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EA Games: Bad Guy or Anti-Hero?

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News of EA Games closing a Maxis studio circulated through gaming sites a few weeks ago, and the reception was wildly negative. EA Games is one of the gaming publishers people love to hate. After all, only gamers can rally together to say EA is a worse company than one that produces poison to be consumed by the American people and creates Agent Orange (Read: Monsanto). Surely EA Games is a terrible company that no one should like, but if people really hate this company that much, how are they still in business?

The reason is people will still buy the latest Battlefield game. EA is evil when you talk about Battlefield‘s rehashing nature, or their compulsive need to buy companies and close them down, or the fact their game launches are terrible. That all gets thrown out the window when you mention Mass Effect and Dragon Age, however – then people seem to forget about how much they hate EA.

Just how evil is EA, though? With the closure of a branch of Maxis was EA in the right? Developers have to deliver on a certain level of game sales and game quality. That’s how the developer gets the money to make the game. SimCity failed in delivering on a complete game, and the sales, and overall reception reflected the game’s overall quality. I would have to say that EA Games is in the right for closing the Maxis. I understand at this point people will type furiously about how I’m an EA shill, but my point stands.

SimCity was a bad game, there’s no doubt about it. This raises the question of who is actually responsible for a failing game. Is it the company who funds and distributes the product (Publishers), or is it the one that makes the product? It is somewhat of a grey area for me because publishers still hold a lot of power over developers when it comes to creative control. After all, they are the ones with the checkbooks.

EA’s demands most likely contributed to SimCity‘s failing and the biggest complaint was the DRM inclusion that seemed useless for a SimCity game. The subject of DRM is so unpopular with PC gamers, that SimCity‘s always-on DRM practically guaranteed lost sales. Aside from that controversial fiasco and gamers’ inability to log in for a little over a week debacle, SimCity was still unplayable for the most part.

It was riddled with bugs, glitches, and male genitalia. Obviously two of those are real problems and the other one is a PEBKAC error. Either way, I feel as though both parties should take a certain amount of responsibility when it comes to the success and failure of a game. Should Gearbox have been closed down for Aliens: Colonial Marines? Probably, but because the brand name the developer brings to gaming is generally positive, it was brushed off despite the class action lawsuit that followed.

Now, I personally don’t know how much creative control EA had in the development of SimCity, but I can easily say I’m not surprised that they punished Maxis with a location closure. What I am surprised about is that it took this long to do so.

What do you guys think? Was EA in the wrong? Who is responsible for the success and failure of a videogame? Let us know in the comments.

About Zach Martinez

Freelancer here at Armed Gamer, North American Video Game Correspondent for Following the Nerd, and a regular on Examiner.com, Zach has made somewhat of a name for himself at the age of 23. He has been writing professionally for just over 5 years now. He doesn't care about resolution or frames per second, he cares about what matters most, the games. You can reach reach him directly at zach.martinez09395@yahoo.com.

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