In business, there are good companies, and there are bad companies. Then there are those that most people outright hate. Where gaming’s concerned, a company that falls into the latter classification would be Electronic Arts; its continued inclusion on Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” list can attest to that. Admittedly, I do feel that the hate is a little overblown sometimes – it could almost be considered a fad at this point.
But regardless of what I think, this latest finding isn’t going to do the company any favors. Back in 2011, the company released its Steam competitor, Origin, which many considered to be lackluster in comparison. Not long after, I penned a post that said, “If Web forums and comment sections are to be believed, Origin is the worst piece of software that could ever grace our PC.” – a statement that still holds true. Making matters worse, EA forced gamers into it with exclusives, such as Battlefield 3. If there’s one thing gamers tend to hate, it’s being forced into something.
Well, it might seem like EA doesn’t care what we as gamers think sometimes, but it’d be foolish to assume that it doesn’t want to keep us content enough so that we keep coming back. However, the fact of the matter is, EA knew that Origin was not loved, and trying to change the public’s opinion would be extremely difficult.
In situations like these, companies have often used unusual tactics to sway that public opinion. In this particular case, we find out that EA funded a competing service in an attempt to make it worse, in turn improving Origin’s image. You just can’t make this up.
As this story is still unfolding, we’re unsure of all the details, and exactly how this relationship came to be. It seems highly unlikely that EA worked with Ubisoft in the same manner as other business endeavors; instead, it seems more likely that EA persuaded some of (or perhaps even just one of) UPlay’s engineers to help it further its goals.
And, it might have worked, because I do personally consider UPlay to be a horrible piece of software, and I know I’m not alone in that thinking. I don’t like using a launcher (Steam) to launch another launcher (UPlay) which then launches the game. And I don’t like having to close both the game and its launcher just to launch another game in Steam. Overall, it’s complex, and totally unnecessary – all because Ubisoft has that “me-too!” attitude.
Instead of going to the extent of harming a competitor to make your own product look better, companies like EA and Ubisoft need to realize that maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to actually listen to your customers and give them what they want, rather than something that aggravates them.