A word in defense of Electronic Arts
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 April 2013, 9:16 am
Electronic Arts just managed to win the title Worst Company in America for the second time in a row. Lots of commentary on that is justified. But I don't think all of it is. In particular I keep seeing one argument popping up again and again, in a replay of last year, that "EA has also presided over poor endings and seemingly rushed sequels to several highly acclaimed game series. Mass Effect 3's final act was so poorly received that fans demanded, and received, a revised ending, and EA was sued for false advertising.". And I don't think that is a valid complaint.

Take for example the 1942 movie Casablanca: If you had asked what ending the audience would have liked to see, it would probably have been Humphrey Bogart ending up with Ingrid Bergman instead of Claude Rains. Not having the most popular ending possible is part of why that film is considered art.

While I didn't like the ending of Mass Effect 3 either, and have already read a lot of people complaining about the end of Bioshock Infinite, I don't think such complaints are valid. I would very much argue that in a video game the gameplay should be more important than the story. But if you only look at the story and accept that telling a story is a form of art, you must accept that the artistic vision of the creator of the story might differ from your own. It is the very core of art that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and can't really be judged.

It would have been rather easy for a company like EA to create an ending of the Mass Effect 3 trilogy based on what is most popular with some focus group. Not doing that and sticking to some artistic vision deserves plaudits and not a Worst Company award. After all EA is doing enough other things wrong to deserve this award for things like the botched SimCity launch, excessive milking of their customers, or compromising gameplay with paid-for-by-advertisers DLC. Not making their stories have the most popular ending is one of the few things they actually got right.
Tobold's Blog



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