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Staff Blog: EA Angers a New (Older) Audience

Generally speaking, people don’t like EA. That’s a given for any self-respecting gamer. “Sure, they produce some great games, but they just make horrible decision after horrible decision”, for the consumer at least. Truth is, however, that unbounded hate doesn’t really exist outside of the core gamer crowd. In fact, beyond a certain group of people aged between 16 and 40, there aren’t many who have even heard of Electronic Arts. Not content with this minimal audience of spite, EA have moved to rile up a whole new sector of society through their recent takeover of the Scrabble mobile game.

That’s right, EA recently took over the running of the official Scrabble apps from brand owners Mattel. The iOS and Android apps received an overhaul at the end of May to fit in line with EA’s business strategy. To begin with, every player’s stats and rankings were wiped in a server transfer; something most gamers will unfortunately be familiar with. Of course, in Scrabble your personal scores and win/loss ratios are particularly important.

It must be understood that to many out there, Scrabble is not only a source of entertainment but also an important hobby and even a profession. That fact is probably lost on a lot of people, but there’s no denying the cultural impact of the game.

On top of this, EA also changed the dictionary that was used in the previous version and removed a feature that refreshed the game board after every turn. Presumably to save on constant connection issues.

So as you may (or...may not) expect, there’s been a rather negative reaction to the changes. After all, people do love their Scrabble. A facebook group has been set up specifically to call out the poor changes to the app. “Please bring back the Scrabble we love” has garnered almost 3000 members. What’s interesting is that their complaints have been directed mostly towards Mattel, despite the fact that EA are the company responsible for their strifes (although obviously it is Mattel’s call on whom they employ for the job). It’s good to see fans doing something about it, though. Reminds me of the Mass Effect 3 debacle last year. Only more civilised.

The move has created enough waves that even the BBC recently covered the story. Supposedly a large section of their readership likes to dabble in Scrabble. The highlight of the article has to be a collection of enraged quotes from a wounded Scrabble player. “I’ve been playing for over four years, I had 5000 recorded games on my statistics, I’d won 71% of them (that’s like a 7:3 KDR for the COD fans), I had my best scores recorded - and now it’s all lost.” As mentioned, many gamers will find this scene all too familiar. I recently suffered the “server transition” issue with Company of Heroes, I suppose I’ve become too accustomed to this kind of annoyance to be angered. Which is actually a little worrying.

According to Mattel, the move to EA Mobile has increased the number of people playing the game. It seems as though no matter how much EA may shun a current audience, they always manage to appeal to a new one. In many ways that’s my dark message to this light hearted tale, I’m like the Brothers Grimm. Electronic Arts may anger a particular audience, even a totally new one who’ve had very little contact with them previously, but they still manage to make money and increase their overall audience; regardless of how much that same audience may hate them.


14 points.

RGDfleet | 1st July, 2013
Platinum's picture
Are EA just on a quest to see how much more they can fuck up?, Really did they not have any idea of the rage this would cause?, More proof if needed that they don't care at all about gamers.
Betty_Swallocks's picture
Originally Posted by Platinum View Post
More proof if needed that they don't care at all about gamers.

Of course they don't. They're a massive corporation. All any corporation cares about is profits. They don't care where it comes from or from who just so long as the money keeps rolling in. Piss off one section of gamers and there's always another one to exploit.

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