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EA Brand Tarnished, Says Analyst

by Steven Rodriguez - December 2, 2006, 1:50 pm PST
Total comments: 26 Source: GameSpot

Though game sales are still strong, declining review scores could be a sign that EA needs to shape up.

Electronic Arts gets a lot of flak for releasing the "same old game" every year. While that's not completely true, critics have said that EA could be doing a lot more with innovation and bringing new IPs to the table. Whether or not the publisher has listened to these outcries is up for debate, but now that someone that can affect EA's bottom line—a financial analyst—has spoken out, there might be changes on the horizon.

Evan Wilson, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities, made a statement to investors about the viability of Electronic Arts, the largest third party game developer/publisher in the world. "Poor reviews and quality are beginning to tarnish the EA brand," said Wilson. Using meta-review sites like GameRankings, the firm has determined that "Electronic Arts' overall game quality continues to fall. Although market share has not declined dramatically to date, in years such as 2007, which promises to have tremendous competition, it seems likely if quality does not improve."

Wilson says that EA's yearly sports franchises are the company's biggest source of profit, but stresses game quality has been taking a slight dive in past years. The analyst couldn't put his finger on exactly why this is, though he noted that one of the reasons might be because the publisher has been focusing more on pumping out as many games as they could, rather than making sure each one was a quality release. Recent lackluster games coming out of EA include Batman Begins, NFL Head Coach, and Superman Returns, among others.

The Pacific Crest Securities man sees only sees this as being a real problem in the short term, however. After all, EA is still "the marquee developer and publisher of video games," according to Wilson.

Talkback

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterDecember 02, 2006

Isn't it ironic that NWR posted this just as EA made the announcement of creating a new development house just for Wii games?

I honestly don't care for EA and its games, and its true that they need to tighten their ship a bit.

Terranigma FreakDecember 02, 2006

LOL, now they notice most of EA's game are trash?

Bill AurionDecember 02, 2006

The funny thing is, the gamers see this long before the guy being paid a good deal of money to do it for a living...

MarioAllStarDecember 02, 2006

I have not purchased an EA game in years, so I can not say much about their games from personal experience, but I wonder how low quality would have to sink before the casual EA gamer crowd stopped buying the games. By "casual EA gamers" I mean people who play mainly EA sports titles every once in a while, but don't really follow the rest of the gaming industry.

TMWDecember 02, 2006

Back during my Sega Genesis days, EA was one of the first companies I recogized on a routine basis, and I actually found myself associating their old school logo with really good games...

I wonder when that stopped?

StrellDecember 02, 2006

One analyst isn't going to change the fact that most of EA's games sell well into the hundreds of thousands/millions, no matter what the gaming elite of the intermotron and forums say.

Luigi DudeDecember 02, 2006

Has EA ever made anything of quality? I've always viewed EA as the company that releases the same mediocre sports and license based games ever year. Was there ever a time they had anything other then that because I've never seen it.

ShyGuyDecember 02, 2006

Quote

Originally posted by: Luigi Dude
Has EA ever made anything of quality?




M.U.L.E.

CericDecember 02, 2006

They should release that for VC. I played it only in multiplayer a couples times. I like to play the single player and get to the meat of that game.

ArbokDecember 02, 2006

Quote

Originally posted by: Luigi Dude
Has EA ever made anything of quality? I've always viewed EA as the company that releases the same mediocre sports and license based games ever year. Was there ever a time they had anything other then that because I've never seen it.


Return of the King wasn't bad actually. Def Jam was pretty fun as well, although I could have done without the rapper context and technically it was farmed out to another company to develop.

DjunknownDecember 02, 2006

Quote

Def Jam was pretty fun as well, although I could have done without the rapper context and technically it was farmed out to another company to develop.


LOL. Def Jam without Hip-Hop is like Epitaph without punk. It just can't happen.

Between the lawsuits and buying up everyone under the sun, the quality's going to suffer somewhere. Even Microsoft has limits...

Thankfully, the BiG franchises haven't really stunk so bad. And it seems they're genuinely trying to make use of the Wii's uniqueness as opposed to tacked-on ports.

Someone needs to challenge EA for the top spot. Whether be it Ubisoft on the non-sports related games, to 2k Games on the sports related ones.

NephilimDecember 02, 2006

EA big and EA canada seem to be the best dev's within EA unit (canada should still have NFS, since they created NFS, not black :X)

IceColdDecember 02, 2006

Yeah EA Canada is basically the only in-house EA developer whose games I like - see SSX, NBA Street, Fight Night etc.. The separate studio of EA Canada which made Madden 07 looks like it has potential too..

ThePermDecember 02, 2006

honestly, i don't see EA as a bad company at all. They provide exactly the type of entertainment for a group of people that eat it up. It is just that the Nintendo fan rarely if ever fits into that group. I'm not into sports games(*for the most part), and i really cant ever get into them. Its very hard for someone like me who barely knows anything about football to go into depth in a game like that. However, I do have friends who are really into it, customizing everything. They love it, but its not for me.
The games are updated every year, and that makes the overall leap not seem like so much, but in reality if they were released every couple of years the leap would seem enormous.

KDR_11kDecember 02, 2006

Has EA ever made anything of quality?

Back in the ancient days of gaming EA was a name that stood for innovation and quality. Their founder, Trip Hawkins, once said EA will not make games that are just clones or standard entries in a genre, every EA game will push the genre forward or create a new one.

BloodworthDaniel Bloodworth, Staff AlumnusDecember 03, 2006

EA made Legacy of the Ancients, the first RPG I ever played. It was on Commodore 64.

TrueNerdDecember 03, 2006

I would have no problem with EA rehashing and updating all of their games on a yearly basis IF they took more risks with games. They are the biggest publisher in the industry. They have more then the necessary means to push some envelopes, create some really polished and creative stuff, and they don't. All of their releases (Maxis and Criterion not included) are either sports related or licensed. In other words, they're all safe. They have their fans and that's fine, but they could be so much more.

With that being said, Army of Two (and its homo-erotic undertones) has piqued my interest.

CericDecember 03, 2006

I wish EA would take a larger amount of risk too. Especially since they can sap a lost and I really think the Yearly releases they should take even bigger risks in. If you don't like the '07 model then get the '06. If enough people don't like the '07 they'll strips whats bad and move on.

Quote

Originally posted by: DeadlyD
EA big and EA canada seem to be the best dev's within EA unit (canada should still have NFS, since they created NFS, not black :X)


EA Big is not a development studio. It's a brand under which games from several developers are released. It's equivalent to EA Sports and EA Games.

KDR_11kDecember 03, 2006

EA is the largest publisher BECAUSE they don't take risks.

idiotDecember 03, 2006

Hahaha.... this just in: Water found to be wet

Quote

Originally posted by: ShyGuy


M.U.L.E.


That is no more the same company than Hasbro is Atari. Also, another good "Electronic Arts" game is Archon -- something desperately needing a remake (since no one's ever heard of it either).

Make no mistake: Publisher does not equal developer. Unless you want to be one of those people who bought "State of Emergency" because "it's made by those Grand Theft Auto Guys!!!!"

EA publishes games. When they publish games made by good developers who are given proper time and resources, we get things like The Sims and, one day, Spore. Mainly though, they want to push out high volume lowest-bidder garbage that people see on the shelf at Walmart and say "THAT LOOKS FUN I'LL BUY IT". These are essentially the "straight-to-video" class of games, in that the people who buy them are the same ones who rent things like "Starship Troopers 2".

My point is, you can probably trust a good developer to produce games of consistent quality. No one buys a book because it's published by Random House. Look at the author.

couchmonkeyDecember 03, 2006

I'd argue that EA's declining review scores have as much to do with apathy towards their annually released products as an actual decline. The latest version of a given EA Sports game may not be any worse than the previous one, but if it's not really better either, then reviewers should rightfully complain about that. It seems like the main attraction for each new iteration is usually having the latest roster.

Wii may force some innovation out of EA. It could turn out to be a good thing for the company.

Ian SaneDecember 04, 2006

With EA's target audience I don't think the brand is tarnished. The people I know who buy EA games are still buying EA games. In truth they don't even know better so they don't notice. The EA brand name is pretty much worthless with hardcore gamers but since when do we matter? Hell, all three console makers have more or less stated that the hardcore is not their focus.

Someone said they don't see EA as a bad company because they satisfy the group of people that like them. True but they're still bad for the industry because they have so much influence. It's never good when crappy stuff becomes popular because it then influences those that come after it. There are young people out there that want to be game designers who only know EA bullsh!t and that is the same sort of crap they're going to make when they make games.

I've seen this with wrestling. WWE become the only company in town so now ALL wrestling on national TV is WWE or stuff that copies the WWE. Hell it was that way even during the 90's. WCW often neglected their own unique identity in favour of copying what the WWF was doing. I don't watch current wrestling anymore because it doesn't appeal to me. As non-WWF companies went under wrestling shifted more or more to the WWF-style, while the now WWE dropped in quality as the competition became weaker.

I see this with rock music. I think rock music has sucked for a good ten years now and it's not getting better. The reason is that sh!tty bands have dominated the scene for too long and I have little hope for the future because everyone I meet who plays guitar LIKES those sh!tty bands, is influenced by them, and is making music just as sh!tty or worse.

As long as EA is number one EA-style games are the future of gaming. Nothing would benefit gaming more then them going under. It's no different then the effect Sony has had from being the top console maker.

segagamer12December 04, 2006

So its ok to give Nintendo the credit for publishing great titels made by other companies but not EA? Thats stupid. EA USED to be known for great games, regardless of who developed them EA was the name people recognized. I have several awesome Sega Genesis titles all made by EA that are great games.

I am not a casual gamer, I am very hardcore and I still think EA makes great games. If you dont liek them thats fine, the question is do you even play thier games, or do you just bash them cuz they make the supposedly same game every year? I liek the Street series personaly, and NBA Live has never let me down niether.

Not only that but they don't just make sports games, they make good Lord of the Rings games, and allt he HArry Potter stuff too.


Nobody complains about those but nobody realises they are EA either.

Also isnt that the same analyst who predicted Wii would fail?

Smash_BrotherDecember 04, 2006

I've never considered EA to be synonymous with quality in any sense, but they're tragically a staple in the western gaming world and as such their support for Nintendo bodes well for the future of the Wii.

GalfordDecember 04, 2006

EA is a shining example of what happens when your entire lineup is aimed at casual gamers.
Who can blame EA, for the most part they make a profit each quarter.

For better or worse the entire market is going in this direction.

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