EA Talks "Worst Company in America" Controversy and How It's Changing
"As long as I draw breath, this will not happen again."
Even if it was just an online poll, being voted the "worst company in America" in 2012 and again in 2013 was something Electronic Arts had major problems with and took serious steps to correct. Executive editor Ian Sherr of GameSpot sister site CNET dives deep into the subject as part of a wide-ranging feature published today that offers an inside look into how EA got there, and how the company hopes to change in the future.
The story starts off with EA interim CEO Larry Probst's reaction when he found out his company received the ugly honor a second time. "It was a hideous thing," he said. One person speaking to CNET about that day said Probst "hit the roof."
Now, a year and a half later, Probst--who was brought on as interim CEO after John Riccitiello quit in March 2013--recalled what he told his senior staff at the time.
"The message I tried to deliver was, 'This will not happen again,'" Probst said. "'As long as I draw breath, this will not happen again.'"
Probst brought together a team of EA executives (he referred to it as a "rehabilitation group") for an important meeting in April 2013. Their directive was to systematically develop a set of policies regarding what EA could do differently to better address the concerns and desires of gamers.
In September 2013, Andrew Wilson was named the new EA CEO. Five months later, in February 2014, he assembled 146 of EA's top executives at the company's headquarters for a non-traditional meeting. The group came together for one purpose: to try to better understand why some customers were so upset with EA.
Sherr writes: "The group was led to the basketball court, which had been temporarily remade into a conference space with stations of computers and telephone lines. For hours, executives went through the steps of installing, troubleshooting, and playing the company's games. They also listened in on customer service calls so they could hear firsthand players' frustrations."
Wilson admitted that EA didn't always do a great job of thinking about what its business decisions meant "in the context of the player experience."