What’s going on at EA?

AbandonShip

You really have to wonder what’s going on EA at the moment. Perhaps there’s a crisis of management, perhaps there’s something foul afoot – but you have to sit up and take notice when EA’s year has a such a tumultuous start. In the last week, the company’s seen three sets of executives leave.

First to go were Criterion  co-founders Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry. As you’re aware, Criterion mostly made a name for themselves by making excellent Burnout games, but for the last few years it seems that EA management has forced the company to make Need for Speed after Need for Speed – which is as likely a reason as ever for the pair to make an exit.

Speaking on the matter, Ward said on Twitter that he and Sperry were going to start a brand new company, so it’s quite ostensible that they felt creatively shackled. Last year, Criterion shrunk down to be a studio of just 17 staff.

Later departures from EA studios came from the casual sector. Popcap CEO Dave Roberts announced this week that he was leaving the company after 9 years at the helm, joining company co-founder Jason Kapalka in departing.

And now, casual gaming stablemates Chillingo – responsible for launching the first Angry Birds and Cut The Rope – has lost its founders as well. Founders Chris Byatte and Joe Wee announced earlier this week that they too were leaving the companies they created, leaving their brands under EA’s stewardship.

This all comes after the unexpected resignation of former EA boss John Ricitiello and the resulting management shuffle that’s seen former EA sports head Andrew Wilson take the reins.In somewhat related news, Visceral Games executive producer behind the frankly awful Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel has revealed how development of the game was rather unpleasant.

On his LinkedIn profile, producer Julian Beak iterated how the developers were on a “negative trajectory of morale” during the development of  Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel, leading  to what he calls an “underwhelming production.”

It’s starting to seem as though something is very rotten, deep inside the company that’s been voted the worst in America for two years running. Perhaps it’s the corporate culture; everything is decided and controlled by people in suits who know very little about games and very much about how nice profits look on a balance sheet. When creators have no creative freedom, their product inevitably suffers – as does any passionless thing that’s done ultimately for money.

EA, undeniably, still has some of the very best games and franchises – the new Mass Effect and  Dragon Age inquisition is certainly very high on my radar, for example – but if things continue this way, they might not have enough talented creatives left to make genuinely amazing games.

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Author:Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.
  • Umar of The Rebellion

    Mass Effect and Dragon will be much better without EA imo

  • TiMsTeR1033

    CAPTAIN I SEE A WHALE!! SHIVER ME TIMBERS! ITS A WHALE WITH EA BRANDING!!

    • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

      Winna!

  • Hammersteyn

    EA can suck my left one, they ruined the Dead Space series which had so much potential, C&C is in limbo, the first Army of Two was one of the best co-op games ever till they released the third. They raped Simcity and mutilated Syndicate. Medal of Honour is still the laughing stock of FPS games. Even Crysis is nothing special anymore.

    If it weren’t for BF and their monopoly on sports games coupled with the DLC behemoth known as The Sims they would have sunk a long time ago.

    • Lardus-Resident Perve

      Thanks, great summary of their year!

      • Hammersteyn

        These days EA games making games is liking asking a ice cream vendor to milk a rattle snake.

      • Gustav Willem Diedericks

        Sadly, it’s more of a summary of EA as a whole. They just set out to rape and destroy beloved IPs and development houses. until all that is left of those IPs or Dev houses are but shells of their former selves. Oh Westwood, I still mourn thee!

        • Lardus-Resident Perve

          All in service of share holders who only want to see profits and care nothing if the games are good as long as said profits rolled in. Bastards!

          • Gustav Willem Diedericks

            Bastards is but a compliment to them!

    • Marigold

      Arthur Gies from polygon loves dead space 3, but then he is a dick.

  • Anon A Mouse

    They probably couldn’t decide which colours to use in the Mass Effect ending this time around. Management probably only wanted to use green.

    • Hammersteyn

      They can use the whole freaking rainbow, it would still be the same ending for every choice.

  • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

    Eish

  • Rock789

    Dark days indeed for the EA brand…

    But please, for the love of all that is good and decent in this world, don’t take Bioware down with you! Seriously don’t! They are my peeps! And, for that matter, leave Visceral Games alone (who are responsible for 2 of my favourite games of the last generation – Dead Space (1!) and Dante’s Inferno). Come on EA, you guys are better than this. Start acting like it!

    • http://www.twitter.com/WobblyOnion Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      Well, the Doctors already left bioware – so it’s not really the same place either.

      • Rock789

        Damn, I forgot about that… I guess I must’ve blocked it out – too traumatic. Now I’m a sad panda all over again… :(

    • Hammersteyn

      Dante’s Inferno started with a bang but they rushed the games ending. It really just felt like you were going through the motions. Still, I loved that game.

      • Rock789

        Totally agree with you – the best part was the first half. But still, I love that game. Recently played and finished it again – still as fun as ever!

        • Hammersteyn

          The Devils dong still scares me :’(

          • Rock789

            Oh damn it! Another traumatic thing (no pun intended!) that my mind had helped me forget… Now I’m a sad AND frightened panda. :’(

          • Sageville

            “Devils dong”,

            Thanks, you know my imagination will produce nothing good from that.

          • Hammersteyn

            Have you played Dante’s Inferno? He runs after that you with that thing swinging between his legs.

    • Gareth L (That Guy)

      Unfortunately Bioware is just a name now. When the now-cancelled Command & Conquer was announded it was originally developed by “Bioware”. When no-one bit then they changed the developing team to “Victory Games, EA’s new RTS Studio”.

      It’s all one big mess really. EA can leave quietly now. The only losses will be the EA Sports titles, the rest will be picked up by other publishers. Yay!

      • tebowdragon15

        sports maybe fifa has to find new person nfl wil have to go to 2k nhl will be without title lol and it hurts the nhl playeers nba 2k will be again sole owner that bout it

        • Gareth L (That Guy)

          Dude, you seem like a decent enough fella but I must insist that you use some form of punctuation in your posts. ;)

          • Gareth L (That Guy)

            To the dear person that voted me down, may I kindly request that you provide a translation of what the post before mine actually says – or is trying to say. Thank you. :)

  • Gareth L (That Guy)

    So there’s a chance that the Dungeon Keeper and Syndicate rights could be given to someone else? Yay!

    • Hammersteyn

      Man I miss Dungeon Keeper.

    • Skyblue

      And System Shock please!

  • Kromas

    The only good thing they have done last year was to give Bioware the frostbite engine.

  • Marigold

    I’ll be very worried with any of this year’s EA titles. I won’t be surprised if titanfall and dragon age were both botched because EA’s on a fail streak.

  • tebowdragon15

    EA failing next up ea lost the exclusive licnese to nfl and will failed time to sell worst company in america in time for them to end and rebuilt land dput games back on steam

  • Jan Kleyn

    How can the company that ruined the online facebook scrabble game worldwide be taken seriously as a game programming company? They are an absolute disgrace. They took over a game that had an already established format,established fan base and an established revenue stream…..and killed it! What the hell were they thinking? After 7 months of solid protesting ,the fans worldwide still cannot even strike up any form of negotiation with this rubbish company. The other question begging an answer is, what the hell were Mattel thinking in giving the “worst company in America” winners two years running the contract to ruin Scrabble? Why have they not cancelled the contract with EA and handed it to a proper company with a set of guide lines to get the game right again? If,as has been the case, they cant get a simple established game like scrabble right,why the hell would any customer trust them with anything more complicated. SHAME ON BOTH OF THESE SHONKY COMPANIES…SHAME!!!!!

    • Heather Lambert

      You are so right Jan Kleyn,not only have ea destroyed the game of scrabble they have destroyed a community,shame on mattel for selling the contract to ea games!

  • gilly womack

    don’t know about going to a NEW COMPANY EA as ruined the online and the second most popular board game in the world SCRABBLE shame on you ………………PLEASE put it RIGHT after 7 months it is still unplayable you need a tom tom to navigate round the board its rubbish

    • Mandie Phinn

      Exactly Gilly! If they can’t get a simple format game like Scrabble right how are they still in business?? …. Scrabble isn’t exactly rocket science now is it!? …. Perhaps if they employed people who perhaps had an inkling about how to programme properly we might not be in this sorry state …… They have reduced an inteligent cerebral game into a kiddies party game!! Shame on you EA and shame on Mattel for blindly believing you were a computer game company …… you’re nowt by fantasists and medeocre ones at that ……. worst company three years running on the cards for you methinks!

  • gilly womack

    Geoffrey tim online scrabble was a MASTERPIECE which the formula was already there but you guys at EA ave trashed a intelligent game and made it as though it belongs at the fair ground in the arcade section ……shame on you

  • Abi Cottrill

    Hopefully now they can go back to producing the excellent games that brought them under EA’s greedy eye in the first place. All EA cares about is money, the couldn’t give a damn about the quality of the games they are releasing, facebook Scrabble is a case in point. They swallow up the competition whole and run it into the ground the smart talent leaves and the cycle starts all over again.

  • Cat Roberts

    EA and Mattel have inadvertantly killed the enjoyment of Scrabble for players worldwide. Constant refreshing, ads and movie trailers popping up, playing ‘anonymous’ or ‘guests’ and no way to chat to them. Massive flaws in the system. Had one game where I was awarded 111 points for a word that should have only been worth 12 points. Games disappear, the load time is getting longer and longer now, ads pop up after every single turn now, and people don’t want to talk anymore because every time you go into the chat it goes to another ad.You also have no way of blocking an abusive playing if you do get one. #dobetter #fixit #bringbackthescrabblewelove #heartofscrabble

    • Heather Lambert

      7 months we have been campaigning to have at least some of the features returned to scrabble to at least make it playable.Not only have ea ruined the iconic game,but their customer service leaves a lot to be desired.What happened to the custonmer is always right??? Obviously not in ea’s case,is it any wonder they have been voted worst company in the usa for 2 years running.What they have done is destroy a community,we used to be able to play our fb friends,plus play people from all around the globe.On May 28th they shut down the gamehouse version offering us a new “improved” version of the game of scrabble.What a load of bollocks that was,there is nothing improved at all about the game.Little did we know mattel had sold the rights to ea games,not only have ea taken away timed games,choice of opponent,a decent dictionary,they have made a mockery of scrabble with pop up adds and cartoon images,and so many more issues,they have failed to understand the social aspect of the game.For thousands of home bound people for whatever reason,scrabble was an outlet to the outside world.i myself will not play ea’s version of the game.Can they not admit they were wrong,can they not see all the negative feedback on the scrabble fan page,can they not hear the people who relied on scrabble to connect with the outside world.My only wish is to win a large lottery and buy out ea,allocate dedicated real people to man the ea boat.People not robots with no heart…….Rant over I dislike your company very much!!!

      • Heather Lambert

        #bringbackthescrabblewelove

        • Cat Roberts

          Excellently summed up Heather. They need to do better!!

      • gilly womack

        why do they always think when designing things or games its going to be great just because they do …….if it aint broke don’t fix it ??? a perfectly good game RUINED why was a survey not done . why were the scrabble players not asked ???

    • Gary Ellison

      Hijackers

  • mick cranfield

    what’s going on i’ll tell you EA have ruined another perfectly good online game Scrabble when they took it over from Gamehouse . Are they going for another bad record ? it’s not rocket science to make it playable and make millions of people happy again so come EA do the right thing and sort it out please !!

    • Amanda

      Too right Mick. It’s not rocket science and they’d gain so much human capital by listening and acting on disgruntled players’ concerns!

      • Gary Ellison

        KG wants his group back

        • Amanda

          Actually, all reports suggest that he doesn’t. He just doesn’t care anymore. He’s moved on from ‘The Great Group Takeover’ to matters that no doubt hold more lasting meaning to him.

    • Teres Nicholson

      The old version of scrabble that was snatched from us is user-friendly, straight forward and loved by the elderly, middle-age and young people. During the winter season, we love to stay home and look forward to play with friends all over the world. OAP friends are grateful that we can chat and play with them without leaving home and they don’t feel alone. We made lots of friends and helped lone, ill and disabled people, cheered up lonely people with this social game. Then Mattel and EA decided to take it away from us, giving us no notice or warning that we will lose our opponents who are not on our friends list and proudly gave us a new unplayable version, so fiddly that elderly people with joint pains and limited movements no longer want to play the game.They gave up and that is very sad. It is very cruel for Mattel and EA to treat loyal players who brought them lots of revenue from the adverts. It is like giving a toy to kids to play with and when Mattel and EA saw the kids are having fun and enjoying themselves, they have to take the toy away and ‘kidnap’ the friends they made and let them disappear forever. Mattel think we deserve less so they asked EA to design a crappy game. That is no way to treat the elderly and disabled players especially and the people who love this game!

    • Gary Ellison

      Give it back

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