Rich, our resident island barber, wants you to sit down in his chair for a chat and a trim. This week, he’s raging about EA.
Twas the Year of Our Lord 2017. We were two months from the release of the Nintendo Switch and all the players were asking themselves questions such as…
“Will I ever be invited to one of those rooftop parties like Karen was?”
“Is it just me or do those joycon look built to last?”
At the same time Nintendo were holding a live event, lifting the lid on what we could expect ahead of the March release. A murder of reps from numerous third party developers was ushered onto a stage where they professed their love for the Big N and pledged their undying support for the new hybrid console. One guy on the stage stood out in particular. His name was Patrick Söderlund. His chest puffed out and his face beaming with pride, Patrick went on to tell the audience how he was such a Nintendo fan that he gave his son the middle name “Luigi”.
Just as everyone in attendance began to coo, he dropped the bomb and announced that FIFA 18 was coming to Switch. Patrick was from EA, you see.
There were gasps from the crowd. Some audible sobbing. EA wasn’t abandoning us after the unmitigated failure of the Wii U and Nintendo’s refusal to incorporate the objectively magnificent Origin service as part of the Wii U’s online infrastructure.
Sure Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild looked well good and all, but now we can get Gillingham to the final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy from both the comfort of our own home and on the go?!?
Nearly two-and-half years have passed and EA’s impact has been immeasurable. Who can forget the aforementioned FIFA 18 and it’s much-loved follow up FIFA 19? Then there’s the imminent release of FIFA 20: LEGACY EDITION. Titles such as the completely broken masterpiece Fe (not to be confused with FE) and the admittedly nice Unravel Two have also played a massive part in the success of the Nindies scene.
We owe a debt to EA and their ‘Originals’ label where they unearth projects from upcoming independent developers and throw their endless cash reserves and publishing might behind them. It’s a truly altruistic (Dan) endeavour with EA not taking a single penny from the profits.
Surprisingly this resulted in criticism being levied at EA by gamers who were accusing the company of riding on the growing popularity of the indie scene to improve their own image. That’s like saying large multinational brewing companies are only now muscling in on the independent craft scene so that they can corner a market that knows said companies’ usual mainstream output tastes like shit. It’s conspiratorial madness.
Recently EA have also responded to some baseless accusations that their commitment to the Switch is not at the level many had expected or hoped. Even the usually family-friendly Nintendo Dads podcast allowed some absolute gutter talk onto a recent show, viciously attacking the company for their output. EA have made it abundantly clear that despite the Switch’s install base of over 35 million units, gamers are choosing the PS4 and XB1 when it comes to where they want to have their next experience. It’s a sound argument.
Star Wars Battlefront? Let’s be brutally honest, the Star Wars franchise has never really had a great history on Nintendo’s consoles. Does anybody talk about or even remember the likes of Super Empire Strikes Back for SNES, Rogue Squadron and Episode I: Racer on the N64, or Rogue Leader on the Gamecube?
Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare? Nintendo has Splatoon and I can assure you that lovers of Splatoon would not give a toss about PvZ. If you know anything about the industry, it’s that there’s not enough room for the same concept repackaged albeit it with a similar style and tone. They don’t make money. That’s why all those countless battle royale games are being given away for free.
The Sims? Granted, previous entries in the series have indeed sold more on Nintendo platforms than any other console, but that was back when Nintendo were producing consoles less successful and nowhere near as perfectly-suited as the Switch for a game like this. It’s a canny move by EA and should be commended.
Burnout Paradise Remastered? Motion steering, HD Rumble, Freeburn mode supporting up to eight Switches in local multiplayer. Uh…um…(I can’t think of anything ‘clever’ for this one, just please, please make it happen.)
Yes, the Switch is ridiculously successful and has even outstripped the lifetime sales of the PS4 despite Sony having a three year head start. Yes, the portability factor opens the door for any publisher to make a quick buck by releasing countless ports and remasters of hits from previous gens to great success both critically and commercially. It’s just that none of this matters to EA. They may well be “In The Game”, they’re just not in the numbers game. It’s not all about money for Pete’s sake (hi Pete) it’s about what feels right.
Which begs the question(s)
Are we being too demanding? Are we the real bellends in all of this?