[UPDATE] Pacific Crest Securities' Evan Wilson takes publisher to task for "poor game quality," missed opportunities; EA responds.
Electronic Arts' game adaptation of the hit summer movie Superman Returns was originally expected to release alongside the movie in June. However, in May EA told investors that it was "prioritizing game quality higher than making that date," and so had delayed the game to coincide with the movie's release on DVD.
EA's Superman Returns finally arrived in stores last week and was met with unkind reviews. Now one industry analyst is calling the situation "a microcosm of EA's continuing woes," and pointing to it as one part of a larger downward trend for the publisher.
"Poor reviews and quality are beginning to tarnish the EA brand," Pacific Crest Securities analyst Evan Wilson told investors in a note distributed this morning. "According to our ongoing survey of GameRankings.com aggregated review data, Electronic Arts' overall game quality continues to fall."
A sister site to GameSpot, GameRankings.com compiles and averages review scores from hundreds of press outlets to allow readers access to a variety of opinions on any given game.
"Reviews of all of EA's annualized titles, its primary source of profit, have declined over the past two years," Wilson noted. "Although market share has not declined dramatically to date, in years such as 2007, which promises to have tremendous competition, it seems likely if quality does not improve. EA's aggregate review has also declined significantly in the past two years."
Wilson listed 20 of EA's recent annualized franchises, with averaged GameRankings scores by year across all platforms. For more direct comparisons, he also included scores for just the PlayStation 2 versions of the games. In nearly every case, the most recent version of an EA game scored lower than the version released in 2004. The company's NHL franchise maintained its 75.1 percent average across all platforms, while its MVP Baseball franchise notched up its multiplatform average from 86.3 percent to 86.7 percent.
As for which series were falling short, Wilson singled out "dramatic swings" in the average PS2 review scores of some of the company's top franchises. The analyst's numbers show that Need for Speed's averaged score has dropped 5.8 points, and NBA Live shed 13.1 points over the last two years. He noted that reviews don't always correlate to sales, but they tend to mirror a game's quality, which can affect its retail fortunes.
"The widespread industry belief is that one or two bad iterations can ruin the long-term value of a license, and we agree," Wilson said.
According to Wilson, EA has also missed some opportunities with its attempts to establish new franchises. He noted poor reviews of Superman Returns, Batman Begins, Marvel Nemesis, NFL Head Coach, and Arena Football in particular. And while The Godfather fared better with the critics than that batch, Wilson said the game's development and marketing costs kept it from meeting EA's profit expectations.
Wilson couldn't point to any one thing within EA that would cause a decline in game quality, but he said the company failed an attempt to standardize its studios on the RenderWare engine, was enduring "excessive employee turnover" that lowered the average experience level at the company, and that it has perhaps focused too much on quantity and not enough on quality.
Despite the down tone of the note, Wilson remained positive on investing in EA as a long-term opportunity, calling it "the marquee developer and publisher of video games."
"However, higher-than-expected development expenses, a ballooning number of developers and poor game quality have hurt EA's operating structure, in our view. Electronic Arts' growth rate and earnings power, we believe, will lag its top competitors in the near term."
[UPDATE] An EA representative has responded to Wilson's note, saying, "The EA brand is strong with great games from franchises that continue to break sales records. Across the portfolio, EA always strives to drive innovation and quality into its titles. EA continues to invest in next-generation development and technology which will translate into high quality gaming throughout the next console cycle."
EA is slowly but surely killing the powerful franchises we've come to love. Take Need for Speed for example. It all sarted as something new and innovative, but they've simply just run out of ideas. Need for Speed Carbon was beaten to death with a poor collection of licensed songs and sounds cut and pasted from Most Wanted. They're too busy dishing out game after game and aren't stopping to think about what made the series what it was before.
This article kinda confirms what I already know. EA like to buy, they like to expand, and they like to make games that are decent. I've often seen in their games a good solid foundation, but little to make the title truly great. While I don't play a great deal of EA games, I can safely say that both the Need For Speed series and the Battlefield series have both had a drop in quality in their most recent iterations. Carbon just wasn't as good as earlier NFS games, and Battlefield 2142 was too much alike it's predecessor.
Disappointing. EA has always up to now been one of the few brands with a reliable amount of quality in its titles. I wonder what is causing the "excessive employee turnover" that Mr. Wilson mentions. I would sure like to get one of the former employee's thoughts on this. As for EA's response - updated at the end of the article - since it is obviously untrue, it only adds to the embarresement, and the sense that this company has blinders on over their rose-colored glasses. They are losing what has been their #1 strength - customer confidence in their quality.
I like Burnout. Everything else they put out doesn't matter to me. I want a good next gen Burnout for Ps3.
Personally, I love EA. They have a lot of great people working for them, but saying "The EA brand is strong with great games from franchises that continue to break sales records. Across the portfolio, EA always strives to drive innovation and quality into its titles." -------------------- They really need to look again at the ratings people are giving their games. Madden 2005 was higher rated than 06 or 07. You can not honestly say that you make great games when the quality has dropped like it has. Not in the graphics, but in the gameplay. The graphics are great, but 06 was a slip up with Madden, and 07 was a fall on the floor. Then with a couple other titles, most importantly Superman Returns, you definitely cant say you make great games. -------------------- You have Will Wright, who yes, does make great games with his innovation, but that is not the innovation of EA until you have many people like him working across the board for your company. EA made great games as of 2004, as of 2006 they make good games. -------------------- I dont want EA to fail, I want them to be the biggest company, but with keeping extremely quality games, paying attention to the consumers, and taking care of your employees. Though yes Wilson went a little overboard, the response from EA goes 2 fold in the opposite direction. -------------------- The gamers are not really wanting EA to fail even. Just own up to the truth. Instead say, "We admit we have fallen behind a little in the past 2 years. We are going to dedicate ourselves to making it up to our consumers, and we want to pay them back for supporting us. We are very thankful for getting a response from our consumers, and are really going to listen to what they have to say. During our exploration in the next-generation development we plan on striving for greater innovation, greater quality in our games, greater consumer ratings from the games we put out, and overall become a greater company on the way. Plus, we are going to cut Kudo Tsunoda's hair, take away his sunglasses, force him to shave his face everyday, and duct tape his mouth because he says some out there things here and there. Not only that, we are also going to create positions to make sure our games are correct on the stats we put on sport stars." -------------------- In the end, just saying what they did was not the best thing. It would have been better to not say anything at all, because by saying something they have only made their consumers notice the article more, and prove that there is an out cry from their consumers that we want better games.
[UPDATE] An EA representative has responded to Wilson's note, saying, "The EA brand is strong with great games from franchises that continue to break sales records. Across the portfolio, EA always strives to drive innovation and quality into its titles. EA continues to invest in next-generation development and technology which will translate into high quality gaming throughout the next console cycle." ------------ To me that statement says: "Well our games are good whether you like them or not, and we are going to keep doing the same thing so get used to it." For this statement alone I will never buy another EA game, and I am encouraging all the gamers I know to do the same.
I played Batman Begins, and it was good, the first playover, but afterwards I sit and mope that a GREAT, not just good, Batman game has come out in years. And sure Superman could be a great game but besides the GTA style gameplay, the game not only suck, it blows. EA, stop focusing on games based on other people's s*** and surprise us godd*** it.
Guys, EA is growing, and with that growth, they're going to start doing what every large company does, making mistakes, making understandard games etc. The thing is, if EA wants to come right, they are going to have to sit down, take a few breaths and think about what they are doing wrong and then maybe start from scratch, spend more money, not rush games, take time... A good game will sell more than a bad game. My venting comes from my experience with Cricket games that EA releases, their other sports games are always so good but their Cricket games are horrid, I recently got 2007 and that is just horrid, the PC hits me for 6's no matter what I do, the music is horrible, the sound on the PC version is just awful too... I'm sure I could find major problems with other EA games, but these are all problems where, had they taken time, put effort into it, did more testing and such, could've fixed and made more of enjoyable experience.
EA you guys just suck, just face the facts. I would love to debate how crappy your games are live on stage at this years E3. OWNED
"An EA representative has responded to Wilson's note, saying, "The EA brand is strong with great games from franchises that continue to break sales records. Across the portfolio, EA always strives to drive innovation and quality into its titles. EA continues to invest in next-generation development and technology which will translate into high quality gaming throughout the next console cycle." LOL with great games like Madden 07 and NBA Live 07!!!! I guess EA really thinks these games are great. I will never buy another EA game just from this comment.
What a news flash! Wow who knew a title with EA on the front would be riddled with bugs and of sub-par quality. Not me that's for sure. But seriously for me this all started with BF2. A game so filled with bugs as to be nearly unplayable at release and is even to this day too buggy and unbalanced to really enjoy. Basically any title with EA on it is now and rightfully should be looked at skeptically because even their games with favorable reviews are sub-par. You can only release so many money grab rushed titles before your name is tarnished.
The only game EA has released in recent years which I think any good at all is NHL 07 for the Xbox 360. All of their other games are terrible including anything in the NHL franchise that started in the year 2000.
Reading about EA has reminded me of the time-honored engineering expressing that everyone should know: Dilbert is a documentary, not a comic. Hold that near and dear to your hearts.
I could have told you EatAss sucked years ago,I remember the original Fifa,much better than todays version,you could tackle the referee and run away from him with him chasing you trying to hand out a card.Classic times,now it's all sequel sequel sequel,and they not usually even a sequel,more like a patch that fixes some old problems and creates much more
EA always rushes games, its disgusting they think they can patch a game after its released, thereby releasing an unfinished game. An example, BF2142, had a patch almost 3 days after release...its sad really. Other companies are starting to try the same stuff, but EA has always done this.
"P.S. to all the MBA's that I have offended. You earned it! Your masters degree program reads as if Tony Little wrote it. "You can do it!!!" - Axiomatic OMG, thats possibly the greatest thing I have ever read on this entire website, so true.
The Need for Speed series dropped in quality after they stopped the "hot pursuit" types and went for the cheap street racing with the nasty rap soundtracks which has been beat to death. Been there, done that, moved on....
Well maybe if they didn't focus all their damn attention and money into there sports franchises (eg. fifa, madden, nhl...) they would have more to play around worth in the future. All EA do nowadays is buy movie franchises and hope the film creates enough buzz to trick everyone to go out and buy their rubbish rushed titles which they spent no real money (it seems) in producing. I work in a game store and me and a lot of other people in our stores already tell people to not to touch any EA titles unless they want sport or just a **** game.
EA SELL ALL YOU TITLES LIKE C&C TO GOOD GAME COMPANYS.. YOU WILL MAKE SOME MONEY AND SAVE THE TITLES LIFE
i would love to see EA go under they are the of games and im sick of there carbon copies of BS ive already played its all crap and i would love to see them go straight down the gutter and anyone who likes EA alot is not a self respecting gamer and you give the rest of us that are true gamers a bad name
My goodbye list to all the things EA has milked and annihilated: Goodbye dear Westwood. I loved you so. Goodbye Maxis. Your sims have overpopulated. Goodbye Dice. You lost the gamble. Goodbye Bullfrog. Goodbye 007. Goodbye Lord of the Rings. Games were not your realm. Goodbye Medal of Honor. Goodbye Need for Speed. I don't think they know what to do with you. Goodbye sports, of every kind. You've just been played out. And these are only the areas they have/had a developing role in. Look at a list of titles they've published for, and you can just feel the blight spreading.
EA is slowly starting to set the standard for the bottom of the barrel at marquee prices. There has not been so much mediocrity with so much resources at hand. It has proved itself time and time again as a license killer and managed to marginalize and stagnate the whole sports genre with its betting on NFL / ESPN / CLC franchise. It has aggressively pursued takeover of franchises that may have deemed valuable like Command & Conquer and Ultima and literally tore them to pieces. More notable studios on EA hit list include Bullfrog, ending the reprisal of many of its fabled franchises and DICE, in the process of milking their Battlefield franchise to oblivion. EA also stopped supporting their products while still in their buggy state, such as Need for Speed: Most Wanted, NBA Live series, NASCAR SimRacing, and C&C games. Not stopping short of this wanton hostile behavior against the consumers, EA stooped to a new low by having attempted strenuously in a hostile takeover bid of Ubisoft, which just exemplifies the rampant arrogance that runs through from the top to bottom of the company. Unrivaled by any when it comes to business practices that may potentially prove to be new revenue stream, EA boldly plowed into the uncharted territory of revenue at the expense of the privacy of consumers by incorporating tracking cookies in Battlefield 2142. Also do not forget that EA first shirked at having their sports titles supported by XBOX Live, brandishing their fists and gnashing their teeth at the prospect of not being able to propagate their version of garish online payment service in favor of streamlined integrated and stable online network. They relented in the end, but MS still has to route the network to EA servers resulting in usually poor online performance. EA has done nothing positive in terms of reinvigorating the games industry and has been at the forefront of questionable employee policies akin to sweatshop equivalent of game development regimen, from meeting holiday deadlines with unforgiving schedule or just outright canceling games during development for relocation of resources. EA merely exploits the burgeoning industry for making whatever means justify its solely financial aims and represents in a way what is so wrong about the game industry. EA really makes me sick. I am embarrassed to have purchased even one of their games. EA will eventually leave us high and dry and turn us off games eventually. Even ATARI / Infogrames does not come close in such bankruptcy of conscience and transparent attempts at fleecing its base.
"The EA brand is strong with great games from franchises that continue to break sales records. Across the portfolio, EA always strives to drive innovation and quality into its titles. EA continues to invest in next-generation development and technology which will translate into high quality gaming throughout the next console cycle." Egads! My bullsh*t detector just went off the scale! We have a class alpha level of bullsh*t here!
"Across the portfolio, EA always strives to drive innovation and quality into its titles. EA continues to invest in next-generation development and technology which will translate into high quality gaming throughout the next console cycle." I call bull**** on that!
Everyone subjected to these analysts: Analyst Brand Tarnished Whoever pays these guys to spout off needs to rethink the money they are spending. They either say the most obvious thing that anyone who has ever read a few video game websites could come up with or they say something completely retarded that is just some **** off the top of their heads. Anyone with a subjective view of the video game industry could be an analyst. It doesn't mean that every time one spouts off that it should be considered news. I would like to see a link to some research that these guys did to draw these conclusions before this is considered news.
EA sports has had this problem since they were able to buy the NFL franchise out from under SEGA Sports. EA was faced with a challege, they could have either changed the game they were making and make it better than what SEGA Sports were comming out with or they could throw money at the problem and make it go away. They made the choice to throw money at the problem and ever since then that is the awnser to thier problems, put more money into it and make it look cool but dont actually do things that could improve the actual game. Hence forth why madden has been the exact same game since 2001, NBA Streets was a fun game but it was the same game released 3 times, Need For Speed is a toss up not sure whats going on there, BF2 was actually good but they went out of thier way to add patches and mess the game up repeatedly. I thought superman Returns was kinda fun, at least the flying was but once again it was all flash and no substance, like the review said all the actual game play elements dont work well at all. Lock on doesnt work for crap, the punches fell awkward and some of the combos dont work because the controls dont respond in time. Same problem with madden, where you have a wide open reciever throw to him and watch as it bounces right off his head or he doesnt try to catch it at all. I hope EA hits bankruptcy sometime soon I would love to see them go down in flames.
Classic corporation syndrome going on here. The company grows at a rate too fast to "hire from within." So they hire a bunch of "suits" to be middle management and VP's and beyond. Now all of their corporate hubris is starting to bite them in the butt. Speaking as a 38 year old corporate management lackey myself, I'm watching my own company go through the same crap. MBA's who have no experience in pretty much anything making a bunch of "T.I.G.E.R." teams to come to the same outsourcing and "buy the competition out" tactics that are ruining the rest of America. You have lost touch EA and you let it happen to yourselves. Stop hiring the college MBA's and get some gamers in your management staff pronto. P.S. to all the MBA's that I have offended. You earned it! Your masters degree program reads as if Tony Little wrote it. "You can do it!!!"
The employee turnover rate is by far the greatest problem with EA. It isn?t the fact of so many people getting into EA then leaving, but the reasons of why they are leaving. Many people working on Superman Returns agreed that the game was going to bomb. Artists were creatively restricted too much, and were not listened to whenever they spoke out about problems. If EA listened to their employees more, Superman Returns would have been a lot better video game. It would have cost a lot of money to fix it, and keep the high quality employees that it had, but it would have been worth it. EA Sports is having an ongoing problem with sports titles not meeting consumer's expectations. They are not looking for a vastly different game by any means, just a game that at least improves a little, but with mistakes and the inability to keep big names in some of their game. They have failed to sell all the games that they could have if they would listen to their consumers as well as their employees more. Though people say this alot, it is still true. If Trip Hawkins was still running EA, it would be an even greater empire today. They way he structured the company, and the methods went about when making games was perfect. Especially if you compare it to the way EA is currently running its show. They give artist minimal time to get objects, environments, and everything else from concept, to model, to texture, to its finished stage. So little in fact, that nothing is getting finished to the quality that the artists at EA are not even pleased with their work. Consumers spoke out harshly against the NASCAR and MADDEN series games and still are. Players are not pleased with the fact of trying to add in new features that are not even accurate to the athletes in these sports, and ignoring the reasons behind the success of previous versions of past games. (Exampling this game because it is the one with the most player output from what I have seen so far.) The NASCAR 07 game has MASSIVE problems with the new "stat" or "grade" system put in so drivers would be better at courses they are better at in real life. They have one of the top road course drivers ranked as one of the worst, and some of the poorest drivers ranked higher than some of the best. They didn?t include loved drivers that were in the 05 championship chase for the cup. (Which some of that I understand with issues with sponsors agreeing to be in the game because of this or that.) But when you have glitches where 2 of the same car is on the track at the same time, that is just depressing. It is just a minor problem, but it shouldn?t of slipped by. It is turning out that the fans of the NASCAR game series are more creative than the game designer(s) of the game. They have come out with tons of ideas on how to improve the game. Speaking out about past features that they miss, and have really laid out so many ideas that EA could use for their NASCAR game, that just adding one or two of them could guarantee at least one more sport series game being revived from its tarnished name. I am just saying, EA needs to listen to its employees, and most of all its consumers. The EA brand might be strong and may be break record sales, but them saying that they have great games? That is just a bold face lie that everyone that has bought a game from EA in the past year or two knows is a lie. Their games may be good, but they are far from great. This is a post that every game consumer can agree with.
Well they bought the NASCAR lisence and still can't come up with a nascar game that even comes close to NR2003 by papyrus/sierra. The industry shouldn't allow a whole gaming genre to be bought out. No competition= crappy games.
Good, it serves EA right for been idiots! All these new games are just graphic updates, there is no real gameplay in any of the newgames, except in the new battlefield. EA have rapidly decended to the slums of poor game desiging.
Who said Road Rash?! Man they have to bring this franchise back seriously. But it needs good quality not no half baked treatment.
HOLY $|-|IT!!!!!!!! ROAD RASH IS BACK http://www.firingsquad.com/news/newsarticle.asp?searchid=13043
BRING BACK ROAD RASH! BRING BACK ROAD RASH! Wow, didn't know how many people actually played that game and kept an eye out on things like these. Man, that brings back memories, god I loved my Genesis. But as for the article, EA has not been the only company to go into the whole "downward spiral;" everyone has had crappy games in the recent years. A lot of companies seem to be milking too much out of their franchises and count on their loyal fans of the series to buy whatever comes out (unfortunately, I did buy Carbon (PS, don't get it)), which seems to be disappointing as they are rushing to get money, but are neglecting the ones that love their quality products. All game companies have to get their $|-|IT together though, not just EA.
The only games from EA that I would play right now is Fight Night Round 3 and Shaq Fu! Yeah,...I mentioned it, so you don't have to!
they arent telling anyone something they already didn't know. i've been noticing this for the last couple of years. just look at nba live, madden, and all the other craptacular sports games, racing games, and movie tie-in that they shove out. there hasnt been anything original come out of ea in years. and to think that one of ea's employees bashed gears of war for a lack of originality. motherf@#ka please!!!! now fight night round 3 and a couple of other games they make arent that bad, but the bad significantly outweighs the good. ea u suck.
I agree wit all the people who say EA sucks ass. I havent played a good game from EA in years. Most of the games since about 2003 have sucked BAD. EA simply needs to disapear for good. They wont do that if people keep buying there sh!tty games. EA has reuined so many games that could have been good if they were made by different companys. Botton line is EA needs to go the **** away.
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