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  QOTPA on EA...
March 5, 2008 at 9:52 pm

Queens of the Pwn Age

Many of you will know EA as a games publisher, releasing many games that are exceedingly popular. These range from The EA Sports series (designed mainly for lads and laddettes) to the ever-popular Sims series (designed for retards and people who find interior design interesting) but many of you may not be familiar with EA's internal workings, and the disdain that it treats we (gamers) with. Come closer and I shall show you. No, closer. A little closer…too close!

Mr Trip Hawkins originally founded EA back in 1982 as first of all a games publisher, before branching out into game development in the early 90's. It was one of the first true gaming corporations alongside Nintendo and Atari. Where it differed was it's marketing and branding, and also it's behaviour toward other smaller games developers.

EA has bought out many companies in it's lifetime, using them to create a game (which it then takes the credit for) before shutting down that development company and starts to live of the brand created by the first game. A few examples are Maxis, who developed The Sims games outside of EA, before being bought over and shut down. EA then went on to create exactly 1,000,000 boring expansions for the Sims, which stupid people will always go out and buy. Another example was Bullfrog, an ingenious company who released the fantastic Syndicate Wars and both Theme Hospital and Theme Park. Bullfrog no longer exists as EA did indeed buy them, then shut them down and release a series of derivative and inferior sequels to both these games. Fail!

On that note, EA's treatment of it's employees has also been brought into question more than once. The most famous instance being the EA Spouse Blog. Electronic Arts has been criticized for employees working extraordinarily long hours—up to 80 hours per week— and not just at "crunch" times leading up to the scheduled releases of products. The publication of the EA Spouse blog, with criticisms such as "The current mandatory hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.—seven days a week—with the occasional Saturday evening off for good behaviour (at 6:30 p.m.)". The company has since settled a class action lawsuit brought by game artists to compensate for "unpaid overtime". The class was awarded $15.6 million. As a result, many of the lower-level developers (artists, programmers, producers, and designers) are now working at an hourly rate. A similar suit brought by programmers was settled for $14.9 million. (I'd like to thank Wikipedia for that excellent bit of knowledge) on the topic actually, On August 15, 2007 it was revealed that IP addresses registered to EA had made changes to its Wikipedia entry favoring EA. The changes made included downplaying the importance of the founder of EA, Trip Hawkins, as well as playing up the importance of former CEO, Larry Probst. Other changes included attempts to remove information regarding the infamous EA Spouse scandal, which involved the poor treatment of workers. In addition, several paragraphs under criticism were removed completely. EA's response was that "Many companies routinely post updates on websites like Wikipedia to ensure accuracy of their own corporate information." It did not, however, address the specifics of the changes. Nice one there guys, stealthy!

EA also has ownership of almost ever major film-to-game releases (also known as utter shite) and the almost every major sports release (the annual EA sports games, FIFA, Madden, NBA etc). These annual releases highlight a very real problem with EA, in that the games are almost always the exact same bar some updated graphics, new team rosters and some new sound bites, with many of the mechanics actually dating back to the original SNES and Megadrive releases. So if you've played Madden NFL 07 (which I have) then you've pretty much played every Madden game ever released, including NFL 08. Fail!

But the rot doesn't stop there, oh no. EA also purchased Westwood studios, the utterly brilliant company behind both the Command & Conquer games, and the early Dune series (which is the mother of all modern RTS games). Westwood is now closed, and has been superseded EALA. Now while this studio did give us the quite frankly bollickingly good Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, it did trigger a massive backlash from the huge C&C fan base (bar me and Kenny, who think most C&C fans are twats) I have also learned (much to my horror) that EA have recently purchased Mythic Entertainment, the company currently responsible for Warhammer Online. It seems that EA want a slice of the MMORPG pie, and this does not bode well for the future of Mythic. Fail!

On the subject of online gaming, we shall view another of EA's failings, their flagrant disregard for their back catalogs and it's fans. You'll notice after logging onto an EA game that you need to log onto EA's main server, and on this server they will tell you that EA reserves the right to switch off servers at a moments notice, despite the perceived popularity of said game. Now all companies do the same, but not with the shocking frequency that EA do. Blizzard still keeps all its Warcraft servers open (the original RTS games) as well as the first Starcraft game (if they shut it down, I doubt South Korea would be able to function properly) and I bet it will keep those servers open after Starcraft 2 is release. Why? Because people still play the games, and Blizzard seem to realise this. Not so much with EA; Tiger Woods PGA 07, the older Madden and FIFA series, Burnout Revenge, Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, NBA Live, NASCAR and all the X-Box and PS2 versions of the Need for Speed games despite having huge user bases have all been shut down as recently as 2006 because EA wish to concentrate more on their more recent titles. Were as this wouldn't be a problem if the new games were better than their prequels, this is rarely the case (the god awful Burnout: Paradise and Need for Speed: Carbon being prime examples) Fail!

And now we come to it. The real point! The thing that EA does that really gets under my skin (and has the potential to turn me into a serial killer) EA have utterly no respect for the Playstation 3 market. Why? Well we're not really sure. Let me explain.

The Orange Box, perhaps one of the finest examples of how awesome gaming can be (contains Half-life 2 and it's following episodes, Portal and Team Fortress 2, so is essentially as perfect as most games will ever be) was released on the PC and X-Box 360 in October 2007 to much hales and applause. Both Valve and its sub contractor Steam handled these releases, the company selling the rights to release the PS3 version to EA. Now, while I love Valve and everything they do, they are a bunch of pretentious PC loving wankers, who believe that the PS3 medium is below them. Now while the PS3 has been recognised as more powerful than the X-Box and most home PC's (I said most Kenny, don't freak out, I know you have an Alienware) they still refused to handle the transfer themselves. Enter EA and their money grubbing claws. Not only was the PS3 version released last week (a bit late boys, yeah thanks) but also it has been released to universal panning from all and sundry. Now this could be because the staff at Microsoft is actually giving X-Box 360 and PC users oral sex whilst playing the games, and therefore everyone is a little bit biased toward anything that is being released on the PS3.

Now while EA has handled the transfer, I can report that the Orange Box on the PS3 is a success. A big late success, but a success nevertheless. I will be reviewing the Orange Box next week in a special PS3 only review, but I refuse to believe that EA ran into programming difficulties with transferring the Source Engine; an engine that will be 4 years old next October, and can even be handled by my rust-bucket of a PC but apparently holds problems for the 3.2 Ghz Cell Broadband Engine of the PS3. EA, I don't buy it. EA has continuously treated the PS3 market with contempt with poor conversions of their multi-format games, and also just passing up of some of it's games that you would expect to come to the PS3. On a funnier note, EA did approach 2K games in order to secure the PS3 conversion of Bioshock, and 2K essentially turned them down on the basis of their awful reputation (and yes for all you PS3 snobs out there, I would like Bioshock on the PS3, stop being twats)

Anyway, rant over, EA, you fail! Big time! There are paraplegic boxers with a lower rate of failure than you! FAIL!!!

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Queens of the Pwn Age said at March 5, 2008 at 10:01 pm:

BTW this is a slightly older article, we know TOB wasn't released last week :p

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