It’s been a while since Electronic Arts was the video game villain of the moment, but on Thursday the FIFA publisher sucked up all the oxygen in the room thanks to a bad joke made worse by the company’s murderous history. If there is a gaming mega corporation Out there who shouldn’t have been taking casual shots of single player games is the one with a track record of shutting down the studios that make them and disrupting multiplayer releases full of microtransactions and loot boxes.
“They’re a 10, but they just like playing single-player games,” EA Posted at 19:33 It was a play on a meme which first blew up on TikTok in early June and was already losing momentum on Twitter late last week. It also quickly drew a lot of jeers. “It’s understandable that you’re unfamiliar with the concept of 10s.” answered forbes“Paul Tassi. “You managed anthem. I’m just stating a fact here.” answered the Washington Post‘s gene park.
EA’s first post has already received over 9,000 comments and 11,000 quote tweets. Some pointed out that single-player games are among EA’s most popular and well-recognized, such as: The Sims and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Respawn boss Vince Zampella, who is currently supervising Star Wars Jedi: SurvivorShe simply responded to the post with a face-palm emoji. A few hours later, the company tapped out. “A well deserved roast,” they say wrote. “We take that L because playing single player games actually makes them an 11.”
But EA’s social media faux pas was more than just ordinary branding spasms. It struck a chord because of the publisher’s uniquely checkered history of cutting and burning its way to record revenues. In 2012, the company made $4.1 billion. Last year it made nearly $7 billion. This growth was primarily driven by the doubling of multiplayer live service games such as FIFA, Driving me crazyand Apex Legends, and finding new ways to monetize them through sophisticated microtransaction shops, season passes, and loot boxes.
At the same time, EA was brutal in investing in new studios later turn them off thereby canceling their ambitious but risky projects. The most notorious example of this was Visceral Games. Formerly EA Redwood, the studio made the critically acclaimed Empty room series only to later see it was scrapped when it failed to meet sales expectations after becoming bogged down in multiplayer and microtransactions. Visceral later began work on a single player war of stars play with Unexplored Writer Amy Hennig called
Project Ragtag, but Visceral was switch off instead in 2017 and Ragtag has been cancelled.
Ragtag was troubled from the start, but the shutdown and cancellation also became a lightning rod for frustration with EA’s move toward online gaming, which it could nickel and dime players about.
EA, of course, denied this.
“You may have heard the discussion about single player vs. multiplayer or single player vs. live service, and this wasn’t about that conversation,” CEO Andrew Wilson said investors shortly thereafter. “It wasn’t that this was just a single player game or that it had to be a live service, it was more about how we get to a point where the overall gaming experience is right for players.”
Weeks later, EA released Star Wars: Battlefront II With Pay-to-win loot boxes.
The resulting backlash led to legislative review and eventual removal of the exploitative mechanic from many games, including Battlefront II It is worth noting, however, that EA is one of the remaining bastions of loot boxes FIFAwhere they contribute billions The company cashes in from its online sports modes every year.
The company’s quest for new ways to squeeze money out of its games also led to misfortune anthembeloved single-player RPG powerhouse BioWare’s tragic attempt to emulate Bungie’s live service success destiny 2. The multiplayer mechanics were initially pushed into the future Dragon Age: Dread Wolf also until anthem‘s failure convinced the company to give in. (BioWare remains the exception of EA, which shut down previous RPG makers like Mythic, Bullfrog, and Origin).
“We’re sure bank presidents, oil, tobacco and arms companies are all relieved not to have been on the list this year,” said EA spokesman John Reseburg said In its first year, it was crowned the worst company in America. After the second time, in 2013, EA withdrew from manufacturing The Sims 4 an online only game.
All major video game publishers have a negative reputation for something, even beyond the claims sexual discrimination, misconduct in the workplaceand brutal overtime. Activision Blizzard finds hits and then guides them into the ground. Every Ubisoft game feels the same. Square Enix is eternal disappointed. With EA, there’s a sense that the company would rather keep you trapped in an online casino than create a game, sell it to you and get on with life. It’s hardly the only company to blame for that anymore, but the others aren’t trying to post cute memes about it.