From the pages of 1up.com: Ubisoft Helpless Towards EA
For those of you not in the know, Electronic Arts is essentially the 300 pound gorilla of the video game world. They carry a large amount of clout, due largely in part to the fact that they have been the largest third party distributor of software for quite some time (we’re going back as far as the Super Nintendo/Genesis days here folks), and have been steadily consuming other, smaller software companies. This in and of itself is really not that big a problem.
Hell, that’s the nature of ANY business and to anyone who does well I say more power to you. The problem comes when all that power leads to the rise of certain unsavory business practices.
Mistreatment of employees has seemingly become a staple of EA’s business model. This has a direct effect on us, the consumer, more than you could imagine.
In a business such as this creativity is tantamount to help it grow. There is always a tenuous and fragile line between the business end and the artistic end of video game making, as it is with films. Many times the drive to create something becomes bogged down in unnecessary red tape.
One need only look as far as the fiasco with Robert Rodriguez
who wanted to do a ‘Sin City’ Movie so bad that he forfeited his directors guild membership which has some very real ramifications for his career
. Read that link and tell me that it doesn’t just smack of bullshit.
A similar line can be drawn to EA and their acquisition of Bullfrog Studios.
Bullfrog was a great company that created interesting games like 'Populous: The Beginning', 'Theme park', 'Theme hospital' and 'Dungeon Keeper'.
When this fiercely independent company was bought out by EA most of the original team left due to EA's corporate method
EA then ran the freaking franchises into the ground (anyone remember “Sim Themepark” for PS2...didn’t think so)
See EA has this nasty habit of churning out sub par software that has nothing more than a repackaged version of the previous edition.
Here's another one for you: Westwood Studios.
Creators of the seminal Command and Conquer series, Westwood was bought out by EA somewhere around 1999 and we immediately started seeing shovelware
, software churned out faster than you could spit, offering only incremental upgrades each time. When was the last time anyone here was excited about a C&C game.....once again, didn’t think so.
Last bit of evidence: Maxis.
Will Wrights Company that gave birth to “Sim City” and the “Sims” series.
The Sims, some may say (not me personally), was an interesting and bold move in a different direction at the time it was released. Maxis was snatched up by EA and what did we get? Expansion packs. Six freaking years worth of expansion packs. No new game play ideas, no re imagining of the genre. A dog. A witches hat. This is the shit that we were expected to pay $30 bucks for? Instead of putting the programmers energies toward a worthwhile project we have the same crap over and over again.
Now, I can’t fault EA for acquiring companies...its smart business. Problem is of the three studios I mentioned; two are now all but defunct. EA knows this and looks at them as acceptable losses in the process of churnware.
Yes, EA does license some damn good games
, but that’s because we have companies like Ubisoft, Konami and Namco all pushing the envelope while turning a profit. Competition is good for us and EA obviously fears the competition.
Case in point is their recent payoff of the NFL
. The Madden series of football games have always been selling well, but have recently seen competition from the Sega brand sport series. In a bold move to beat EA last year, Sega priced their ‘ESPN NFL 2005’ title at $19.99. A bold move which obviously shook EA. Their response was not one of refinement or retuning; creating a better game next time around. No, instead they throw down the cash and say: you want NFL you buy us.
Weak. Without the perceived competition, where does that leave us consumers? I’ll tell you where: clutching the bishop and playing the same damn game year after year.
I just don’t want to see Ubisoft, who've really come into their own with boffo titles
and the balls to do different games (Beyond Good and Evil and Prince of Persia being the best examples), go the way of bullfrog folks. And of course, a good bit of power lies with us. Don’t buy that $30 dollar expansion pack so that you can wear a new shiny shirt and raise pigs. Demand more.
Oh, and to all you Dungeon Keeper fans...."lets…party like its....1999"