Electronic Arts, Clueless Again

Electronic Arts have been floundering these last few years. I have appreciated some of their output – PvZ: Garden Warfare, Star Wars Battlefront, and Battlefield 1 come to mind – but there’s no denying that they are completely oblivious to how they should be conducting business. Their tactics have proven to be some of the most aggressive in the industry, and no matter how many times gamers have told them they aren’t interested in being fleeced, the publisher has flat out refused to listen.

Madden continually wrecks its brand with heavier implementation of ultimate cards. Star Wars: Battlefront required a season pass to feel like a complete game. In response, the sequel didn’t have a season pass, but planned to feature a heavy enough grind to entice you to spend money via microtransactions. Battlefield V followed the same path, but had a lot of missing content at the time of launch.

More than that, they take third party development companies under their wing until they’re smothered to the point of closure. They’re also really poor at planning in general, as they’ve set some pretty horrendous and damning launch windows for notable titles (Titanfall 2 was wedged smack dab in the middle of two monstrous releases, for example).

So it’s been no surprise to standers by that EA’s stock has dropped substantially on a year-to-date basis. At the time of writing, the company’s stock is heading towards the largest single-day percentage decline since December of 1999 (information from MarketWatch), and how do they respond?

By blaming the prioritization of Battlefield V’s single-player campaign as opposed to the as-yet unreleased battle royale mode.

That’s right, they believe this game sold one million copies below expectation because they didn’t have battle royale available at launch.

As usual, EA just don’t get it. I mean, they SAY they do, but it’s all lip-service to satisfy their investors:

“A combination of a poor start in our marketing campaign together with what I think was a longer development cycle that put us into a more competitive window and the amplification that competitive window against of those underperformance factors is how we resulted in ‘Battlefield’,” said EA president Andrew Wilson during their most recent conference call.

Come on, Andrew. It’s not like this is coming out of left field. Your company has been on a downward slope for a while. This ‘oh, we know what we did wrong and will change in the future’ shtick clearly isn’t fooling your backers.

Now personally, I do believe there’s a little room for a battle royale experience gated behind a $60 price tag… as long as other content is included to justify it, but Call of Duty had already scratched that itch. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is still a thing and costs substantially less, but free-to-play is unquestionably where it’s at… you know, because it’s free. Fortnite has become a real monster in this industry as result (credit is also due for being genuinely fun and nice to look at), and better yet, all the items you’d unlock with real world money are cosmetic.

‘Free’ and ‘no pay-to-win’ is music to the ears of gamers everywhere.

But do you know what’s really confusing in the grand scheme of things?

Despite hedging so much on Battlefield V’s last-man-standing mode, EA were planning to launch their own free-to-play battle royale all along, as evidenced by the surprise release of Apex Legends (developed by the Titanfall crew).

How would DICE’s game have ever competed?

It was never going to, is the short and thick of it.

Sure, maybe including battle royale on day one would have sold a few more copies, but it wouldn’t have come close to filling the million copy deficit EA are scratching their heads over.

Why they’re scratching their heads anyway, I have no idea. The gaming community at large knows EXACTLY what happened, so why don’t they?

What really affected sales was poor marketing, PR, and their release strategy.

The early trailers didn’t capture the essence of Battlefield in any way, shape, or form.

Electronic Arts also alienated prospective buyers by telling them if they were upset with the inclusion of female soldiers to ‘just not buy the game.’ Personally, I’m fine with that message, but from a business perspective, if you tell irrational idiots to not buy your product, you can’t look for a scapegoat when they decide to, you know, actually listen to you.

Also, Electronic Arts should really move competitive shooters out of that October-to-November window anyway. Call of Duty dominates it each and every year, and that’s not going to change. So basically, stop trying to beat them at their own game. I know the holidays are a prime sales period and they want as much of that pie as possible, but asking people to commit to two major FPS franchises in a short time frame is a lot.

And most of important of all:

Maybe, just maybe, they should treat their customers with respect. Don’t say ‘we hear you’ and then blatantly continue to screw people over (this isn’t unique to EA, but they’re definitely one of the worst offenders). Thanks to Electronic Arts, governments across the globe are evaluating their business models to see if they’re even legal… and spoiler alert, it hasn’t been going particularly well for them, as they’ve been forced to remove loot boxes from FIFA in Belgium.

EA aren’t in danger of going extinct or anything, but they clearly need to listen to feedback the gaming community has been providing them if they want to be on an upswing again. That means stopping the lip service and actually showing people – consumers and investors alike – that they’ll use a combination of good games AND good will to create a loyal fan base. I doubt it’ll happen, but only time will tell.

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GREATNESS DELAYED Podcast: Post E3 2015 Impressions Panels

That’s right, we finally have an official name for the podcast:  GREATNESS DELAYED.  And it stems from this very podcast, which was recorded late in the evening of June 20th, 2015.  Joined by Gabe, Garrett, Gus and Josh (the latter of which was front row for Microsoft’s conference)… it was something a small miracle, and everyone was well spoken, and we all had a blast talking about what matters most:  GAMES!  ENJOY!

Audio Download

Why Do You Play Video Games? A PBS Game Show Response

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Why do you play video games?

That question seems a bit absurd, I know, but I ask because every once in a while, I find myself in the thick of a quantity vs. quality debate. It’s an important conversation to have, for sure, as countless games have been padded to manipulate our perception of value. However, these discussions often take such a disheartening turn, that I can’t help but feel like I’ve wandered into an alternate dimension, one that could only befit an episode of The Twilight Zone. Expectations of gaming are going to vary from person to person, sure, but there are certain arguments I’ll just never be able to wrap my head around. Jamin Warren, host of the PBS Game Show, is my latest source of bewilderment, because he’s making the case that video games are too long.

I was intrigued to see if Mr. Warren could produce a reasonable argument in his video segment, but it took less than a minute before my eyes had rolled to the back of my skull.

To showcase the extreme amount of time we, as gamers, have to invest if we’re to play through today’s hottest games, he begins by pointing a finger at Forza Horizon 2, which takes about 10 to 15 hours to complete. Personally, I wouldn’t classify that as a long game, but to each their own.

Next, he brings up the considerably longer Grand Theft Auto V remaster, which boasts at least 30-35 hours of gameplay. Acknowledging he’s already played through the last-gen iteration, he’s still willing to tackle the lengthy heist drama once more.

Now, this is where my head begins to spin. Not because he’s willing to invest up to 70 hours on a single title, but because he’s already invalidated his opening argument. A 15 hour game is, apparently, too much to handle… yet he’s justifying a 35 hour game – twice, no less – merely because he likes it.

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Of course, in the same breath, he has to go that extra sensationalist mile with Dragon Age: Inquisition, as he says the prospect of its 40 to 80 hour campaign made him ‘weep inside’.

So, one 70 hour investment is fine, yet the other is not?

But then things get interesting:

“Games are, far and away, on average, longer than any other medium on the planet. For example, during the 276 hours that this Tumblr user spent playing Call of Duty, I could watch every movie on the AFI 100, finish the works of Tolstoy, and listen to most of the major works of 20th century pop music.”

He goes on to explain that while video games are a wonderful way to spend our time, it’s hard for a responsible adult to squeeze in such drastic minimum completion times, as we still have to juggle family, friends, work, etc. As a result, at least according to him, this is why only 10 to 20 percent of people ever complete their games. I’d like to respect the correlation he’s making, because there’s undoubtedly a link between completion rate and the amount of time people have in their day-to-day lives, but I have to wonder how sincere his ‘games are fine’ asterisk is when he follows up his train of thought with:

“So I can’t help but notice when I feel like games are wasting my time.”

He immediately goes into some explanation about how other forms of entertainment don’t require your undivided attention. You can simultaneously listen to music and read a book, for example.

Subjective.

I’ll agree that music can be more liberating than other media, but it depends on the person. There are plenty of people who don’t just use music as background noise, but as something to become immersed by. As far as books go, some can deal with distractions, while others can’t. Also, the pace at which each individual reads should be taken into consideration. According to my Kindle, I still have 13 hours left on a Stephen King novel I’m reading, but I’m sure there’s people who could probably knock it out in half the time. Film and television are also ingested in a variety of ways. Point is, no one person is alike, so blanket statements need to be left out of the equation, here.

He then states that the medium is experiencing a ‘crisis of audience’. Games now appeal to most age groups, and naturally, they all carry a different set of expectations based on their lifestyle. They all want different things.

That’s a crisis? We’ve reached a point in time where games aren’t seen by most as children’s toys… and that’s a crisis?

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

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There has ALWAYS been a great deal of diversity amongst video games. You could seek what lurks in the dungeons of The Legend of Zelda, or collect fruit in the preciously adorable Bubble Bobble. Enter a castle dripping with atmosphere in Castlevania, or hop on a pogo stick as ‘Unca Scrooge’ in Ducktales. Get your face hacked off by Jason in Friday the 13th, or roam around in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Regardless of what someone sees through their rose colored glasses, there was a variety of gameplay at the ready, and not a single game was beloved by everyone. But, because video games have only become more diversified over time, there is something for everyone.

But, you know, that’s apparently a BAD thing.

Mr. Willen even goes as far to suggest that games come equipped with a story slider – very much like the ones we use for graphics and difficulty – to reduce or extend a game’s narrative. This would allow for any given game to adapt to what WE require, and not the other way around. For example, those who are turned off by the beefy Dragon Age campaign would now have reason to play it.

Now THAT’S a slippery slope if I ever heard one.

Let’s say they did this. Let’s say Dragon Age: Inquisition offered a ‘story slider’. If you abridged the story, you’d have to alter the game mechanics too, wouldn’t you? I mean, how could that even be done? The entire game would have to be re-invented multiple times to suit multiple types of gamers. Keep in mind the devs spent at LEAST three years to bring this game, as is, to retail. To ask that they retool EVERYTHING to appeal to whatever YOUR schedule dictates, would seemingly add a lot of unnecessary time – not to mention cost – to the development cycle. That means MONEY, Mr. Willen. Where would the cost of extra time and resources get passed down to? You guessed it. The consumer. Do we really need to give publishers another reason to inflate the overall cost of games?

Now, as far as game length is concerned… well, that’s nothing new, either. Many classic platformers can be beaten within a couple of hours, and there wasn’t much accommodation. Many of these games had no saves, no passwords, nothing. Just you, the controller, and whatever the game had in store. But we also had Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III on the SNES), in which the primary quest could take 35 hours. Including side quests, you could easily have a 40 to 50 hour game on your hands.

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And besides, even the SHORT games could chew up lots of time. I mean, you can technically beat Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts in less than 2 hours, but personally, I’ve NEVER been able to beat that game legit. I still play it to this day though, and I’ve probably invested well over 100 hours of my life to it.

So, who cares if Dragon Age takes 40 or even 80 hours?

I understand that life doesn’t leave much time for gaming. Most nights I only play for an hour or two, and sometimes not at all. Does that mean developers should compromise their vision to appease me? Absolutely not. It’s no secret that Dragon Age, or many of the other lengthy games out there, require a substantial investment. If you don’t want to invest the time, then don’t. Don’t buy a game if you think it’s too demanding for your lifestyle. That’s the beauty of having so many diverse experiences available in the marketplace. If one game doesn’t meet your needs, there’s plenty that will.

As a side note, despite my lack of time, I still play really long games. If I want to play it, I see no reason to skip it. Sure, it’ll take an extremely long time to beat them, but I’m fine with that. I mean, what’s the rush anyway? To get it out of the way so I can move on to the next? Personally, if a game is fun enough, I’ll see it through to the end. Know when I will step away? When it stops being fun. Otherwise, I’ll be content knowing my $60 investment could last for MONTHS.

Anyway, Mr. Willen argues that even if you DO have a lot of time on your hands, it’s still a precious commodity that shouldn’t be wasted on side quests.

Again, subjective.

Who’s to say what should constitute a waste of time for ANY of us? Some people really like the side stuff, and for a variety of reasons, at that.

One person cannot judge how valuable a game’s content is, or isn’t, for anyone else. Same goes for our tastes in books, music, and film. Some think The Lord of the Rings – as written by JRR Tolkien – is a literary masterpiece. Others believe it’s needlessly padded with an overwhelming amount of detail. Some people prefer listening to single songs, while others prefer the experience of a complete album. You can’t please everyone, right? Right. So, let the artists bring their vision to the table, and let the consumer decide what’s right for them. There doesn’t need to be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Choice is the spice of life, after all. But, hey, if that’s what you want, guess what? There’s plenty of games that already do that, and more are on the way.

Which reminds me that Mr. Willen conveniently ignores something else, though. If quick satisfaction is what you need, there’s already an entire market dedicated to you: Mobile gaming. If you own a tablet, phablet or cell phone, the options at your disposal are almost limitless. There are games that cater to those with only mere minutes to play. If you like the episodic style of Telltale Games, their titles are compatible with virtually every modern device. If you want truncated versions of major AAA console titles, mobile has that, too. Dead Space, Mass Effect, Battlefield, Hitman, Madden, Call of Duty, and Batman have all made the jump to smaller screens.

So, let’s address the elephant in the room: Is Mr. Willen even all that interested in gaming anymore?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying he needs his ‘gamer card’ revoked, or anything like that. But, what’s the most important part of any game? The gameplay… which is ironic, because this PBS Game Show host no longer seems to care about that aspect of the experience. No, he just wants to get in, get out, and walk away with a satisfying narrative… which is fine.

What’s NOT fine, however, is that he’s asking for a complete overhaul of the industry mold, and he’s doing so without considering the repercussions. I mean, let’s say developers around the world began catering to the ‘short and sweet’ crowd en masse. Polygon’s Ben Kuchera – who tends to agree with most of Mr. Willen’s argument – implies this could lead to consumer savings:

“A shorter game can be made for less money which leads to lower prices which means more people buy it… and so on.”

But does that even remotely echo reality? Mr. Willen’s specifically addressing AAA console games, but would publishers like Ubisoft, Activision and Electronic Arts REALLY reduce the price of their games if they cost less to produce? Of course not. One needs to look no further than Call of Duty, an annual franchise featuring 5 hour campaigns and a minimal multiplayer experience out of the box… unless you buy a season pass, of course. And yet, this game has the same MSRP as the time-consuming behemoth that is Dragon Age. If anything, I think these companies will stick with the $60 price tag regardless, and bank their savings from development to improve profit margins.

And since we’re talking about money, EA’s fiscal 2015 third quarter earnings call held some intriguing info about Dragon Age: Inquisition… You know, the game allegedly too daunting for the masses:

“Dragon Age: Inquisition captivated fans and critics worldwide as it launched in November, and it quickly became the most successful launch in BioWare history. More than 113 million hours have already been spent exploring the depth and detail of the single-player experience in Dragon Age: Inquisition, and more players are joining each day. Named “Game of the Year” by 32 media outlets around the world, including IGN, Game Informer and the Associated Press, Dragon Age: Inquisition is a true masterpiece from the team at BioWare and a game that is sure to be played for a long time to come.”

“In particular, Dragon Age: Inquisition had by far the most successful launch in BioWare’s history, exceeding our expectations. In addition, game sales for last-generation consoles were also much stronger than we had anticipated.”

“Outperformance versus our outlook was driven by the record-breaking Dragon Age: Inquisition performance.”

Not that there’s a strong correlation between game sales and game quality, as hype can go a long, long way… but Dragon Age is a well-established franchise. The devs themselves even more so, thanks to their success with the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Baldur’s Gate, and Mass Effect series. People knew what they were getting into.

More than anything, I think this shows that Mr. Willen doesn’t truly understand what gamers want… just what HE wants.

So, in retrospect, maybe the question isn’t why do YOU play video games – since we see the kind of a response that elicits – but why do WE play video games? As I’ve gone through painstaking detail to point out, there isn’t a simple answer for that. Never has been, never will be. We ALL have our preferences, and as we grow and mature, those preferences are likely to change. As a result, self-inventory should take a large role in our internal conversation, especially if you’re echoing the sentiment that games are too long, wasting your time, and find yourself rushing through them ‘just because’. Games should not be, as Mr. Willen puts it, a chore. Yes, some games are needlessly padded, but this happens across all mediums.

At the end of the day, it’s up to the INDIVIDUAL to decide what’s best for THEM.

EA Access… To The Future?

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It’s a scene still fresh in the minds of consumers worldwide: Don Mattrick takes the stage. The room goes silent. Xbox One is revealed… and gamers balk.

The internet exploded with such ferocity, I was surprised the amount of virtual ink expelled hadn’t caused the collapse of our planet. But, why all the rage? Well, there were concerns that the new Kinect would double as Microsoft’s tap into our personal lives… which is hilarious when you think about how many people have broadcast themselves doing the horizontal Macarena (via Twitch and Ustream) on the PS4. But that’s neither here nor there. What really burned their asses was the idea that renting, borrowing or trading physical copies of games would become a thing of the past. Yes, Microsoft ignored the writing on the wall, and they paid a pretty hefty price for it. I mean, it isn’t exactly rocket science. Consumers want fair prices, convenience and flexibility. What did Microsoft come to the table with? High prices, convenience for a single market (the United States), and little-to-no flexibility.

But hey, I’m not trying to turn this into a Microsoft bitch-fest. No, all I’m saying is that they could have played a big part in making digital THE attractive next-gen business model, but blew it by opening shop in the middle of a torch and pitchfork store. Furthermore, Microsoft’s failure didn’t just hurt them, but the many publishers that were hoping to reclaim a chunk of the profit that Gamestop – and other retailers that have entered the used game market – have taken from them. So, while it’s clear that consumers don’t want a DRM machine in their living room just yet, that isn’t stopping big names in the industry from continuing to push their all-digital agenda.

Enter Electronic Arts, a company that’s come under fire within the last year for launching the oh, so broken Battlefield 4, not to mention the money hungry – and review score manipulating – Dungeon Keeper. Of course, the average consumer has already forgotten about such things. At this point, it’s ancient history. Water under the bridge. People have been conditioned to accept the business models that allow pay-to-play and even buggy content to thrive with little-to-no consequence, so what happens when another new business model rolls out? There are some that either love it or loathe it, but by and large, there’s a passive ‘take it or leave it’ attitude that permeates the gaming community, or at least a sizable chunk of it. All too often I’ve seen legitimate concerns waved off with such justifications as, “This is the future, so get with the times.” Or the classic, “That’s just the way things are, man.” People certainly have the right to care as little or as much as they want, so I’m not going to go off the deep end, suggesting they take time out of their busy lives to become industry activists. Instead, I implore each and every one of you to, at the very least, pay close attention to EA’s latest venture…

…And its name? EA Access.

It’s a subscription based model on the Xbox One that begins by offering consumers a ‘choice’. For $4.99 a month or $30 a year, you’ll be granted access to the EA Vault. Games contained within are yours to download and play for the length of your membership, which is a fantastic deal provided you don’t already own the four titles provided at launch (Madden 25, Fifa 14, Battlefield 4 and Peggle 2). There will be additional titles added in the future, of course, and once they’re placed in the EA Vault, that’s where they’ll stay for the program’s duration. Additional benefits include a 10% discount on all EA digital content – meaning games and DLC – as well as the ability to play upcoming titles five days before their official release (albeit for a limited time).

As it currently stands, EA Access is a smart idea that acts a win-win for almost everyone. I mean, to have access to an entire library of AAA titles for only $30 a year, delivered straight to your console? With discounts on games and DLC, to boot? Does it get more consumer friendly than that? Let’s see: Fair prices? Check. Convenience? Check. Flexibility? Check. Furthermore, it makes the prospect of PS Now pale in comparison. Sony said they intentionally shied away from EA Access because it was a ‘bad value’, but who are they kidding? This IS value, and I think people are going to sign up in droves to take as much advantage of it as they can.

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From a business standpoint, one might ask how EA are able to take games that are roughly a year old – because no, you’ll never receive the latest and greatest right out of the gate, because that wouldn’t make much sense – and throw them in a single package for such a cheap price. You’d expect they’d lose money, right? Well, fact of the matter is that because of Gamestop and various other retailers – hell, even Wal-Mart has joined the used game brigade – titles that have been out for nearly a year are virtually worthless, at least for the publisher. Most people are likely going to visit Gamestop and save some money by purchasing a used copy, and publishers like Electronic Arts never see a dime of that. So, basically, this program acts as the perfect lure to pull people away from the temptation of secondhand game shops. Why pay $20 for a single title when you can have access to an entire library for just a little more? Seems like an easy decision to me.

So yes, there’s many positives about EA Access. As it stands right now, gamers win, the publisher wins, and everyone’s happy. So, why do I have such a hard time being happy for ‘everyone’?

The short and simple answer is history. Looking back at the last couple generations of gaming, there’s an obvious domino effect. One idea always leads to another. What’s ‘well enough’ is almost never left alone.
Although it wasn’t the first console to offer DLC, Xbox was probably the most notable to do so. Why? Because while third parties were offering digital content for free, Microsoft published games sold their content for a nominal fee. Fast forward a bit, and along comes the Xbox 360. A great console, for sure, but thanks to the success of paid DLC on the OG Xbox, it was designed with microtransactions and DLC in mind. To start, they locked multiplayer behind a pay wall. Yes, if you wanted to play online, you had to pony up some dough for an Xbox Live Gold membership. Most, if not all publishers, joined the ‘charging for DLC’ party as well… but what if you didn’t feel comfortable using your credit card on the internet? Microsoft countered such concern with a ‘points as currency’ system, so all you had to do was hit up your local retailer for pre-loaded Xbox Live cards.

Sony had also ‘evolved’ over the last generation of gaming. Seeing the potential in digital revenue, they introduced the Playstation Store alongside the PS3. Fortunately, they were smart enough to keep multiplayer access free of any pay wall. Sony were undoubtedly envious of all the profit Microsoft reaped with Xbox Live Gold however, so they eventually decided to get in on the action… and POOF. Just like that, Playstation Plus was born. Sony didn’t want to echo what Microsoft were doing to a ‘T’, so instead, they tried to entice people with features and content. PS+ allowed demos and updates to download automatically, and granted access to content such as betas, storage in the cloud, full retail trials (timed demos) and ‘free’ games. Skip ahead to the launch of the PS4, and Sony have finally succumbed to locking multiplayer behind a PS+ membership.

In short, competition may keep the ball rolling, but not always for the best. Multiplayer, once free, became a critical tool for monetization. Digital content began as something small, but individual pieces were inevitably thrown into packs, and those packs are now bundled and pre-sold as season passes.

There are certainly exceptions to ‘the rule’, but the patterns are clear: We’re paying more money for the same amount of content, and throwing cash at services that never should have been behind a pay wall in the first place. That’s what businesses do, though… make money. If they want to KEEP making money, they have to mold us into ‘better customers’. And what’s the best method for that? The long con. They chip away at us little by little so we KEEP saying to ourselves, “Huh, that’s interesting. Well, that’s just the way it is, I suppose…”

And that’s why I’m concerned about EA Access. Sure, it’s a great deal today, but what about tomorrow? What are we giving up for the sake of a bargain? Can this really be good for gamers in the long run?

Doubtful.

I can’t predict the future, but I know this much: When a company reveals a great new business model – which EA Access seems to be – the rest will come running. Over the next 7 or 8 years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Activision, Ubisoft and various others produce something similar. They’ll do everything in their power to convince people they have the best value, so things could get messy in a hurry.

How about a boost in XP? There goes balanced multiplayer. Exclusive DLC for subscribers? Great, even more content behind a pay wall. Exclusive access to games before they’re released?

Oh, wait… EA Access has already done that.

Looking even further ahead, I suspect this will allow consumers to be more comfortable with the prospect of an all-digital future. The implication here is that the next generation of consoles will likely be the very DRM machines we fought so vehemently against back in 2013.

Or not. Who knows?

EA Access could turn out to be a rare flower amongst a sea of decay, a step the company hopes will grant them a bit of good will with gamers worldwide. As I said, I can’t predict the future, and I don’t expect everyone who reads this editorial to agree with my predictions. That said, our money is what ultimately speaks to the publishing companies of the world. If you appreciate EA Access for what it is today, tell EA you support it by signing up… just consider what it could mean to the industry overall if this program turns out to be a huge success.

Opinion-Bytes: More for Moore, Less for Us

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Recently, Peter Moore had a chat with computerandvideogames.com, and had some, uh, ‘interesting’ things to say. For those unfamiliar with the name, he’s the Chief Operating Officer of Electronic Arts. They’re one of the largest publishers in the industry, but they’re often criticized for placing more importance on money than a great final product, and rightfully so. As much as I hate to sound like a broken record, Battlefield 4’s botched launch is a perfect example of this. Hell, it STILL has kinks to be worked out, up to and including the single player campaign’s save file corruption issue.

Anyhoo, the article begins on a seemingly harmless note: EA’s COO believes that traditional gamers will take longer to convince that new innovations will be beneficial.

It’s a fair enough point on the surface, but this amounts to little more than PR speak. What Peter Moore is saying ever so delicately, is that the industry is fine and that the gaming community has something of a perception issue. The man genuinely believes our issues stem from mythical pairs of nostalgia goggles, enchanted with liberal amounts of anger and hatred (obviously). Of course, that’s the purpose of PR banter, isn’t it? To provide a sprinkle of truth and ignore the elephant in the room? To lull the less informed into an altered state of reality?

To be fair, there’s a pretty nasty vocal minority out there, but is this unique to the world of gaming? Of course not. Thanks to the anonymity of the internet, the meek finally have an outlet where they can puff their chests out and spew their negativity. Unfortunately, their words carry a bit more weight than most because they’re the loudest, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair to throw a blanket over the gaming community as a whole. Most of us are rational and – gasps, imagine this! – can actually think for ourselves!

I’m 31 years old, so I’ve used rotary dial phones, pagers, cameras that use actual film, and remember what life was like without the internet. I’ve always been one to embrace new technology, but over the last five years or so I’ve found myself actually resisting (some) new technological fads. Is this because I’m older and feeling a bit overwhelmed by all this newfangled technology? Perhaps, but after taking self-inventory, I came back to the realization that I have reasons for liking the things I like, and why I couldn’t care less for the things I don’t.

For example, I’m not big on tablets. I’m just not. When I’m out and about, I have no need to play games or movies, and if I need to connect to the internet, my iPhone is quite capable of the task. For me, there’s simply no value in a tablet. When I DO have time for such activities, I’m usually hovering around my PC or home entertainment center.

On the flip side of the coin, I do love me some black and white e-readers. Thanks to my Kindle Paperwhite, I don’t think I could ever go back to paper and ink. I mean, most books – be it paperback or hardcover – are a pain in the ass to hold, at least in bed. Not my Kindle, though. Also, the backlight is easy on my eyes in a dark room, and I no longer have to disturb my wife with the bedside lamp. Best of all, having all my books on a single device means there’s no clutter to worry about.

I also shied away from motion sensing technology such as the Kinect. It’s a fine concept, sure, but there was nothing about it that made me leap out of my chair to proclaim, “I must own this! I don’t know how I’ve lived without it!” No, not even the ability to shout “FUS RO DAH!” in Skryim made me so much as flinch. Even the Xbox One’s Kinect – while closer to the mark – failed to make itself relevant. The PS4 camera is even less useful, unless you have children at home that want to kick those little robots around.

MooreNoLikey

So, yes, I’ve been a little resistant to things that have come along in recent years, but there’s a single word I can use to explain why: Practicality. Hell, I’d imagine that’s why so many of you might have been resistant to this, that or the other thing. So, when Peter Moore tries to label us as keyboard trolls in the most diplomatic way possible, I’m not only going to call him out on it, but I’ll lay waste to his reasoning and expose the agenda he’s REALLY attempting to push.

So alright, let’s break this down:

“I think we’re going into almost a golden age of gaming, where it doesn’t matter where you are, at any time, any place, any price point, any amount of time, there’s a game available to you,” Moore said. “And our job as a company is to provide those game experiences. And then on our big franchises, tie them all together.”

Alright. So far, so good.

“I think the challenge sometimes is that the growth of gaming… there’s a core that doesn’t quite feel comfortable with that. Your readers, the industry in particular. I don’t get frustrated, but I scratch my head at times and say, ‘Look. These are different times.’”

Well, there it is… the beginning of Peter Moore’s Bullshit Stew. He makes it sound like there’s a faction of gamers out there that just want to sit in their caves, beat their chests and play Bubble Bobble from now until the end of time. Let’s be clear, though – Peter more isn’t talking about resistance to the technological advances in gaming:

“And different times usually evoke different business models.”

Aaaaand there it is. While he’s selling us a story about gamers being afraid of innovation, the reality is that gamers just really hate being screwed over. Apparently, we’re supposed to LOVE paying more money for less content, paying full price for games that don’t work at launch, and enjoy EA’s library of extortionate ‘free to play’ titles (I’m looking at you, Dungeon Keeper).

But wait, there’s more!!!

“Different consumers come in. They’ve got different expectations. And we can either ignore them or embrace them, and at EA, we’ve chosen to embrace them.”

Of COURSE he’s chosen to embrace them! They’ve allowed his company to make money hand over fist! And just so there’s no confusion – When he says ‘different consumers come in’, he’s referring to the younger crowd or people who are new to the gaming scene in general. ‘Different expectations’ is code for hoping the less informed have ZERO expectation. After all, that’s the demographic that has the highest probability of being taken for a ride… but what about the vast majority that speak out against the ‘less for more’ business model?
Well, Mr. Moore goes on to state that the game industry can’t go down the same troubled path as the music biz, and if they hope to survive, the industry should come together on these practices in a unified front.

And…

“I don’t think anybody has to like it,” Moore said. “I think that’s where it goes. It’s like me: I get grumpy about some things, but if the river of progress is flowing and I’m trying to paddle my canoe in the opposite direction, then eventually I’m just going to lose out. From the perspective of what needs to happen in this industry, we need to embrace the fact that billions of people are playing games now.”

I mean, it doesn’t get any more transparent than this, folks. Not that you need it, but allow me to indulge in a translation for that last doozy of a quote:

“There’s billions of people out there playing video games. What, are we not SUPPOSED to do everything in our power to separate them from their money? Yeah, our customers will complain about being nickel-and-dimed, but if the industry as a whole follows the same game plan, they’ll learn to deal with it… I mean, they’ll have to. They’ll have no other choice.”

And that’s why Mr. Moore’s comments have drawn so much negative feedback. We, the gaming community, aren’t stupid. We know when we’re being conditioned to accept the industry’s self-serving business models. And don’t get me wrong… I know the industry is, first and foremost, a business. The goal of any business is to make money, and I’m pretty sure nobody has a problem with that. No, the ‘core gamer’ has a problem with HOW they’ve chosen to acquire it. Companies like EA are forcing their abhorrent policies on us until we relent. They’re hearing the discontent that’s shouted today, sure, but they’re counting on our voice growing quieter by the day, until we’ve had enough and decide to accept things ‘because that’s the way they are’.

That’s not to say I’m against all DLC or micro transactions, because I’m not. There’s a lot of great DLC that’s been introduced over the years, such as Far Cry 3’s Blood Dragon or Outlast’s Whistleblower. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare features micro transactions, but because in-game currency is earned quick enough through standard gameplay, I never felt like there was a paywall block.

What I AM saying, is that each and every one of you should scrutinize digital content before committing your hard earned money to it. Look at reviews, message boards, and talk to your friends. Think about what it means when you open your wallet and tell a publisher, “I guess I’m cool with paying more money to fill out game that didn’t feel complete at the $60 price point.” Then, and ONLY then, will the likes of Peter Moore get the hint.

Never underestimate the voice of the gaming community. If we were able to make Microsoft change virtually every anti-consumer policy the Xbox One was to originally offer, I’m positive there’s much more we could accomplish.

Never settle for complacency.