Few publishers in the video game industry are as disliked or consistently criticised as Electronic Arts. EA has admittedly made some baffling moves over the years, deserving of our ire.
Whether it’s describing loot boxes as “surprise mechanics”, winning the exclusive rights to the Star Wars license only to completely balls it up, or that whole ridiculous thing about “pride and accomplishment”, the company invites controversy like my nan invites strangers in for a cup of tea and a Jaffa Cake – worryingly often.
As it turns out, there are plenty of higher-ups at EA who are not only all too aware of their reputation (how could they not be?) but also find it genuinely disheartening to be seen as the video game equivalent of the Galactic Empire no matter what they do.
EA Executive Vice President of Strategic Growth Matt Bilbey recently discussed the public perception of his company with Gamesindustry.biz, revealing that after 25 years, he still finds it hard to be seen as one of the bad guys.
25 years at EA and I still struggle with the external perception that we’re just a bunch of bad guys. We love making and playing games. Unfortunately, when we make mistakes on games, the world knows about it because it’s of a size and scale.
It is worth pointing out that a big focus of the Gamesindustry.biz article (which you should absolutely check out) is EA Originals, which is a publishing label that aims to help small indie developers create games, with every penny of the profit apparently going straight back to the developer.
Last month, it was revealed that EA CEO Andrew Wilson, along with a number of other executives at the company, refused their cash bonuses for the latest financial year. This decision was reportedly made because of EA’s less than impressive financial results for Fiscal Year 2019.
Wilson and others cited a desire to “maintain alignment with our pay-for-performance executive compensation philosophy.” The money that would have gone to the executives will instead be placed into a bonus pool of around $4.8 million, which will be paid to employees.
A cynic might suggest that EA is only now making these kind of moves in a conscious effort to attract better press, but then again, who cares if the outcome is a better, fairer time for the developers who work on the company’s games?
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.