electronic arts Feature

Is EA’s listing As One Of America’s Most Hated Companies Too Harsh?

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Electronic Arts is no stranger to featuring in ‘Worst Company’ polls and lists, even if the context of its inclusion is utterly ridiculous at times. This latest list, by 24/7 Wall Street for USA Today dubbed ‘Bad Reputation: America’s 20 Most Hated Companies’ has the video game publishing giant at 5th.

What’s remarkable about it is the companies it outranks on the list. Especially when comparing the rap sheets. These businesses include The Weinstein Company, Monsanto and Vice Media.

EA’s much-criticised issues (and rightly so) of insidious pay-to-win features in full price games and shuttering of studios who can’t or won’t conform to such models has drawn ire from large swathes of the gaming community. It has, in many ways, become the poster child for all that is considered wrong in the AAA games industry.

Yet, as disagreeable as these actions are in the context of this industry, it’s almost like a child nicking sweets compared to the atrocities and heinous business practices found in many of the companies it shares space with on this list.

star wars battlefront 2
Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot boxes didn’t go down too well.

Among the crimes (including some actual crimes at that) to be found at some of the other companies here are sexual harassment, fraud, intolerable working environments, and intellectual property theft. Just to name a few.

Uber for instance, ranked 14th, and this is a company so disastrous in its its dealings that London denied it a license to operate because of its lack of corporate responsibility. What about 16th placed Monsanto? – a company blamed for the death of nearly half a million people in the past via its chemical agents. It recently had to slap a warning on its weed killer that it can cause cancer.

In fact just a spot behind EA on the list is a company who, in an effort to halt suicides from the roof of its Chinese compound, installed safety nets rather than correct atrocious living and working conditions. More recently it has driven people in Wisconsin out of their homes on a landgrab. That company makes motherboards for the Nintendo Switch, which is the closest we get to a gaming connection on this top 20 other than EA.

EA is deemed worse than all this (and more) because it shut some studios and put aggressive microtransactions in Star Wars Battlefront II. Only the University of Phoenix, the NFL (possibly more ridiculous than EA’s inclusion), Fox Entertainment Group, and Equifax rank higher.

It’s not all about angry fans to be fair. To identify the most hated companies in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a variety of metrics on customer service, employee satisfaction, and financial performance. It considers consumer surveys from a number of sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and a Zogby Analytics poll created in partnership with 24/7 Wall St. It also reviewed employee satisfaction based on worker opinion scores on Glassdoor. The consumer revolt is a factor in EA figuring so high, but clearly isn’t the only one.

Bioware’s Last Stand?

anthem release date
Anthem incoming from EA/Bioware in 2019.

There’s no doubt EA have garnered a lot of well-deserved criticism over practices, especially the more recent ones, but it’s bewildering to see it considered a worse overall company than some truly abominable ones featured. That it stands alone to represent the video game industry’s negative side is somewhat harsh as well. EA certainly isn’t alone in pushing the less desirable aspects of ‘Games as a Service’. It’s probably also not even the worst example of it.

When to expect Respawn’s Star Wars game

The one small upside, no matter how ridiculous its inclusion might be, is that it spotlights some of the underlying issues within the medium. The question is, will that be enough to make publishers act to correct it? Probably not, at least not in the way you’d hope. The only real damage that can affect change is a significant dent in the pocket, and while Battlefront II is under-performing, it’s still a drop in the ocean, and ultimately the loser is the developers if history is anything to go by. That is perhaps where EA need to make its biggest change.

As ever, the criticism of insidious practices in the industry matters, but it needs to be far more even-handed, and a lot less hysterical.

  • tk11

    no it’s not

  • jacobia

    Great article, Neil. I agree that, in context to some of the other companies you mentioned from this top 20 list, EA being closer to the top does seem really bizarre. Especially when compared to the others that appear to violating human rights 🤔

  • JayPi

    I’d say so, when you have other companies that literally destroy people’s livelihoods it’s weird that a greedy company who’s video games you can completely avoid gets considered worst than those companies.

    • NoME2WasNotAGoodGame


      Can’t complain about it when millions upon millions of idiots still waste cash on their games.

  • KingofHeroes

    I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the rustling noise of the big wad of cash from EA in your back pocket.

    • NoME2WasNotAGoodGame

      EA can’t hear you either, your latest purchase of the IP you can’t seem to not buy has made your cry useless.

      • J.j. Barrington

        Did you check his library of games and see that he did, indeed, buy EA-published game, and bought them new?

        You must have a lot of free time to not play your own games, because you’ve made this claim of a few people now.

  • T2x

    Actually, it’s ridiculous. In my opinion, making the “Worst Company list” Should be reserved for companies who make boat loads of money and don’t take care of their employees or are engaging in really shady business practices. Some examples:Comcast, Wells Fargo, Walmart, Providien, ect. Just because EA tried to make money in a half assed way using loot crates, or some other perceived Pay to win methods, it doesn’t mean they were ruining people’s lives. I understand people want certain things out of their games and products, but seriously, it wasn’t as if they were price gouging a vital utility needed to survive. They make games. Toys. People love to hate on things and jump on the bandwagon. especially children.

    • ThrowawayAccount

      “Actually, it’s ridiculous. In my opinion, making the “Worst Company
      list” Should be reserved for companies who make boat loads of money and
      don’t take care of their employees or are engaging in really shady
      business practices.”

      Interesting you say that because EA does make boat loads of money, they don’t give a shit about their employees and they ARE engaging in really shady business practices (anti-consumer ones that is).

  • ThrowawayAccount

    It’s not too harsh. It’s a shitty company that sucks the spirit out of any creative project and infuses it with nothing but greed. How much money/free stuff/services did you get to suck up to EA this way?

    “As ever, the criticism of insidious practices in the industry matters,
    but it needs to be far more even-handed, and a lot less hysterical.”

    Nope. It needs to be hysterical, it needs to be amped up much more. Because otherwise it ends up just fizzling away. What you are trying to do there is to downplay the impact that these business practices has in the long term because you are likely either bought by the people you defend or you just don’t give a shit. EA needs to hurt and loose as much as possible, not for the purpose of changing them… They won’t be changed… But merely to discredit their practices.

    I know I won’t buy another shooter published by them, especially not a Battlefield/Battlefront one.

    • NoME2WasNotAGoodGame

      You still buy their games. You deserve it.

  • NoME2WasNotAGoodGame

    Tells me how childish and entitled gamers are. You idiots buy their crappy games and then cry because they’re evil. Call yourself a wahmbulance. There’s corporations that keep cures for disease on lock because the cure for symptoms are more profitable to sell, but EA making a bad game you could see from the FREE BETAS THEY ALWAYS HAVE is reason to call them the worst? When you’re dumb enough to buy these games? Get over yourselves. Gamers have to be some of the dumbest consumers I’ve seen in decades. Even comic fans don’t put up with franchise abuse. Gamers roll over a dozen times before they realize they’ve been had…followed up with more purchases+ forum crying.

    Gamers. You suck.

    • J.j. Barrington

      Given your history of comments, you’ve got no place to be calling people childish.

      • NoME2WasNotAGoodGame

        Quit following me you faggot.

        • Beasley2K

          Case in point.

          • NoME2WasNotAGoodGame

            ^Pony from N4G that thinks he’s smart.

          • J.j. Barrington

            You sure are prone to ironic statements.

        • J.j. Barrington

          Ah. I was mistaken. “Childish” is a bit too mature for you.

  • Derrick Hoel

    They should be crucified just on Madden alone. How this constantly putrid pile of shit ever gets above a 6 out of 10 is beyond my capacity for thinking.

  • Zatoichi

    Nope. People really despise EA. Companies such as Planned Parenthood do truly evil things and they are not held in as poor a regard as EA.

    Hate is a qualitative thing not a quantitative one.

    • J.j. Barrington

      What “truly evil” things does Planned Parenthood do?

  • LordCancer Kain

    no, they are disgusting people. hate is an appropriate start.

  • Beasley2K

    No, and you know it. They are damaging the industry and exploiting young and stupid gamers with malevolent business practices. They’re a burden to gaming and are only still around because they can throw money at problems with no real solution.

    If people consider them one of the worst companies, that’s completely fair. To be honest, the only reason they are getting away with it is because people are stupid enough to continue supporting their malpractice, so in a way you can’t blame them.

    But this has to stop somewhere.