For the second year in a row, game publisher EA was voted by Consumerist magazine's readership to be "America's Worst Company." It beat Bank of America, Comcast, and Ticketmaster to the punch, which took the second, third, and fourth places, respectively.
EA's run to the dubious honor was nothing short of an adventure. It faced stiff competition from the likes of AT&T, Facebook, and Anheuser-Busch in the championship round. In the final round, it gouged 78 percent of the vote-share compared to Bank of America's 22 percent, to bag the not-so-prized "Golden Poo" award.
This time around, EA invited consumers' wrath for:
- Its shift to the micro-transactions and "pay-to-win" business models
- Not cutting it out with shipping incomplete games and selling the rest of them in pricey DLCs
- Atrocious DRM practices. People didn't like how you needed to stay plugged in to EA's servers to play the otherwise offline SimCity.
- The Origin ramthroat. Pulling its digitally distributed games out of Steam, and making people install what is essentially identical to it
Writes the Consumerist,
The recent release of SimCity 5 came with the news that users would need to be connected to the Internet in order to simply play by one's self. The company claims it is not a form of anti-piracy digital rights management (though not many people believe that), but instead is about "realiz[ing] a vision of players connected in regions to create a SimCity that captured the dynamism of the world we live in; a global, ever-changing, social world." Translated, that means EA wants you to always be online so you'll be encouraged to buy things from the in-game store.
Penny Arcade's Ben Kuchera recently wrote,
"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, because none of the company's $60 boxed releases are finding much success with either critics or gamers."
Evidently, EA is taking "challenge everything" a little literally.