Whether it's on a console, a PC, a smartphone or tablet, hundreds of millions of people play video games every day. Yet most mainstream media covers the industry the same way it treats adult dodge ball leagues and cat fashion shows (both noble ventures, but neither of them multi-billion dollar industries). And the only time you hear legislators discuss video games is when some politician decries them as the death knell for all things righteous in the world (hint: they're not). Now, after years of being ignored and relegated to steerage, game-players have voted to send a message to Electronic Arts and the gaming business as a whole: Stop treating your loyal customers like crap.
After more than 250,000 votes, Consumerist readers ultimately decided that the type of greed exhibited by EA, which is supposed to be making the world a more fun place, is worse than Bank of America's avarice, which some would argue is the entire point of operating a bank.
To those who might sneer at something as "non-essential" as a video game company winning the Worst Company In America vote: It's that exact kind of attitude that allows people to ignore the complaints as companies like EA to nickel and dime consumers to death.
For years, while movies and music became more affordable and publishers piled on bonus content — or multiple modes of delivery — as added value to entice customers to buy, video games have continued to be priced like premium goods.
There have even been numerous accusations that EA and its ilk deliberately hold back game content with the sole intent of charging a fee for it at a later date. It's one thing to support a game with new content that is worth the price. It's another to put out an inferior — and occasionally broken — product with the mindset of "ah, we'll fix it later and make some money for doing so."
New, independent game companies do pop up all the time, but the cost of entering the market has historically been too expensive, making these indie innovators prime targets for acquisition by mega-publishers like EA. Our hope is that the growth of app-based gaming and downloadable games will continue to make it easier for developers to get their products out without the backing of companies that don't care a lick about the people who fork over their cash.
Oh well, Worst Company In America 2012 is officially in the books. All that's left to do is send off the Golden Poo to EA.
Traditionally, the Poo has been delivered on its little red pillow. But this year, we'll give EA three different color options for its pillow, though in the end it's still the same old Poo.
Thanks again to everyone who voted. See you all again in about 49 weeks!