Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Tumultuous History with EA

5 seconds of reading this blog and you will be fully aware that I am not a fan of EA Games. They are a horrible company with shoddy service that have 0 qualms with placing blame on retailers and not on their own incompetence.

That was harsh, but I speak from experience as a consumer and a retail employee. EA sucks.

Now I’m willing to let bygones be bygones, but it would take a gold plated PS4 shoved inside a life-sized C-3PO to make up for the years of dissatisfaction and headaches. One of the big moments that brought me to ire (I’m word-smithing it up!) was The Sims 3. I’m a Sims fan and have been since the first game. I even played The Sims Online. Will Wright brought me into the series, but it was EA that kept me there. So when The Sims 3 was announced, of course I had to get it. The Limited Edition at that. Why? Because it’s so awesome. I get all of these cool in-game items and a plumbob USB key? Sold!

My computer exceeded the minimum specs and hit the target for the recommended. And yet, I could never get it to play for more than 5 minutes without it freezing or crashing my machine. It made no sense and used a ludicrous amount of processing power. After contacting their customer service over a period of 4 months, trying patches, and reading about the same issue online with multiple customers, their appeasement to me was a free $19.99 download from their store. I chose the Spore add-on which was a bad idea that I still regret to this day, but really the options were limited. We’re talking about 2009 people. Origin really wasn’t up and running and digital downloads were still a new thing. So I basically spent $79.99 plus tax for a USB storage drive that may have cost $5 to make and a non-working game. Yippie.

Over the past few years a number of dissatisfied customers still attempted to get these issues resolved. Temporarily it did with a patch, which EA broke about a week later. Clearly it’s not our computers but you’re not willing to fix the problem. Ignoring it does not make it go away. So a lot of pissed off customers later, it’s still an issue. 3+ years and going and I still can’t play a game that I paid for.

This error...makes no sense. Not the error I was having but,
what?
I’m not a total asshole. I gave customer service and tech support plenty of opportunity to help me out, and I was polite throughout the entire exchange. In fact, I saved a copy of everything I said, or typed rather, for my records. It was electronic QA support. I know that yelling and swearing does not resolve a problem: being calm and rational does. So when EA support kept blaming my machine for being unable to run it, I was polite, provided a few links to discussions within their forums to thousands of their customers experiencing the exact same issue, and asked them to research it. If it were just a fluke and I was the only one, ok yes. I would completely agree that it’s me or my machine. But when tens of thousands (now collectively near hundreds of thousands) have the same issue, it’s more than a coincidence. But they still berated me and claimed it was my fault.

Fine. I’ll just remember that the next time I want to purchase an EA game. Sims 3 still uses a ridiculous amount of processing power.

Not a literal “nail in the coffin” but that ended my run with EA purchases. Prior to that it was Warhmammer Online, developed by Mythic Entertainment which was purchased by EA during production. This was not a game that I played.  This was a game that I had to deal with at work, GameStop Customer Service. It gave me true insight into how EA handles their problems; which is to pace the blame on retailers and not do anything until the last possible moment.

Warhammer Online was a pretty big deal back in 2008. A lot of people were interested in it. Multiple gaming magazines were already giving it rave reviews a year before its release. So when EA announced a pre-order bonus (this was also still pretty new at the time, now everyone does it) of an in-game item and beta access, people went nuts. Pre-orders were selling out in stores. We never experienced anything of that level. The codes GameStop and all retailers were provided with were not active until the beta began. We were given codes in advance to hand out to customers so they would have it for when the beta arrived. And yes, EA said it was ok to hand them out during reservations.

Day 0 of the beta and guess what? None of the codes worked. Not a single damn code. It was…I remember having a consistent migraine for at least 3 weeks. People stormed the phones, the stores, and left horrible posts on gaming forums that the codes didn’t work. Our customer service managers were constantly prompting the marketing department to get in touch with EA and fix the issue. EA’s response? Not their fault. They gave us the codes and it was no longer their concern. And it wasn’t as though we could give out new codes to customers if they were all “defective.” BestBuy, Walmart, Target, everyone was under the same pressure. You would think EA would have gotten a clue when they realized that next to no one was on the beta servers.

Three weeks later, EA finally resolved the problem. Here’s the summary of their response: Whoops. We forgot to activate the codes. But it’s still your fault for giving them out to customers early. You should have waited, even though we told you that you can start handing them out immediately upon pre-order reservation. Hmmm...I seem to recall that happening at another point in time. We all felt the brunt of that blow during the Warhammer debacle.

That’s why I told my boyfriend “go f yourself, no” whenever he asked me to join Warhammer.

As the bonuses continued so did the migraines: Mirror’s Edge, Dragon Age, and Dante’s Inferno just to name a few. Army of Two was pretty close to Warhammer’s level of insanity, but instead of providing inactive codes, all of the codes were invalid. EA forgot to add a digit to the emails they issued to retailers. Oops.

This made me all kinds of depressed to see!
You build up a level of dislike for the company that exceeds expectations when you get constantly screwed over by their promises, both as a retail employee and a consumer of their products. We had a running joke amongst a few in the office for the longest time, that the day EA announced a pre-order that didn’t have any hiccups would be the day that God descended from the heavens and granted eternal life to all of humanity.

And then the massive amounts of complaints that have built up from Origin, how can you not be jaded? Their goal is profit and stomping out smaller companies they see as potential competition by buying them out. They were voted with over 65% of the margin as the worse company of 2012 according to The Consumerist. Not to mention banning users from playing any of their games if they’re banned on the forums?  Last checked, this really hasn’t improved over the years. It’s still the same mess. The same ol’ EA.
I'd hate on BioWare for being bought out
in the first place. Sorry guys!

It’s a company so driven towards profit and not satisfying the customer. Whatever morality it had in the beginning is now long gone. Other than being hounded by my friends and family to play Mass Effect, I haven’t purchased an EA game since 2009. You know what tipped it over for me to actually purchase the games? They were all on sale at ridiculously cheap prices. EA doesn’t deserve my money. Not until I get my gold-plated PS4 inside a life-sized C-3PO.

See, I dislike and despise for a reason. And I can easily be swayed back. EA just has a lot to prove to get to that point. And I didn’t mention all of the issues. The Sims 3 and Warhammer are just the most prominent.

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