Class-action lawsuit commenced over buggy Battlefield 4, EA calls it "meritless" [UPDATE]

[UPDATE] Legal documents show executives sold thousands of shares ahead of Battlefield 4's release.

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[UPDATE] The official class-action claim [PDF] shows that various Electronic Arts senior executives sold thousands of shares ahead of Battlefield 4's release. Check out the graph below for more.

The original story is below.

Electronic Arts is facing yet another legal battle over its military shooter Battlefield 4. Just a week after a Georgia law firm launched an investigation into the company over the game, the legal team behind the Enron lawsuit has commenced a class-action lawsuit against the publisher.

The complaint from Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP alleges violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 against EA officers and directors, though none were named specifically. Specifically, the complaint alleges that during the July 24-December 3 Class Period defendants issued "materially false and misleading statements" regarding Battlefield 4.

As a result of these statements, EA's share value rose and reached a high for the period of $28.13--allowing certain EA senior executives to sell their shares at the inflated price, the suit claims.

The lawsuit also features charges related to the bug-ridden PlayStation 4 version of Battlefield 4. EA's share value fell after the company disclosed the game's various issues, and then even further after EA said it had halted all future projects until the issues could be fixed. EA has since clarified that its work on fixing the Battlefield 4 issues has not impacted the release schedule of any of its future games, which led to the company's stock bouncing back significantly.

The case seeks to recover damages on behalf of everyone who purchased EA common stock during the Class Period. Importantly, this announcement does not mean a class-action lawsuit has officially been filed. Instead, the case needs a lead plaintiff to officially begin, who must come forward by the motion deadline in 60 days on February 15, 2014. At that point, a class-action lawsuit may be officially filed, but that remains to be seen.

An EA representative told GameSpot, "We believe these claims are meritless. We intend to aggressively defend ourselves, and we’re confident the court will dismiss the complaint in due course."

The full text of the specific claims levied against EA is available below.

(a) Battlefield 4 was riddled with bugs and multiple other problems, including downloadable content that allowed players access to more levels of the game, a myriad of connectivity issues, server limitations, lost data and repeated sudden crashes, among other things; (b) as a result, Electronic Arts would not achieve a successful holiday season 2013 rollout of Battlefield 4; (c) the performance of the Electronic Arts unit publishing Battlefield 4 was so deficient that all other projects that unit was involved in had to be put on hold to permit it to focus its efforts on fixing Battlefield 4; and (d) as a result, Electronic Arts was not on track to achieve the financial results it had told the market it was on track to achieve during the Class Period.

Discussion

797 comments
silvertoof
silvertoof

Here is my analysis of this debacle.There are a lot apologists out there who can't understand all the criticism. I think the problem is that a lot of older people who work for large companies think it's okay to release buggy products because it's common operating procedure for corporations. I see there are quite a few posts using that stale line about how "software is complex these days" 

Consoles are KNOWN QUANTITIES. There is zero excuse for releasing buggy games on console systems. Here is where the disconnect is occurring I think. Now I am assuming that these people aren't paid shills, but I suspect some are...

They aren't used to getting called on it, because it's common practice in corporate America to sell and buy chit software, then spend years fixing issues, hiring consultants, etc...all because of incompetent management decisions. So naturally they are indignant at all the critics.

Just look at the healthcare web sites recently. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent and these companies didn't do chiznit, and when it came time to release, much of the web sites didn't work. And the companies were all trying to make it look like this was all normal when congress had hearings, and they would iron out the bugs, etc., because for them, it is normal to release garbage and then take your time charging clients while you work at a snails pace to fix various bugs. 

I work as a consultant, and sadly most of my time isn't spent helping companies do things better, it's mostly spent fixing broken software products which they bought because they were idiots.

So naturally, they have no understanding or concept of integrity or reliability, or the concept that you don't release something until it is properly complete. They had what they called a BETA, full of FREE testers, and they have a LOT of money to buy ANYTHING they needed, they could buy entire teams of testers. But they didn't because they don't care. Instead they just lined their pockets. How many executives at EA were hired simply because it was their frat bro from USC? It's all about money for them. In large corporations like EA, they are entirely divorced from the concept of having passion for whatever it is that you do, most have probably never even played a video game.

OllieBrown
OllieBrown

It's really important that everyone understand the 'class' here is EA shareholders, not customers that purchased Battlefield 4.  They're alleging that the practices of the executives at the company served to inflate the stock price so they could sell high just before the price dropped after the release of BF4.  The lawsuit claims they did this knowingly and at the detriment of EA shareholders which is not legal.  I think they've got a case here for sure!  The highly publicized bugs and stores about how they are 'dropping everything to fix them' all served to push the stock price down.  If they executives influenced the prominence of these stories in any way that's fraud.


Nobody who bought BF4 has been harmed here (at least not in the eyes of the SEC) and they are not part of the class this suit seeks to compensate.  This is for EA shareholders only.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

This is why no company should be allowed to force customers or users to waive their class action lawsuits or legal rights when people agree to terms of service. 

While no one person's negative experience among millions of customers should warrant legal actions - tens of thousandths of complaints may be the only way to keep the consumer safe from dangerous or downright crappy products. 

'Buyer beware' cannot classify all mass consumer products. Anything sold here in America must have certain standards to be met for safety, quality, and measurement. 


While forms of entertainment like video games cannot be held for artistic value, something that is broken can be. 


But I will have to concede this, anyone dumb enough to buy an EA product without researching reviews and comments almost deserves to be fleeced. Fool me once EA - fool millions of gamers over and over again. Well that is just some dumb video game buyers - who must go to ever single paranormal activity movie thinking they will get better. 

Dareitus
Dareitus

$4 Million is all they have? $4 Million is absolutely nothing compared to the total net worth of EA: $6.6 BILLION. If company executives were jumping ship because "They knew Battlefield 4 was going to hurt them" they would have ran with a whole lot more than $4 Million and it would have been more than 7 random people on the list. The game coming out bugging was a bad business decision based on a perceived need to be available at Next-Gen launch. Would we be accusing them of failing to meet financial expectations if they delayed the game to make it better? 

No?

What if it ended up releasing next to TitanFall and couldn't sell because the game (in this instance, no fanboysim) turned out amazing. Then would we sue them for not making financial expectations?

How exactly does a Company win when no matter what they do somebody gets mad? Oh that's right, they do the best they can.


Good luck, EA. You'll figure this thing out.

mrbojangles25
mrbojangles25

It is about time something like this happened.  We gamers have had low standards and have sat around patiently for far too long, for far too many games.


I find it especially offensive that such low standards are acceptable ONLY in the video game industry and market, and if this were any other field (cars, food, tools, etc), things would have been changed a long time ago.


If you release a broken, incomplete game that X% of the population cannot play, you should be punished.  If you fail to fix it in a given time for EVERYONE, you need to give them a FULL CASH REFUND (not a coupon), and there needs to be serious legal punishments rendered for repeat offenses (fines, jail time, etc).

durpdurp1234
durpdurp1234

Uh oh! Looks like somebody's going to jail!

Shreddi
Shreddi

I bought only for the large mapped multiplayer and seems BF4 Does Not support IE, only chrome or firefox.  Is that fixed?  That is a joke and should have had a big warning letting us know.  Not everyone installs wtf ever none necessary add ons to there system.

therealone717
therealone717

IF the game is not done... don't release it.  All of you EA apologists are f'ng morons.  It's deception at the least and criminal at the most.  So companies. just stop doing it.  if a game needs more time, then wait to release.. there's no reason testing and Q & A can't catch this stuff let alone beta releases.  Stop being greedy.  If you make it, and by make it I mean make it right, the game will be a success and your precious bottom line will be there for you when it get's done.  

lunarwolfaaron
lunarwolfaaron

when did the usa and gaming community become a nation of bitchy complainers. people if you don't like how a publisher handles a game series the don't buy it problem solved. also there is a lot that is needed to find someone guilty in any kind of law suit. The information featured in the graph is a mere sliver of what is needed for ea to lose the law suit.


HartPuncher
HartPuncher

This is pretty stupid. So if we buy a game that isn't to our standards we can sue now? Can I sue Sony because I'm tired of being asked if we have PS4s in stock and it's really fucking annoying? 

dmastor
dmastor

Keep suing these companies please this game is broken! And they knew it hope it teach them a lesson. 

xxmavr1kxx
xxmavr1kxx

Well, law suite gets filed


second patch gets released


Game is fixed. Coincidence? I think not!

ooole
ooole

You don't have to be a scientist to understand EA rushed the game to compete with COD. I would definitely get pissed if my money was involved in it.

Gruntlock
Gruntlock

If this sets a precedence that publishers can be sued over something as inevitable as bugs, gaming will be officially finished. Nobody would want to release games anymore, out of fear that one undiscoverd bug will lead to a massive court ordered looting spree.

madgame23
madgame23

Its not meritless.  its been out 2 months and it sucks.  The crash issue is fixed, and the bullet damage issue fixed but now hit detection is terrible and a hit marker doesn't mean crap.  I can shoot a guy and get tons of them but after he kills me instantly I see his health is at 30 or so.

crunchb3rry
crunchb3rry

Meritless? Their own testers admitted they were told they wouldn't have the normal length of time to test BF4 because EA mandated that it be given the gold stamp a week before Ghosts launched whether it was ready or not.

Budcalledkind
Budcalledkind

i just want to throw this out there, Was just skiming threw this and I notice that not one of yall who was talking about the good EA games mentioned Dragon Age , come on doods u know that game was Good! even 2 was ok!

silvertoof
silvertoof

@OllieBrown Not surprising in the least. I'm glad it's happening, and I'm glad it's happening from he right source, the owners of the company. The real problem here is that in large companies such as EA, the passion and love for the industry is not there. Most of these executives haven't played a video game in years if at all. Their one concern is how much money they can run off with before they jump ship to their next money train.

Unfortunately, it would be hard to prove anything but incompetence, of the sort they have demonstrated for many games, not just BF4. 

silvertoof
silvertoof

@jenovaschilld They actually don't have that right as far as I know. You cannot be asked to waive your rights. They might say you have, but people are still free to under law to sue for a redress of grievences.

The problem is that this won't teach EA anything. EA would pay, not the greedy incompetent douches running the company. They are either sociopaths or deluded themselves into thinking they have never done anything wrong.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@Dareitus Dear dareitus, I understand your point of view but I also do not think you understand the possible class action lawsuit in regards to alleged securities exchange act violations. 

Basically anyone in positions of knowledge about their own companies cannot sale stocks without reporting issues to stockholders. Even martha stewart had to learn that. If you know a product line is gonna tank or gonna go crazy you have to report it to your stockholders before you sell any assets or buy any that way you do not screw over the shareholders you are charged to serve. 


In sports you have to report team injuries, car industry you have to reports lemons, etc. And what the above alleged executives knew was that BF4 was crap, which they then went on and hyped the shit out of the game to its shareholders (perfectly legal to lie to consumers) which drove the stock prices up, with foreknowledge they sold their shares while the prices were high knowing the stock would take a huge loss after the flawed flagship game was released causing the stock to take an even deeper loss after 164000 shares of stock were sold. Remember that ceos main job is to steward the interests of its shareholders or owners. 


So unforeseen problems that companies have, or bad decisions that they make is perfectly legal, jumping ship before the iceberg hits without telling the passengers is a Titanic issue. The SEC have somewhat strict laws about when you can sell stock in your own company. 

normanislost
normanislost

@Shreddi but IE is a complete joke no one should be using it at all especially after the IE11 update so many sites broken because they removed compatibility mode....

Shreddi
Shreddi

Anyone remember EA's game Starflight? 

BooBoo1688
BooBoo1688

@HartPuncher the law suit isnt about that...its about EA stocks dropping and some dumbass stock holders think it could have been handled before their personal shares dropped in value...so its actually more stupid....its like "hey i bought into your company because i thought it would do good...but it didnt do good ...and i think you could have made it do good...but you didnt so i want my losses back by suing you."

CrouchingWeasel
CrouchingWeasel

@HartPuncher 

It's got nothing to do with people who bought the game, genius. Did you even read the article? Do you know anything about the case? It's solely about the alleged deception of shareholders which led to losses for said shareholders.

quakke
quakke

@HartPuncher

It is not stupid. It's stupid that it has become a standard to release unfinished games because dumb enough people are willing to pay for it.

Back in the day stuff was always released 100% completed with minimum amount of bugs and errors since PCs only had the possibility to add patches and even they were 100% completed games.

Todays game's quality is a joke.

HartPuncher
HartPuncher

@ooole You don't have to be a scientist to understand that all games are rushed now based on DLC and Patches. 

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@ooole I think everything was a bit rushed with the 'next-gen'.  Both of the consoles could have done with a little longer, as could most of the games.


Never mind!

cirugo
cirugo

@Gruntlock 

apparently you aren't paying attention to WHY they are being sued.  It's about allegedly misleading shareholders as to the state of the game while certain execs were busy taking advantage of a stock price jump to unload shares.  That's insider trading.

lonewolf315
lonewolf315

@Gruntlock You clearly haven't played the game. I know people that still can't finish campaign because it keeps erasing their save file for no apparent reason and making them start over again. They've fixed a lot of bugs by now but the games been out for over a month now. And people are STILL losing single player progress and are unable to finish the game. So they basically put out a product that didn't do what it advertised. Multiplayer was almost unplayable due to lag and crashes (fixed now) and single player still needs work. The game wasn't finished and should not have been released in the state it was in.

CrouchingWeasel
CrouchingWeasel

@Budcalledkind 

Dragon Age 2 gargled sweaty hobo balls. To this day Dragon Age 2 & Mass Effect 3 are the only games in my collection that I've only played once & have no intention of ever putting anywhere near my 360 again.

aeterna789
aeterna789

@BudcalledkindYour forgetting the fact that EA is merely the Publisher, the quality of the game released would be on the Developers like Bioware. As Publisher, EA will only be concerned about distribution, marketing, public relations and as well as provide additional funding to the developers.

Shreddi
Shreddi

@normanislost@Shreddi Can we completely remove from system, if its going to take up any kind of real estate or memory why add more?  Pulling the OS apart is not worth my time.  A link to completely disassemble and replace would be cool.  But even still, why bother because the servers are so empty multiplayer is almost none existent.  Unless things have changed in past few weeks.  I don't even bother anymore.  Happened to have the box on shelf here and under online requirements says windows but nothing about not compatible with IE.  I just thought if every other game online has not an issue why would one being put out by EA?  I always trusted EA to be reliable.  This game was a complete waste for me because no multiplayer.  I will check servers again later and apologize if population is there.  Thanks much.

HartPuncher
HartPuncher

@quakke You speak as if everything was gold back in the day! The PS2 launch was all garbage titles and unfinished shit except for SSX. It's not that much different except we can bitch and moan and get things fixed now on games that were already released. It's called fucking PROGRESS! Go play Wild Wild Racing for PS2 and tell me it's 100% or KAO the Kangaroo. 

pupp3t_mast3r
pupp3t_mast3r

@HartPuncher @ooole It's not so much rushed as holding off on content. Case in point the day one DLC for Mass Effect 3. By all accounts that should've been part of the game. 


It's just less provocative for EA to charge $200 over one game + 4-5 DLC than charging it outright for a single game.

TheKokopelli
TheKokopelli

@CrouchingWeasel @Budcalledkind I couldn't even finish DA2 & ME3.  DA2 was, well it was pitiful to say the least.  And I admit with ME3, all of the news about the ending put me off.


But DA2 was pathetic.  It had a lot of potential, but it was wasted and became the "gargled sweaty hobo balls" as Weasel described it.

DarkSaber2k
DarkSaber2k

@aeterna789@BudcalledkindAnd YOU'RE forgetting the fact the EA OWNS their developers such like Bioware, meaning when EA say "jump" Bioware jumps or starts looking for another job.
 Or when EA says "We're releasing the game now whether you are finished or not" their developer does NOT have any say in the matter.

ZombieGuyGeorge
ZombieGuyGeorge

@HartPuncher@quakke actually yes. and street fighter 2 was also there. played it on famicom asian homemade games but i am sure you can find them on rom form if you search. actually im gonna search for that sf2 cartidge now.... 

HartPuncher
HartPuncher

@quakke @Ensabuhnur @HartPuncher Relax. I've been playing games since Odyssey 2. And have been working in gaming since 2001. I'm just toying with you. Games couldn't be repaired in the past is all I'm saying. It's not as tragic as it once was. 

quakke
quakke

@Ensabuhnur@quakke@HartPuncher

Exactly.

Someone should do yt video or somehow present in a video how to this quality has slowly but surely declined over the years. I think it should be an article or something also about this, so that more people would know about this. Not just people like me and you, but someone forexample who started 5 years ago. They have no idea about this and therefore they keep buying stuff because they have been taught to think that it's all fine.

Ensabuhnur
Ensabuhnur

@quakke @HartPuncher I been gaming since the early 80s and you have a very valid point.  Before the skies of Arcadia on Dreamcast introduced DLC missions the idea of releasing a game that  was buggy and needed patching was unheard of.  There was no reliable way to get that patch data back to the buyers (no internet) so releasing a buggy game was suicide.


When PCs got connected developers still maintained that quality was more important than release dates, but with all these connected consoles in the last 15 years that has begun to take a turn for the worse.  Companies like EA would rather release the trash as is and turn a profit as opposed to delaying for a more finished product.  Rockstar and Bethesda are also notorious for this practice as of late.  


As far as I am concerned if the game purchased at 60 dollars its not fully playable on day one then buyers should be able to sue for false advertising, as the completed game has not been delivered the percentage of the game that is broken should be reimbursable.  That would force these companies to hold the game until it is in a proper playable state.

quakke
quakke

@HartPuncher@quakke

So you started with PS2 (Silver era)? I started with NES (Gold era). You know with DooM, Quake, Half-Life, Need For Speed, Tomb Raider, C&C and many more. And you are seriously saying that nowadays the situation "is pretty good" ? What the hell? 

And lol, "PS2 launch was garbage titles". No it wasn't. MGS: SoL, Airblade and all Wipeouts and stuff..