EA Is Evil, Actually (The Jimquisition)

EA Is Evil, Actually (The Jimquisition)

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[James Stephanie Sterling] I thought  I'd start today's episode by talking   about evil. The nature of evil. Our  relationship with the concept of   pure unbridled wickedness, both  as a culture, and as a species. But then I remembered that I'm not  smart. And you should probably watch  

better videos for that. And, in general. Curio Vids if you want some smart shit. If however you'd rather someone just show you  old nostalgic SHIT, in an increasingly failed   bid to mentally stave off middle age,  well, I'm your trashgirl. Do you remember  

Werebears? Hmmmm? Hmmmm? Do you remember  them? They're ordinary bears, or are they? Haha. They're. Ha. You see, back in the eight-tees, and for most  of all of the time, toys have to be very very   gendered, so you had care bears, which of course  was "JUST for the GIRLS", and then they tried to   make this happen, for boys. Er, Werebears, ohhh,  look, look, oh god, its face turned inside out. And then it's a monster. And, uhhhh, oh my  god, its hands turn inside out. GLOOOOVE.   GLOOOOVE. And it's a monster. And it's a monster.

Anyway, that's a Werebear. Oh, christ, hahaha. Oh god, let's just shit on EA. You know… I’m starting to think  that Electronic Arts might be evil.   Now I know that will make some eyes roll.  Calling a corporation evil is classic hyperbole,   right? It’s just a videogame publisher at the  end of the day, how on Earth could it perpetuate   such profound wickedness as to deserve the  ultimate impugnment of moral character?   The word “evil” is particularly weighted in  the English language, commonly reserved for   the very worst among us or used to refer to  wickedness on a supernatural natural. To call  

something as mundane as a videogame publisher  “evil” is perhaps pushing the rhetoric too far,   and makes one sound overly dramatic or even  spoiled and entitled in the eyes of some.   Y’know, a bit whiny. A bit “Mass Effect 3’s ending  sucked so I’m gonna threaten to kill your kids.” Here’s the problem though with EA and  the nature of evil. EA's Evil. And not  

just in the way the Gamers say it, I mean  it's... it's not coloquial, it's evil. Electronic Arts is one of the biggest  offenders when it comes to swindling money   out of unsuspecting families. By smuggling  gambling mechanics into games for children,   EA has made money to such an extreme  degree that it’s been prepared to fight   international laws in the past to keep  putting loot boxes into its FIFA series.   Now, we’ve long since lititagated the status of  loot boxes here - they’re gambling. Governments   around the world agree with this sentiment,  a sentiment I’ve been doggedly arguing in   favor of since the middle of the last decade.  Even game journalist publications have stopped  

posting hot takes in favor of them, it’s  become so fucking clear they’re gambling. I mean, there was the "Fun  Presents" article which Pllllrghb. Now, none of this means they’re going away anytime  soon. Many publishers will happily crow about  

loot boxes not being in their latest “AAA” game  while knowingly putting them into other games.   Electronic Arts is an exemplar of this - boasting  that there won’t be any microtransactions in Jedi:   Fallen Order for easy applause, while continuing  to sell loot boxes to kids in its FIFA series.   You gotta love it when companies do that -  it’s like they know what they’re doing is bad,   because they're promoting not doing it as good,   but they won’t stop doing it overall. It's  kind of like when evil people do stuff. You know "Oh, I'm sorry I did the bad thing,  look, I'm not doing the bad thing now,   do you forgive me? PSYCHE I'M  DOING THE BAD THING AGAIN!" What makes EA particularly notable,  however, is in its methodology,   which according to reports going around this year,  is so manipulative as to be truly remarkable.   A leaked report - which EA hasn’t challenged the  validity of - did the rounds a little while ago,   and it revealed that EA likes to spend its time,  and I quote, “funneling” its players into one   single mode of its FIFA games - Ultimate  Team, the mode which runs on loot boxes. The document, titled Run Up To Fifa 21, is  part of an internal presentation from 2020   that came to light after CBC News  obtained and released it. In it,  

Electronic Arts proudly boasts “All Roads Lead  to FUT” and it highlights exactly how obsessed   publishers are with herding players towards  microtransactions and in-game gambling. In-game,   FIFA is designed to use targeted content and  messages to, and I quote, “drive excitement and   funnel players toward FUT from other modes.” In  addition, new players will be given all the tools   they need to “hit the ground running” with FIFA  Ultimate Team thanks to “welcome pack” content. And I've said this bit before, I will say it  again, in real life Drug Dealers don't do that   whole "the first hit's free" thing because drugs  are expensive. In fact, if any of them do do it,   I wanna know where they are, I mean, obviously  don't say it in the comment section, hit me up in   private and let me know where they are because  I want free drugs. And me, or no one I know,  

is aware of a drug dealer that cool. But I love  how the idea of cartoon drug dealer is inspiration   for game publishers, who do do things like Log In  Bonuses, or Welcome Packs, or In Game Dribbles of   Premium Currency, just something to give you that  first hit. For free. Like a cartoon drug dealer. Electronic Arts is Evil. Literally as evil as  a fictional villain in an anti-drug PSA. No   seriously, that's what these games with  these free to play style economies are,   that's what a free to play style economy is,  it's give you a hit for free, get you hooked,   get the money out of you. And as this  monetisation's only gotten more extreme,   its only gotten more and more  downright super fucking villainous. The report talks of “converting” players  away from whatever mode they actually buy   FIFA for, turning them into Ultimate Team players,   stating that it’s “Exploring cross-platform deep  discount aligned with SUMMER HEAT content + assets   to drive consistent player journey  from POS through FUT conversion.”  

It’s sickeningly written corpo-speak that roughly  translates to psychologically shepherding players   into the mode filled with opportunities  to spend more money on a $60-70 game. “PLAYERS WILL BE ACTIVELY MESSAGED + INCENTIVIZED  TO CONVERT THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER.” Incentivized   to convert… Like, Jesus Christ, this is how they  fucking speak when they think we’re not listening.   This is how they see you, the player. Something  to be straight up fucking indoctrinated. EA’s response to the leak was, quite  frankly, fucking pathetic. According to CBC:   “An EA spokesperson declined an interview request  and wouldn’t comment on the document, which,   he noted, was “marked privileged  and confidential”. Pffft,  

fuckin' little pricks. Other than to say it  is being “viewed without context” and that   interpretations of what it says “are misinformed.”  When asked to clarify, he did not respond.” Yeah, well of course he didn't respond, this is  the old “out of context” excuse. It’s up there   with “do your research” in the league of things  people just yell to imply you’re wrong without   backing the implication up. Something you can  just toss out there to pretend there’s more  

to a story than there really is. Well let me  tell you, there’s nothing more nuanced to the   story than this - Electronic Arts is an evil  fucking company run by evil pieces of shit.   Most of them are, but EA is the one with  the Evil But Fun Powerpoint Presentation.

And they're not Evil just because they're  funneling people, FIFA has caused irrevocable   harm to individuals and families across the world  for years. Microtransactions in general have.   Microtransactions are immoral, and they're  harmful. Let’s cut the fucking bullshit and   actually focus on this for a moment. I am not  interested in talks of personal responsibility   today. You can argue all day long that it’s a  customer’s fault if they’ve had thousands of   dollars hoodwinked out of them, but that’s  victim blaming as far as I’m concerned,   and it lets hoodwinkers off of the  hook that they're winking hoods on.   What matters is there's a vunerable class of  people, and Electronic Arts is praying on it.

If you’ve not watched out video about how  predatory monetization actually impacts peoples’   lives, then I urge you to. I don’t think  you’ll find a more humanizing look at the   actual customer side of these predatory economies.  And they *are* predatory. Microtransactions are   inherently designed to single out and toy with  neurodivergent people, those with addictive   habits, or even just lonely and isolated. There  are dozens upon dozens of psychological tricks  

used to target these different people,  from time limited events that spur anxiety,   to haves and have nots economies, to grinding  progression that tests patience and attention,   to glorified casinos that create addictive  behaviors practically indistinguishable,   and scientifically linked,  to problem gambling habits.   Game publishers know these tricks, they love these  tricks, they employ these tricks all the time. Since the very beginning of the 2010s, I’ve  used the phrase “psychologically manipulative”   to describe in-game economies. They are  *unquestionably* exploitative economies   and the results are indisputable - people  in debt, having been tricked by small   insignificant purchases that added up over  time until they were thousands in the hole   without ever knowing it. The very nature of a  Microtransaction is predatory and manipulative,   they're meant to be little little spends that you  don't notice, that seem reasonable on their own,   but soon tot the fuck up. You get families  waking up to find that the football game they   bought for their kids tricked that kid into  clearing the bank account out because they   wanted their favorite footballer in a mode they  were funneled toward and CONVERTED into playing,   and they didn't even get the fucking  footballer they wanted. That's a true story.

In 2019, the BBC published multiple articles  highlighting the financial harm loot boxes   did to families. Parents simply do not expect  that a game rated as suitable for kids aged   3 would contain randomized premium  purchases that can be so easily and   so numerously bought that you’ve run out of  money before you know it’s even happened. But EA simply continues to “disagree” that loot  boxes are gambling, like their opinion means jack   fuck, and hide behind the same pitiful and  disgusting excuses it always has. In a further   statement, EA trotted out all the same old  crap that we’ve debunked on this show countless   times - “We provide a choice,” “We’re just  supporting engaaaaagement,” “We don’t engouage   kids to spend in our games” and, the most classic  of all - “The majority of players don’t spend.” Which, when you consider how much money Fifa  Ultimate Team makes, is a case of EA really   tipping its hand and showing us exactly HOW evil  it is. If the majority of players don’t spend,   that means the game industry makes billions and  billions of dollars off of a handful of people.  

These are the “whales” that companies love to  talk about - the tiny percentage of people who   spend the most amount of money - now game  pulishers love to present whales as a few   really rich people who are happy to be milked  of cash, no harm, no foul. Well, I've spoken   to some of these whales. In reality, they can be  neurodivergent, addicted to gambling, or simply   susceptible to the manipulation involved in any  in-game economy. And here's the thing, excessive  

amounts of free spending money is an element  that distinctly does not unite these people. The fact of the matter is, EA actively  and openly admits to extracting   millions and millions and millions of dollars  away from a tiny minority of its audience   and frankly that’s more disgusting to me than if  most players spent a *bit* of money. Like, they’re   really just admitting their business model hinges  on a few targets. I frankly think it’s sick. I think EA is sick, and I think every game  publisher using these economies is equally fucking   perverse. And yes, I think the victimization, the  way in which people with particular mental issues,   including my ADHD-addled self, are preyed  upon, is outright and downright evil.  

Pure fucking evil. We know the maniptulation  involved in microtransactions. We know the   human cost of it, and we know how they  cause material harm to their victims.   And yet EA knowingly, happily continues to do  it. If that’s not evil, I don’t know what is. The idea of the “Evil Corporation” feels like a  work of fiction, and that's because so many works   of fiction have evil corporations. We’ve seen  evil corporations AS the stuff of fiction all   our lives. From Weyland-Yutani of Alien to  Oscorp in Spider-Man, we’ve had the notion of   the villanous corpo thrown in our face so many  times that the very idea feels like fantasy.  

After growing up watching the vile machinations  of Lawrence Limburger and Looten Plunder,   the idea of a REAL executive being that cruel  and callous seems like a, well, like a kids show.   I’m not going to outright say it’s by design,  but I do sometimes wonder if these fictional evil   corporations are there to make the real evil these  corporations do seem less believable. I mean, so   much of media is corporate owned and distributed  and greenlit, I dunno, maybe movie executives   just Get Off on rubbing all this bullshit in  our face under the guise of entertainment.   Never the less, there's a lot of corporate owned  media that tells us corporations are evil...  

in science fiction of course. Not in real life.   Whether by design or not, the result is the same -  people think you’re being a conspiracy nut   when you call any corporation evil, even though,  let’s face it, they are. They are, they just are. They’re *actually* polluting Earth for  money like they did in Captain Planet.   They’re *actually* treating their crews as  expendable like Weyland-Yutani in Alien. They’re  

*actually* greedily hoarding all their wealth  like Montana fucking Max. I cannot confidently   say that they're making Goblin Serum. That might  still be fiction. But, except for Goblin Serum,   and only Goblin Serum, everything that has been  presented as fictional evil in science fiction   does appear, in actual fact, to be actual fact.  Hell, they might actually be WORSE in actuality.   I mean, did any single Captain Planet episode  predict the sheer damage to the environment   done by NFTs? 'Course not. I mean, Verminous  Skumm putting poison in a well is cute and all,  

but he never burned a rainforest  down to sell a jpg of a dog. Captin Planet Villains, step up your game. Come on,  step up your game. Chop Chop. And so it is that my calling Electronic Arts  “evil, actually,” will come across like overblown   hyperbole when I fucking mean it to my core. I  truly mean EA is evil. And it has the Powerpoint   to prove it. It’s not as evil as Amazon, of  course, but it is a game publisher that openly   admits it funnels its players into an exploitative  economy that carries a significant risk of harm   to vulnerable people and children, who have been  deliberately targetted. It tries to dress it all   up as “Surprise Mechanics” rather than gambling,  but they know damn well what they’re doing.

It is said that evil happens  when the good do nothing.   When the bad do bad, what the fuck is that? I'll tell you what it is, it's in the game. RAAAAWR. Ahhhhh. Anyway, rumours abound that the next Dragon Age,  Dragon Age 4, will have Live Service Elements,   or is that confirmed now? Anyway, it's quite  clear to me and well anyone looking at this shit   that fully realised "Triple A" games like  Resident Evil Village are increasingly   an exception, rather than the norm. Electronic  Arts only recently talked about how much money  

it was making from Microtransactions.  Massive amounts. A predominant amount of   money. Millions and millions and billions and  billions of dollars flow into this industry,   in torrents, I've mentioned this before.  It's all I talk about for fuck's sake. And we had Ubisoft who, by the way, spent years  and years and years protecting sexual abusers.   Ubisoft's saying that it's less interested now  in releasing these big AAA games, and they wanna   focus on free to play games, because that's where  the money is. Because that's all they're in it   for. Because like I said back in the early 2010's,  they're in it for all the money. They don't just  

want a bit, they want ALL of it. Otherwise it's  not worth it to them. Do you think, if they   could just churn out a shitty asset flip and make  billions of dollars off that, that they'd continue   to do your Assassin's Creed games, fuck no. That's  actually absurd. That is like when they used to   say "Oh, these big AAA games will fuel the smaller  games". Nah, it didn't. It never does. This money  

never goes back into the industry, it goes into  the offshore accounts of executive fuckwits. [Sound of gong plays] Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, that's getting  close to the capitalism talk, and I promised   myself none this week. None this week. I've had  my pudding, it's time to eat the diner. The diner   of just saying EA Bad. And I hope you enjoyed  it because EA is bad. EA is Evil. Actually. I dunno, I don't know why I went  and picked it back up again, I've,   I've done all I'm gonna do with  this as far as bits go. So, FUCK! Thank god for me. Is basically where  these episodes always leave isn't it? So,   there, I've said it, now we can roll  the credits with that awesome music.

2021-06-01 14:26

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