EA is the biggest game developer in the world. They’ve pioneered the rise of first-person shooters, releasing titles like Battlefield, Mass Effect, and Titanfall. But most of their success is due to their monopoly on the world of sports; they’ve dominated the sports game industry almost since its beginnings, creating globally popular franchises encompassing every major sport – FIFA, 2K, Madden, MLB, and the NHL. But as the years have gone on, EA’s control over the gaming market has slowly dwindled. New developers have entered onto the scene, and the video game market is now filled with competition and exciting releases. In addition, EA’s reputation has taken a huge hit, and the video game giant no longer seems so infallible. Let’s take a look at what went wrong for EA.
Poor games, bad reviews
While EA’s titles used to be some of the most highly regarded on the market, the quality of their releases has slowly deteriorated. Many of their first releases have received rave reviews. Games like Mass Effect, Titanfall, and Battlefield remain among the best in their genre; they were innovative, and they became huge hits among the gaming community. Unfortunately, the resounding opinion is that EA seems more concerned with profit than they do with the quality of the games. They seem all too content to release rushed sequels, many of which do not live up to their predecessors. Their monopoly on sports gaming allows them to release almost identical games every single year; with no alternatives, many consumers have no choice but to buy the new game if they wish to retain the online features. EA is not the same company they once were; they are sacrificing quality in favour of quantity, and gamers are looking for new avenues to find entertainment.
Where’s the customer service?
Another huge complaint regarding EA is their lack of customer service. Not only is their customer service itself bad – customers have to wait hours to speak to representatives unwilling to understand their complaints – but it seems like the players’ wishes are being ignored. Whereas other developers – Riot, Epic Games, Blizzard – listen to their customers and provide monthly and even weekly updates, EA doesn’t seem interested in doing the same. Complaints about EA’s releases, particularly Battlefront, prompted huge outrage in the community, but it took months and many petitions before the company finally started to address the issues. If EA wants to remain a powerhouse, they need to listen to their players; after all, their community is the only thing keeping them alive.
In-game purchases – Money vs. Fans
A huge issue, not only for EA, regards the dominance of in-app purchases within games. While the game itself may cost £50, in-game currency and DLCs can make the true cost much more exorbitant. Players have been known to spend thousands of dollars on these currencies, particularly on EA’s sports franchises, trying to collect the best players only to watch that money be wasted with the next year’s release. With EA’s titles so popular with younger generations, in-app purchases provide a scary opportunity to exploit their addiction. EA’s harshest criticism came with Battlefront II. After EA decided to block popular characters behind paywalls, fans took to the forums, with millions complaining about EA’s unfair and rigged system. While the company eventually took down the paywalls, their relationship with the community has been scarred. The question remains: is EA more concerned with the money or with their fans?
Concerns for the future
Stock price tanking
While EA has experienced significant growth in the last few years, their stock price has taken a tumble recently. In just two months, EA’s price has gone from $149 to $113, almost a 25% decrease. Their decision to delay Battlefield V troubled investors and EA paid the price, their market cap decreasing by over 10 billion dollars. In fact, EA isn’t even the most valuable gaming company in the world; Activision has surged during EA’s decline, and their market cap is almost double that of EA. EA’s failures have had very real consequences, particularly in the market, and the company needs to get back on track.
As mentioned previously, EA was forced to push Battlefield V’s release back by over a month, following concerns that the game wouldn’t perform as well as anticipated. Competition from Activision’s Black Ops 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2 seriously hurt pre-order sales, and fans simply didn’t seem as interested as EA had hoped. This isn’t the first time that EA has been forced to delay the release of a new title. Anthem, one of EA’s most anticipated releases, was delayed until 2019 – although EA officials were hesitant to call it a delay. The same thing occurred with EA’s Star Wars title – a game that was set to take place in the Star Wars universe as a sort of compliment to their Battlefront series. EA’s various teams seem in disarray; release dates are constantly being pushed back, and they aren’t receiving the same support that they are used to.
Can they recover?
So can EA recover? Can the world’s biggest game developer prove that they deserve that title? Can they bring EA back to the heights it was once at and address the concerns of their gaming community? They most certainly can. Firstly, EA’s monopoly over the sports franchises allows them certain advantages. They have almost complete control over these titles, and they can rest assured knowing that they should be safe for the time being. If they can continue improving their games and keep their fans happy, their stranglehold over the sector remains an incredibly powerful weapon and a great source of income. Secondly, EA needs to take the time to make quality games. They can’t rush their releases; if this means more delays, then so be it. A quality game will beat a poor one every single time. EA was founded on some of the best games to ever be released, and they need to create games that they’re truly proud of. But finally, EA needs to listen to its players. They need to be willing to accept advice, and most of all, they need to be open to change. The video game industry is changing, and EA needs to become a leader in innovation. EA is one of the biggest developers in the world, and for the sake of gamers all around the world, they need to return to what made them great in the first place – giving their fan base the amazing games they deserve.