Opinion: Electronic Arts has just been elected the Worst Company in America, as the company also addresses the thousands of letters it receives calling for an to LGBT relationships in its games. Really?
Seriously, there are times when it's just plain embarrasing to admit to being a gamer in polite company, and today I'm feeling that in spades. Overnight, in a reader-driven vote at consumer-advocacy site The Consumerist, EA beat out The Bank of America in the final bracket; it beat the financial institution by nearly a third.
And this, on the same day that EA revealed that it has seen thousands of letters from people complaining about having same sex relationships forced down their throats (sorry, couldn't resist - trying to add some levity to my rage here).
I will admit, there are times when I don't think EA actually has our best interests at heart (oh who am I kidding - no way they do!). Does the company likely hold undue influence over its developer houses, turning once creative developers into ONE-OF-US production houses? Chances are, yes. Has this attitude affected great series like Mass Effect 3? Sure - why not.
But, I put it to you, it does not equate to companies that pay slave wages to employees, that foreclose on homes and put families onto the street, or that have work conditions so dire that the company's a by-word for work-place violence.
As an observer at Forbes points out, it's one thing to vote angry, but it's another to actually commit to real change. You know, you could always... not buy something. No doubt that's what a lot of people are doing, but there's far more people who are looking at things like paid DLC and what-have-you and thinking "Yeah, I can afford this, so why not?"
And don't get me started in how ignorant The Consumerist itself seems, when it compares Bank of America to EA:
After all, if you want to avoid BofA's fee-frenzy, there are any number of other banks and credit unions you can try. But if you want to de-stress from a day of being kicked around by the world by playing a game of FIFA Soccer with your friends, you're out of options.
Out of options? Of course; it's not as if there are any other companies making soccer games out there... oh wait. THERE IS.
In fact, the entire idea that EA is the new Satan - drive, doubtlessly, by fan-rage over the Mass Effect ending and BF3-hate - actually makes me want to perversely support the company more.
In fact, there are solid reasons to do just that. In an article at GamesIndustry.biz, EA's responded to thousands of anti-gay emails by saying it will not be changing its attitude to same-sex relationships in games like Mass Effect and The Old Republic, and rejecting any notion that it's been pressured into it. "EA has not been pressured by any groups to include LGBT characters in our games. However, we have met with LBGT groups and sponsored industry forums to discuss content and harassment of players in online forums. In short, we do put options for same-sex relationships in our games; we don't tolerate hate speech on our forums," said Jeff Brown, VP of corporate communications at EA, said to the reporter.
Given the issues surrounding being a gamer and being gay, it's refreshing to see a company that actively supports that community. And despite what the haters claim, these relationships are not forced on players.
It makes me wonder just which party compromised this vote in the first place - the highly vocal Mass Effect fans forming fleets to fight the apparent good fight, or the anti-gay activists writing in their indignant "won't somebody think of the children" letters?