Wow. That is the first word that came to mind after watching the nearly one hour documentary by Youtuber “SOFTDRINKTV” on “The Fall of EA Sports.” If you are familiar with Madden football video games or with EA Sports in general, this is a video that gets a very high recommendation from me because it shows in detail how the company went from being passionate and innovative about their products to now being known for simply extracting as much money as possible from its consumers. You’ll find the actual video embedded later in the article.
This documentary hit home for me in so many ways because I actually go all the way back to the early 90s in my experience with Electronic Arts (EA). My first experiences with the company’s products were Jordan vs Bird: One on One for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Lakers vs Celtics and the NBA Playoffs on Sega Genesis and John Madden Football on the Super Nintendo. Let me give you something to think about. Lakers vs Celtics only featured eight teams and a limited amount of players. When Madden was originally released, it contained none of the NFL teams or players. Did you know that Tecmo Super Bowl on the NES was actually the first game to have both the NFL and NFLPA license? We have come such a long way since then.
I give you that bit of background about me because I have been alive long enough to see both the rise and fall of EA in terms of simulated sports. There was a time when no matter what professional sport you can think of, EA had it covered and made a quality game based on it. And instead of just doing roster updates and passing it off as a brand new game, each year actually added something substantial to the game. I personally consider the Playstation 2/Original Xbox era to be the golden age of EA Sports. You had NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, Tiger Wood PGA, NASCAR, FIFA, boxing, college football, college basketball, college baseball, arena football and cricket sports sims. Then they had arcade type games under the banner of EA BIG that featured games such as NBA Street and NFL Street. Do you remember the NFL Head Coach series that put you in the shoes of being an NFL coach? This was the time that 2K and other sports games developers had to bring their best efforts to the table to compete because when it came to sports games, EA was indeed the king at the time.
My favorite Madden to this day is Madden 08, which included so many customization options that today’s Madden games can’t touch. My favorite NBA Live of all time was the 06 version that included a full All-Star Weekend suite that you could play separate from season mode. MVP Baseball 2005 was one of the best baseball video games ever made and typically in many sports gamers’ top 10 list for best sports games of all time. The NCAA Football games on the PS2 was where I would actually play multiple seasons in dynasty mode and create my own school. Those were great times and I look back on that era very fondly.
Nowadays, I don’t look at EA the same. Today’s Madden games are lackluster compared to the ones in previous decades. NBA Live doesn’t even exist right now and EA stopped making MLB games a long time ago. There are no more college football or college basketball games. And even though the company still makes NHL games, more people talk with more reverence about NHL ’94 than today’s hockey games. So many things have changed and it is more likely to see, hear and read of people criticizing EA, which is in contrast to the the universal praise the company received decades ago. Is it any wonder that the founder of EA does not have a favoring view towards the company he began?
I do hope that you enjoy the video because the creator did a fantastic job on it. To get the founder of EA within the documentary is a major grab and when you hear of his vision for company versus how the company operates today, it can be very saddening. But this video provides some context as to why there is such opposition to the video game publisher today and much of it is deserved. The sad part is that based on the excellent work the company did in the past, we know it is capable of producing better products than it does today. But it will take the gaming community holding the company accountable in order to see that come to pass.