Let’s not lie to ourselves. Xbox One may be lacking in exclusives, but Microsoft just found the success of Xbox One X which wouldn’t really make sense to call out as the ultimate loser of the year, but you know who I can call out? C’mon guys, say it with me….
This year the company found themselves in a lot of trouble where both of their biggest IPs found themselves under delivering to their audiences. First one being freaking STAR WARS!
If you live under a rock the release of the video game, Star Wars: Battlefront II found itself in a very weird spot. The previous installment felt unfinished, underdeveloped yet hardcore fans still held out hope out for the sequel to improve. Instead it became a disaster. The game got an infamous amount of backlash for the microtransactions (in-game purchases to usually enhance a user’s performance) and the Pay-To-Win model a lot of cheap mobile games enforce on its players. It was calculated that for an average gamer to gain enough points to unlock Luke Skywalker it would take over 30 hours of gameplay. This got many gamers angry as this purposefully set unfavorable standards for its players so that they would give up and end up paying real money to unlock him. The fans spoke out, the backlash hit, EA thought they could have gotten away so they released a statement on Reddit which led to the historical record breaker of being the Most Disliked Comment on Reddit.
This forced EA to set back their requirements, but the damage was already done and it was only getting more fatal. The game started to sell poorly all across the board, online player rates dropped. Disney was not happy their biggest IP in the world was failing to meet their expectations. This forced EA to pull the microtransactions off from the game completely, yet people knew this was just a PR stunt to have everyone come back so they can get away with it the next time.
This time the PR team was a bit smarter by releasing their message at a place that can’t get disliked. This again didn’t help them as a day later EA’s stock value dropped by 8.5% so $3.1 BILLION! (as of recently it dropped additionally 5%) At least Black Friday came to undo the damage, right? WRONG!!!!!
To add to the “no way of coming back from this” Battlefront 2’s loot crates (opening a ‘crate’ which may or may not provide you with something useful) drew lawmakers’ attention in US and Belgium that was categorized under gambling and such things should be prohibited since kids may be fooled into paying for the in-game-purchases. Entertainment Software Association (which is partly owned by EA and other video game companies) came to this conclusion:
Loot boxes are a voluntary feature in certain video games that provide players with another way to obtain virtual items that can be used to enhance their in-game experiences. They are not gambling. Depending on the game design, some loot boxes are earned and others can be purchased. In some games, they have elements that help a player progress through the video game. In others, they are optional features and are not required to progress or succeed in the game. In both cases, the gamer makes the decision.
Who would’ve thought a association owned by business owners would protect greedy practices (NOT)? Fight isn’t over. We still can support the officials trying to push down such behaviors. Hopefully, the backlash of this can force companies to rethink their business strategies as a whole. EA has been getting away with this stuff for over a decade, I say it’s about time. This hit the company itself very hard, gamers are hoping this also affects other products as news Take-Two (devs of GTA V and Read Dead Redemption) will include microtransactions in every future game of theirs. This is very worrying and let’s hope we can speak out against all the companies that try to shove greedy practices down our mouths. If Star Wars was able to fall so easily let’s hope this really does send a message.
Meanwhile this beautiful trainwreck was happening EA closed down the studio responsible for the Dead Space franchise, Visceral Games, which meant they were also scrapping the single player focused Star Wars game that was supposed to be written by the Uncharted Trilogy writer, Amy Hennig. It was going to be an ambitious project that had top industry talent involved. Now all that was gone. EA’s Patrick Söderlund said this in a blog post:
“Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design.”
This is the second Star Wars title EA was developing that was getting screwed over. I’m really curious who the test audience was. Was it the same one you worked with on Battlefront 2? We all know the publisher realized a Uncharted-like-Star Wars game meant they couldn’t shove in any more microtransactions which is why they got rid of it. Sadness. I was really looking forward to this one. Next, I bring you the videos of Game Awards 2017 which all decided to take the time to capitalize on EA’s failure.
A petition emerged for LucasFilm to revoke the Star Wars licence away from EA, which now reached 178K signs. You can join the Rebellion by signing the petition here.With feats like these EA wins Biggest Loser of 2017 in gaming, but the company really knows how to outdo itself. Star Wars wasn’t their only popular franchise they managed to screw up.
2017 was also the year that saw the release of the 4th entry in a beloved series know as Mass Effect: Andromeda. The marketing of the game was very weird. There wasn’t a lot showed off other than the first E3 Cinematic Trailer (in 2016) and the Game Awards 2016 Ceremony which happened 3 months before the release of the game. This didn’t scream confidence to anyone and it didn’t help the trailer was underwhelming to fans specifically pointing out the flaws with the dialogue syncing, facial expressions and character designs. So much more was expected from a blockbuster franchise like Mass Effect. Soon thanks to EA’s Early Access some players got a chance to play first couple of hours of the game before its release. A massive amount of backlash came out reporting bugs, glitches, graphical downgrades.
The release of the game became the biggest laughing stock in the industry. The game was littered with cringey dialogue, robotic face expressions, inhuman traits, ugly character customization, glitches, bugs and overall a disappointing experience. I would love to explain, but what’s the point if I know something that will do it better than I. Watch this video and be prepared for the ultimate destruction of Mass Effect: Andromeda. I dare you not to laugh.
I would call it a day, but I must mention the lack of support post-release. Other than couple bug fixes there was none. To add to the pathetic nature of this whole game EA announced the Mass Effect franchise will take a break as whole. Ouch. What a terrible way to go. It didn’t help one of its developers Manveer Heir was spreading racist remarks on his Twitter page.
While Nintendo has been cannibalizing itself for the award season the same can be said about EA, but for being the worst. It’s sad how today there is more and more competition between the AAA publishers to ruin a game rather than create a good one (EA, Konami, Activision, Ubisoft, Warner Bros.). This is why EA wins the Biggest Loser Award of 2017 in the gaming industry. Whoever will be the one in 2018 has huge shoes to fill in.