How EA Can Win Back Consumers

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Earlier this month, Electronic Arts received a ton of negative attention after the release of a controversial poll centered on consumer practices. With a total of over 250,000 votes, fans of the popular Consumerist website voted EA as the Worst company In America for 2012. While EA officials responded to the criticism by saying that they would continue to produce high quality games, the fact remains that gamers are tired of their nickel and diming methods.

After taking a deeper look at the problem, I thought about several other issues that the company should address. This article is meant to elaborate on these conflicts and tackle solutions that the company could take moving forward.  Do you agree with any of these points? Do you have any suggestions that I might have missed? Feel free to leave your thoughts below.

Rejuvenate Sports Franchises

Since debuting back in 1991 as the Electronic Arts Sports Network, EA Sports has garnered a tremendous amount of success by creating quality titles ranging across virtually every type of sport. Eventually after being on top for a while, they started to drop the ball and found themselves in heated competition with companies like 2k Sports. The challenge was positive because it allowed them to rethink their strategies and reboot popular franchises.

While the verdict is still pending on NBA live 13, both SSX and FIFA Street were each phenomenal remakes in their own right. Two other popular titles that are long overdue for a reboot are NBA Street and NCAA Basketball. The mere idea of having a pro basketball game without a college equivalent version to import over players seems like a missed opportunity. Given that EA Sports still remains in active conversations with the representatives behind the NCAA license, it isn’t impossible to resurrect this series.

Alternatively, the casual sports fans would enjoy fresh takes on both the NBA Street and Def Jam Vendetta properties. There is a whole new generation that will be eager to experience what these games have to offer. The decision to recreate old classics would be deemed risky, but it also has the potential to preserve the essence of a franchise while also enticing both new and old fans alike.

Buy Key Franchises

Back in 2008, EA made a bold offer to buyout Take-Two Interactive at an estimated 2 Billion dollars. With franchises like Grand Theft Auto, BioShock, and NBA 2k all performing well, Take-Two publically rejected the bid and decided to remain independent. Since then, Rockstar Games has proven their creativity is far reaching beyond GTA with titles like Red Dead Redemption, and L.A. Noire.

Fast-forwarding to today, one company in particular has struggled to survive the crowded gaming market. After a failed experiment with U-Draw, THQ continues to layoff employees left and right in an effort to recoup costs. With such uncertainty at an all time high, the question now is can they stick around long enough to successfully rebound. Meanwhile, impressive franchises like Darksiders and Saints Row are holding their own and keeping the company relevant. You can also argue that both the WWE and UFC licenses are doing well saleswise, but are also the most costly to preserve.

However, Imagine if EA did buyout Volition and acquired the rights to the Saints Row franchise. Pulling off such a move would not only put them back in direct competition with Take-Two’s GTA series, but it would also allow the creative team to make use of even better resources and thus create a better game overall.

Keep Acquisitions Intact

While EA has made some significant acquisitions picking up Bioware and PopCap, the Dragon Age and Mass Effect franchises have suffered greatly from it. Dragon Age Origins was an immersive RPG title filled with a compelling story while the sequel felt rushed and polluted the gameplay dynamics that made the first game great. In the case of Mass Effect 3, the addition of multiplayer and a questionable ending easily keep it from being one of the best games in the series.

While many will argue that the multiplayer is fun and addictive, the true essence of this franchise center’s around Commander Shepard and thus should stay in line with that concept. What’s even more frustrating is that Bioware was aiming to make the multiplayer a separate game until EA forced their hand into making it a part of this game. The end result is a rushed mode that feels limited and lacks the presence of well-known squad characters from the story mode.

When trying to analyze the game’s ending, there are more questions then answers and most choices fail to matter when the results stay the same across the board. However, one area that EA does need to be commended on was their decision to make the Extended Cut DLC available for free. This act alone wouldn’t have happened had the fans not voiced their complaints with the ending and thus it proves that EA does indeed listen to the fans.

Moving forward and into the next generation, Electronic Arts should try to scale back on changing everything about a game unless the area being changed is already bad to begin with. It’s easy to find redeeming qualities in both these games, but it’s very hard to do so when you get rid of things that fans love. Using an appropriate balance between style and substance can go a long ways towards giving fans faith in a franchise and persuade them to commit their hard earned dollars towards a purchase.

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