Sunday, 16 August 2015

Electronic Arts: Complaints against On-Disc DLC are "Nonsense."

Oh dear, oh dear. With Konami currently serving as a heat sink of hatred for all of gaming, it seems Electronic Arts has tried to get a few anti-consumer statements under the radar. In typical EA fashion, not only did they manage to utterly balls this up, but they managed to completely ignore examples set by other industries.

So, what have they done this time? Peter Moore (Infamous executive and the same man who claimed gamers were utterly opposed to change) is now claiming any criticism against on-disc DLC is wrong. No, no, it's worse, he's claiming that any and all complaints are utter nonsense, as if people have no right to criticise such acts.

In an interview with Gamespot, Moore stated the following in regards to DLC practices:

"Well a lot of that resistance comes from the erroneous belief that somehow companies will ship a game incomplete, and then try to sell you stuff they have already made and held back. Nonsense. You come and stand where I am, next to Visceral's studio, and you see the work that is being done right now. And it's not just DLC, this is free updates and ongoing balance changes."

Furthermore, when asked to elaborate he added that on-disc DLC itself isn't technically "content" in its own right, and instead that it should be viewed as the support code to help the game run smoothly. Claiming that people should "Think of them as APIs," Moore further stated that "Knowing down the road that something needs to sit on what you've already made, means you have to put some foundations down. What people are confused about is they think DLC is secretly on the disc, and that it's somehow unlocked when we say."

This is supreme stupidity at its finest in more ways than one, the first being that a simple Google search could have shown just how badly this went the last time another company claimed this. Capcom, a company whose decisions to ignore any and all customer opinions exploded in their face not too long ago, was the big example with Street Fighter X Tekken along with their other big names like Resident Evil and Marvel Vs. Capcom. Even three years down the line, no one has quite forgiven them for this, so in an age where EA is trying to claw its back into a positive relationship with the public, this is the last thing they should be saying.

The other reason this is utterly stupid is because EA's own behaviour is infamous and well known. While Moore might claim here that sections have not been removed from the game or sold off separately, we've had cited examples and proof brought up over the years, especially with story heavy titles. Mass Effect 3 is easily the most infamous one when it came to the subject of Javik, a character whose inclusion not only dramatically changed the game but was core to the most basic lore of the universe itself. Released practically from the start, Javik's scenes were still on the disc but walled off from the player. They were only activated at a later date and, unlike all other story driven DLC which were largely self-contained side stories, this was woven into the core narrative. Even prior to the ending controversy, this caused a fresh wave of simmering dislike and distrust for the company, even causing some people to boycott the game.

So, in the wake of all that, we have an EA executive outright lying by claiming they have never removed parts from a game. Not only that, but one also ignoring every backlash surrounding this subject of on-disc DLC and treating it less as a debate so much as a black/white "you're wrong, we're right" debacle. Of course, this is the tip of the iceberg isn't it. Let's get into the problems with his actual statements.

First of all, Moore's main defence is being made based upon something no one can see. He asks us to see things from his perspective, to look at things from his position, but then doesn't substantiate that. Rather than giving something more honest like a relatively in depth answer surrounding the business side of things or even admitting their past mistakes but how the new system has somehow changed, he gives nothing. All he states is effectively "Look things are going fine behind the scenes, just take my word for it."
Really, look at exactly what he states, in the initial response, simply saying "if you were me" and then trying to deflect it with a non answer. Even when he does start to approach the subject of the DLC itself, he tries to hide it amid mentions of balancing and fixing issues. Last I checked, patches and fixes to games weren't usually counted alongside on-disc DLC, and as a rule people didn't usually have to pay for them.

His later follow-up suffers from the same issue. They avoid the actual subject of on-disc DLC itself, so while he cites his support for it, he refuses to back that up with anything truly substantial. At the most his claims bring up the point of trying to claim that parts of it are simply there to help with the download, and nothing else. This would be fine were it not for the fact that Electronic Arts has openly lied about such subjects in the past, including one incident surrounding the aforementioned Mass Effect controversy. Also, it's not actually following up his exact point, just dancing around it as before rather than giving a straight answer. 

Like so many of his statements, this really comes down to Moore claiming full support for anti-consumer practices which benefit his company, but actively trying to misrepresent them so the consumers are in the wrong. Given his condescending attitude tied with his unwillingness to actually address the past, it's a wonder how they can keep claiming they are somehow improving.

Even if you were somehow defending this, even if you were somehow thinking that this might somehow be justified, consider the following:
Let's say that you bought an album from a band on CD, paid the full retail price which was standard for the company at that time, but found out that only twenty of the thirty songs were accessible. The remaining ten were ones you had to instead pay additional cash to unlock, despite you buying it and paying a fair amount.
In an example closer to home, let's say you purchased an Imperial Guard Baneblade/Shadowsword set. However, upon opening it up, you find you're limited only to the Baneblade cannon and heavy bolters. The rest of the weapons are there, but they're in a padlocked box you need to pay extra to access.

The real crux of the problem is that these practices are infuriating and insulting to customers. In their minds, you're pushing for extra cash from something they have purchased, hold in their hands, and by rights own. They've bought it, they hold it and have it all, and the company has devoted time and their budget to making it, but that same company is expecting them to still pay extra. Quite how this is apparently going over Moore's head is a mystery for the ages.

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