For the second year in a row The Consumerist has rated Electronic Arts (via public voting) the worst company in America.
This of course was done via popular vote and Electronic Arts is the most popular worst company in America.
I think that if anything is what they actually are, the most popular bad company in America. Not the worst by any means. There are obviously some voting problems here. If polls were setup outside of Walmarts showing all of the various propaganda about the bad stuff Walmart does, Walmart might be the worst.
This article acts as a defense of Electronic Arts, not because they are great guys, but because there are far worse villains in the world than the guys who make video games for a living.
Why Electronic Arts?
If you ask the President of Electronic Arts why he feels EA got this award he would say it’s because they’re the top, or more oddly… that people targeted them because of their pr-LGBT stance.
This last point was very odd. Bioware (the RPG branch of EA) make games that feature characters who you can make into lesbians and homosexuals. Mass Effect 3 most notoriously features a gay black love affair that you can craft if you want it. SWTOR came under heavy fire when they said they would add in LGBT relationships and even more when they actually did it.
So I decided to go to the White Supremicist web site that has been around for a little over 20 years. I first found Stormfront when I became intellectually interested (as a child) on whether or not racists actually still exist… they most certainly do. Stormfront like any other white supremicist league has a fervent and powerful gaming community. So some quotes from their forum on Mass Effect 3:
“Im disappointed in the open faggotry in this game, in one scene a male negro talks about losing his husband back on earth…
So pointless and disgusting to have stuff like that in a game, shame on you Bioware.”
“The first 31 hours of gameplay… I really liked. Tense action, good sense, atmosphere, music, story (slightly less dialogue options than in ME2 though) but… What really, really bugged me was the ending/s. The Stargazer cut-scene was a nice reflection though, but the initial choices are a bit too similar in a depressing way, imo.”
“ME3 was a great game until the ending. I here most fans hated the ending so much that they’ve either subscribed to “Indoctrination theory”; in which Shepard is hallucinating the end scene, or are complaining to Bioware to write a new one in DLC form.”
“I agree. It’s pointless and annyoing to have political correct and multicultural marxist agenda in games. It’s everywhere.
I couldn’t believe it when that pilot Cortez started crying to my Shepard about the loss of his husband. And it gets worse, you can overhear conversation on the Citadel in which a woman is searching for her wife. Then there is the black guy Anderson romantically involved with Kahlee Sanders, one of the few remaining blond haired, blue eyed humans (apparently in Mass effect universe genuine blond hair and blue eyes are almost nonexistent ). And of course, except the Reapers, we have the other bad guys, Cerberus , “human supremacist” group. Etc. Yuck! I’m sorry now that I bought ME3. I finished it but it left a sour taste in my mouth.
It’s sad that gaming industry joined in pushing a certain agenda.”
Yes as it seems even the white supremicists are split on homosexuality in Mass Effect 3. From a simple sampling of 100 responses I found a little under 50% did not care about the gay relationships while another 50% were actively boycotting Electronic Arts.
Although it is possible that there were church groups and hate groups working against EA to try and make them the top, it might only represent a smaller portion of society.
So what is the real reason EA was voted the worst company in America?
There are two distinct reasons that are both true and when combined make for a surefire winner.
The first is that gamers are the most connected players in the world. They watch more Youtube videos than any other crowd, they spend more hours on Reddit than any other sub-reddit, and take in more news than the average person. Gamers in their heightened intellectual state are also prone to protest.
The mass protest of gamers in 2011 was enough to cause legislatures to consider the Stop Online Piracy Act.
A year later the protest of gamers was enough to stop any real legislation in regards to violent video games.
Video gamers are a giant and powerful untapped voting electorate that no politician has ever sought to capture. On top of this they are also one of the most international crowds. Electronic Arts ships its games off to over 300 countries world wide. There is no other company on the list that even matches this.
When I voted (as a Canadian) in this poll it never once asked me what country I was from. It just allowed me to vote. To this extent this massive international block could swing in and send a note to the gaming industry, hey, you guys suck!
But with that in mind had it been ANY games publishing company on that list, they would have been worst as well. Activision could have easily won this award simply for being the only games publishing company on the list.
If there were two on the list, neither might have won. One of the problems with this is you have four major retailers, four major banks, four cable networks, two postal delivery services, seven Internet providers, three airlines, four credit services, and a cruise line… that’s a lot of split voting.
In a political situation it would be like if half of the Democrats left the Democratic Party and created The New Liberal Party of America. This would split the Liberal vote in half and cause the Republicans to win every election. This is basically what is happening in this poll.
So that’s a long winded way of saying #1.
The second reason has to do with their business practices, although as I will show later, their’s are not nearly as bad as others. Electronic Arts releases SimCity and on the first day you can purchase three DLC packs. Each of these cost $10 and add a lot to the game in terms of functionality. That makes the actual price of the game to be $90 when games like Cities in Motion 2 are running around selling their game for $20.
This kind of business practice of splitting up games and nickle and diming consumers is enough to anger people. It gets worse with SWTOR’s free to play model making you purchase toolbars and character slots (and expansions).
When you have a company that sells 50 million games a year and in each one of those they try and nickle and dime people a little bit…. it’s going to have a lot more breadth than some of these other guys.
Actual Worst: The Banks – Bank of America, Chase, Capital One, and Wells Fargo
It’s funny that America’s economy can be entirely blamed on a collection of banks conspiring to cheat consumers and in term cheat the country… and yet people are so willing to jump on a video game publisher.
It’s like if Satan was marching his army across the world conquering as he went and a gypsy was stealing quarters at a market, people would be more willing to tell off the gypsy woman than Satan.
But that’s exactly how it is.
10 years ago the banks of America were caught using poor business practices, that they still use today.
The worst of these is giving people mortgages, that they know people would be unable to pay back. They allow people to take bets through differential investment insurance on whether these people will fail at paying their mortgage and when they can’t pay their mortgages these guys take their homes and in turn profits go to the guys betting against them.
This happened all across America and still happens. Bank of America is clearly the worst of the worst. With a four way split vote on banks it’s amazing that Bank of America was even able to get into the finals
But I ask this.
What is worse from a company.
A company that will liquidate the total assets and home of 1000 families functionally making them homeless and destitute. Or a guy who charges you an extra $5 for a character slot?
Because the effects of Bank of America are not as every day visual as EA’s it might be hard to see how bad this collection of banks are exactly.
Interesting fact about… interest. Interest was first established by Jewish bankers in the 11th century. The idea was Jews would store your money in a bank, they would take your money and invest it in something and you would collect interest. The interest rate would be competitive with other bankers and so bankers would be forced to give larger and larger cuts of their international profit.
Every day nickle and dime include the transaction fee which was first introduced by Bank of America. This practice became so big that banks started offering people to trade their interest gains for transaction fee removal. Yes the banks convinced us that they were doing us a favour… as opposed to us having done them a favour by letting them hold our money.
Unfortunately the victims of this bank are so destitute and broke they don’t have a voice to speak out against these guys.
#2 Worst: Walmart
I can understand there might be a little resentment towards Sears, JCPenny, and BestBuy. But honestly, none of that resentment is even remotely close to that of Walmart.
Walmart is such a clear second worst company in America. However instead of being rated second it gets to be tied with AT&T for third because of how the voting brackets worked out.
Walmart is everywhere. It is the largest distributor of goods in the world. They purchase and sell more stuff than anyone would have ever thought possible.
However simply being large is not a problem.
Walmart has two major problems that make them second worst.
The first, and most critical is they do not treat their employees well. Here in Canada Walmart has most recently been caught in a foreign workers fraud. Basically in Canada if you cannot hire from the local population you can hire foreign workers to temporarily work in the country and reduced rates. Walmart fired a large portion of their staff and replaced them with foreign workers. Other countries have this and I have no doubt Walmart does this world wide.
Another major labour problem involves unions.
Walmart hates unions.
In Quebec a Walmart staff voted to become unionized. They signed on with he Canadian Autoworkers Union (the CAW creates and supports small unions for such places similar to how the Teamsters work in America). Less than a week later the Walmart announced it was closing down. All staff was laid off and everyone lost their job. Walmart did not want the idea of a unionized Walmart to spread to other Walmarts.
A second major problem with Walmart involves their foreign workers. All those cheap goods we buy come at a cost. Walmart operates thousands of sweat shops in China using mostly prison labour but also some child labour. Under these conditions people make all of the goods we find at Walmart.
The goods are sent to your local Walmart where Walmart sells them so cheaply that local made non-sweat shop goods cannot survive. Other retailers are fighting to survive against the Walmart Juggernaut.
Third Worst: Carnival Cruise Lines
I’m sure there are tones of reasons to hate AT&T, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft… I really do. But I don’t think Google changing the layout of Youtube or Facebook adding Timeline really cut it against real hard hitting problems of some of these companies.
Most recently the US Senate indicated the Carnival Cruise Lines costs the US Navy $4.2M in rescues with over 90 serious incidents.
As a response Carnival Cruise Lines indicated that it is maritime tradition to help anyone who is in need and referenced that they sent one of their cruises to aid Florida.
And this is where it gets kind of weird. First it means that the people on that cruise were sent off to Florida instead of their normal regular destination. And second it means that Carnival Cruises have way more problems than you will often hear about. With over 90 serious incidents there is more going on in Carnival Cruise Lines than you might think.
I don’t even know why it is called an American company. Carnival Cruise Lines is based out of some small island in the Bahamas and simply using American services for their cruise. Yes, they don’t pay taxes.
Most cruise lines will cancel their cruise if the weather is too bad. As compensation they will often offer various packages around the same time on ships that are sailing that won’t encourage weather problems.
Not Carnival Cruise, this discount carrier will go no matter what. More often than not passengers will get dropped off on random countries that are not on the list. Some of these areas do not have access to an international airport meaning once you get on this cruise, you cannot get off no matter what.
And you really get the idea that it is discount.
People often report unclean conditions, shortages of food, bad smells everywhere, understaffing, theft, and nickle and diming.
I can’t see how Electronic Arts who charge you $10 for DLC can even be compared to these charltons who are seemingly so incompetent.
EA Isn’t the Worst
EA gets a lot of flak because they are the kings of an industry that is full of despicable business practices and games being pushed forward before they are done. Electronic Arts is a symbol of all of the problems almost every single gaming company out there has, not the exception.
I didn’t mention it until now, but it is worth mentioning. Recently Electronic Arts laid off a large portion of it’s staff at a Montreal based studio that worked on mobile apps.
This is not a shitty EA specific decision, this is something every single gaming company out there does all the time. The problem is that because Electronic Arts is so freaking huge
When I worked for Bioware (pre-EA) and Ubisoft prior I was hired on for a contract in which my contract expired on the release date. If they pushed back development I would get a contract extension. The work I did was not needed beyond the development of those games.
This is the uncertain world that video game developers live in. Everything they do is very specialized and because of this once a game is done, they’re not needed anymore. Looking at Bioware’s hiring I found this:
It’s very obvious from this job posting that one of these two positions is a temporary one.
This is how it is for people who make games everywhere. They want to get that position on the left, but they have to start off with a bunch of those positions on the right.
In a game development cycle it starts off with artists who are working out the conceptual stuff. Artists include both graphical and authors who are working out the story. After six months they might hire on some people to work very specifically with character models and another to work on just backgrounds. Staff shifts from one job to another and on launch day there is a giant set of lay offs. The only people kept on are usually those who have the skills to work on effective DLC who generally get contract extensions.
These people who are held on might get transferred to another project as the DLC runs out. They then hire on another wave of people to work on another project.
Every single company does this. The fact that EA might hire on a thousand people to make a game means that they’ll probably lay off a thousand people once the game is made.
If this still disgusts you remember every single game developer does it and the only way to stop it would be to boycott all games… which you will never do.