EA Wins "Worst Company" Award, Consumers In the Right

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EA is anti-consumer. They started the online pass. They monetize cheats. They sell in-game equipment. They keep items exclusive to pre-orders. They release downloadable content on day one. They sell leveling to imbalance online play. One generation ago, we had none of it.

Oh, and they won Consumerist's “Worst Company in America” poll. Rather, they lost in the scheme of things, but let's avoid the technical.

They beat Bank of America, who in previous years took home the awesome “Golden Poo,” a wonderful bit of shaming. Now one belongs to EA, and people don't get it.

To be clear, this is an award for 2011, not the year of the housing collapse, not the year BP ruined the ocean, and not the year AT&T did, well, whatever it is AT&T does. That's an important distinction most seem to be missing as they rally and yet again call the gaming community “entitled” with their own skewered perspective as to how they're being milked by game publishers.

EA effectively took a market that was considered recession proof and ran it into the ground. No, the video game industry is not dead, nor is it close. However, its policies have taken a leisure activity, one people continued to support even amidst the worst financial crisis this country has seen, and sold it piecemeal.

Gaming remains an escape for millions, but one that is being eroded by financial schemes that put it out of reach. It is a luxury, but as people rally to the side of their favorite developers (and thus, by default, the publishers) stating the DLC is fairly priced, they ignore the $60 upfront cost. That's the most expensive of all the entertainment industries, and EA wants more.

Don't take this the wrong way. Capcom, Activision, UbiSoft, and others do the same, but do so at the leading hand of EA. They're industry leaders, setting an example. They've become a metaphorical sponge for these rightful complaints. Gamers then also deserve an award for “Worst Consumers Anywhere” for continuing to show support, but that's another piece altogether.

Then again, maybe this is taking an Internet poll all too seriously. Anyone with half a brain will catch on that a group of dedicated gamers, tired of seeing their $60 purchases being broken down into chunks, got together to click on a poll. A lot more people have undoubtedly been burned recently by EA than they have by Bank of America too.

What will come of it? Well, a snarky remark from EA for one, wherein they claim they're not as bad as big tobacco because they don't give people cancer, which isn't saying much. Then, a sign that the gaming community is truly getting sick of everything being asked of them at a consumer level. Slowly, as a group, we're waking up to EA and crew screwing over the customer, certainly one of the most blindly loyal subsets of consumers anywhere.

When they become fully awake, maybe EA will see more than golden poo statues, but dwindling financial reports as people fight back with their highest power — their wallets.

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Matt Paprocki is a 13-year veteran of the video game, movie, and home media scene. He has written thousands of reviews, has been published on a variety of websites, and contributes his thoughts daily on a diverse range of topics.

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