EA wants people to stop thinking of the company as the bad guy, according to a recent interview with EVP of strategic growth Matt Bilbey. The publisher remains one of the biggest influences on the video game industry in the world, but also struggles routinely with public perception, as many of the company's biggest mistakes have led to sloppy legal battles or the most disappointing releases in a given calendar year.
The combination of those two issues has made EA public enemy number one for a lot of enthusiasts in the video game sector, something that hasn't been helped by the fact that the publisher is going through a major drought in terms of original games succeeding. While annual sports franchises continue to be huge earners for the company, EA's often comical attempts to use the Star Wars video game license to its fullest extent have been lambasted consistently, and its overseeing of BioWare's development processes have yielded two major duds in Mass Effect: Andromeda and Anthem. The latter game is still making headlines six months after its release, mind - just not for anything positive, something that caused EA to completely leave the game out of its EA Play presentation at E3 2019 despite having future content planned for it.
Naturally, the people at EA would like the company to shed the public perception that has followed it around for years at this point, with some openly wondering why EA is frequently labeled as the bad guy. Matt Bilbey went on record during an interview with GamesIndustry.biz about how he feels consumers overlook many of the positive contributions EA makes to the video game industry, such as the EA Originals incentive that supports smaller studios with funding. Here's a snippet of what Bilbey had to say about EA's current standing:
"25 years at EA and I still struggle with the external perception that we're just a bunch of bad guys. We love making and playing games. Unfortunately, when we make mistakes on games, the world knows about it because it's of a size and scale."
Bilbey went on to extol the virtues of the EA Originals program, which, in his estimation, offers developers valuable learning experiences and more eyeballs on their projects. They also get to be a part of EA Access (or Origin Access, for those playing on PC), which helps them become associated with several AAA developers as part of a subscription service, making them appear to be in very good company.
Unfortunately, it's hard to imagine Bilbey's plea will fall on receptive ears. EA simply has too much to answer for over the past year or two for it to be waved away with a philanthropic gesture towards the indie development scene. EA is the company that is attempting to rebrand loot boxes as "surprise mechanics," all in an attempt to protect their greedy exploitation of addictive behavior from political leaders that want to see it outlawed. In the context of events like that, it becomes pretty clear just why EA is frequently seen as the bad guy - because it is, and it's been reluctant to change despite it being pointed out so frequently.