EA's Corporate Speak Is Meaningless, Court Agrees

EA's Corporate Speak Is Meaningless, Court Agrees

Today, a US court ruled to dismiss a class-action lawsuit filed against EA for lying about Battlefield 4, a video game that came out and didn't really work for some people.

The plaintiffs can appeal -- though it doesn't seem like they will eke much more out of this. What's really interesting about the lawsuit though is how a US court interpreted some of EA's PR statements.

See, the lawsuit had argued that some of EA's corporate exec-speak -- you know, the stuff we're all used to hearing from game publishers, stuff like "I think we are starting this console generation far stronger than we've done before" -- was intentionally fraudulent. EA fought back with the argument that those statements were actually "vague expressions of opinion, corporate optimism, or puffery." And the judge agreed, leading to some unintentionally great comedy.

Check out one excerpt (emphasis mine):

The Court agrees with defendants that all of the purported misstatements are inactionable statements of opinion, corporate optimism, or puffery. Defendant Gibeau's May 7, 2013 statement that EA was in a "much better state" for the next-generation transition and that Frostbite 3 had "largely been de-risked" is a non-actionable vague expression of corporate optimism and puffery upon which no reasonable investor would rely.

Non-actionable vague expressions! Puffery! But wait, there's more.

For the same reasons, defendant Moore's June 12, 2013 statement that "this time around" EA did not pick the wrong technology platform and that EA had "derisk[ed]" Frostbite 3, along with defendant Gibeau's July 23, 2013 statement that "we wanted to de-risk" Frostbite 3 and that EA was "not going to repeat that mistake," are also inactionable.

Defendant Wilson's October 29, 2013 statement explaining that EA "worked more closely with Microsoft and Sony [the next-generation gaming console developers] throughout the entire process" resulting in a "launch slate of games that are the best transition games that I've ever seen come out of this Company" is an inactionable opinion, as well as a vague statement of corporate optimism.

Likewise, defendant Moore's October 29, 2013 statement proclaiming that "We feel . . . we're well ahead of this transition, and we're going to nail it" is also an inactionable statement of corporate optimism.

In legalese, "puffery" refers to the type of exaggerated language that people wouldn't take literally, and it's generally acceptable so long as it isn't misrepresenting a product or action. So remember, next time a big video game publisher starts telling you all about how their next game is just going to be the Best Thing Ever, the word to use is puffery.

You can read the full court document below:


Comments

    While I'm not surprised because, you know, 'MURICA, but did someone actually try and sue EA because they didn't like Battlefield? Don't most people usually just trade a game in if they find it doesn't live up to expectations?

    EA deserve a lot of the crap that goes their way, but this is ridiculous. Shock horror, the marketing department tried to create hype around their latest product and a few people bought into it

      I thought it was a class action suit on the behalf of some of the investors. I may be wrong, I just remember a particular law firm was looking for unhappy investors to go after EA with.

      Personally I think people should be doing this more often, not to chase damages or payouts, but to hold these companies accountable for more than fraudulent marketing puffery. (Hur hur, there ya go Jason)
      Knowingly shipping flawed products, payoffs and fraudulent marketing don't often get off so easy in other industries, I don't think gaming companies and publishers should be exempt from this.

      Hype is one thing, pure bullshit is another lol

        Ah, that wasn't made that clear in the article.

        Fair enough with investors you shouldn't really be using the same buzzwords that you spoonfeed your customers, but it's still to be expected. What're they supposed to say instead when trying to attract money? 'We're not so keen on the new platforms yet, give us a year or two and we'll start banging out 'quality' '.

        As far as I can see reading a bit further into the court doc, it's people playing the stock market and then being unhappy because they didn't get a decent return on their investments. Hey, sometimes that happens. It's called risk management. Sometimes a product isn't as successful as anticipated. If every company could accurately predict how a product will sell then everyone would be playing the stock market and getting minted.

        If investors are investing based solely on what a company says without looking at consumer feedback about the company then they're not very good investors tbh. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to find out that there's been a lot of bad rep regarding EA in recent years. Twice being named the US's worst company in some polls and even bad feedback about recent games like Sim City which they mention in their case. Surely knowing these things and knowing what consumers are like when everywhere is still recovering from the worst recession in decades, you wouldn't just take it as gospel when EA say 'everything will be alright'.

          Man, frankly they wouldn't bother with a suit unless they thought they had a chance. Clearly there was some corporate-level bullshit going on, as opposed to 'wah the game launched badly I don't wanna play it' which obviously holds nothing in court.

      I'm not sure in this case, however there was a large movement on the forums a few months after release with players wanting to sue ea. I cant remember the details but there was a lot of pissed people that wanted their money back but couldn't get it. Can't remember details but it was along the lines of yeah maybe you cant play but other people can so the problem isn't with our game its your system so to bad, even though peoples systems well and truly met the specs.

      In the last few days i did a re-install of the game and the expansions wouldn't work so i had to go and do some registry editing to finally make it see the files. Also there was a lot of people that things like port forwarding their routers was the only way they could get a game to not crash. I'm not anything amazing with computers but i'm sure a lot of people would feel it was to hard or like they shouldn't have to do such things just to get a game to work that meets their computers spec so i can sort of see their point.

      And you know MURICA!!!!!

      Last edited 23/10/14 11:15 am

      Can't really trade in a pc or a digital copy.

      I don't recall but were refunds available for those who bought digital?

        By default, no. Only when compelled by law, and only in the localities those laws applied to. And even then, by default, no, until someone can actually point to that law and challenge the 'default no'.

        I've been told that refunds is one of the few things origin (EA) does right.

        From what I understand if you request a refund within a short period of buying a product they usually grand it no questions asked, especially if it's something like sim city where it's clearly broken on launch.

        I've never tried this personally though so I may be wrong.
        Also, I'm not saying offering refunds is an excuse for trying to deceive customers as to the quality of a product in the first place.

    There is a serious issue with game devs lying about the state of games and releasing broken games. Look at the whole Colonial Marines debarkle.

    Honestly, there have been quite a few issues with Battlefield 4 I am certain would be against breaches of the Australian consumer law.

    If you're unhappy you should really just try and get a refund asap. They do have a right and time to try and patch. However they lied about this to probably stop people trying to get a refund. Remember they stopped all DLC until the game was fixed. Well that was a lie to quiet complaints. They only fixed the game a month or so back, and it still isn't up to BF3's standard.

    Even the content of DLC which we pre-ordered was misleading. Naval Strike had artwork of a fleet of ships, non of which were in the maps. It was described as 'Experience even more epic naval combat as the Chinese Armada takes the fight to the high seas in Battlefield 4 Naval Strike digital expansion pack coming Spring 2014.'

    Literally none of that is true. Naval combat was the same as paracel storm and so not 'more epic'. There is no Armada and the maps do not take place on the high seas. 100% misleading.

    Then in DLC, going back to BF3, the made various mentions of unlocks, weapons and all sorts of things a head of time which never materialized.

    Practically to a game a lot of this stuff doesn't really matter, but there seems to be a trend of more and more misleading bullshit. As well as less polished games being released.

    Hell one of my extra items in my Far Cry 3 version had the 'Lost Tales' with 60 minutes of extra game play. It was two missions, each being 10 minutes each. I believe they also had a timer for you to do them in. That's just blatant misleading behavior.

    This really is why you should never pre-order a game. Never trust a gaming review site. Find out peoples actual experiences.

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