I don't know what's worse, the fact they 'won' this award, or the fact they just don't care.
When I told you that there would be some lows this week I wasn't really kidding. Last week Electronic Arts had the "honour" to receive the award for Worst Company in America, beating out such competitors as AT&T, PayPal, Comcast and winning in the finals over Bank of America ... yes, seriously. The user based poll ended with more than a quarter million votes in total, and by the time the dust settled EA had won -- to use the term in the loosest possible way -- the day.
Tellingly, the Consumerist itself seems to have predicted some of the reaction from people, issuing the following statement in the above linked article:
"To those who might sneer at something as "non-essential" as a video game company winning the Worst Company In America vote: It's that exact kind of attitude that allows people to ignore the complaints as companies like EA to nickel and dime consumers to death."
Certainly the freshest incident in the minds of many gamers would be all the vitriol being thrown about over the Mass Effect 3 ending, but there was plenty to complain about before then as well. EA has seemingly been keeping a fairly good track record when it comes to things like games that seem to have DLC which many would contend should have been on the disc in the first place, as well the nasty habit of buying up any small fry competition. One might argue that that's the law of the jungle, but the idea of a large company throwing their weight around doesn't sit too well with a lot of people, myself included.
Paul Tassi of Forbes asserts in his article EA is the Worst Company in America, Now What? that EA,
"were Zynga before Zynga existed, buying up promising companies and gutting them so they were no longer competition, harvesting the best ideas for themselves. The complete list of EA’s acquisitions over the years is massive, and they’ve killed many beloved brands in the process."
Of course the worst part about all of this is that EA just doesn't seem to care. The company certainly gave the impression of wanting to pass the buck when they issued this statement:
“We’re sure that British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren’t nominated this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide.”
Never mind that as the article I've linked to points out that three of the four companies they've mentioned have actually won the award before. Nevertheless you'd think that a company might at least try what would amount to lip service by saying that they're willing to look at why they got such a title in the first place. Instead EA is merely flippant, and the sad part is why shouldn't they be?
John Tossi and others have pointed out that when places like EA control so much of the market that it's pretty much just a matter of apathy towards the problems that allows the problems to continue. People will buy the games, and some surely will complain; it doesn't stop them from buying the next title in the series though, or games from other franchises that EA has acquired. When a company can come to rely on the fact that regardless of how many people call them out there will always be more than enough profit rolling in where can the impetus to change actually come from?