EA Goes Back to the Well in all the Wrong Ways
Look, I don’t like to get on the “bash EA” train. I am usually pretty forgiving of the big company. In most instances, I feel that perhaps they got a little bit of a raw deal. But recently I find it hard not to be critical. The loot box saga, the poor use of the Star Wars licence and the seeming lack of new ideas has me thinking that the business side of EA has lost sight of the goal posts, lost sight of their main audience. That feeling was cemented tonight after watching the EA Play conference for 2018.
Now I want to make this clear, EA still makes great games. Anthem looks wonderful, Battlefield is better than CoD (in my eyes anyway) and the EA Originals program is bringing some cracking indies to a wide audience. EA Sports titles are always pretty good (even the latest NBA Live was solid) and it seems that Loot boxes are a thing of the past. So there are some good points regarding EA, but to me, it is the companies leadership that causes the most concern and nothing highlights how out of touch they are more than Command and Conquer: Rivals.
Here we have a classic series, a franchise held in high regard, even awe, and EA has effectively tarnished the brand by slapping it on a mobile game. This is a franchise that gamers have been screaming for, a game they want to see return and all EA has done is disrespect that love. This mobile game could have been called anything else, anything at all and that would have been fine. It could even be the best mobile game ever made, but the fact is, every Command and Conquer fan on the planet now feels disregarded, feels let down. It just shows that EA, management at least, really has lost touch with their core fans.
This isn’t the first time that EA has pulled this trick either, let’s not forget the abomination the once great Dungeon Keeper became on mobiles. Another classic franchise ruined by management who wanted to leverage a cheap game off a classic IP. It is such a shame because EA has an immensely rich back catalogue at their disposal, a wonderful list of games that deserve new entries. But at this point, it seems like all we are going to get are mobile ports and nothing even close to an AAA experience.
Can you imagine Sony or Microsoft leaving IP like Dead Space, Crusader and Crysis collecting dust? Would Nintendo let Wing Commander and Alice sit in a back catalogue unused? Would Ubisoft ignore fans calls for a new Bad Company game? I find it hard to believe that they would. Those companies all make a point of listening to fans and trying to meet their desires if at all possible. EA seems to just be content to keep course and ignore the background noise of fans clamouring for something different from the big publisher, something outside of Sport and Battlefield.
All of these titles seem, to me at least, like easy wins. There are built-in fan bases and you only need to look to God of War to see what a good development studio can do with a classic franchise. For a company short on goodwill at the moment, you would think that easy wins would be something they are chasing, but sadly that just isn’t the case.
I hope that EA wakes up and wakes up soon. Some of my favourite games of all time are EA properties and they have some super talented development studios under their wing. It just seems like management is holding them back from their true potential. They need to find a way to juggle the business side of things like keeping shareholders happy, with the actual games side things. Both sides are essential to being successful and failure to manage the two, is what I fear will eventually bring EA down and I don’t think anyone wants that.