EA Struggles With Perception That "We're Just A Bunch Of Bad Guys"

"I still struggle with the external perception that we're just a bunch of bad guys."

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Now Playing: The Biggest Games We Wished Were At E3 2019

One of publisher Electronic Arts' bosses has spoken up to talk about how, after 25 years with the company, he continues to struggle with how EA is often perceived as "a bunch of bad guys."

A publicly traded company with thousands of employees around the world, EA is among the world's largest, oldest, and most established gaming publishers. EA's EVP of strategic growth, Matt Bilbey, explained to GI.biz that when EA makes mistakes, these issues are blown out due in part to the company's size and scale.

"25 years at EA and I still struggle with the external perception that we're just a bunch of bad guys," Bilbey said. "We love making and playing games. Unfortunately, when we make mistakes on games, the world knows about it because it's of a size and scale."

Indeed. When EA's Star Wars: Battlefront II ignited a controversy in 2017 over its implementation loot boxes and microtransactions--which were removed before the game's public release--the discussion kicked off a global examination of loot boxes in video games that continues today. The title might have been embroiled in controversy, but it shipped a gargantuan 9 million-plus copies in its first months alone, making it one of the most successful Star Wars games in history.

It's a similar story to EA's Battlefield 4, which had a rough launch but was also hugely successful from a commercial perspective.

Also in the interview, Bilbey spoke about how EA, as the company grows larger and larger, faces the perception that it becomes "disconnected" from new, original ideas. That's where the EA Originals program comes in. The label is behind titles like A Way Out, Fe, and Sea of Solitude, along with more games coming up in the future.

"EA Originals is our opportunity to connect with that talent and those smaller ideas. When you are part of a big company, it's too easy to fall into the trap where when you see a game concept... it has to be big," he said. "The notion of actually coming up with small, unique game ideas... We know from the work that we've been doing on our subscription business that gamers will play a FIFA or a Fortnite--they have one main franchise--but then they want breaks from those games to play something that's maybe five or ten hours long."

At E3 this y ear, EA announced the latest partners for the EA Original label, including Hazelight, Glowmade, and Zoink.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Avatar image for blackpegasus27

Y'all realize that the best villains see themselves as heroes, right

Avatar image for trojax

The really sad part is - EA used to be a loved household name. They made the Desert Strike Series, Road Rash, 007, MotoRacer - all of which were widely loved. Even the Sid Myers series. Players couldn't wait for the next Road Rash, or Civilization or 007, etc. Then when Trip Hawkins left EA to make the failed 3DO console, it's like EA lost their soul.

Some of the few old time series that made them so popular that still exist today are NFS, Madden and The Sims. Everything else...right down to their cool flight/fight sims are gone - think LHX Attack Chopper and Flight Sim, Fight Night, etc. - all gone. But abandoned for loot boxes? Really? Have you looked to see how many ROAD RASH ripoffs are on the market? That's not an accident. That's lesser companies trying to do what YOU did EA, but you wouldn't do it. How about selling a game that the public wants rather than LOOT BOXES no one asked for? Poll any gamer and I will bet you my entire next paycheck that don't say:

"OMG, I just love that there are loot boxes in this game!!" ....said no gamer EVER.

If you really and truly [wholeheartedly] want your name back...earn it. Look at Bungie and what they are doing with Destiny...earning their name back. Look at Digital Extremes with Warframe. What are they doing? Earning their name. Now STOP. Look at EA. What are YOU doing? Contant tarnish of your name and then you ask....WHY? Why are we the bad guys? Really?? Pfft!! Wake up and smell what you are shoveling. THIS is why for the last 25 years YOU [EA] have been the "bad guy". YOU refuse to address these core issues. YOU can get your good name back but YOU have to earn it. PERIOD. No shortcuts or cheat codes are available. Sorry. These are real life decisions.

Avatar image for saitohiraga

Meh, who cares anymore? I don't buy games that have EA anywhere on them. And if I did, it would have to already have good reviews and be going cheap. No EA title is worth full price. I purchased Battlefront 2 on PS Store for £9.99 and that was a good price for the game that it is.

Avatar image for not-john-locke

EA has made so many bad decisions it's hard to remember them all, but the one thing that has me boycotting them to this day is how they buy up interesting, successful developers only to close them a few years later. That is anti-gaming at it's core. EA needs to go away.

Avatar image for JRBCrazy

Micro-transactions = slap in face. You may have removed them before release but your intentions are clear.

Avatar image for siddnullus

It's all corporate lip service. EA doesn't make "mistakes," they're not a bunch of kids. Every slimy move they make is calculated through their corporate brass. They only time they feel bad is when they get called on the balogny they pull. They certainly haven't learned from past mistakes. I think Jim Sterling sums it up best on his YouTube channel video titled: EA Doesn't Like Being Seen As The Bad Guy? Too Bad! (The Jimquisition)

EA made their bed with the greedy game mechanics they've strategically released to milk every customer for every single cent they are worth. They are the originators of gambling mechanic loot box content and destroy every indy studio they acquire.

EA is a $hit company that treats their employees like garbage while upper brass absorbs ridiculous amounts of "bonus money," shrugging shoulders while laying off another batch of overworked employees. Because hey -- greed!

How's that for surprise mechanics?

Avatar image for junkiiiii

Oh, I don't know EA. When did you make the deal for the NFL license so you wouldn't have any competetion?

You're not the bad guy. Sure buddy. And most prisoners are innocent.

Avatar image for linthenius

Maybe people will stop treating you like the bad guys when you stop acting like the bad guys.

Avatar image for SinisterSlay

Pay 500k to every single person you have layed off in the last 20 years and I will no longer consider you evil.

Avatar image for botc76


I hate EA but I'd take them over homophobic cowards like you any day.

Avatar image for wretch1d

@listerofsmeg: I had no idea they supported a bunch of sticks, of all their practices this is the most odd

Avatar image for PrimusTool

@listerofsmeg: The 1st amendment isn't a right to post whatever you want on gamespot.com. They can delete your comment if they want just like you could start your own website and delete any comments from pro-EA people.

Avatar image for Barighm

@listerofsmeg: You know that only applies to government persecution, right? It doesn't apply to web forums whose rules you agreed to before joining it.

Avatar image for Barighm

@listerofsmeg: It's not a matter of misconception. It's a matter of "their house, their rules".

Avatar image for archav3n

but but.. EA is really a bunch of bad guys

Avatar image for sealionact

This coming days after EA pressured Sony to remove Konami's PES 2019 from PSplus due to deals EA's FIFA has with Sony...

Avatar image for streamline

"I still struggle with the external perception that we're just a bunch of bad guys."

Wait, that’s not true?

Avatar image for soltar

When a perception is correct that is called reality

Avatar image for deactivated-5d495083aed2b

@soltar: That's the thing about perception, it can never be "correct". Somebody, somewhere loves EA and all they do.

Avatar image for RonR0549

The reason EA is looked like the 'Bad guys' is that EA really doesn't listen to their customers. We've have asked, begged, pleaded with EA and Origin to bring back the %^&*%&^ 'Shopping Cart' so if I want to buy 2 or 100 games I don't have to make each purchase separate, yet that's what EA/Origin wants us to do! Why, who knows? Marketing, forcing the customer to look at more games? This is why we think that EA is the new 'Big Blue' of this era and will continue this way until they &^*(&^*(^*() listen to their customers and stop this BS single shopping! I know they don't care because I purchased over a thousand dollars worth of games in the first years with Origin. Now I'm boycotting EA/Origin game store because they won't give me the option to purchase more than ONE GAME AT A TIME!

To hell with them, they are the 'BAD GUYS'!

Avatar image for PrimusTool

NFL 2k5 is still better than the latest Madden.

Avatar image for amichalski81

@PrimusTool: Umm yeah it totally is way better, i still have my PS2 specifically for that game even though i haven't connected it in well over 5 years +

Avatar image for cosmokpaq

I'm not a huge gamer. I like mostly Hockey sports games... However, In my case I agree with most, All EA CARES ABOUT IS MONEY!!! Not the gamers...

1. Online is almost unplayable if you don't buy your way to a better team.. Gone are the days of going online for fun

2. They could care less about us season or Be a Pro users..

3. How else would you view EA? They bought out alot of the competition... Funny thing is if they just continued to make a decent all around game, I would buy it...

Avatar image for snakeyees

My 2 cents you guys bought out all the competition.. westwood studio's comes to mind command and conquer was an excellent game till EA closed the studio and destroyed the game. There are other titles you have butchered all in the name of the almighty dollar. You dont give a crap about gamers you only care about your shareholders.

Avatar image for amichalski81

@snakeyees: hence their exclusive deal with the NFL, not allowing other game makers to user NFL licenses names, teams or such. btw madden is a bag of wet $hit - the cartoon character players are embarrassing to all gamers

Avatar image for mfg69

Probably already mentioned....Visceral Games. My memory might not be perfect BUT I saw an article about a Visceral dev saying Dead Space 2 sold est 4 mil copies and EA considered it a failure. MANY developers/publishers consider this a success. I wonder why it was such a failure for you guys?? I think I know the reason/reasons. 1) EA - you're too big for your britches i.e. You're only shooting for "Call of Duty" or "GTA" sales numbers with your IP's because 2) You MUST BE mismanaging money i.e. spending WAY too much marketing, etc. 2) Greed, greed, greed at the top of the hill. Yeah, I've been gaming since 'Pong' = showing my age. I used to love Electronic Arts. I remember Road Rash, the very first Madden (didn't even have all the teams)....yup back in '91. Boy, things sure have changed.

Avatar image for millionsedge

EA is only about shareholders, not gamers. They will burn through whatever they can to make a buck.

Avatar image for txuzai

Dragon Age 2? Remember what they did too that game? After the huge success of DA:Origins they had them make DA2 and gave them one year to make it.....so yeah, definitely the bad guys.

Avatar image for archav3n

@txuzai: press a button and something awesome has to happened.. *chuckle*

Avatar image for avjaarsveldt

Well with your insanely high in-app purchases in games like Real Racing 3,how on earth can we see you as anything else than "bad guys"

Avatar image for Dark_sageX

"when we make mistakes on games," mistakes? so the whole microtranasctions, loot boxes, surprise mechanics fiasco were not by design? they were "mistakes"? could have fooled me, I mean the structure was very elaborate and detailed for a "mistake".

Avatar image for Raistlarn

Boo hoo. EA feels like their being unjustly treated as bad guys. Waah waah waah.

And how many beloved ips, and game studios have you bought up and turned into crap. Who brazenly tells a government off about loot boxes. Who brazenly tells a commission that they aren't called loot boxes, but are actually "surprise mechanics." I'm sure there's a few more things in there that I've forgotten. Now EA may have been a "good" company (way back in the NES era), but their current policy earns them a throne on top of the crap pile along with Activision.

Avatar image for pbastanchury

"It's a similar story to EA's Battlefield 4, which had a rough launch but was also hugely successful from a commercial perspective."

That kind of sums it up, doesn't it? Low quality and high profit.

Tell me again why you're not the bad guys?

Avatar image for glaciusts

It’s a very justified perception, Bilbey. You have traded games as an artform for games as a means to maximize profits.

You wanna know what bothers me most? Once upon a time, games aimed to maximimize dopamine, because they were designed with fun as the #1 priority, that was where all the profits came from back then. They were about maximizing that feeling of reward for our accomplishments and giving us the tools to make the game even MORE fun as a result.

EA has since changed that direction... now, that sense of reward is dwindling. Despite all the tools at your disposal to make games feel more rewarding and fun, you don’t do that anymore. You’ve created this artificial ceiling on “fun”. Why? Well because if people felt satisfied, they would be less motivated to spend money on micro transactions. You manipulate reward intervals and space them apart more and more as we play. You create ALL this loot but we can no longer set a specific piece of loot as a goal and obtain it in a day or two. No... you want to space those rewards apart, anything to make us play your game longer and consider putting additional money down so we can HOPE for a better reward. It’s not about maximizing fun anymore, and it feels like we’ve hit a wall. You tease us with dopamine in the hopes that our desire for more will drive us to buy shit or play longer.

I will be more likely to play your game longer if the game is incredibly rewarding. If I don’t find your game rewarding enough, I’m not buying a loot box, I’m playing a different game that i find more rewarding. Maybe if you focused more on giving people the joy that they paid for instead of depriving them of a sense of reward until they pay more money, people might see you differently.

Avatar image for blasthardcheese

As everyone else has said, it's not a perception. It's reality. Everyone else has mentioned other ways it's obvious, so I'll mention one I haven't seen yet. It's obvious from your complete and total stupidity when handling the biggest license you, or anyone else could ever get: Star Wars. Specifically the Battlefront title. The way you handled Battlefront 2... that was your biggest failure at handling a game and it's development company. Your loot crates alone have cost you more money in lawsuits than if you had made a FULL and COMPLETE game with a huge amount of single player and multiplayer content. The fact that it took lawsuits and bans in other countries by their governments to get you to stop with your gambling crates in just ONE game is proof enough that you're bad guys. All SWBF2 players are happy about it, yet you won't make the change for all your other titles that use the gambling system. That makes you bad guys.

Then there's SWTOR. It's being affected too. Your rushing to get Anthem out just to compete forced you to pull folks from SWTOR to get it out. That had an affect on SWTOR. That kind of thing is the result of having unrealistic expectations and goals set. Companies that do that become bad guys and usually fall apart. Look at Square Enix. They're not rushing to get their Final Fantasy games out. They're not rushing to get their remasters out either. There are other companies that don't try to push out a big name game out each year/every other year. It's a ridiculous thing to do. That's why AAA games you put out are short (1day completion time max) and don't do so well, while theirs are good and lengthy (several days completion time) and do really well.

Avatar image for Fish61324

The thing is, we all know there are individuals who work at EA who are good people. The problem is EA overall. EA is a terrible, evil, greedy, manipulative company. Those are opinions, but they are opinions shared by the majority. There's a reason they EARNED the "bad guy" persona. EA, Square Enix and Rockstar..... all the same. It brings me great satisfaction to know an article like this exists. It means the consumers voice is being heard (even if EA is listening enough to change anything), we know that we're getting under EA's skin :)

Avatar image for pbego

@Fish61324: "getting under EA's skin?" -- yes, but will we get in to their Board of Directors?

Avatar image for nintendians

i guess ea isn't living up like they do in the past for their loyal fans.

Avatar image for scatterbrain007

Shit runs down hill. It's the greedy assholes at the top that know **** all about the hobby that thinks every single gamer will just buy into their bullshit. I blame THEM, the devs just do what they are told so they can keep their jobs. I'm pretty sure the employees who are serious gamers there roll their friggin' eyes whenever they come up with the latest cash grab idea instead of actually making a game more fun to play. EA and every game company on that level has lost touch, are way too big, and are slaves to their investors. Too late for them to turn back.

Avatar image for Schizycho

Funniest meme ever GameSpot.


Avatar image for IkedaTeramusa

LoL they make "mistakes" on games. No... they try to maximize profits on games to the extreme the it's blatantly noticible. They take great series' and flush them down the toilets. They turn everything into trivialized paint by numbers mush. I'm sure the people working there for the most part are decent, but lets not let them lie to themselves. There's no way you get through your QA/Alpha process with some of this stuff in place and think "sure, this'll work awesome".

Avatar image for botc76

Lol. They struggle with the "perception."
Yeah well, it's not just a perception, those mofos are the bad guys.
Just looking at the studios and the game series they ruined makes that clear.
How about that new Mass Effect Game, EA? How about Origins, Westwood and who can even remember how many else?

**** them!

Avatar image for rekitraf

When are we going to call out Activision and their little scams? Throw Treyarch in the mix too, since they like the whole micro-transaction rip-offs deals on their $60 + games.

At least Apex Legends is a free to play game with no duplicates on their "loot boxes" or pay to win system like the one Treyarch/Activision has on Black Ops 4 right now.

Avatar image for Barighm

@rekitraf: We do. What makes you think we don't?

Avatar image for rekitraf

@Barighm: nothing really. I've just seen more coverage on EA than I see with Activision. Don't get me wrong; I think they are all full of it. I'm just sick of the way they keep ripping people off.

Avatar image for Barighm

@rekitraf: Activision routinely puts out good games, though. Their strategy of over saturation and overpriced DLC sucks, but if the endless sequels are for an otherwise great game, then you're getting a lot of great games. Fans get what they want. Also, Kotick learned pretty quickly to STFU.

EA sequels go bad almost immediately after being controlled by EA.