EA makes a bad joke, gets relentlessly flamed

Electronic Arts, the unmitigated king of unforced errors, made a woefully ill-advised tweet yesterday, and the company’s Twitter mentions have not known peace since.

The tweet follows the convention of a popular meme that’s been circulating the bird app in which a person is described as being highly attractive, then listing something about that person that’s supposed to make them instantly unattractive.

In EA’s case, the quality that’s supposed to make the person unattractive is the fact they prefer single-player games. Now I get that there’s supposed to be a message here. I’m going to interpret this as a dig at the kinds of people who say they only play games that offer deep, introspective meditation on the human condition (aka the kind of folks who make playing The Last of Us or Bioshock Infinite their entire personality) while degrading the people who enjoy a game or two of Battlefield 2042 with the six or so people in the server at any given moment.

I get the joke.

But it’s real rich to the point of secondhand embarrassment to have Electronic

  • We shut down Visceral Games, which made one of our most popular single-player games ever, while it was in the middle of making a single-player game.
  • We published one of the best single-player games of the last five years and just announced its sequel.
  • We also published one of the best single-player games of the last 20 years.
  • We published Anthem.
  • We subsequently killed Anthem and, from that game’s miserable reception, decided to take multiplayer elements out from our other games in development.
  • Our multiplayer games are so stuffed with exploitative microtransactions that whole-ass countries made laws to combat them.
  • We charge retail price every year for sports games and then run ads in them.
  • We published The Sims, Dragon Age, and Mass Effect, which are some of the most celebrated single-player franchises on the planet.

Arts make this joke.

And the developers who’ve worked on some of EA’s single-player games aren’t laughing either.

EA is one of the largest video game publishers in the world. The decisions it makes have ramifications for not only itself but the industry. Surely, there are better uses of its time than punching down the one thing it has to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing, right? It also can’t be great to have the company that essentially decides if your studio lives or dies, glibly making jokes about how unattractive your work is. It has to feel even worse in the case of Respawn and BioWare, who are, right now, working on sequels and follow-ups to some of the best single-player work EA has ever published.

EA has acknowledged that maybe its joke was in poor taste, issuing a tweet saying the subsequent beating it took up and down social media to the point that Anthem was trending again was deserved.

Call me crazy, but I think the gaming community would be much better off if we just stop yucking others’ yums altogether.