Electronic Arts has gotten a lot of bad press over the years. Their failings with Star Wars Battlefront II led to the most downvoted comment in the history of Reddit. They also sparked the massive on-going debate over loot boxes and microtransactions. That discussion has even spawned a new ESRB notation on video games. Any title that includes in-game purchases will now be marked on the physical box. While some may consider this eventual ESRB decision a victory, they still see EA as the evil corporation that made it necessary in the first place. What if maybe, just maybe, EA isn't the massive den of sin we've been thinking it is?
That's probably going to be viewed as an inflammatory thing to say. How in the world could I think that EA might not be the money-grubbing, greedy jerks that everyone else thinks they are? Well, there was a comment made by someone recently that seems to point to an entirely different side of the company. Josef Fares is the director of EA's upcoming co-op game, A Way Out. They are producing and publishing it under their EA Originals moniker. The development is being done exclusively by Fares' Hazelight Studios.
While showing off some gameplay for A Way Out, Fares has told multiple press outlets, “EA is not making a single dollar out of this.” He further said that they are doing everything they can to support Hazelight, while knowing that none of the money the game makes will reach them. Fares has even clarified that the “friends pass free trial” was Hazelight's idea, and EA didn't contest it in any way. The free trial Fares was referring to allows interested players to try the game without owning it. So long as you have a friend that owns A Way Out, you can play it together. This co-op can happen locally or online.
EA is a thoroughly villainized company at this point, but Fares' experience with them seems to show a glimmer of hope. While they might seem greedy on other fronts, perhaps EA does have a heart after all? Perhaps their EA Originals brand specifically functions this way. It could be that this particular brand is meant as a way to help small developers flourish. Clearly, EA must have known going into the production of A Way Out that they wouldn't be making any money. That sort of agreement is certainly made up-front. And yet, they've worked long and hard to support Hazelight and A Way Out so this unique co-op experience will be able to enjoy the light of day. Without EA's help, it might have been a much longer and harder road.
This all might seem pretty sunshine and rainbows for a company that said “pride and achievement” justifies gouging players with microtransactions. It could very well be that Fares would never have mentioned this agreement if not for the controversy earlier on. The deal between EA and Hazelight was definitely struck before anyone could have known what would happen with Star Wars: Battlefront II. But perhaps it wouldn't have even been mentioned if not for the currently hot water the company is standing it. This is all hearsay on my part and certainly not confirmed in any way. It's highly possible that EA really does just have a bright side to all that darkness.
At the very least, we do know that Josef Fares always says how he's feeling without mincing words. If he says EA has been a treat to work with, he's most likely telling the truth. How does all this make you feel about EA now? Has your opinion changed, or do you still believe they are evil?