For the second year in a row, EA Games has been voted “The Worst Company in America”—and the company’s COO Peter Moore is claiming it’s because their pro-LGBT views made them the target of anti-gay activists.
Run by The Consumerist, the objective of the Worst Company in America search is “to enable consumers to send a message to a company … that you, out of all the companies, most deserve a plastic poop trophy.”
In an official blog response, Moore defended EA; though he admitted that “we’ve made plenty of mistakes … We owe gamers better performance than this.” He went on to say that “in the past year, we have received thousands of emails and postcards protesting against EA for allowing players to create LGBT characters in our games. […] If that’s what makes us the worst company, bring it on. Because we’re not caving on that.”
Pro-equality gamers may appreciate the sentiment, but it doesn’t change the fact that EA has an increasingly long record of seriously infuriating its fanbase. A recent example of this can be seen in the release of the newest SimCity; despite being basically a one-player game, EA added a social element—and the requirement of an always-on internet connection. When the game launched, its servers were unable to support the heavy traffic they were suddenly swamped with, resulting in people who had paid $60 or more unable to play their new game.
Moore did address that debacle in his blog post, but with little more than a statement that “Many continue to claim the Always-On function in SimCity is a DRM scheme. It’s not. People still want to argue about it. We can’t be any clearer – it’s not. Period.”
However, intent doesn’t matter as much as result, and requiring an internet connection for a game that is still essentially one-player with optional social bonuses alienates many would-be fans. In titles requiring a connection, server problems mean difficulty getting the game to run and/or save, which in combination can make a game virtually unplayable.
The inclusiveness of LGBT characters in EA Games products should certainly be noted, and praised; however, it doesn’t change the fact that the company could be working harder not to draw the ire of the people whose opinions should matter to them: its customers.