes.”
Gamers often bicker about some of EA’s products and customer support. That includes its digital-download platform Origin, its monopoly on NFL football games, and the way it treats the beloved developers that it acquires.
But the public-relations nightmare surrounding the launch of urban-planning game SimCity is probably the single biggest factor in EA’s performance in the Consumerist poll.
Moore listed some of the poor decision-making that he recognizes within EA.
“[Mistakes] include server shutdowns too early, games that didn’t meet expectations, missteps on new pricing models, and — most recently — severely fumbling the launch of SimCity,” he wrote. “We owe gamers better performance than this.”
He also listed several common complaints that he claims “don’t hold water.”
“Many continue to claim the always-on function in SimCity is a [digital-rights management] scheme,” wrote Moore. “It’s not. People still want to argue about it. We can’t be any clearer — it’s not. Period.”
SimCity requires a constant connection to the Internet to function. If a player’s Internet isn’t working, then he cannot play the game he paid for. EA and developer Maxis claim they instituted the online requirement for design purposes, but the end result is the same as strict DRM, which requires a stable connection to make sure players are using a legitimate copy of the game.
“Some claim there’s no room for Origin as a competitor to Steam,” Moore continued. “Forty-five million registered users are proving that wrong.”
Some people do believe that EA shouldn’t use Origin. Many gamers wish they could purchase titles like Battlefield 3 on Valve’s service. The main complaint against Origin, however, is that the service isn’t as useful as Steam and that the customer support often fails to address real consumer concerns.
Moore went on to defend EA’s free-to-play games, its Madden NFL cover athlete, and its work on lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender issues. He claims that some conservative websites have urged its readers to vote for the company in the Consumerist poll for celebrating LGBT pride month with events that discuss issues pertinent to those consumers.
“That last one is particularly telling,” wrote Moore. “If that’s what makes us the worst company, bring it on because we’re not caving on that.”
“So here’s my response to this poll: We can do better,” he continued. “We will do better. But I am damn proud of this company, the people around the globe who work at EA, the games we create, and the people that play them.”
“The tallest trees catch the most wind. At EA, we remain proud and unbowed.”
Moore is one of the likeliest internal candidates for the open chief executive officer position at EA. John Riccitiello resigned at the end of last month.