As was the case for pretty much everyone, EA had a rough year in 2017. Every game they released managed to disappoint critics and players alike, and when the company took to the internet to defend their creative choices, their explanation became the most downvoted comment in Reddit history. The onslaught of criticism prompted many to wonder: why do people hate EA?
Harsh prejudices are not formed overnight, and EA has been working for over a decade to become the most hated company in America. When EA was voted the worst company in the US two years in a row, many believed that the game-makers' stink had reached critical mass, but it turns out they were just warming up for the main event.
In 2017, EA was dead-set on having their worst year to date. Mass Effect: Andromeda was a big disappointment (the franchise is now effectively dead), EA's sports games continued to deliver glitchy, uninspired experiences, and Star Wars Battlefront II had more microtransactions than gameplay, to the point that politicians began to worry that EA was pushing a new type of gambling on America's youth.
The story of how EA became the most hated company in the US stretches back to the early days of modern gaming history. However, despite all the criticism, EA's stock rose 33% in 2017, so they've never had less motivation to correct their bad behavior.
It didn't matter how Star Wars Battlefront II looked or played, the game was permanently undone by the controversy that surrounded its release. When players discovered that they had to spend tons of money to unlock basic characters — such as Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader — they were rightfully upset. These features were free in past Battlefront games, yet in Battlefront II, EA locked them behind hefty fees.
To make matters worse, the progression system for unlocking characters was totally rigged. Players had to spend countless hours playing the game in order to buy the loot boxes that only potentially contained the characters they wanted. Those who lacked patience could simply buy loot boxes with real money, effectively creating a pay-to-win situation in the game's multiplayer mode.
On top of all that, the loot boxes were randomly generated, and paying for them with real money didn't guarantee the inclusion of any specific character. Players caught on to EA's greed, and when the company took to Reddit to defend their monetization system, their explanation became the most downvoted comment in the history of the website.
EA recently revealed that Battlefront II failed to meet sales expectations, even after the company was forced to shut down the game's microtransaction storefront. Considering how much of a cash cow the Star Wars series is for Disney, the owners of the franchise are undoubtedly angry about the game's spectacular failure.
Unless the release coincides with a jump to a new generation of consoles, it's usually pretty hard to spot the differences between EA's annual Madden games. In fact, the yearly tweaks come down to roster and uniform updates, as the formula for how to make a fun football game was perfected decades ago.
The same goes for FIFA. In some cases, fans noticed that EA didn't even bother changing new installments at all; they opted instead to simply update the number on the box. This was the case with the Wii version of FIFA 13, which Wired pointed out was exactly the same as FIFA 12, exluding the updated rosters and uniforms. Even though the rest of the game was virtually unchanged, EA still launched the Wii version of FIFA 13 at full price.
Electronic Arts has an infamous reputation for being one of the worst companies in America, if not the worst. This isn't just speculation; in both 2012 and 2013, EA was voted the absolute worst company in America by Consumerist's reader poll.
Considering how bad 2017 was for EA, it might surprise some to learn that the company did not win the award a third time. As it turns out, EA got lucky; Consumerist shut down in late 2017.
Don't like Madden NFL? Too bad, because Electronic Arts has the exclusive rights to the NFL license, which means that it's the only publisher that can use the league's official teams, uniforms, and logos. On top of that, it also has a deal with the NFLPA, which grants EA exclusive rights to the likenesses of real-world players.
EA has held these rights since 2004, effectively killing off all non-EA football game franchises. Today, other studios don't bother trying to make football games, as they are forced to use fictional players that don't have pre-existing fanbases. Since EA doesn't face any competition, the company feels no pressure to seriously update its yearly franchise, and the last 12 or so Madden games have all been strangely similar.