When Publishers Attack!
Ah, the videogame industry. Where cunning business practices abound and members of the press who claim to care deeply about how games are perceived as an artform spend more time saying “IP” than the publishers’ actual intelectual property lawyers.
But sometimes publishers do something so sleazy, sketchy or downright shitty that it’s hard to chalk it up to simple hard-nosed business practices. These are the cases When Publishers Attack!
EA Releases FIFA 12 as FIFA 13
This year, like every year, EA decided they wanted to release a version FIFA for the Wii. Sure, the system is on its last legs with its follow-up, the Wii U just around the corner, but the PS2 still saw a few sports game releases this year. Why not?
The problem is they forgot to develop a new game.
Instead, they simply printed new box and a new batch of discs of FIFA 12. Or at least they might as well have.
For more screenshots, check out that Nintendo Gamer article I linked to above. It’s pretty damning evidence.
Now, I know some of you are making jokes about how that’s what they always do: just change the number and charge $50 for it. But most sports games at least undergo an overhaul in presentation to make it feel like something has been improved in the last year. EA didn’t even try, and still managed to scam $50 off a lot of hard working people.
I’d lash out at EA here, but I’ll save that for one of their later entries (yes, plural).
Darksiders II and the Credits that Weren’t
AAA game development is a long and arduous task requiring the contribution of dozens, if not hundreds of individuals. Some see a project through start to finish, while others are brought on to help finish up one aspect of the game.
The hours are long and the job security is practically nonexistent, but at least when the game is done you can pull up the credits and show your friends and family that you worked on something millions of people have played.
Unless you get left off the credits altogether that is.
One former Vigil Games developer spent several months working on Darksiders II‘s user interface. After playing the finished game, the UI of which still appeared to be about 90 percent his work, he noticed he was left off the credits.
Not only that, but it apparently wasn’t an oversight. Only current employees and those let go in a mass layoff were credited for their work on the game.
Really? They couldn’t at least throw a bunch of people a “additional programming by” credit?
Game development is a crap job in a lot of cases. At least they should get credit for their work.
EA Won’t Greenlight any Single-Player Only Projects
In an interview in the promotional… booklet… thing (ok, I’m not 100 percent sure what it’s supposed to be, but you can download it and see) for a cloud gaming conference last month, Gibeau bragged that he has not, and will not publish any single-player only games.
“We are very proud of the way EA evolved with consumers,” Gibeau said. “I have not green lit one game to be developed as a singleplayer experience. Today, all of our games include online applications and digital services that make them live 24/7/365.
“One of our biggest growth opportunities is Play4Free titles that allow customers to play at no cost and make purchases via microtransactions. We see this as a huge opportunity, and one that’s powered by our hybrid cloud model.”
Now, I understand market pressures to add DLC and other online extras, but really? NO single-player only games? Between Skyrim last year, Dishonored this year, and the pending releases of Bioshock Infinite next year, there might be some publications that give game of the year to a single-player only game three years running.
But I’m sure shoving online play into Dead Space 3 and Dragon Age 3 will work out great. You know, until EA kills the servers six months after the games come out.
So, what have we learned from these selected tales of terror, ripped straight from today’s gaming headlines?
The publishers aren’t your friends. No, EA shouldn’t have won the dubious title of Worst Company in America, but at the same time, they could honestly give a rat’s ass about you, the gamer.
And the other publishers aren’t any better. I’m not saying they’re out to get you. They simply don’t care about you beyond whether or not they get your money. Heck, many of the people making major decisions at these companies had few or any ties to the videogame industry before being put in these high-ranking positions. Reggie Fils-Aime used to work for Pizza Hut and VH1 before taking over at Nintendo. John Riccitiello worked for Pepsi and Sara Lee before his time at EA.
These are businesses, and they hire business people to make business decisions. Whether or not those decisions are good for gamers is pretty far down their list of criteria, if they even consider it at all.