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EA drops the ball (or rather, the puck) yet again {A Good Lesson to Keep in mind about BAD PR}


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Now I'm aware that the majority of you already dislike, curse at, and try your hardest to protect other consumers from purchasing any video game EA is involved in the production of. Likewise you probably also are aware of all the scummy business practices they employ to take people's money. This recent occurrence that I am about to tell you about probably puts EA over the edge when it comes to their standing in the public eye. I warn you that it will be a long read, but if you intend to ever work in management or PR for a major corporation, this is a good lesson to learn about what not to do.


The story begins about 3 months ago. EA releases a teaser trailer for its upcoming sports title "NHL 15". As most would normally expect, this first look absolutely blows people away, but most are smart enough to realize the game will not look as graphically advanced as the trailer would suggest. No problem.


Players are very excited for the game, as EA specifically stated that the NHL development team wanted to take a year off from next gen consoles in order to learn more about and have experience with the new consoles so that they can make a better game, rather than rush the product with a limited budget and staff. On top of this, they claimed that they wanted to make sure the other development teams for games like FIFA and Madden could figure out the network infrastructure basics for the new consoles, and they could save time on development by borrowing code for online connectivity from those two titles. That's alright too, because EA has been known to do this anyways. They work on a yearly release cycle normally so the majority excuse that as well.


Players recall that the first titles to come out for FIFA and Madden (branded as FIFA 14 and Madden 25 respectively) were underwhelming, and were incredibly buggy to say the least. The NHL fanbase sees this as a good sign that they made have made the right decision to hold off in order to put out an acceptable product with less bugs.


In order to promote the "new features" of the NHL 15 game, EA puts up a webpage detailing all the things they had been working on for the past year and a half. Most of the changes are called out immediately by the fans, as they all laughed at how much work had been wasted on increasing the detail of the fans, in fact the number of in-game fan models, inside the stadium "watching the game", as well as the false promise of new advanced AI. I don't think I need to say anything about AI. The one thing people were excited about was the introduction of a new commentary team for the first time in almost a decade. That should have been the first bad sign....


EA also puts up a webpage detailing the changes that would be made to the game on the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles. Upon a quick glance it is apparent that these versions of the game would not be improved even in the slightest, quite literally people referring to it as "Last year's game with new commentary team"


However, a closer look shows that one of the key online game modes is not noted on the Xbox One and PS4 descriptions. In short, this game mode allows people to play 6 against 6, thereby eliminating the problematic AI teammates from the game, which no doubt improves the game dramatically. Some even say this game mode is the only reason they even purchase EA NHL in the first place.


A few players suggested that the game mode was not available on the next gen consoles.


At first the community shrugged this off with the reasoning that this game mode has been in the game for eight consecutive years, and that it wouldn't be considered a marketable part of the franchise, as it has become assumed to be part of the game. That, and the fact that EA revamped the game mode in the previous installment, suggests that this game mode is here to stay.


About a month passes, and some players begin to grow impatient. They say they want to see actual gameplay footage showcasing what the new features actually do to change the experience. It is important to note that as of that point EA had only been showing "in game footage" from camera angles you would never expect to play the game using. Basically a bunch of promotional nonsense reiterating what they already announced on the webpage that was released with the initial teaser trailer


These questions are answered with "We will explain all the details about game modes soon." Eventually this answer changes to "....in six weeks". Now mind you, this is game that had literally only 4 months of time until the game was released to be marketed. (Specifically May 5th until September 9th)


Waiting six weeks seems a bit too long for a game that would be released in about 3 months, no?


Anyways, E3 passes by and all they show was the "Official Gameplay Trailer". The community jumps on this and breaks it down piece by piece, proving that many of the promises about change and a brand new game "built from the ground up" still has many of the same animations and gameplay flaws that plagued the series in the past 8 years. People are generally annoyed, but some try to defend EA, suggesting that the few new additions to gameplay may change the game enough to give them a fresh experience....yeah...about that....


Between E3 until about one week ago, in fact, the first day of GAMESCOM to be exact, The only videos released would be more promotional fluff about stuff that was already introduced during the teaser trailer. (What was that again about telling the consumer about new game modes in 6 weeks?)


During that span of time, information was leaked about the back cover of the NHL 15 game from retailer websites, most notably Best Buy. This includes Best Buy retailer divisions that go by different names in Europe. The information suggested that Xbox 360 and PS3 users could play the game online with up to 12 players, while Xbox One and PS4 users were limited to only 2 players while online. Speculation in the community about the exclusion of that team play game mode increased as well, when it was announced that there would be no pre-order bonuses for that particular game mode specifically when it came to Xbox One and PS4 users.


This prompted players to ask the same questions again, where is this particular game mode? They would not receive a valid response, and if they suggested that the game mode was removed, they would be completely ignored. Making matters worse, retailers were not given any direction about how to answer questions about the product. Most retailers went on record (and you can also find these recordings on Youtube) saying that they simply did not know the answer to peoples questions about available game modes and did not want to mislead them. At this point, there had been one game mode confirmed removed from the next-gen consoles. It was extremely unpopular, and as such there was no backlash.


All of this bad publicity comes to light, and consumers are completely outraged. The EA forums explode with threads asking about why the game mode was removed Even though there was no official statement proving or disproving the theories. EA's silence on the matter has gone so far that it's player base managed to start a negative trend that has actually picked up some steam on Twitter and Facebook. So naturally, the response should be to come out and say what is really going on with the game right? EA sits there and does NOTHING allowing the negative publicity to spread. It gets to the point were people went as far as to find the executive producer's phone number and email......I don't want to go into detail about what people have been saying, it's not pretty.


Long story short, the gameplay videos shown leading up to Gamescom further annoy the masses, whereby they point out even more flaws and animations that have been in the game for multiple years. Of course, they continue to ask the same questions, but are blatantly ignored in every which way.


All of this lead to the creation of a thread a week ago on the EA forums that is over 200 pages long, and continues to grow as I type this. Here is the link if you want to read it for yourselves:





Two weeks ago, it was officially announced that there would be news about game modes being released this week (Between August 18th and August 22nd) This would be good news finally except for one minor detail. The game is planned for release on September 9th


So with less than three weeks to go until release, there is currently no official release explaining which game modes will be included in either of the two versions of the game. Many people are angered claiming EA is trying to force people to play a game mode that encourages them to make in-game micro-transactions. This is a game mode that many players have admitted to spending thousands of dollars per year on since its inception in 2011.


So you might say that Moderators on the EA forums could have answered the question very easily on the forums and none of this would have come to fruition. But here's the problem, the mods have stated that they would be breaking NDA by saying anything, and instead of leaving it at that continued to add to the fire by providing contradicting information, and often mocking users with "wink" emoticons. One moderator even would go on the record as simply stating "It (the game mode) is in the game."


This would have solved everything if it were completely true. One last leak was found that made everyone completely lose their minds. A twitch video displaying the list of achievements for the Xbox One version of the game reveals that there is no mention of the game mode that everyone was questioning the existence of. Here's the kicker, the account that had access to the list of achievements that the initial user and everyone else can see them from is actually the Xbox Live account of the EA NHL executive producer. (Yeah I forgot to mention that the community also found out the name of his account didn't I?) Apparently, someone forgot to put the list of achievements on lock down, and the general belief is that because the achievement points add up to 1000, there are no secret achievements in the game, unless new ones are patched in.


Oh, we aren't done yet.....there was supposed to be a live stream of top players trying the game alongside some real life NHL professionals as a way to hype the game on twitch. Needless to say, Twitch livestream chatboxes can get pretty ugly, but I have personally never seen anything like what I saw in that chatbox. #WeWantEASHL and #FireTheDevTeam these are both acceptable forms of speech imo....however there were also personal threats against their lives....it was beyond scary...words wouldnt do it justice.


When it came time for the stream to start, TSN (the partner who helped make this livestream event happen) announced that they were having technical difficulties, and to wait a few minutes. Almost an hour later, an official announcement was made stating that they would reschedule the livestream for September 9th. Of course, this date is when the game will be released, so most players are assuming that EA is banking on players buying the game and forgetting to watch the stream on release day. Within minutes the community was in uproar, stating that EA was trying to hide more information from them than previously anticipated. As a means to try to calm everyone down, they provided links to vine videos showcasing that the event did in fact happen, but the videos were focused on the players playing the game, in other words, the cameras were pointed at the players faces and not the TV screen


So at the end of all this, people were convinced that the behavior of the twitch chatroom was what caused the cancellation. Nonetheless, they were quick to scold TSN and whoever was given the power to moderate the chat for not disabling the chatroom altogether since it would be such a problem.


What do all these events leave the players with? Well, for Xbox 360 and PS3 users specifically, they do not have a demo to see what the game will be like...meanwhile, most players are saying they will not purchase the game at all for either PS4/Xbox One or PS3/Xbox 360. Some are going as far as to say they will not purchase any more games which EA is involved with ever again.


They say the reason is not because a game mode was left out that they loved so much, but instead it is because EA had failed to communicate with its customers, constantly pushing back dates for when information about the game would be explained, 


and last but not least:


Lying to the consumer saying that they have "Literally changed everything" about the game, and that "they took a year off to perfect the game on the new consoles" only to provide the same exact experience that was available on the previous gen consoles.


The punch line that has come out of all of this? These players said they would have been more than happy to purchase the game without the game mode if EA had opened up about the situation long ago when it was brought up. Hiding information from the consumer has caused them to lose all trust they may have had in EA prior to this fiasco. They are claiming they will all vote EA for worst company of 2014. Congratulations EA....

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  • 3 weeks later...

I know, I know....it's an inactive thread but I feel it is necessary to post a nice little update to see what has become of this whole situation. I believe that CEO Andrew Wilson is going to lead EA down an even darker path than it was already on....let's see how a couple of "major" sites have responded to everything I posted above as well as the unveiling of the full game with early access.










Instead of giving you guys a long-winded explanation, I will let you read each of these articles on your own.

Spoiler alert : They're taking the side of the gamers and calling out EA.


EDIT: One more website. It explains why these missing features are significant to the game, for those who have not played it before.



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EA did a bad thing and refuses to be good people towards their consumers because they think it'll be bad for their budgets to be good people.


Honestly, fuck EA.

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More EA fails of recently involve Simcity, Battlefield 4, Dungeon Keeper, and Sims 4. Seriously, EA? Get your shit together, or cease to exist.

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[it's been awhile, but I think that I originally saw this when Vydrach posted it. I am forever in your debt. xD]

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Am I allowed to add another video as a response? EA is the "Free to Play" person in case anyone is confused.



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Another follow up:


Lots of reviews are being released of the game now with scores. So essentially it seems that EA had placed a review embargo UNTIL THE DAY THE GAME WAS RELEASED (yesterday) on all of the websites and "insiders" that got a free copy of the game with the intent to review it.


The good news is that many websites have torn this game to pieces, going as far as to give ratings of 5 and lower out of a possible 10. However, IGN and GameTrailers have gone ahead and released reviews of their own, scoring 7.0 (IGN) and 7.8 (GameTrailers). Do I need to begin about the rumors of how EA might be bribing game reviewers? I understand that 7.0 and 7.8 are HORRIBLE by standards of these two websites (you know, cause every game gets 8.5 and up generally speaking) but how can anyone look at the reviews posted and say they rated the game fairly when everyone else is at least 2 points lower then them on their own scales. I'm surprised I haven't seen any 1.0 or ZERO yet with how things are going. Well, at least the user score on Metacritic is at a whopping 2.9 as I type this....


Unfortunately this all means that there are angry people who were fooled into purchasing this game. Most of these people are casual gamers, who say they should not have to go onto a forum to figure out everything about a simple sports game. I can't even begin to explain how the EA forums have gotten...let's just say there were more threats made towards EA and we leave it at that. Strangely enough, a lot of these people complaining aren't even mad about the Next Gen (Xbone and PS4) version of the game since they don't even own those consoles. A LOT of these people are mad because EA LITERALLY TOOK THE PREVIOUS ITERATION OF THE GAME (NHL 14) FROM THE 360 AND PS3 VERSIONS OF THE GAME, SLAPPED ON THE NUMBER 15, CHANGED THE COVER ATHLETE, AND CALLED IT A DAY. Normally people joke about this sort of thing saying that EA would make minimal changes to a game and sell it as new, which is true. However this time around, for previous gen, they are RESELLING THE EXACT SAME GAME for full price. It's amazing just how many people who thought buying the previous gen version would give them all the game modes (which it does) only to find that they just spent between 60-70 dollars (from my understanding, the game is 70 dollars in Canada) on a game they already purchased last year.


Can anyone sue EA for any of this? This is a compilation of pretty much everything that EA has been accused of doing in the past, except its all compiled together in this one game.


Edit: In my anger about how EA is taking advantage of it's uninformed supporters, I forgot to mention something. The good news is, many individuals are claiming that the number of players online is drastically lower than it has been within the first 48 hours of a released EA NHL game than it has been in recent years. This means that many people who said they were not purchasing the game did in fact stick to their word. So I give the EA NHL community a round of applause for standing up like this.


However, in the next 2 days the PAL version of the game will be released in Europe. It will be interesting to see how many copies are sold over there. If the trend continues in Europe that we are currently seeing in North America, NHL 15 will be the WORST selling EA NHL game in the past 5 years. This may just finally send a message to EA that it's customer base is starting to turn on them.

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