The Smartest & Dumbest Things EA Did In 2012

The calendar year is coming to a close for the recently crowned Worst Company In America (doesn't that polished turd look so nice on the mantle), and I don't think anyone would claim 2012 was the finest outing for Electronic Arts. Sure, their Madden and NHL franchises might have broken personal sales bests (after all, NHL 13 was the only place to find hockey this winter), but beyond one non-sports bang in March's Mass Effect 3, things looked a bit dire.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure certain people at EA are still pulling in our greenbacks hand over fist and gorging themselves like fiat turduckens, but their stock prices did drop, resulting in their exclusion from the NASDAQ-100 just this morning. This was presumably due to commercial disappointments like Kingdoms of Amalur (which more or less ruined the life of a major city's beloved athlete), Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and especially Star Wars: The Old Republic. They definitely made up for some of those losses with digital distribution of new mobile titles like the popular The Simpsons: Tapped Out (which spent almost five months out of app stores due to bugs), and freshly licensed editions of old favourites like Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled. Let's see what these dummies did right (but mostly wrong).

Smartest Moves

Mass Effect 3's Multiplayer

The many fans of Mass Effect are very quick to point out to the uninitiated that the game is not a standard shooter, but rather an RPG with shooting elements. Not the type of game that would have, say, a wave based multiplayer suite. Except for when Mass Effect 3 totally did. Not only that, but it was integral to (or at least intertwined with) the single player campaign. But, surprisingly, it didn't ruin the game. In fact it was really fun, and satisfyingly tested the skills you've built up throughout three games worth of playing with one character. The fact that what easily could have been a greedy and half-baked add on still has lots of players is a testament to the success of ME3's co-op.

Not Releasing A Broken NBA Live 13

So this one comes with the caveat that something very dumb had to happen to set up the circumstances for this decision, but it is EA we're talking about so I have to give them props for not making sports fans and gamers alike pay for what must have been a deeply broken NBA Live 13. You'd like to think that such a thing would never happen, but as gamers we know that sometime 75%, or even 50% completion is just dandy for developers. A working product? Who needs it! They may have baited us with promises of a return to form for the franchise, and swore they'd learned from the previous cancellation, but at least they didn't take our money for nothing.

Dumbest Moves

Warfighter. All of It.

Once again attempting to draft off the success of CoD, EA gave another (final?) go at reviving their longrunning Medal of Honor franchise, hoping to finally usher it into current gen financial and critical success with the dumbly titled Warfighter. Their angle was well researched military realism. Because Six Days In Fallujah made so much money. That didn't end up being a problem though because the game was neither realistic nor successful. Or good. Phew! EA was openly disappointed with the game, the developers Danger Close were criticised for soliciting classified information from soldiers (who were themselves internally disciplined), promotional materials for the game advertised actual assault weapons, and now they're releasing some Osama Bin Laden themed maps which... no?

The Old Republic's Free-To-Play

I'm not here to make any comments on the relative merits of BioWare and EA's now year-old MMO. OK I'll make one: it wasn't incredible. But it's still easy as hell to get sucked into an MMO that isn't a perfect 10. Especially when it's free. I don't wanna tell you how many hours I sunk into Lineage back in the day. Which makes it so dumb and disconcerting that The Old Republic's inane implementation of free-to-play was arguably its worst moment. The full campaign story was available, which was very nice of them. But you're not allowed to run until many, many hours in. And XP accrual is severely nerfed. You even have to pay for some interface stuff like quick bars. Sick, sick people. All of them.

What did you all think were EA's smartest and dumbest decisions this year?

Key Releases

All games were published, distributed, or developed by Electronic Arts

NFL Blitz - January 4th

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - February 7th

Shank 2 - February 7th

Syndicate - February 21st

SSX - February 28th

The Simpsons: Tapped Out - March 1st

Mass Effect 3 - March 6th

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 - March 27th

Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances - May 24th

The Secret World - July 3rd

NCAA Football 13 - July 10th

Madden NFL 13 - August 28th

NHL 13 - September 11th

FIFA 13 - September 25th

Medal of Honor: Warfighter - October 23rd

Need For Speed: Most Wanted - October 30th

For these Year In Review segments, we'll be taking a look at what major gaming companies did in 2012, with summaries of their biggest news and releases, best and worst decisions, and complete lists of the games they were a part of. Check back later in the week for another company.


Comments

    Yeah definitely SWToRs handling. Ridiculous.

    No mention of Origin? Sticking with it and trying to compete with Steam has been one of EAs more stupid decisions this year.

    Last edited 18/12/12 1:32 pm

      Having origin is fine. But not releasing games on steam or releasing them at 2x the price is just going to haemorage sales and is practically begging me to pirate their games.

    I maintain SWTOR is an exceptional example of MMO storytelling (far surpassing some current examples) which was mainly spoiled by the lack of endgame (or the mirror image of world of warcrafts endgame from 3 years ago).

    But yes, their free to play integration is among the stupidest I have ever seen. Massively pay to win, exp gated and payment for ridiculously baseline options like enabling titles and hiding your helm display.

    Like, it's not expensive, but some stuff you should never have to pay for. They could learn a lot from GW:2s item shop (one of the accurately presented triumphs of that game).

    Nothing wrong with moh besides the huge crappy ratings. game plays well and is more polished than blops2

      I agree. I enjoyed the game. A few rough edges, but doesn't everything have those?

        Pretty much, I think it is unliked because it has a bigger learning curve then the likes of blops and even BF3 to be played well.. Only issue i had with the game was being booted from servers on the odd occasion which im pretty sure was fixed.. :p

          The multiplayer menus were some of the worst I've seen in a long time. It was really badly implemented. Other than that I had no real issue with the game, the campaign was fun and the multiplayer, while not exceptional was still mostly fun. There are some maps in certain game mode that were a massive pain, but other than it was a fairly decent shooter I thought. I think that a lot of the criticism it got was somewhat unfounded, and have seen game that were FAR worse get much better scores.

    Although I play ME3's multiplayer quite a bit, it is very unfinished.

    The servers constantly drop you before even starting the game you're trying to join (often taking your one-use consumable equipment), the weapon and class balance is nonexistant, and gameplay has grown fairly stale.

      I have fond memories of a relatively bug-free ME multipalyer, but I stopped playing it around the time the second set of DLC came out, so I didn't have time to get tired of it.

    If EA had any part in making The Secret World Free-to-Play while still keeping a $29 box price on the initial account creation I'd say that qualifies as a dumb thing. It's the sort of game you have to let someone play before they'll buy anything.

    and here I thought you would mention a bad move would be releasing a violent videogame that causes school shootings :P

    No mention of Battlefield 3? Shutting down their online servers, then bringing them back only for Premium members? Charging more for Premium than I paid for the game itself?

      I agree, furthermore I couldn't care less about premium and yet all the updates that went along with it take up over 11GB on my hard drive just to run the same game I was running in December 2011.

      I'm not impressed with Battlefield charging for maps but seeing as so many schlubs bought them theyll probably charge double next time.

        11GB? You must be lucky. I don't own Premium either, and my install takes up over double that with just vanilla and B2K. This is why EA are terrible. Multiplayer games should not have the same install size of something like Batman Arkham City or AC3, not to mention leaving extreme lag spikes (games fault, not mine) and long loading times in while they focus on releasing the SUPER COD FUNTIME (It's no longer the Battlefield you knew!) DLC pack.

          That's 11GB on Console (so there's still a lot on the disc, apart from about 1GB they ask you to install for HD textures but after that the rest is all "multiplayer updates"

          The thing that really annoys me is that really, the ten or so basic maps they have are fine, the only way I would shell out for more maps is if they released new versions of Arica Harbour or Oasis from Bad Company 2.

          But splitting the player base with Map Packs is the scourge of Multiplayer shooters, the only I'll grant is that with the server browser at least you can probably see if anyone is playing the special maps (should you bother purchasing them) Of course the whole Rent-a-Server thing was probably a fiasco too, but again, so many people took it up that of course it'll be back for Battlefield 4! I'm just not sure I will be

    Dumb move: Not preventing Casey Hudson's bizarre power trip that was the ME3 ending.

    Smart move: Allowing Bioware to make amends for Casey Hudson's bizarre power trip that was the ME3 ending.

    I'm imagining that football flying at Shep's crotch, Hans Moleman style.

    You guys do know that Warfighter is a legitimate term right? Not just some stupid sounding name made up for vidya games.

    ME3's multiplayer itself wasn't dumb. Tying it to singleplayer success without a doubt was. War assets could have perhaps then have affected the game differently and thus worth collecting, as opposed to just be a stupid ambiguous number.

    I'm really still amazed that EA was disappointed with Warfighter, considering everything wrong with it is their own fault.

      Yeah, how they were under the impression the game was good is beyond all of us. Must have hired some very piss poor research teams to handle their "focus group" testing.

    Half-finished blog post. Other things that should have been mentioned are Origin, how the next SimCity can only be launched via Origin, closing popular FB games incl. Restaurant City to shift fan bases to Sims Social, BF3, and ugh......

    Mass Effect 3's coop multiplayer is an add-on, and a really good one. But the ending was total crap. Thankfully they made a alternative DLC ending but the damage have already been done and I am pretty sure EA wouldn't have done that if there weren't so many people complaining. MoH warfighter was a a complete failure. I am not saying I hate/dislike MoH Wf but a lot of other people do. How about the part where EA stuff up the BF3 multiplayer server? After downloading a patch I can't even use my loadout guns when playing matches. And that you actually need a pass to play online? (I know a lot of other companies are doing it and even ubisoft is doing it for fc3!!!! SHAME ON YOU ubisoft!!!!!!) And Origin is a very very dumb move.

    I'd forgotten that Amalur was this year. I would have nominated it for GOTY, entirely seriously. It was a first class product poorly promoted (probably because the studio was out of money). As much content as Skyrim (they clearly spent too much time and money on it, actually, which is probably a first for this industry) and the combat was light years better.

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