The analysis will report on EA being named the worst company in America, followed by the influence other companies have on EA. This will cover what problems they face and possible solutions to those problems. The objectives of this section are to find possible methods to eliminate these problems from EA’s point of view and customer’s point of view.
EA are a company that can sell games in millions, a lot of them are well-reviewed and are genuinely liked. The problem is EA have won the ‘Worst Company in America’ (WCIA) for a second year in a row and are doing nothing about it. With nearly 78% of the votes compared to Bank of America who had 22%. EA tried not to make a big deal out of it saying other companies had been worse. EA seem to be concerned on how much profit they make from their games and nothing else. They are repeatedly failing to realize a three core requirements to running a consumer friendly business.
1. EA could possibly look at providing a product that people will want and like. Look-ing back at their history of pushing products through that were rushed and are half fin-ish. A few examples are SimCity which is a city-building and urban planning simulation multiplayer online game was developed by Maxis; another game Dragon Age 2, which is an action role-playing video game developed by Bio Ware, and was also published by EA. The majority of people who owned these games complained about them. Had the games benefited from a longer development phase, they may be higher up on the reve-nue table. Mass Effect 3 was another game were fans spent large chunks of time and money on the game but were left feeling deserted when reaching the rushed endgame. Following that EA were accused by detractors of pushing through the game too early and only focusing all their energy on the new multi-player section of the game. It prom-ised the company revenue with in-game micro transactions for gamers who want to ob-tain lots of characters and all the upgrades. The response to Mass Effect 3 was so dis-missive and widely known, forcing EA to release a slightly more acceptable ending a few months later.
In a similar way, the release of SimCity 5 came with the news that gamers would need to be connected to the Internet to simply play by themselves. EA claims ‘not a form of anti-piracy digital rights management’ although not many people believed that, but instead is about ‘realising a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that cap-tured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world.’ To gamers this translates as means EA wants us to always be online so we are encouraged to purchase things from the in-game store.
This courageous decision EA made is to sets an example that the company will surely follow in the future making games, meaning that consumers will get to choose between the game they want to play and which company that requires them to always be online, whether it’s to monitor their use or sell them new outfits for characters.
‘EA has become a company that releases mediocre products created by faceless teams.’ ‘There is no real vision at work, no grand design. Just the idea that free-to-play games and micro transactions are the wave of the future, or at least they better be, be-cause none of the company’s $60 boxed releases are finding much success with either critics or gamers.’ – Ben Kuchera in a story about the WCIA finals.
2. EA could look at selling the product at a reasonable price. When looking at movies and video games; they require a lot of money plus the efforts of countless gifted individ-uals. This meaning games are going to cost quiet a lot so that it’ll permit the publisher to make a profit. But the biggest video game publishers, encompassing EA, have been blamed of refusing to contest on pricing, meaning that customers pay ??50 ($60) for a new game because that’s what the studios tells us it will cost. On the same note, EA’s deals with sports leagues associations like the NBA, NFL mean that no other competitor are free to propose a contest game that has more content or similar content for the same price or slightly lower price.
These are other games which are free to play that EA makes so much noise about. EA might say ‘free’ to play but every gamer knows that’s not the case. EA has openly ad-mitted that their aim is to create these games that allow the users to purchase in-game item because the user knows that haven’t bought the game, meaning they can afford to spend a bit of money on it. The company’s Chief Financial Officer recently uttered that EA aims to contain these micro transactions in all its free-to-play games, so it’s some-thing gamers need to get used to.
Beyond each probable price-fixing or customer chiselling, EA are making money by permitting advertisers into their games, even the ones that people pay a lot of money for. Most recently, people who bought SimCity 5 were indulged to their early piece of extra content. It shows that EA get paid, as gamers begin to download an interactive adver-tisement.
3. EA needs to start to Support the product they’re selling. EA made a real mess of the SimCity release by failing to predict that the people who should buy the game and who should, each the game’s design, be needed to link to the EA servers could truly desire to frolic at a little point in the week afterward making their purchase. But that’s just adding to EA’s long-history of exasperating its clients based with terrible support.
Customers who paid maximum price for games, or who consumed or saved huge stacks of in-game cash in EA’s online produce, would unexpectedly find a problem with their accounts, but try’s to rectify the problem or even try’s to get a reply from EA would go neglected.
After last year’s embarrassment in winning the WCIA award, EA’s head of customer services told CNET that huge chances were pending for the company and that it would be improving on how it replies to clients and adding call centres to handle things better. Just a few months ago, a Consumerist reader in Europe showed his chat transcript with an EA rep, it shows the company still has a long way to go.
3.2 Influence other companies like Sony and Microsoft have on EA
The content in this section will talk about the problems EA face, possible solutions and the WCIA voting results. The objectives for this section are to find out who’s causing the problems and how the can be solved plus what companies participate in the WCIA, with graphs or diagrams so there easier to understand.
When looking at EA’s collaboration with other companies e.g. Sony and Microsoft. It looks like EA get the blame for other cooperation’s poor marketing. Firstly price differ-ences on consoles from PS2, PS3 & PS4 and Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Selling the game at one price for all the consoles wouldn’t be much of a problem for EA, but this would affect companies like Sony and Microsoft how want to make profit as well. These companies want games to be priced depending on the newest console. So the newer the console the more expensive the games are. This seems like customers are be-ing punished for upgrading to the latest consoles. When the PS2 came out users were able to play PS1 games on it. Later on Sony released updates which then disable PS1 games on PS2 because they felt they could make more money by making customers buy a game essentially twice even though they purchased the game for the old console. Some people believed EA were making these decisions when it was really Sony. Mi-crosoft did the same thing as Sony so they can also make a better profit.
This problem could have and should have been solved years ago by allowing customers to trade games for the right console because at the end of the day the customer had to purchase a new console for a lot of money. So the least these companies could do is al-low them trade in the games instead of having to buy all of them again. This way the companies are still gaining from new consoles being bought and keeping customers happy be allowing them to trade the games in.
This style of marketing is happening to all other gaming companies and its genres. Since then games are being sold at different prices for different consoles even if the gameplay is the same but graphics are slightly better. From past experience, in October 2008 I pur-chased FIFA 09 on its release day for PS2 costing ??24.99. Later that year my parents got me a PS3 for Christmas, the console came with FIFA 09. So I technically didn’t buy a new game because it was part of a deal. FIFA 09 on its own cost ??31.99 for PS3 and Xbox 360, so the price difference was only ??6 at the time. Some stores sold the game at a slightly cheaper price but no more than a pound.
EA set the FIFA game as a PEGI 3 rating. PEGI stands for Pan-European Game Infor-mation, it’s an age rating system which was established to help inform parents in Europe decisions on buying computer games. Other continents like South America, North America, Africa, Asia and Oceania have their own version of game ratings. Any game rated 3 is suitable for ages 3 and older. This may contain mild violence in an appropriate context for younger children, but neither bad language nor frightening content is al-lowed.
Another company that gave EA a bad reputation was Virgin Gaming, who partnered with EA for FIFA 13. Virgin Gaming is a service that exists inside a bizarre middle ground of gambling and classification regulation in Australia. Some can or will seize ob-ligation for how it interfaces alongside games like FIFA 13. In the EA arena menus which are slightly deep in FIFA 13, there is an option visible enough. The message reads ‘Win money playing in the EA Sports Arena Online Game Mode,’ it allow players to join a service that is Virgin Gaming, it enables users to bet real money on multiplayer game modes in FIFA 13, this was also and Madden 13 and similar games. Even though you can win real money, you can also lose real money.
EA Sports disagrees say that gambling is entirely a third party service. The Classification Board concluded, that it has ‘a very mild viewing impact and can be accommodated within the G (General) classification.’ after they were approached by Crikey. Plus vide-os games themselves are beyond the borders of combined gambling regulation, and therefore Virgin Gaming does not plummet inside the power of a regulatory body like Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
Future more, the advert pops up in FIFA 13 that calling on gamers to gamble. And gam-bling is what gamers around the globe have been doing. This is a real issue because gamers could become addicted to gambling from an early age, without even realizing that they’re gambling; because in the mind they’re just playing FIFA. Even though it may be a third party service EA should have tested it and seen if it could damage their game or reputation in that matter. If parents find out that their kids have become addicted to gambling, due to a game rated PEGI 3. When you enter the online lobby all you have to do is add money through a PayPal account to your gamer tag and tick a box to agree that you’re over 18. Teenagers who are not over 18 will tick the box it anyway because they think they are going to win money not realizing that they can also lost it. Another dedicate FIFA player Jeremy from Australia posted a few things he saw in the online lobby.
‘No more friendlies,’ read the tag line. The lobby was disorganised and a little anarchic, with players hustling for games in text chat.
‘Any low skill player invite me for 3.00 game now!!!’ posted one user.
‘Anyone wanna play for 20’? wrote another. ‘ Jeremy’s Post
Jeremy also approached the Classification Board due to the FIFA 13 Virgin Gaming is-sue; this was response he got from Director Donald McDonald
‘The Board has contacted the assessors of these games who confirmed that the infor-mation provided is accurate. The Board has been advised that the Australian versions of these games do not have the capability to connect online to the Virgin Gaming service.’
From what they replied to Jeremy this was a lie because all FIFA game are the same, even of the front covers are different per continents. They clearly cannot explain them-selves so they blame it on different FIFA versions.
During the FIFA 13 era twenty-three million dollars was won by players through Virgin Gaming Service; also meaning that twenty-three million dollars was been lost by the players.
This could lead to parents trying to sue EA for the damage they done to kids, meaning a lot of money would be lost because parents would try and claim money even if the kids are not addicted. EA might disagree with the ‘gambling’ label but any type of betting real money is essentially gambling. These companies may say it’s not gambling but the definition state differently ‘play games of chance for money; bet.’ or ‘To bet on an uncertain outcome, as of a contest.’ Either way whether it’s a third party company or not EA need to take reasonability because they are the ones who advertised and released FIFA 13, it’s clearly shows in the definitions that what’s happening with virgin gaming is basically gambling. Overall matter is that EA needs to evaluate any game they release to see if it matches age, graphics and gameplay elements that are men-tioned in the trailers and other advisements. The finished product needs to be tested by the programmes as well as the producers to see if the fits the criteria.
Microsoft is a company that’s being working with EA for a while now; and now have managed to use EA’s FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) feature to their advantage. Microsoft had the idea of having Legends cards on Ultimate Team but they would only allow EA to use this idea only if it’s on the Xbox console only. Knowing EA any idea that can make them more money is a great idea never mind the gamer’s opinions or feelings. For EA it’s a good way to get FUT users to spent money buying packs and trying to get these rare Legends cards. Microsoft used this as an opportunity to use EA’s powerful FUT feature to make people buy Xbox consoles over PlayStation consoles because they know that FUT have over 21 Million users, with a good chuck of them being on PlayStation 3 & 4. This was proven by the sales of PS3 being better than and Xbox 360 and years later PS4 selling better than Xbox One. Microsoft needed to persuade people to buy Xbox rather than PlayStations and this could be a game changer because people who only buy FIFA to play FUT will change without a doubt.
During the Christmas holidays, 2 friends of mine changed from PS3 to Xbox One even though they said the get a PS4. When I asked them why Xbox One? The replied was ‘Legends on FUT’ with laughter. So this shows people were only changing console brand for the feature; Microsoft might have just hit a home run with the idea.
3.3 EA’s introduction of FUT
The content in this section will mention points about different forms of FUT cards, other franchises, target audience, removing trade offers and personal experience from some of those points. The objectives for this section are to find out if EA’s introduction of FUT has been a success.
When EA announced that there would be a new feature in FIFA 09 called Ultimate Team, people don’t really take it with any excitement because it could turn out to be a real disappointment. This feature was also on other sports like Madden 09, NBA2k9 and NHL2k9 at that time were part of 2K sports franchise. At first people were angry be-cause they bought a full game but this feature was a separate content which had to be bought within the PlayStation or Xbox store and downloaded. You could say EA conned their customers into believing the content was already in the game. EA could have looked a possible solutions one of them being selling the game at a slightly higher price; people wouldn’t then feel like they bought three quarters of a game. For example the game on its own cost ??31.99 on PS3, while the download FUT content cost ??9.99. Why not sell that game at ??39 to ??42? Then again in 2008 a game costing that much would have put people off from buying it so maybe EA did this on purpose. Things like this are why people hate EA, first and foremost don’t trick customer into buying your product, it’s just wrong. The following year when FIFA 10 came out FUT was still a downloadable content this time at ??6.99.
A personal experience was that this year I decided to buy it because the price was rea-sonable and surprisingly had good reviews from last year. Following my purchase, one of my friends explained to me a glitch regarding the FUT downloadable content. So we tried it out, I send him my PS3 account details; so he can log in as me on his PS3 then he went on my download history and re-download the content because it was already pur-chased on my account. Following that we signed into my friends PS3 account, once he loaded the game showed that he’s purchased FUT even though he didn’t. The reason the glitch worked was because any downloaded content stays on your service history and it can be downloaded onto someone else console. This was nice because my friend didn’t have to buy the downloadable content, meaning I saved him ??6.99. This became a worldwide glitch thanks to You Tuber’s showing videos of how to do the glitch, as soon as EA found about the glitch, they released an update to patch it.
After two years of success EA decided to make FUT free downloadable expansion. This enraged all the customers who purchased the content in 09 and 10 games. This was bad management from EA’s part although they tried to make peace by giving free packs to the ultimate team founders; these are the people who bought the downloadable content. From a business point of view EA released it so more people had access to FUT they could possibly make a lot of money from due to in-game purchases.
In the following year the game mode, had 2.6 Million new users and this has being ris-ing ever since. Now the FUT game mode has over 21 Million users and counting which is amazing for EA because they have a greater audience now to exploit. Football has a lot of followers in the real world meaning it has a massive target audience. American Football (Madden), National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Hockey League (NHL) may not be as big as football around the world but these sports them-selves are well followed in USA and Canada both countries combined make up a popu-lation of 355,184,000 making it a big target audience. Every year EA release a new card feature for FUT. Appendix D will show some of the different colour cards EA released to tempt people into buying packs. This may look like smart marketing by EA but at the same time it’s nice to have different colours cards allowing people make rainbow teams.
In 2012, EA decided to remove trade offers from FUT. This didn’t go down to well in the community because this allowed friends to trade players back and for without have to list the player for sale and wait till he’s sold so you can buy a replacement. This made things easier for people using the trade offers feature the right way but there were some who took advantage of it by taking players of someone and not swapping back once they’ve tried them out. This would cause lots of people complaining to EA about being robbed. Now sometimes fixed these problem be giving the user the player they had lost; give other user ideas of complaining just so they could get a player that they didn’t even have. Another problem was ‘bid bumping’, where players tried and trick others players into bidding higher then they wanted for an item. EA Team have explained it was a hard decision to make but it’s giving the red card to all the cheats out there but al-so to improve security to keep FUT safe for all FIFA gamers. Those issues are possibly the reasons for EA so the following year the decided to remove trade offer from the game.
The future of FUT looks good but one slip up by EA could cost them big; so they have to keep producing new features every year no matter how little the change is. The best thing for EA is any new ideas for FIFA games can be used other sports games relating to the game itself. So overall it looks like Ultimate Team has turned out to be successful not just for EA but for the people that play these games in general.
3.4 EA looking to transform
The content in this section will mention points Q & A twitter account, Free Games, Origin Login, and Player First Culture also how Digital focus is the future. The objec-tives for this section are to find out the direction EA are going to improve as a company.
Following two years of embarrassment by winning the WCIA, EA have started to look for solutions on pleasing customer. have managed to solve the transferring accounts is-sues who if people want to move from PS3 to PS4 or Xbox 360 to Xbox one they get the choice to transfer their account across rather than starting over. This is a good sign because compared to the later 90’s EA would have told customers they’d have to start from scratch even if they’ve invested a lot of money on the game. This mainly benefits people, who play FUT and spend a lot of money buying packs to build their teams. This way is doesn’t feel like all the money spend went to waste due to changing consoles. EA know this would be a risk and wouldn’t look good for their image considering they’ve already won the WCIA twice in a row.
Origin Login Verification is a feature EA implemented for extra security reasons; it pro-tects the FUT accounts from being accessed outside of user’s home console and also PC. This had to be done because some users account got hacked easily now with a bit more security it’s had to hack someone’s account.
The feature will need to be improved again because people are already trying hack, to cheat their way through games. These hack could also mean the person who created them could possibly be able to hack all the people the user he’s software because it re-quires them to enter email address and some of the required a password as well as.
Michael Lawder has said ‘We’ve got ways to go’ the head of customer service for EA also went on to say ‘I think we will see a dramatic shift in the company,’ Lawder told CNET. ‘We’re not there yet. There’s still a ways to go before we’re considered a world-class customer experience.’ EA are finally looking to address the customer service help problems; they’ve now opened two new customer services in Galway, Ireland and the other in Austin, Texas. EA have also started an AnswerHQ community support online, this is after years of complaining about customer services being poor and unresponsive. The so call ‘Free’ games EA released are also having a good effect because users can play and chose to upgrade later if they want to. This could be a breakthrough for EA because it shows even if the customer isn’t paying it can a benefit for EA reputation showing the care about the customers. EA also have twitter for Q&A which is good be-cause social media is the way forward nowadays; they can interact with customers across the world. These improvements may not seem like much, but in time EA will reap the rewards because some things take time and they have to start somewhere.
The findings for this study show that these lot of companies in America that can be win the WCIA award; the pairings are not justified because it all comes down to who’s got the luckiest draw. EA have had great collaborations with lots of companies but some of them have ruined their like Virgin Gaming. The competition between Sony and Mi-crosoft on consoles benefits EA but sometimes hurts them, where if Microsoft has an idea they don’t what EA to implement it on Sony’s consoles and vice versa. EA have come a long way with the FIFA games, and FUT feature has been the best idea they’ve ever had and the numbers prove it. They also managed to add the feature on other sports games like Madden NFL, NBA and NHL. Now with back to back WCIA award EA are looking to transform by using Player First culture, Digital focus in the future and Free games.
‘ Remove trade offers for the good of the game
‘ Origin Log
This Dissertation has provided an analysis and evaluation of EA’s collaborations with Microsoft and Sony as well as a few other companies, including the problems which needed to be addressed, the objectives of the study and the methods of how the EA, Mi-crosoft and Sony were analysed, followed by how the findings were found and present-ed.
In the Research Question it covers the methodology, objectives and resources that will be used; also explaining why they’ll be used. For Analysis which is all the findings for the study was backed up with Quotes, Facts, Opinions and Past experiences. The find-ings also cover FUT feature and how EA are looking to transform. Some sections have voting results and diagrams. In the appendences, Appendix A shows the voting results of between EA and Banking of America where Appendix B shows a diagram showing all the companies that were in the running for the WCIA. The outcome of the findings was a success because the problems EA face can be fixed now rather than later. EA get a lot of abuse but this is because gamers know they have the power to fix those problems. Overall the blame is 50/50 due these other companies pressuring EA into certain ideas that when the back fired EA take the heat. Following the findings; as a gamer I can un-derstand why EA do what they do. Even media outlets don’t know the whole story for why these problems occur, as long as they have a headline that enrage customers so they can get their attention.
For any future work of this study, there would need to be a face to face interview with each CEO of the respective companies that are EA, Microsoft and Sony. This would be interesting to hear what they think of the partnerships and why they are successful plus what they want to do for customers.
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