Politics in gaming

This week saw the announcement of EA Access™; a genuinely good idea from the worst company in the world®, a netflix type subscription app that allows players in the words of EA themselves:

EA-logo

EA Access membership unlocks The Vault, a collection of EA’s biggest games on Xbox One ready for you to download and play.  During the beta, gamers will have unlimited access to four great EA games: FIFA 14Madden NFL 25Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4™ with more titles being added soon. That’s over $100 worth of games for $4.99 a month. You can play these EA favorites as much as you want with the click of a button”.

You can also purchase a year of the service for little over £20 ($30), which in all sounds a great deal; someone doesn’t agree with MrLuvvaLuvva on this though…Sony who were very quick to release a statement on why they chose to not allow Access on their platforms;

sony_logo_48

“We evaluated the EA Access subscription offering and decided that it does not bring the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect”

My question is though…why did Sony refuse to allow this on their systems? Surely having more than one delivery system is good for the consumers, and business.

In a sense the above is correct; consumers enjoy having choice and they will gravitate towards the outlet/delivery system that offers the best deal on what they want to buy. EA Access™ will give gamers a very good deal while allowing EA to deliver their games themselves – effectively self-publishing on a massively profitable scale…could this be the reason Sony were reluctant to allow EA Access?

It’ll come as no surprise that companies exist to make money, regardless of the feelings that the customer places on a brand we are viewed in the same way, pounds and pence. Companies see us as their income and they will do anything to appeal to as many of us as possible. Bottom line is Sony make a licence fee on every game released and sold on their systems…EA Access is a rental service that will not garner Sony a licence royalty cheque in the post each and every month. EA Access™ would also prove a stiff competitor to Sony’s own Playstation Now™ rental platform. ($4.99 for 4 hours is a very good deal…according to Sony execs)

Basically this whole saga (don’t sue me King) is basically an exercise in politics. Sony spin-doctors have taken the boards’ decision and attempted to make it appeal to their “fans” by appealing to their wallets. Politics in gaming…who’d have thought it; must be a new thing. Right?

Wrong!

Back when SEGA released the Dreamcast it was the biggest publisher that refused to release games on the system (EA) until; reportedly, it had sold one million units (after being burned by the saturn aparently). Fast forward 3 months, the Dreamcast breezed past the one million mark, EA refused to release games anyway. The lack of EA games on the Dreamcast has been cited as a significant contributor to the failure of the system as a competitor to the PS2 (which had loads of EA games – right up to FIFA 14).

Why did EA do this to SEGA? Internet conspiracy nuts state that EA made the demand that only they will be able to release sports game on the system. However the more reasonable amongst us can assume that they actually projected sales of the Dreamcast and concluded that it would not sell enough units to become a viable platform, history suggests they were correct. Although history is written by the victors; had EA released a FIFA or a Madden, the dreamcast very well may have been a success.

Ubisoft have played the politics card as recently as feburary of last year with the release of WiiU exclusive platformer Rayman Legends. Wait a second – you’ve played that on your Vita/PS/Xbox you say? Yes, you did. Ubisoft retracted the exclusive status of the game simply because ZombiU did not sell enough on the system. Recently Yves Guillemot said that;

“We need the sales to increase so it becomes more and more mass market”

This was part of a press release in which Ubisoft refused to confirm support for the system (he goes on to say they await the release of Super Smash Bros and updated sales figures. How very diplomatic and non-committal) and although this is admirably transparent from Ubisoft, it still very much reeks of political wranglings, this press release buys Ubisoft a significant amount of time to not pledge support. It keeps them on side with their fans and keeps the hope alive that they will release big titles on the Nintendo platform – pleasing everyone through inaction (pretty sure that’s how government is defined in the new Oxford dictionary).

What is the purpose behind these internal wranglings? Power and influence over the market.

Who are the victors? No-one wins, the publishers lose sales, the platform holders lose titles and maybe sales as fans of the games go where they can be played, and the consumers end up paying more to play the titles they want (want EA Access? Buy an Xbox One is the message).

In the end it is us, the end user, who gets screwed over. Time and time again we end up with the short straw as companies go to battle over the almighty pound. Do i want EA Access? I don’t know yet, do i get the choice? No because i chose PS4 as my console of choice. That’s my problem with this business practice. I would love to decide for myself what represents good value, not have an almighty overseer telling me…that’s what Sony is doing to us here…telling us what we value as customers.

What I do know right now is that EA Access looks a much better deal than PS Now…do you think if I emailed Sony they’d listen?

sy8nz8

Didn’t think so.

Do you agree with Sony telling EA to shove Access?

Would you buy an Xbox One to gain access to, erm, Access?

Do you think politics benefits anyone other than the companies involved?

Please leave a comment below and tell us your feelings on this topic. And remember to check out our videos on youtube

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