Experienced Points: EA Intervention

By Shamus Posted Sunday Feb 27, 2011

Filed under: Column 194 comments


This week’s column is part of my ongoing thesis about companies being a reflection of the values of their officers. People treat companies like black boxes – money goes in, products come out, and everything in between is a mystery. But the officers of a company determine the values of a company. Yes, companies exist to make money, but there’s a lot of room for individual interpretation of that mandate. People dismiss the EA marketing by claiming “that’s how marketing works”, but is it?

Link (YouTube)

I can’t think of any other game company that ever made something so insulting to gamers. What if the marketing for the movie Aliens only talked about how much blood and guts it contained, and how much your mom wouldn’t want you to see it? That sort of approach degrades both the product and the intended customer. This one even went so far as to go after your mom. (Hey, your mom is clueless and paranoid, right? Right?) Moreover, it takes a very special brand of self-destructive stupidity to produce a commercial where a mother says, “I think a game like his would make a person insane”, while the supreme court is hearing a case on banning violent videogames.

This is a reflection of how the people at EA see their audience, and it’s more grotesque than anything you might see in Dead Space 2.

Character matters.


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194 thoughts on “Experienced Points: EA Intervention

  1. Psithief says:

    black boxes, Shamus.

    It’s a very american-centric problem, is it? I don’t live in the Americas, there’s hardly any mature age video game advertising on TV in Australia for some reason (probably somewhere between the networks not wanting to air crap and our advertising standards).

    1. Will says:

      Mostly because Australia lacks an R18+ rating for computer games, so all the really violent/sex filled games are just flat out banned down here.

    2. Mephane says:

      Video game and movie censorship is actually a big deal here in Germany, so it’s definitely not US-centric. Here most FPS aren’t even advertised outside of the gaming-specific press and websites, and it is deemed politically correct to regard them as “Killerspiele” (engl. “killer games”), and whenever some lone guys goes on a frenzy every couple of years or so, politicians and large parts of the media always try to blame video games for this, then listing some rather well-known standard games*, and how bad they are for the children. Oh think of the children!

      * Either games rated 16+ or 18+ anyway, like Counter Strike or stuff like World of Warcraft, where the very notion of mentioning it in some list of “extremely violent video games which should be banned forever” is just ridiculous; they once even said WoW would have a “torture mode” where the only goal is to torture someone… that is the kind of ignorance gamers have to deal with in this country here all the time.

      1. Kelhim says:

        That’s not exactly true, “killer games” is a highly controversial term in Germany and only systematically used by some conservatives and some tabloid rags.

        While I understand why many young people who grew up with video games are frustrated by the lack of knowledge most politicians seem to have regarding games – we still have to differentiate.

        1. Mephane says:

          Well that depends on your definition of “tabloid”. In this issue even “Der Spiegel” behaves like “Bild” (translated: “Time” behaves like “The Sun”),

          1. Kelhim says:

            I recommend reading this very sophisticated Spiegel-Online-interview with two renowned German scientists on this matter. The term “killer games” is not even used once.

    3. Zukhramm says:

      Even if the advertisements are limited to the US, the fact that EA is a big publisher selling to most of the world, it’s definetely a problem of ours too.

  2. krellen says:

    It would be really really nice if EA didn’t own half of the gaming market so it was feasible to boycott them and still be a gamer.

    1. Shamus says:

      By a strange coincidence, the same thing happens if you try to boycott shallow, stupid games.

      1. krellen says:

        If EA hadn’t bought BioWare, I could probably still say it had been ten years or more since I bought an EA game.

        1. Velkrin says:

          I’ve bought a few EA games recently. Through Steam.

          I bite my thumb at you EA’s DRM!

          1. krellen says:

            You do realise that they still get their money, and thus aren’t going to get a message about their unacceptable business practices, that way – right?

            1. PurePareidolia says:

              also I’m pretty sure they still use the same DRM whether you buy it from steam or not.

              1. Sumanai says:

                People should really start checking that short list below the Metacritic score. If there’s a line going “3rd-party DRM:” then it has more than just Steamworks.

                Although, a quick look at EA-games on Steam didn’t yield a single one with the note. Which is strange, since I could’ve sworn I’ve seen some with EA’s DRM there before.

      2. felblood says:

        The dude is correct.

        I haven’t bought an EA game in years, and my library has only been enriched by the policy.

        Every now and then, someone buys for me, or lends me an EA game. I am still quite grateful, as it serves as a reminder to continue not buying them myself.

        Yes, even the Bioware stuff isn’t really that good anymore.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          I can almost say the same. I’ve bought Red Alert 3, unfortunately, but that convinced me quite enough not to be C&C 4 when it came out.
          The sad thing is, EA is -great- at buying up companies with good IPs and/or ideas. Bioware and Westwood are mere examples. They’re horrible for -doing something- with them, though.

  3. arkon says:

    This is how a lot of EA marketing is this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh5X0hvYNIU is a interview with the marketing director for Dragon Age 2 and he spends the time insulting previous fans in his interview.

    So I think that is just their marketing plan insult gamers because they can.

    1. eric says:

      Wow, after watching that… it all makes sense. Dragon Age II is a game designed by marketing.

    2. Reach says:

      Did that guy just bash DA:O for having graphical variety? And did that same game just proudly announce that the new game’s visuals would be repetitive? graphical detail isn’t important? Neither is continuity? God freaking dammit WHY WON’T THIS GUY SHUT UP.

      That being said, I liked that he mentioned that the industry tends to rip out features of a game to make it more accessible. Too bad that most prominent example of that behavior is ME2.

      1. Jennifer Snow says:

        No, those who can actually parse the English language would realize that he, in essence, said that Origins was in many places too visually busy–like paisley. You can have a wonderfully detailed and color-filled brocade, but three paces away it’s going to look like a big muddy sheet. There’s a reason why people with good taste don’t wear multiple clashing colors in a very busy pattern.

        As an art direction choice, it makes perfect sense–it distinguishes the franchise from your more “open-world” sandbox style games (Oblivion, Fallout 3) which are packed with a billion little tiny things that are absolutely meaningless for the most part.

        It is the difference between Victor Hugo’s writing style and, say, Terry Pratchett’s. Victor Hugo writes wonderfully dramatic plots, but you have to slog through an incredible length of essays on politics, apple-farming, and the Parisian sewer system to even GET to that plot. (Try reading Les Miserables sometime–the first SIXTEEN PAGES are devoted solely to describing ONE CHARACTER who appears in the FIRST CHAPTER and NEVER AGAIN.)

        Bioware has chosen to play to their strengths. They’ve NEVER been good at creating a “living, breathing world” where you felt like you could go anywhere and do anything. The more they attempt to make their games a non-linear narrative, the worse they do.

        I’m quite optimistic about DAII. They didn’t do some of the stupid stuff they did with Mass Effect. They didn’t try to keep the Warden around, so we won’t have a repeat of the Resurrection of Space Jesus. That right there is at least promising.

        1. MadTinkerer says:

          “Try reading Les Miserables sometime”“the first SIXTEEN PAGES are devoted solely to describing ONE CHARACTER who appears in the FIRST CHAPTER and NEVER AGAIN.”

          My all-time least favorite Terry Pratchett book, one I usually describe as “his only bad book” (Hogfather), does this sort of thing throughout the book. He had a bit of an off year.

          Back on the subject of the game and the marketing dude’s take on it, it seems like he’s just saying the whole game is going to be more focused with less clutter, and a big part of that will be tweaking the art direction. It sounds a little patronizing at first, but he makes it pretty clear that he does care about making DA2 something that will appeal to DAO fans and doesn’t just want to sacrifice the old fans to appeal to to a bigger audience. 8:47: “We’re keeping all that fundamental hardcore-ness.”

    3. Jennifer Snow says:

      You’re joking. How is this “insulting” previous fans of the series? If you actually go to the Bioware forums, there are about three thousand threads complaining about every single thing he talked about. Origins combat was slow and tedious. Origins was too effing brown. Can we still play the game tactically? How is this “insulting”?

      I enjoyed Origins, sure, but it had major flaws. It’s not some Holy Grail that mustn’t be sullied by the vacant eyes of the plebian knowlessmen.

      1. eric says:

        BioWare fans tend to praise every single thing BioWare has ever done, but especially whatever title has just been released or is just on the horizon. This extends retroactively to bashing previous games when the sequel comes out, even if they didn’t care about the problems the first time around.

        1. Jennifer Snow says:

          Doesn’t apply to me, then. For instance, I didn’t get Mass Effect 2 because I thought the plot was inane beyond belief. You should have read my lengthy and vitriolic spiel about the “duck walking” warriors in Origins before I even knew there’d be an expansion, much less a sequel. I was actually expecting they’d run the franchise much like Neverwinter Nights and keep releasing expansions that added more features and new stories. I was a little startled by what they decided to do with DAII, but since something like 85% of the changes were things I was recommending before Origins even came out, I’m pretty pleased.

          One of things I like about Bioware is that they don’t just make the same game over and over. Granted, they have a tendency to do the same (or similar) PLOT over and over (if you reduce it to essentials enough, anyway), but their games are all different, even ones that are sequels. Baldur’s Gate II was substantially different from Baldur’s Gate. (And people bitched about it back then, too.) Jade Empire didn’t play anything like Neverwinter Nights. Mass Effect is nothing like KotOR.

          Why anyone thought they were just going to stop with Origins is beyond me.

          1. Soylent Dave says:

            Origins, on the other hand is very much like KotOR.

            That was one of the problems I had with the game (although I did end up enjoying it) – it felt like a giant leap backwards in control and design.

            (and the plots could have done with being a bit less clichéd. Or a lot less clichéd. Actually I would have just liked at just one where I didn’t know which part each and every NPC was playing the instead I met him. And I’m sick of having Carth Onasi on my team… I’ll stop now (because I did quite enjoy the game really))

        2. lurkey says:

          So does marketing. “Hey, remember that game that was praised all over gaming press as shiny flawless gem of perfection three years ago? Well, actually it sucks. And remember some features that were key selling points for it? Those were total crap too. But now, now it’s all different! Visceral!! Press button for awesome!!! This is the new shit!!!!”

          Sad thing is – if the target audience laps it up, this works.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            The funny part is that in a way they’re right – the problem is we fix those problems and add new ones, so we just circle ourselves right back around to the problem, with just a minor increase in general quality. It is increasing, though.

          2. Kdansky says:

            If DAO had been a flawless gem of perfection, you might have a point. But in the end, it was tedious, generic and mostly boring. In 10 years, we will not remember it like we remember Fallout, System Shock or Planescape: Torment.

            1. krellen says:

              I don’t think most people remember those games for their design, though; they’re all remembered for story (though I’ll admit that Planescape did the “you can’t die” thing way better than Bioshock did.)

              1. Soylent Dave says:

                If you were remembering DA:O for its story, that would have to be because it’s your first contact with any story ever written by an English speaker.

                It was like playing the big book of clichés.

            2. Fnord says:

              Yes, DAO is worse than some of the best games ever made. Gee, what a surprise. Saying that something isn’t the best ever isn’t a practical criticism; there’s no way for every game to be a classic. At least be fair and compare it to games that are “merely” very good; Baldur’s Gate instead of Planescape: Torment.

              1. Zekiel says:

                I agree. And I think on that scale DAO fares pretty well. Baldur’s Gate was pretty amazing but not perfect; and I’d say that description applies pretty well to DAO too. Here’s hoping that Dragon Age 2 is to Dragon Age as Shadows of Amn is to Baldur’s Gate…

            3. lurkey says:

              It’s not about what DA:O had or hadn’t been. It’s about how a game is touted as flawless perfect insta-classic or whatnot + group-fellated by gaming media, and then three years after, exactly the same people (who’d fume with sacred indignity if anyone dared to even imply three years ago that the game in question was less than perfect) + gaming media delivers the revelation that the game is actually not that good, and its former “reinventive novelty bold features” now are “tedious boring generic cliched ballast”.

              But it’s not them that baffle me, because you can’t be anything but a lying hypocrite if you’re in marketing and advertising; it’s how readily some people eat it up.

              1. Jennifer Snow says:

                This is why I hang out at the forums rather than scoping the marketing releases–you get to hear every possibly criticism of the game (even of game features that only exist in the critic’s head!), so you have a better idea of what you’re getting.

                I was expecting Origins to be pretty much what it was–enjoyable. About up to the level of Baldur’s Gate as was mentioned. Far from perfect, but still a fun time.

    4. Talson says:

      “We’re going to refine the things people didn’t like in Origins”
      … so they’re going to fix the combat? I’ve played the demo, and they did do that. In fact, if they went back and somehow put that into Origins, the game would be perfect.

      “When you went through the circle tower, did you even know that (in reference to there being thirty thousand books in the tower), did you even notice all those books on the floor?” Yes sir, in fact I can say I did notice all those books, even before I started looking for the scrolls of banaster. I thought the burning piles of priceless books were a great touch that really drove home the whole “this place has gone to hell” motif of the Circle tower outside of the mage origin story.

      “The bracillian forest…” Ok, touche on that point. However, I don’t expect a lot of variety in the middle of the wilderness, and I did like how ruins started showing up the closer you came to the dungeon. Now that I think about it, I usually find my way around that first area based upon the lay of the land, which is how people who are actually exploring a forest do things.

      The continuity: So the big things will carry over, that’s nice. I want to know if the class and race of the main Origins character matters. If I play an elven mage and save the world from the blight, I’d like to see the general status of elves and mages reflect that and that you did all the mage collective quests to further the state of non-circle mages. This is huge because MINOR SPOILER if you choose to be a magey Hawke, said Hawke is an apostate. MINOR SPOILER END It really doesn’t matter who rules Fereldan, if the story does not take place in said country.

      wait… Mass Effect two won awards? It had a great story?… Did I miss something?

      Also, if I want to “geek out” as you so put it Mr. Marketer. I do so by immersing myself in the story and lore of the world, even the stuff that doesn’t directly affect my character. You didn’t mention anything about that when you talked about the game play and tactics. Is it just me, or do people forget that in a story where you make decisions, story is part of game play?

      EDIT: Only now after I have posted this and went back to reading comments, do I realize how off topic this was for the main article. My apologies.

      1. Jennifer Snow says:

        They didn’t mention about that because the interviewer didn’t ask about that. However, the story and lore are still a main focus. They went to great lengths to have the decisions you make in DAII actually have an effect in DAII rather than just ending up in this or that epilogue blurb. This is actually why they decided to have the story take place over a 10-year time frame, which tickled the heck out of me because before Origins came out, I said “you know, I’d like to play a game that takes place over the course of like 10 years”. Apparently I’m their most favoritist fan ever or something. Anyway.

        The codex (non-voiced, not like ME’s codex) is still in. Even in the demo you can get more info out of reading the codex than you do out of what is presented straight off in the game. For instance, you can learn that Carver (and potentially Hawke if you play a rogue or warrior) were actually present at the Battle of Ostagar and fought in the King’s Regiment under a Captain Varel. Interesting little things like this.

        Personally, I look forward to the day when they get good enough at weaving the story elements into the dialog/action that they don’t need a codex any more, but they ain’t there yet.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          The 10-year time frame keeps making me thing of what I’ve heard of Fable III for some reason…

        2. Talson says:

          Good point about the codex, I only read it on my mage play through. Where Hawke stayed home and took care of the family. I like this difference alot actually. It hardly takes any effort, yet it gives you two completely different types of starting characters.

      2. Irridium says:

        Keep in mind that ME2 won most of its awards on the console. And compared to most console games, I guess it did have a good story.

      3. Zekiel says:

        Yeah the “you probably didn’t notice the piles of books in the Circle Tower” really got my back up. Those piles of books may not have had any gameplay purpose but details like that added verisimilitude to the gameworld. Dragon Age Origins certainly wasn’t perfect in that regard (as others have said, it could look a bit bland) – but surely taking those little details away would be step back!

        I don’t want that to sound hugely negative – I don’t think DAO was perfect by any means and I am looking forward very much to DA2. (Although going by my DAO experience I’m not expecting to buy Dragon Age 2 for a good many months until I’ve seen what issues it has with bugs, reviews, downloadable content, player-made content etc etc)

  4. Andy_Panthro says:

    One minor point: Bioshock surely wasn’t the first to have online authentication, since Half-Life 2 had it first (Steam).

    The only way EA will be stopped is if people stop buying their games. They won’t stop such silly and potentially damaging marketing unless it hits them where it hurts – the bank balance.

    The main cash cows I see are Bioware and EA sports… and I don’t see those sales disappearing any time soon.

    1. Primgoenitor says:

      Steam is semi-onlione activation. If you have a computer that never has and never will connect to the ‘net, I think a HL2 CD will work. A bioshock one, on the other hand, will not.

      1. Andy_Panthro says:

        Nope, my HL2 box says “requires an internet connection” on it. Perhaps there are other versions that do not, but I know I had to install Steam and do the online authentication for it to work.

      2. Raygereio says:

        No; steam has to authenticate at least once. Then afterwards you can try and see if the off-line mode works for you.

        Note that for me steam’s off-line mode never worked properly.

    2. Shamus says:

      I probably should have clarified that, given the amount of time I’ve spent on the subject. It was the first game (that I knew about) that used this standalone activation. The activation in Steam was part of an overarching service. The stuff in BioShock was pure DRM with no value (not even implied) to the customer. Valve could claim they were offering something in return, but 2kGames had nothing. It was just a new burden, added to the old.

      Actually, maybe it’s for the best that I left this point out, or it would have thread-jacked the comments. I think I’ve read the debate on Steam enough times by now.

    3. Steve C says:

      The first program to require online activation was Windows XP. And not the original WinXP either it was WinXP-SP1. I’m sure someone will mention that you can phone Microsoft and avoid the “online” part, but that is irrelevant.

      Any system that requires people to request permission from the company to get your legally purchased product essentially is the same and erodes consumer rights. Credit where credit is due… Microsoft was there first laying the groundwork to screw consumers.

  5. Kavonde says:

    It’s like EA’s jealous of the attention Activision’s been getting lately, and trying to remind us that THEY’RE kind of awful, too.

    1. Jennifer Snow says:

      Zing! Good one.

      I remembered that I had a “you’ve got to be kidding me” instant reaction to the Dead Space commercials. They were just so . . . dumb. But I didn’t really think much of it because there are plenty of stupid and inane commercials out there for other products.

      I think the general problem that leads to this sort of crap is that video game companies (EA in particular) don’t know who their audience is any more. They are so stuck in the mental groove of “males between 18-24” that they don’t seem to have realized that this isn’t the major gaming demographic any more. (Females over 30 make up a larger proportion of the gaming demographic than males 18-24, and the primary game *buyer* in a household is generally a male aged 35-45.)

      I suspect that many (not remotely all, but many) of the people who MAKE the games got *started* in gaming when they were in the “males between 18-24” demographic, and kind of froze there. They have a bunch of attitudes toward gaming that were informed by their experiences as such, so when they go to talk to the business side of the company about planning, they can’t seem to step out of their mindset.

      1. Eddie says:

        Do you really think the Dead Space advert was supposed to appeal to males aged 18-24, because if it did to me it comes across as one huge implied insult? “Your mum will hate this” is the sort of thing I would expect to appeal to males aged 13-15. Are my expectations of maturity to high or are EA’s way, way too low?

        1. Jekyll says:

          You know, as someone who is actually part of this demographic I still feel offended by the stupidity of this commervcial. It genuinely implies that blood and shock value make the game “better” as a game. It’s almost as bad as the release day trailer, set to metal and featuring the parts of the game that are the least horror-like.

          1. Jennifer Snow says:

            Sorry, 18-24 is the traditional “pocket mining” demographic. I wasn’t meaning to imply that 18-24 year olds are douches who would find such an ad appealing, just that this is who, if you asked EA, they would probably say the ad was targeted at.

            Although that is probably because they can’t come out and say they’re targeting M games to teenyboppers.

    2. O.G.N says:

      Ironically, Activision’s There’s a Soldier in All of Us ad for Black Ops was roughly 10 000 times better than anything EA marketing have produced in years.

      1. winter says:

        Wow… i’m genuinely impressed by that ad.

        Still can’t stand the game, but the ad was good.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          I always liked that one too. Conveys the message, shows you the action, and name drops (or face drops, I guess) a couple of celebrities.

          1. Galad says:

            “Conveys the message”

            Funny you should say that, as correct as it may be. When I watched that ad I TOTALLY missed its message. I kept thinking “wtf is that bullshit, they’re all using blank cartridges or something and wtf, keep war to the soldiers/military types, why are they all wearing normal everyday/business/whatever clothes”

            I hope it was just me.

  6. Reach says:

    I wrote about the dead space trailer a while back on my blog, I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who realizes the implications of this sort of marketing. I don’t understand how this is even a profitable venture. I mean, the only people who this could possibly appeal to are kids who need their parents to buy rated-M games. Any parent who saw this trailer (and I’m sure there were quite a few, this trailer made news) would have almost certainly forbidden its purchase. I would say that this is one of the few cases where a company is completely deserving of whatever adverse press it generates.

    1. poiumty says:

      Any parent who saw this trailer would have to realise this is an M-rated game and forbid its purchase anyway. As an adult, i LIKE the trailer. It’s funny. It has a sense of humor, and it makes fun of the people who are most enticed to buy this game. That doesn’t mean it markets it to 14-year-olds.

      So can i be that guy and disagree with the column? No? Okay.

      1. Reach says:

        I just think we had different impressions of the trailer. I didn’t sense a hint of tongue-in-cheek or intentional humor or parody.

        1. poiumty says:

          You think the backwards mom stereotype isn’t funny? I can only think of my own mom and what she said when she saw LOTR the first time (reffering to Aragorn): “He’s so ugly”. Yes, an entire epic storyline of amazing proportions and all you have to say is that Aragorn is ugly. I stopped showing her things since then.
          Going back to this, seeing so many shocked mothers can’t help but make me smile. Maybe this is genuinely serious and distressing for you, in which case i can only imagine what you might think of this. But it isn’t for me.

          1. Jennifer Snow says:

            I’d be willing to bet that 95% of the stuff in the movie was far enough outside her experience that she didn’t have mental material to comment on it, but she knows an ugly guy when she sees one.

            I’d like to see you make an intelligent comment on an embroidery project or a dressage competition. If you want to get your mom interested in your interests (and I’d be willing to bet she’d be more than happy to do so), you need to help her build *context* first. Then she’ll have something interesting to say, and will probably surprise you with what she DOES think of to say.

          2. Reach says:

            I am not bothered, distressed, or offended by the contents or messages in the video. I too had an overbearing mother who tended to miss the point of “harmful” games. The commercial isn’t just making fun of easily-offended mothers though, it’s trying to sell the game based on the disgust of mothers, a factor I stopped caring about sometime in middle school. I could see how this might entertain some (hell, if I wasn’t so worried about the game industry’s image and the SC case, the trailer might have amused me,) but does this really make you want to buy the game? Honestly, how old were you when this sort of thing would have appealed to you?

            1. poiumty says:

              I would have never bought this just because my mother didn’t like it. I don’t recall ever having this urge to do things that mom doesn’t want me to, just for the simple principle that she doesn’t want me to, and i don’t think that’s the point of the commercial either. I think the point of it was to make the game appear ballsy and unorthodox, to set it aside from the crowd. It’s an… interesting change from a normal marketing strategy. Gives the game a bit of personality, no matter what that personality gives the impression of.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                Everyone keeps calling it a trailer, and it’s not. It’s most definitely a commercial. The trailer was pretty good – not Blur studios good, but good (Go check out their site, it’s awesome.)

                Especially good when you do this to it.

              2. Mari says:

                Right, ballsy and unorthodox. Because no other games on the market are gory. If anything, emphasizing the gore-factor just gives the impression of sameness. “Our game is full of blood and objectionable material, just like GTA and all its clones, Mortal Kombat, Soldier of Fortune, God of War…”

                1. poiumty says:

                  Dante’s Inferno turned out to be mediocre, too. I’m talking about the game’s appearance, not what it turned out to be.

          3. felblood says:

            If this was a joke, it was told very poorly, and the people responsible should not be professional comedians.

  7. eric says:

    Yeah, this ad isn’t just insulting, but it doesn’t even make sense. People who are interested in Dead Space 2 are going to buy it regardless of whether their “mothers” like it or not. In fact, the only ones I can think of who might are the 12-year-olds they have apparently marketed this M-rated game to. You’d think that “it’ll gross out your mom” would be a better selling point for, I dunno, Cannibal Holocaust or something, not a story-driven sci-fi action game. Why not focus on the tension? The atmosphere? The characters? Those are the things people play Dead Space 2 for, not the exploding skulls and juvenile satisfaction of freaking out their parents.

    I think it’s clear that EA’s current executives either don’t understand gamers, or think very, very little of them. Even more worringly, it sounds like they don’t understand their products either, and why they are successful. Worst, though, it seems like this total misunderstanding of games is now driving their creation in the first place, if Mass Effect 2, Dante’s Inferno and Dragon Age II are anything to go by. There’s a reason we have game designers, EA: because your marketing team doesn’t understand what makes good games… of course, my experience with people in marketing leads me to believe they don’t understand anything, but that’s another rant.

    Either way, EA doesn’t deserve our business for such incompetence: they’re supposed to be industry leaders, and yet they don’t even understand what brought them there in the first place. Now, it’s the developers, the people who keep them in business, who suffer so the executives can drive the company into the ground, pick up their fat bonuses, and move on to the next ship to sink. I certainly have no intention of buying any EA (including BioWare) games if I can avoid it, but I wish that weren’t the case.

    1. Axle says:

      I completely agree with what you just said up there:
      “I think it's clear that EA's current executives either don't understand gamers, or think very, very little of them. Even more worringly, it sounds like they don't understand their products either, and why they are successful. Worst, though, it seems like this total misunderstanding of games is now driving their creation in the first place…”

      Although I do plan to buy DA2 and Dead Space2, when the price will be a bit lower (and I can wait for that to happen). I really don’t get the 60$ price tag, when there are better games for much less than that…

      1. Aldowyn says:

        New is better, supply and demand, etc. etc.

        Either you keep up with everyone else or you… don’t. It just depends on if you think it’s worth the money to stay current.

  8. Christopher M says:

    This is what happens when your marketing team focuses on “marketing” first, “games” second. I personally prefer the nickname “tieheads” for people like this.
    The business side of EA, Activision, MS and the rest seems to be completely focused on “business” with no concern or care for what their business happens to be selling. They’re concerned about the stockholders, market share and profits; they couldn’t care less whether they’re selling games or sports cars or dishwashers.
    I think this is the problem with game publishers – they’re too far removed from the rest of the industry. Heck, in many cases the marketing department is probably in a completely different state – or even a different country! If some of the staff who worked on the game worked on the marketing, I imagine we’d see a very different picture.

    1. Talson says:

      I’d rather like to see some examples of that happening, for reference. Anyone have any?

  9. mliebstein says:

    Sorry for the nit-picking, but:
    “Do not miss week’s Extra Credits” should probably be “Do not miss this week’s Extra Credits.”
    “Hater’s gonna hate” should be “Haters gonna hate,” without the apostrophe.

    Don’t want to be that guy, just wanted to point it out before someone’s less nice about it.

    1. Slothful says:

      Well, unless it means that “This hater is going to hate,” and it’s a contraction rather than a statement that “All haters are going to hate.”

  10. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This type of marketing can work from time to time,but it is hard to pull off.And this is not the first time this happens.I remember an ad for some dumb horror some 10 years ago that was about like this,so its nothing new.

    The problem is,ea dont seem to know how to make this thing work.This ad,for example,can only boost piracy by making some minors want to have the game and their parents simply refusing to buy it.Oh well.

    1. acronix says:

      This makes me think that maybe this campaign`s objective was exactly that. They wanted to rise piracy so they can use it as an excuse for some new type of DRM in their next game.

      Or maybe they are just idiots.

      1. Skan says:

        *gasp* That’s Disney evil….

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          You know,this line made me realize something disturbing:All this bashing of ea and disney,and when microsoft does something similar,we simply sigh,say “really guys”,and move on.And while disney and ea are dealing with entertainment,microsoft controls even our serious businesses.*shivers*

          1. krellen says:

            Well, I keep trying to tell people Microsoft is evil (has been since Bill Gates left it; it was only mostly evil before then), but sadly I’m just an IT guy, so my opinion isn’t asked when considering software upgrades.

  11. Wolfwood says:

    my thinking is that the marketing department of EA can and should be replaced ASAP. They can chalk it off as more layoffs.

    I’ll be happy the day i see a news article saying “EA Currently looking for talent in all positions in advertising and marketing” XD

    1. Jennifer Snow says:

      They don’t need talent. They need CLASS. They need to hire people who do BMW and Lexus ads or something.

    2. Alexander The 1st says:


      The actual content doesn’t matter, it’s about getting people to know OF the game in the first place. It’s meant to be a funny joke video –
      sure, it’s offensive, but the joke is that if you’re 18+ and have to worry about your mom hating a game, you’ve got more problems than her hating the game. And if you’re not 18+, well…you weren’t the target audience anyways, pass this video onto your older brother.

      That is all.

      1. Sagretti says:

        This would be great, if the video was actually funny. I saw a bunch of mothers being shocked by random scenes of horrific violence, which really isn’t an odd response, and a commercial toting how “sick and awesome” the game is, to paraphrase. If it’s meant to be a joke, it failed miserably, and if it was meant to be taken seriously, it’s offensive and stupid. All in all, it just felt like bad advertising from the 80s, without showing any indication that mockery of said ads was the intent.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          I remember the ME2 ads – there were a few epic ones using the trailers, but mostly there were funny ones (no matter how badly that fits the game), like the one with the two mercs going down the toilet after being black holed by Shepard.

          It doesn’t fit the game, but, w/e, you got the name out there.

        2. Alexander The 1st says:

          I never said it was good advertising, I said it wasn’t horrible advertising.

          It wasn’t quite over the top enough to be funny, and that’s why it failed. Not because the marketers don’t know what they’re doing, but because they couldn’t do what they were doing well enough.

          1. Sumanai says:

            But if they didn’t realise that they couldn’t do what they were doing well enough, that’s hardly a sign they’re all that good at their jobs.

        3. Fnord says:

          We’re talking about it, which is enough of a win in the minds of some marketing execs.

        4. silver says:

          But the point is: we are thinking about the ads, commenting on the ads, giving free publicity to the ads. The ads have WON, they’ve done EXACTLY what they are designed to do. They aren’t designed to be funny or right or even informative about the game, they are designed to be talked about so the game stays in your mind. And here we are, proving the ads were awesomely designed.

          1. Sagretti says:

            That’s one half of the equation. The other half is getting me to buy the game. If I ever had any interest in getting Dead Space 2, it’s pretty much completely gone now, and I’ll also be less interested in games from EA if these advertising tactics continue.

  12. Raygereio says:

    What the hell is up lately with these plain stupid videogame-marketing stunts?

    Who thinks advertising a game on the premise that your mom will hate it is a good idea?!
    Who comes up with the stupid idea to reward people naming their baby Dovahkiin? http://www.joystiq.com/2011/02/22/bethesda-proves-its-really-serious-about-baby-name-contest/

    I know marketing people think on another plain of existance then us normal folks, but you’d think someone would just slap whoever came up with the idea and say “No, that’s dumb”.

    1. Jennifer Snow says:

      They need to hire Miss Manners or someone with good taste to ride herd on their marketing team and when they come up with something like this, she can say “have you no class at all?” or similar and the person who made the proposal will wind up cowering in shame.

    2. Danel says:

      Lately? Video game ads have been stupid since forever. Ocarina of Time had the horrible sexist ads of fail, for example. There’ve been awful, awful video game ads for years.

      1. Raygereio says:

        Allow me to rephrase that then.
        What the hell is up lately with these plain stupid videogame-marketing stunts that have the audacity to make themselves known to me?

      2. Aldowyn says:

        I’m too young to have seen those… sexist? Huh.

        Actually, I can’t imagine ads for OoT, period. That’s like having ads for.. I dunno. Pong.

        1. Simon Buchan says:

          Zelda – Link’s Awakening had a rapper in an underground carpark [1], and Link to the Past got a bollywoodesque dancefight in Japan [2]. (Thank you *so* much Nostalgia Critic)

          [1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FepWbqPpJh0
          [2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjpHzLYHkwA

        2. Strangeite says:


          I still think of Ocarina of Time as a modern video game, what with the first person perspective, large open world and a fairly non-linear storyline.

          Then you had to go and lump Ocarina of Time into the category of Ancient Relics of Forgotten Civilizations.

          At least I can set the clock on my VCR.

          Now get off my lawn.

          1. Strangeite says:

            This reminds me of a situation that happened a few months ago.

            I was playing Civ 5 on a college campus right after it was released when a guy walked up and asked what I thought of the game, because he is a fan of the Civ series.

            I told him that I was enjoying the game but that there were lots of changes. I also mentioned that in my limited time with the game, the spirit of Civ 5 reminded me a lot of the original Civilization.

            He then stated that he couldn’t remember playing the first Civ and asked when it came out. I stated that it came out in 1991.

            He then said, “Oh, that’s why I don’t remember it, I wasn’t born for another 2 years.”

            I then beat him to death with my laptop.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              I’d have to say 3 years, sorry. :P I got in on Civ at Civ 3, and there are still aspects of that one that I enjoy the most.

              Civ V seems…odd. I had problems with the demo.

    3. PurePareidolia says:

      In Bethesda’s defense the Skyrim promotion is pretty funny, especially if you read the disclaimer. I mean – it’s not like they’re actually serious about it so why not do a harmless joke promotion?

      And I know that link says they are, but what’s one steam key to them? honestly?

      1. krellen says:

        For those curious, the disclaimer reads:

        “Disclaimer: Any reward for completing this quest will not ultimately justify the potential teasing your child could “” and probably will “” endure over its lifespan. Bethesda Softworks is not responsible for your parenting. You may gain experience points for completing this quest, but you will not care at 3am on a work night. Completion of this quest may also result in decreased desire to play video games and/or function as a human being. Consult with your friends before embarking on this quest; while it may not start in prison, it probably ends there.”

        1. Sekundaari says:

          I’ll add a link to the original blog post here. Seems to me it takes the stance of “Pete Hines told us this weird fact and wanted to make a quest.” EDIT: Also, the title is Ruts-worthy. Argh.

          Maybe the advertised random side quest thing will come up with things like this… I guess you’d need a very special character: “it tailors missions based on who your character is, where you’re at, what you’ve done in the past, and what you’re currently doing”. Heh.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            Hey, that “quest reward” is pretty dang awesome, though. … Would that include Bethesda published games are just developed?

            1. Sekundaari says:

              Not sure. It does say every ZeniMax/Bethesda game, so probably published ones too. I’m sure they’d throw in games by id and Arkane (also now owned by ZeniMax) too if asked, it’s not like they’ll be short of money in November even if they don’t own the rights.

  13. Slothful says:

    I’d say that the biggest problem is not that they’re being immoral or offensive; it’s that they’re doing their jobs so incredibly horribly that it is almost physically painful to see them create more utter failures.

    What really clinched it for me was the Christmas-themed commercial for the Dante’s Inferno demo that extra credits showed. Now I personally do not give a damn about Dante’s Inferno, but that commercial was actively mocking the product that they were trying to sell. That’s not going to sell anything at all, ever.

    The fact that EA games hasn’t started going underwater by this point is a testament to both the companies that it has bought and the irrelevance of advertising.

    1. Talson says:

      I believe the reason they are still around is that they are just too big to fail.

      1. Jennifer Snow says:

        There’s no such thing as “too big to fail”. Giant companies that forget this soon wind up with their executives in the bread line.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          I’m still waiting for Blizzard to fail. How far is their ‘soon’ away?

        2. Grag says:

          Executives don’t get a bread line, they get golden parachutes and list the time spent on their resume for the next job.

      2. Slothful says:

        Well, that whole “too big to fail” business a while back was just the News media being stupid and giving out little soundbites instead of explaining the actual situation.

        The real problem was that all the banks had gotten ridiculously intertwined with giving out loans to each other as well as to non-banking related businesses, and the general theory was that if the banks were allowed to start the slide into bankruptcy, than almost the entire financial sector would go down with them, and that’d bring down a good chunk of the businesses that didn’t do much of anything wrong and had kept their noses clean, relatively speaking.

        1. Pickly says:

          So, as a more specific version of the two big to fail description:

          EA is too big to be knocked off by other companies, thanks to its advertising ability, the well known-ness of its games, ability to buy cash cow franchises, and other abilities that smaller companies lack.

  14. Numfar says:

    To whom it may concern, I expressed my opinion here:


    I’d like to add that one of the goals they had in mind when they created that spot was probably to make it viral, and apparently they were successfull at that, since everyone and their mom is blogging about it.

    Especially their mom, I guess.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Yes, but that “everyone” is just those that care – and they would know about the game in the first place, making that goal… useless.

      What I don’t understand is why you can’t just show a 30-second spot of the trailer instead of making an atrocity like this. It gets the name out and tells you a bit about the game… Sometimes it seems people think bad publicity is better than meh publicity.

      1. krellen says:

        I have been tempted to pursue a degree in marketing, simply so I can see what sort of lessons marketing students are being taught.

        1. lurkey says:

          I once saw an ad for a seminar with a topic something akin to “How to recognize body language signs and manipulate people using them” and really wanted to sign up for it – and then do my own set of “How to recognize a manipulative bastard and beat the shit ouf of him” courses.

      2. Sumanai says:

        There are people who believe in the “there’s no bad publicity” -thinking. There’s nothing that prevents marketing people to believe in it as well.

        Edit: Well, except “they should know better”.

    2. felblood says:

      Okay, I wasn’t going to buy Dead Space 2 in the first place(the first one really failed to deliver on the setup), but I’m going to buy it even less now, so…

      Still not a good idea, I guess.

      Is there anyone defensing this ad who would not have bought the game anyway?

  15. WickedArtist says:

    Rather than comment on the apparent ignorance behind this marketing scheme, I am actually more interested in investigating an alternative viewpoint: what if this obviously controversial commercial was created with the purpose of generating controversy?

    Like Extra Credits pointed out, EA certainly took this approach before, trying to generate controversy over their games in what is probably a stunt for publicity. It may not be as explicit as hiring people to act like fundamental Christians and protest against Dante’s Inferno, but it seems to be just as effective as a grab for attention.

    But even looking at it from this particular angle, I still arrive at the same conclusion: this type of marketing is insulting, ignorant and harmful. Is it effective? I don’t know. I would really like to believe that it isn’t. EA will continue to pull horrible stunts like this until (and if) they realize it’s not in their best interest to do so.

    From a personal viewpoint, I don’t particularly care for the games that EA offers these days, but I would rather they didn’t create a bad image for the entire industry while they are going about their nonsense.

    1. Raygereio says:

      “what if this obviously controversial commercial was created with the purpose of generating controversy?”

      That is the likely scenario. However; while the proverd goes “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, succà¨s de scandale is in fact generally a pretty rare thing.

    2. Shamus says:

      That’s what really set this exchange off with the Extra Credits crowd. We have two campaigns ENGINEERED to generate the most crass and obvious form of controversy. EA was willing to treat their models like whores, mock religious people, insult the maturity of gamers, and tell everyone “your mom is stupid”. But then came a bit of controversy that MATTERED, and they ran off without putting up a fight. If they really thought that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”, they would have embraced that discussion.

      And that’s where the lack of character really shines through.

      1. poiumty says:

        This is really where i have to agree, as i don’t think the Medal of Honor change did anything to confirm the fundaments on which i would agree with any of the other marketing campaigns. Showing they have “so many balls” yet backing away when it actually matters is a very cowardish move that crumbles most of their marketing philosophy to pieces.

        1. Aldowyn says:

          Especially, as the EC guys said, that kind of thing could help to boost the gaming industry as a whole, showing that we can tackle controversial issues just as much as any other medium can.

      2. Phineas says:

        EA backing off from their Taliban vs Opposing Forces stance in fact demonstrates that they were simply trying to generate controversy in the first place. If you could make a simple name swap from Taliban to Opposing Forces without affecting the presentation of your game, then it seems clear that your representation of of the Taliban is shallow and interchangeable with any random foe. EA simply recognizes here that they were called out on their shallow writing and made a simple ‘find and replace.’ EA’s response to this whole matter shows that they never could have dealt with the material maturely.

      3. Integer Man says:

        Wait – I’m missing something, I think. What is the controversy that mattered? Something different than “UR MOM HATES ZOMBIEZ”?

        1. Shamus says:

          The one about the Taliban.

          As I understand it, this was just a multiplayer issue. In the 2001 Castle Wolfenstein game, there were two multiplayer teams: Allies and Nazis. Makes sense.

          Likewise, in the recent Call of Duty game, one side was called Taliban.

          Some people objected to the idea that you could play as the Taliban and kill US soldiers. Instead of explaining the context of the game, or insisting that this was a perfectly valid thing to do in a game, or making the case that playing a side isn’t an endorsement of that side’s ideology, they just renamed the Taliban to “opposition”. It was a complicit acknowledgment that games were trivial, frivolous, and unfit to portray or even talk about real-world ideas.

          I would have understood if EA made their case and THEN backed down, but they didn’t even try. After all the other outrageous stuff they’ve done, they rolled over on this issue without even having a discussion.

    3. eric says:

      EA knows it’s in bad taste, no question. They knew it would evoke this kind of response. Would it lead to more sales of Dead Space 2? I doubt it; I certainly had no interest to buy it and have even less as a result of EA’s poor marketing tactics. Does it increase EA’s brand recognition? Sure, if that’s even possible anymore.

      The problem is that not all publicity is good publicity, contrary to common belief. If people hate your company, then that doesn’t make them more likely to buy their products… while most people genuinely don’t care enough to let these sorts of minor issues affect their purchasing decisions, it’s never a good road to start down. Once the ball gets rolling and enough people are actually upset by a company’s business practices, it can scare them into changing their ways. Corporations are so huge these days that it can be extremely hard to stop doing business with one, but the threat of going under makes them change their tune pretty quickly if a movement gets big enough.

      The games industry tries to keep developers and the work “behind the scenes” as anonymous as possible, and it’s because they know if the average gamer knew about the sorts of shit that most developers have to put up with publishers on a daily basis, simply to ensure they don’t go outright broke, then you’d see a lot more successful boycotts. It’s easy to ignore the problems of a corporation, but once the real talent starts speaking out as individuals and their voices are heard, people begin to empathise a lot more. The music industry already got past the studios controlling every single artist, and the games industry will get there eventually, but existing practices make it hard to imagine that will happen anytime soon.

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        Edit: Urgh, this was meant more as a comment on the general “generating controversy” and “good-bad publicity” thing. I guess I won’t generate another post for this but it was meant to be a reply to the OP. I’m probably to dumb to click properly or something.

        I don’t generally put much faith in humanity but I don’t really think it works all that much. Generally marketing covers three fields:
        1) Make people who would buy the product aware of the product
        2) Make potential buyers buy
        3) Make people who are not interested interested

        #1 Is a matter of simple awareness, this is what small scale studios generally have problems with. In case of computer games having some ads plastered over gaming websites and mags, having a few previews on the most popular portals and such is more than enough.

        #2 Is what we usually imagine as marketing. Everybody needs soap, how do we make them convinced to buy our soap? This goal is not to make people buy games in general, it is to make people who would buy a game buy this specific title.

        #3 Is the famed “if there is no demand create the demand”. This can be done in a number of ways, a lot of them being mind-tricks and such. The overarching purpose of this is to make the market for the product grow. (So in the soap example above it could be raising awareness that people who don’t wash stink)

        Let’s consider this commercial now. It’s main function is clearly not #1. Gaming market is relatively small compared to many other markets, gamers are used to following specialised media. The exposure on this scale is an overkill and the marginal profit increase does not justify the investment. #2 is the only one where this commercial may kinda, somewhat, slightly work. Since I haven’t seen the figures it’s hard for me to determine if the “buckets of gore” approach actually increases the sales over the “really scary atmosphere” approach. Though again, the potential buyers are used to following stuff like trailers on youtube, gaming news or newsletters… specialised media.

        And enter #3. I can imagine that the commercial may attract a few gore fanatics but it isn’t about attracting a few people, it’s about the net gain/loss. Now the game industry has been trying to get more people into gaming for a long time. The “casual games” are a pretty big hit with a lot of unexpected audiences. The wii, dance mats, musical instrument simulators and other such interactive doohickeys managed to grab a decent share of the market by promoting themselves more as “electronic toys”, “activity electronics”, “sports’ substitutes”, “party games” or “family/friends activities” than actual “computer games (which are totally for dorks)”. But there are a lot of people for whom the computer games are just kinda out there. What this commercial does is have 5 people make a step forward towards gaming and 500 make a step back because “I know about computer games, it’s what causes all the shootings. I’ve seen the commercials, it’s just blood and gore!” The irony here is that they also damaged part of their “would have bought it” market, because a few parents who would have bought the game for their minors without looking will remember the name and won’t (This… may actually be a good thing overall. Though I doubt this is a “raising awareness of the game classification system” campaign).

        The above may seem a simplification but you have to remember that we here are generally “in” the community. We can at least attempt to decipher some of the marketing code because we are familiar with the type of product. Just like an experienced driver won’t just go and buy a car simply because the commercial told him it drives more smoothly, the commercial may have him go and check some more, may make him want to test drive a car but it won’t make him buy it just like that. Games are a smaller investment than cars but this also means they are more often bought by people who are unfamiliar with subject matter. These are the people who are looking for “some interesting game” and take their knowledge from store assistants and mainstream media. These are the people who will mostly be discouraged from buying DS2 by this commercial and whose image of the gaming industry will be further warped by it. This is especially harmful in the industry that is as legally fragile as the gaming industry.

  16. Kolobus says:

    I have a question regarding the publisher/developer relationship in the gaming world. When a large company produces a game made by a smaller company, does the producer generally handle all marketing on it’s own or just approve/fund it? I ask only because the games that are being mentioned (Dante’s Inferno and Dead Space 2) were both developed by Visceral Games and produced by EA. My first thought when reading this and viewing the Extra Credits vid was that maybe the blame should split between Visceral (for the marketing concept) and EA (for approving and funding said concept).

    1. WickedArtist says:

      I believe that the amount of influence a publisher over the developer depends on the contract between them. Normally developers turn to publishers specifically because they need someone to handle the funding and marketing of the game (and marketing is not an inexpensive business). It is my impression that developers usually lose a lot of influence to the publisher once their deal is made, and publishers will often go as far as to interfere with the design process, and that marketing is usually under the publisher’s sphere of influence anyway.

      In the case of EA and Visceral Games, it should be pointed out that Visceral Games are, in fact, EA Redwood Shores, and they are owned by EA. In this case it’s sort of like EA are both the developer and the publisher, though different divisions handle each side. This is different from, for example, the relationship between BioWare and EA.

      Anyone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong or inaccurate.

      1. Entropy says:

        Kinda. EA bought Bioware a while back.

        1. WickedArtist says:

          I did not realize EA actually owned BioWare.

          I have personally lost much of my interest in BioWare titles (I don’t own Mass Effect and I never finished Dragon Age – I quit after about 66 hours of gameplay that have worn me out), but I still recognize them for what they are and I don’t think the BioWare vision really gets along with the EA vision, or lack thereof.

          I have not forgotten some of the more terrible marketing that EA has done for Dragon Age, and while it was not as bad as their current stunts, it still shows EA’s lack of character, as Shamus puts it.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            I haven’t seen any ads for DAII. Anyone else? I’m curious now…

            1. Raygereio says:

              The DA2 marketing campaign has been fairly standard so far. Nothing really dumb or stupid.

              Probably the lowpoint so far was the “Call to arms” in which BioWare kindly asked their fans if they could be so kind as to do BioWare’s marketing for them and get at least a millions people playing the demo.
              It wasn’t really idiotic, but it was presented somewhat silly.

              1. Aldowyn says:

                I heard about that. I’m not sure if I saw their official announcement, but from what I got it was a typical “use your social networks to get people playing it and you get a prize” sort of thing.

                I actually wanted to try the FB game so I could get goodies… but EA was being it’s normal confusing self and I couldn’t find where to get the Beta key…

                I literally can’t play BF2 because I can’t get my EA account to work.

  17. Irridium says:

    Is anyone else reminded of that one Camel that smoked cigarettes?

    Can’t remember the name, but I do remember a company using the camel as a mascot. They said it wasn’t to try and sell to kids, but then who the hell was the camel for?

    CAMEL JOE! Thats what the name was.

    1. BeamSplashX says:

      Then again, you could probably get away with it now due to the prevalence of cartoons aimed at adults, like Archer or the majority of Adult Swim.

      1. Irridium says:

        I don’t know. People these days seem to be all about limiting cigarettes and all that. If it came up again I’ll bet people will be all over it.

        Unless they make it a cartoon and air it on Adult Swim.

  18. BeamSplashX says:

    If EA runs the Supreme Court case into the ground and people still buy from them…

    …let’s just hope that doesn’t happen. Just… eugh. It’s like Square-Enix fans that still buy from them after they shut down a multi-year romhack project just before it’s released.

  19. Jarenth says:

    Largely irrelevant sidepoint: Dead Space 2 is actually leagues less scary than Dead Space 1, to the point of not being ‘scary’ at all. Startling, maybe. Gory, bloody, visually appalling. But scary? No.

    I just wonder how many people who bought the game based on this ad turned out disappointed because their mothers thought it was quaint.

    1. Irridium says:

      Dead Space 1 wasn’t that scary. Just startling.

      It seems most developers confuse scary with startling these days. And that makes me sad.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        Yahtzee has said this many times. This is why everyone loves Amnesia.

      2. Raygereio says:

        True. But at least Dead Space 1 occasionally tried to create some atmosphere with sound effects and moving shadows.
        Dead Space 2 didn’t even bother with that. When the dev’s decided a room had to be scary, they just made it completely dark and thus utterly frustrating to play.

        1. Jarenth says:


          Dead Space 1 was ‘scary’ in those moment inbetween startly arghle-barghle-boo monsters jumping into your face; the moments the game actually tried to build some atmosphere.

          Dead Space 2, by comparison, gives you brightly lit, wide open hallways, monsters playing ‘dead’ that are almost impossible not to spot, and whenever it decides you need to be ‘scared’, the lights go off or you get some crazy hallucinations.

          1. Integer Man says:

            Dead Space 2 was plenty scary for me. Don’t recall having as many issues with Dead Space 1 so I think they did must have done a better job with the atmosphere in DS2.

            Nowhere near as nasty as I remember FEAR being, but FEAR didn’t have a sci-fi setting so I had no incentive to endure the jumps and suspense.

            I wouldn’t have gotten DS1 or DS2 if it weren’t for the sci-fi atmosphere.

    2. acronix says:

      Now I wonder which one is a better shooter…

  20. Corylea says:

    I hadn’t realized how idealistic EA used to be until I saw the Extra Credits video yesterday. That makes it all the sadder that they’ve become as crass and soulless as they are now.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Amen to this. That manifesto was pretty dang idealistic…

      Like I said on Twitter: “Don’t let money change you, EA! Shoot, too late…”

    2. krellen says:

      Sadly, that was an entirely different EA – I’m not sure any of those people are associated with the modern EA at all. The name was bought outright; I doubt the studio that used to be “Electronic Artists” is in existence at all any more.

  21. Mewse says:

    I actually obtained an EA e-mail address just a few weeks ago, after the home-grown developer I used to work for closed up a few months back. So I guess that makes me biased in this discussion, just as fair warning.

    For me, the really sad thing is that this sort of advertisement (apparently) works. It’s one of the things that has been really been bothering me for the past few years: the generally poisonous atmosphere of the community surrounding most games (thankfully, not present here!), and the industry’s insistence on pandering to that community.

    I mean, EA certainly isn’t the only one doing this. We all remember Acclaim’s various marketing stunts, I assume (getting people to legally change their name to “Turok” for that game, getting people to put their ads onto the gravestones of recently deceased relatives for “ShadowMan”, etc). And hell, Ubisoft recently released this gem. It’s not just one company, it’s all of the big ones (notably excepting Nintendo, Blizzard, and Valve, so far).

    So I don’t know. I’ve been in the industry for well over a decade. Lots of changes during that time. It often doesn’t feel like a place where I want to be, any more. Certainly doesn’t seem like the same place that it was when I was first starting out.

    Or maybe it’s just me that’s not in the same place as when I started; an old man with nostalgia for the way that things never actually were.

    I suppose that’s probably more likely.

    1. Irridium says:

      This video contains content from Ubisoft, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.
      Sorry about that.”

      You know, now that I got this message, I can see how it would be very, very annoying. So since I can’t see the video, what is it about? Is it when Ubisoft staged a fake robbery to promote Splinter Cell Conviction?

      1. Raygereio says:

        Alt link for video:

        No, it’s… something different then that staged robbery. It’s a commercial for a game that promotes the use of the wii in a manner that I doubt was ever envisioned by Nintendo.

        The worse part of that add is probably the odd, forced laughter of the actors. Dear Ao, the things some people do for a paycheck.

        1. Mari says:

          OK, great, I finally want a Wii. That commercial was horribly creepy and my wanting of a Wii is spurred only by the new-found knowledge that there’s more you can do with the console than play 1001 sports/fitness games or the same games you can play on my 360 or my PS3. I wish that knowledge had been conveyed in a less contrived manner but I guess the commercial did have the desired effect.

          1. Simon Buchan says:

            You better hope you’re in Europe or Australia then. There is “Absolutely no chance this will ever come to the US” according to Ubisoft.

            1. Mari says:

              Naturally. It’s got sexual content which all Americans know is EVIL. It might even lead to people interacting in an erotic way, which we all know is waaaaaay worse than inducing people to shoot one another in the heads.

              1. Otters34 says:

                I’m fairly sure there’s a difference between ‘erotic’ and ‘simulate doing fetishistic stuff’. Not American myself, but the bizarre pseudo-Puritanism a lot of them exhibit makes me wonder if living in a place where spanking a WiiMote stuck in the back of someone’s drawers counts as erotic is such a good plan.

              2. Galad says:

                a-bloody-men to that. If only the people that actually matter when it comes to what games come into the US and with what censorship thought like you, the states would probably be a better place for gamers. Not that I live in the states, not that it concerns me, it’s just such an annoyingly backwards way of thinking.

        2. ehlijen says:

          That ad wasn’t actually too bad. Sure, the product’s not for everyone, the quality may be limited and it only belongs in certain time slots on tv, but it appears to be honest about what their product is and who it’s for. I didn’t know that market exists, but if it does, the game and the ad are reasonably attempts at going for that.

          Compare that to the mum ad which gives deliberate impressions of being targetted at an age group that game’s not meant for, refuses to say much about the product at all and caps it all off with a ‘your mum’ joke!

          1. I agree with this. They’re hardly going for “High Art” but based on the description on Ubisoft’s website the advert seems to give a fair representation of what you’ll get. It’s a game aimed at adults with an advert that reflects this, and while it probably shouldn’t be shown before the watershed the most “pornographic” thing to happen is a couple of men taking their shirts off. The game itself is hardly likely to be outright obscene either given that it has a 12 rating.

            I myself have no interest in it, but if a group of adults want to play a sexy version of Mario Party then fair play to them. It’s certainly not in the same league as idiocy like telling people to sexually harass booth babes.

      2. Tohron says:

        I’m guessing it’s one of the “We dare” ads for adult Wii games – they’ve blocked the ad from release in the US and are having it removed from Youtube.

        1. Irridium says:

          Oh, the Wii sex minigame collection. Heard about that.

          I thought that was a leaked April Fools joke or something. Seeing thats its real… I don’t know what to say.

          1. Aldowyn says:

            nah, that would be the movie being made of internet memes. Saw that on the escapist, I think.

        2. Volatar says:

          What the hell? Removed from Youtube?

          Thats… that makes no sense at all.

          1. Bubble181 says:

            Why do you think there’s a growing awareness in Europe, even in mainstream media, that some of these here newfangled media and webdoohickeys are in American hands, and this is not necessarily a good thing? Apple, Facebook and Youtube seem intent on allowing only what they deem fit and proper to be shown to people – which is quite different from the accepted continental European view.
            Just contrast the video of men shooting people in the head which blow up with plenty of blood with the one where you see some people playing a Wii game with some sexual undertones, and see which one got pulled… -_-

            1. Mari says:

              Where the heck is the “like” button around here?! OK, fine, we’ll do this old school.


              1. Aldowyn says:

                SHAMUS! Make it happen! :P

                *shrug* it’d be kind of nice sometimes, but far from necessary.

  22. Friend of Dragons says:

    Judging by that ad, I would fully support my mom in hating Dead Space 2. But maybe that’s just me.

    1. Aldowyn says:

      Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of gore. It actually put me off Fallout 3 when I first saw it… I have now decided it’s fairly fun to see heads explode sometimes.

      Some things are just ridiculous, though.

      1. Friend of Dragons says:

        I don’t particularly mind it… but when it is used as a game’s main selling point, that is not a point in its favor.

        1. Jarenth says:

          Judging from the ad, it’s not even the gore: Dead Space 2’s main selling point is that some people might not like Dead Space 2.

  23. Specktre says:

    I first saw this ad on Facebook when a couple friends “Liked” it.

    I thought, “What the crap is this?” Then watched it.

    I was thoroughly displeased.

    I was really glad when Game Overthinker, Extra Creditz, and now Shamus addressed this issue.

  24. Ergonomic Cat says:

    I’m proud to say that I’m old enough that I really don’t use “how does my mom feel about this?” as a decision point in buying video games. Honestly. Are we marketing just to 15 year old boys now? Oh, right. Nevermind.

    I think part of this is the theory that they have their core audience locked down – people that liked Dead Space will buy Dead Space 2. They need to get *new* people in, and that’s done by being “shocking” and “edgy”.

    1. Syal says:

      Actually, that might be a valid strategy; attack the people who own the original game, who then feel the need to defend themselves by showing their friends why they bought it.
      That gets them more than thirty seconds, too.

  25. ehlijen says:

    This brings me back to the olden days, when I felt like ripping my 3d accelerator card out of my computer because of an ad that basically went like this:

    Scene: doctors performing surgery
    Voiceover: We have the technology to help people, to make a better tomorrow.
    Scene: changes to random, pixelated explosions
    Voiceover: But we chose to make more violent computer games instead, OH YEAH!

    1. Raygereio says:

      “OH YEAH”
      Damn, I can’t even read those two words without glancing over my shoulder to see if the kool-aid man is going to smash through my wall.

  26. Grog says:

    As as aside, can I thank you for linking to the Extra Credits people?

    I’d never watched any of their stuff before, but I just went through their entire back catalogue in a couple of hours.

    1. Volatar says:

      Ditto. Thanks for that.

      1. Aldowyn says:


        Shamus has mentioned them before. Shucks, he’s done XP’s like this where he’s talking about the same topic as them before!

        Anyway, you obviously figured this out, but Extra Credits is amazingly awesome. I wonder what EA thinks about this week’s episode… Oh, and I just checked and it currently has 982 comments. That’s… a LOT.

        1. krellen says:

          That’s almost as many as they got when they tackled piracy.

          1. Volatar says:

            The piracy one has 1269 comments.

            1. Aldowyn says:

              current count: 1004

              that’s still several times as many as most Escapist shows/articles get. Shucks, Yahtzee doesn’t get that many!

              1. Galad says:

                hah, Yahtzee sometimes gets nearly as many, but the comments to his videos don’t get anywhere near the amount of quality as the EC videos

  27. Cody211282 says:

    I liked them and thought they were rather funny, never really thought they were offensive or immature.

  28. Hal says:

    My only contribution to this: If consumers want to promote change amongst a company, then the only real way to make it happen is to vote with our wallets.

    Maybe there will never be enough of us who stop to think for a few seconds to consider the impact EA is having on our hobby.

    Maybe the audience who really digs this sort of bottom-feeding is still too big for us to give pause.

    Maybe there are too many lazy parents who will buy M rated games for their preteen children because it’s easier than getting Johnny to read a book or spending time with him.

    But short of mounting a campaign, it’s the best we can do. Yes, you might have to pass up a few of the gems that they’ll make. But for the sake of integrity, for the sake of making them feel it, it’s the best way.

  29. Amarsir says:

    A couple people already said variations on this so I can’t just pick one to agree with. But what bothers me is less that they do it and more that it works.

    But that’s hardly new or unique to gaming. I never felt Boost Mobile’s “Where You At” campaign was all that complimentary either.

  30. Alex says:

    I tell my friends that every night, just before John Riccitiello goes to sleep, he thanks the deity of his choice that Bobby Kotick still exists. Because if he didn’t, EA would no longer be the second-worst thing that’s ever happened to video games.

  31. Integer Man says:

    Hear, hear.

    Because of this commercial, I cancelled my pre-order of Dead Space 2. I did go back and purchase it a month after release at a lower price because I was craving some rich sci-fi settings, but the ad campaign was utterly repulsive in my eyes and does indeed show an interesting aspect of how EA views their audience.

    Dead Space 2 is the first game in a long time I’ve wished was shorter. Playing it for nice views and cool technology in the background. Not liking as much the freaky messed up stuff or the occasional frights.

    I know, I’m a wuss, but horror isn’t my thing (yet another reason the ad campaign drove me away from their product).

  32. Thanatos of Crows says:

    Seen these?
    I think Dead Space 2 commercials don’t go nearly as far as these… I just… Okay, I don’t know of any other thing that’s told the player to disregard the story and gameplay and to just concentrate on boobs.

    1. Otters34 says:

      Mainly because ‘It’s a tactical RPG with dating sim elements!’ doesn’t really spark much interest from the 360 playerbase. It isn’t exceptional gameplay-wise, very blah and standard issue.

      Only unusual thing is that it takes place over multiple generations, fathered by the previous generation with one of the officers of your army.

      Story(I think it has one) is pretty blame poor too. Can’t remember a bit of it.

  33. Gahazakul says:

    Does it have to mean they are marketing to younger folks? I don’t think they are “literally” trying to sell it to you by saying your Mom hates it. It seems to me it’s meant to be funny, and it is funny, I showed it to my mother when she visited and we shared a laugh over it. I mean as soon as the gravely voiced narrator kicked in talking about “underground location” or whatever it was it seem to be strongly in the “joke” territory.

    1. Cody211282 says:

      As I stated before I thought this was friken funny, and until reading this I hadn’t run into anyone else who didn’t take this as a joke. What I think is this is just EA marketing having a bit of fun and tying to get a few laughs out of their customers(I mean honestly I really doubt they were trying to sell the game under the premise that your mom wont like it, it’s a joke and people need to lighten up). Secondly most people are just looking for an excuse to bash EA, and because of this anything that has the EA logo attached to it is going to automatically be the worst thing ever and a stain on the game industry even if it’s a joke like this is.

      1. Aldowyn says:

        I don’t think any of us are denying it’s supposed to be funny. Most of us just think it… isn’t. Including me. I can see why you can see us as taking them at face value, though…

        I just don’t get it, sometimes.

      2. Integer Man says:

        Well, it is intended to be funny, but EA isn’t going to put an ad spot out there just to tell a joke. They’re attempting to drive sales by marketing to people who are mostly too young to buy an M rated game.

        1. Gahazakul says:

          Is that true though? It was driving sales towards ME, a 27 year old man that remembers the ads in game magazines when I was young that played up extreme gore and attitude to entice me. I strongly believe the ad spot is aimed at me, not at a younger crowd at all. If it was it would have been more serious, like the Dragon Age commercials that were all violence set to the Marilyn Manson tune, this was a joke from beginning to end. The joke IS the ad spots purpose, to get me thinking about their game, not to literally sell to young folks on how cool it is cause mom’s hate it.

        2. Cody211282 says:

          I showed it to my Mom and she thought it was funny even though she doesn’t game. The ad was less about trying to sell to kids and more about them knowing they were making another super violent game that anti-gaming crazy’s don’t want around and poking fun of them.

          Also to compare here is their serious trailer.


  34. Majikkani_Hand says:

    I should show that ad to my mother. In between Diablo, COD, and murder mystery games she might find some time to be offended.

    1. Integer Man says:

      Out of curiosity, ARE there any decent murder mystery games out there? Only ones I’ve ever enjoyed were Sierra’s old Laura Bow series.

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