As gamers, we see a lot of potentially empty promises. We hear about change, but don’t always get it. Aliens: Colonial Marines will come out and be good. No Man’s Sky will do everything it promised ahead of launch, at the very moment it launches. But one of the biggest ones we hear is that a company is going to change its ways and get better. In one interview with GamesIndustry.biz, EA claimed what has happened to the company has changed it. It will alter how it makes games after the Star Wars: Battlefront II debacle. But can companies really change?
EA already has a reputation. It won Worst Company in America in 2012 and 2013. It has bought up, then drastically changed or killed Bullfrog Productions, Origin, Westwood Studios, Mythic Entertainment, Criterion, Maxis, and Pandemic. The jury is still out on BioWare, but considering what happened with Mass Effect: Andromeda and that Anthem is a Destiny-alike, it seems like it is working its “magic” on that too. It has always been one of the bad guys with loot boxes, something that came to a head in 2017 over Star Wars: Battlefront II. But, I mean, we know games like Madden, FIFA, The Sims 4, and NBA Live are never going to change, so will EA ever really too?
And what about Activision? It is another instance where we hope for change from a company, but it never happens. Think about its licensed games. It has a habit of letting the licenses lapse and drop, with little or no warning. It happened with Marvel games like X-Men: Destiny, Deadpool, and the Marvel Ultimate Alliance games. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan and The Amazing Spider-Man both went. So did Tranformers games like Transformers Devastation.
Activision is also a company that seems to deviates, especially in regards to microtransactions. Almost all of its major releases have loot boxes or microtransactions in them. Even though it has been criticized for them, especially when Call of Duty: WWII made a spectacle out of opening loot boxes in Headquarters, the company didn’t change. After making around $4 billion on microtransaction revenue in 2017, why would it? It has no incentive to do better.
But then we have Ubisoft, a company that proves change is possible. This is a developer and publisher that used to follow the same sorts of scripts as Activision and EA. And in some ways, it does, since we do see ways to buy bits and pieces of DLC. But as a whole, the company changed. When The Division came out, there was a movement. When games didn’t perform as expected, Ubisoft didn’t abandon them. It moved to support the Games as a Service idea. Rainbow Six Siege continues to thrive. It is still supporting For Honor and trying to make it great, even though the game originally flubbed. It even took Assassin’s Creed, its yearly cash cow, and decided to have breaks between releases so the quality of the games and their stories would be better.
Things can get better. We can see companies acknowledge when they screw up and try to make a difference. But there are some companies where that seems absolutely impossible and improbably. But then, we have companies like EA that seem like they probably will never get on board. We can hear about change all they want, but we need to see some actual action.