Apr 07 2012

The Worst Company in America

The Consumerist awards the 2012 Golden Poo.

Oh Internet, I love you and your rampant hate speech, terabytes of malware, and your silly little polls.

What company is the worst in America, dear reader? Is it oil companies and their nasty habits of employing PMCs to inflict violence in the third world or their less than stellar environmental record? Is it the banks and financial products markets that pushed consumers towards houses they could not afford and then delivered robo signed foreclosure notices (sometime to people who actually paid their loans)? What about the general government contractors who continue to rip off the taxpayer?

Nope, you’re wrong. Those companies pale in comparison to the true evil in our midst, Electronic Arts. Now some have said that while EA is bad, certainly there are companies that do much greater harm to the public. But EA has dared to charge extra money for game content. It has a bad habit of buying up the most innovative gaming start-ups just to destroy them; preventing gamers from enjoying anything but the bland and only semi inspired products that EA creates. The internet has decided that these transgressions are unparalleled in their maliciousness and the Consumerist has awarded EA its coveted 2012 Golden Poo.

At least we have our priorities straight, Bank of America will have to try harder next year.


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  1. 1
    N. Nescio

    I gave up on Consumerist years ago. They seem to only care about first-world problems.

    1. 1.1

      This is a variation of “Well, at least our police are better than Somalia’s!” which gets trotted out when someone complains about how mean our policemen are. I reject the notion that we can’t work on small local problems until all other more serious problems are solved.

  2. 2

    I’m not even sure how to comprehend this. What exactly were their criteria? Or was it strictly vote-based?

    1. 2.1
      Assassin Actual

      Just votes….from the internet.

  3. 3

    Who cares about the environment, the economy, society or human dignity? Some people didn’t like the end of Mass Effect 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. 3.1

      Well, to be fair, the ending to Mass Effect 3 was pretty bad …

      … I mean if we’re honest, it was easily on a par with triggering the US financial collapse.

      1. Seth_S

        Careful there – we might need [Spoiler] tags pretty quick if this turns into a bash ME3 thread.

      2. Aliasalpha

        Granted they weren’t exactly overly varied or anything but its not like EA are as bad as capcom & their “dlc” thats already on the disc. Thats got to be on par with the cambodian genocide!

        1. Joven

          I think game publishers are in a race to see who can be the worst. Or they’re all run by aliens doing social experiments to see how bad they can go before people quit buying games.

          Codemasters I think pioneered the “VIP” code to enable a lot of features to screw used games, and also they like having dlc on the disc just waiting to be activated (even showing the content in game with huge lock icons to really let you know all the time you should give them more money, plus prompts when starting the game)

          they all borrow horrible ideas from each other, and try to see who can make the worst drm.

  4. 4

    EA canceled the first MMORPG I played. I have no love for them.

    But there are worse companies in 2010. I worked for some of them.

    1. 4.1
      Scott L.

      Which MMORPG would that be? Warhammer Online?

  5. 5

    EA destroyed Westwood Studios and, in doing so, came close to killing off the whole Command and Conquer series. I hope EA learned its lesson and does not kill its golden goose, Bioware.
    The trailer to C&C: Generals 2 does look interesting, though.

    I can’t think of a US company like Foxconn that sees “improving employee morale” by putting bars on the windows to prevent its suicidal and depressed workers from leaping to their deaths. Some PMC companies have horrendous reputations and I would pick one of them as the worst US company. Sexual assaults, rapes, unlawful dismissals, no legal protection, withholding salaries, and more. And that’s if you are an American employee. Some treat the locals even worse. There are good and honest PMCs out there, but you always hear about the bad ones.

  6. 6

    “… Is it the banks and financial products markets that pushed consumers towards houses they could not afford …”

    Hmmmmm. Were they pushing them at gunpoint? I’m a firm believer in responsibility for one’s own actions, especially buying a house, not what you would call an impulse buy.

    If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re making 30k a year, and told you qualify for a 400k home loan, perhaps you should decide on your own whether or not you can really afford it. Self-determination baby.

    And not to muddy the waters, but weren’t these rules about extending home loans to those that were unable to afford them implemented under the Carter administration, and then put on steroids under Clinton? The Community Reinvestment Act was intended to stop discriminatory lending practices, a very admirable goal. Instead, what it turned into was, “Little or no risk to making high-risk mortgage loans.” And we all ended up footing the bill for that.

    This whole stampede towards, “America: the land of equal material goods for all,” is not a good thing.

    1. 6.1
      Assassin Actual

      I don’t want to cover for the actions of the dumb. People got into loans that the should not have and that is their fault. But if a company is deliberately petitioning persons who should know better but don’t, it does stink a little. All policies put into by governmental officials are min/maxed out to an educated actor’s advantage, regardless of the possible good intentions of the politician. It is sad than many governmental officials don’t focus on how a system can be played (especially the wishy washy left) but, I say that when we as spectators watch a company exploit that min/maxing we have to do two things. 1) golf clap at their brains for working the system and 2) consider the moral ramifications of exploiting those who’s lives don’t allow them to see the game.

      When society is pushing house buying on the level it did prior to the collapse on most of the cable news shows, it does strike me as morally wrong. However, I must admit that is was not legally wrong or not in the best interest of those with greater knowledge of the housing market to exploit those ill informed actors. Honestly, I am thankful that I did not buy into most of that bullshit. But it is all a little to Darwinian for me to accept as a nice thing to do.

      1. bspiken

        It is not, however, the recipient of the credit responsibility to manage the mortgage though. And it’s been shown that it was the banks themselves who, by pushing for giving riskier loans and risk assessment companies who gave better grades to crappy investments, did the crisis in, now you might say that this isn’t illegal, but it is certainly immoral.

  7. 7

    Those mortgages issued under the Community Reinvestment Act have had a much lower default rate than the national average. In fact, the act itself required a substantial down payment, no avoidance of skin in the game, and proof of income and assets, so no NINJA (No Income, No Job, no Assets) loans or ‘liar loans’, allowed.

    The Community Reinvestment Act was, in part, written as a correction for half a century of ‘red lining’ and refusal of the banking community refusing to loan to minority applicants. As much as bankers and the GOP pro-banker apologists want to shift blame to their preferred whipping boys, regulation and the poor, the fact is that the CRA was not to blame. Fact being that the CRA mortgages were such a small part of the whole that even if every CRA mortgage defaulted, assuming all others observed previous averages, there would have been no housing bubble.

    More on-topic, I gave up on most major games. I loath FPSs , and most MMORPGs, for the simple fact that I have a life and will never be able to spend the time necessary to become proficient or compete over a slow connection against people who play twenty hours a day.

    The final kicker was when gaming companies started to assume I wanted a long term relationship and presence in their community when all I want is light entertainment and engaging diversion.

    Until recently I could get what I wanted by sticking to turn-based strategy games but I tried CIV-V and it required a series of huge downloads (Huge if you have to get them through a slow dial-up connection) and signing up for Steam. After a few hours trying I took the game back and demanded my money back. Hint – If you raise a stink the manager will overlook the finer points of the DRMA and give you your money back.

    Used to be I could buy a game and be enjoying it in a few minutes, without signing up to be BBF with a corporation and ‘community’. The extent of our relationship was happily limited to downloading patches and the occasional e-mail.

    1. 7.1

      Ever looked at gog.com? They’ve got bucketloads of games, many of which are very good and never have any of the registration/continual update crap. They are digitally distributed so the download issue is still there but if your connection is stable it might be worth checking them out

      1. Art

        Good Old Games (gog) … I thought they closed down. I’ll have to drop by and see what they have.

        For light entertainment, when I’m in a gaming mood, I wave lately been messing around with CIV-II, the Elvis adviser still breaks me up and the wonder movies are kind of the cherry on top of a long term investment and considerable risk. CIV-IV is also good. Different games.

        Shogun and Medieval Total War are still fun and can be played an hour at a time while leaving open a campaign if you want a major time sink. Like when your stuck waiting for the radiation count to go down.

        Colonialism is a game with a lot of intricacies. Hard to get to run on a modern system but worth the trouble. Hard to master on tougher levels.

        If you want a fun little distraction try Pop Top’s Tropico- Mucho Macho Edition. As Supreme Leader in a stereotypical banana republic you have only indirect control of your subject. There is a lot of irony and humor in the game and considerable entertainment value in just zooming in and watching the tropicans go about their business.

        Why is it that these companies got it so very right but modern games are so lame in game play? Graphics don’t impress me. I started playing on text-based games. Some minimal level of graphics is helpful but game-play and structure rules.

        I’m not hard to please. I want to get a completed, finished game when I buy a game. I don’t want to have to download anything or join anything to play. I paid for the game. Having to complete multi-megabyte downloads to play is intolerable.

        I’m not against online gaming and communities. After finding the right people and game and I’ve had a blast. But I don’t often have the time or energy necessary to bring it all together. Nothing breaks up the fun like a couple of assholes simulating obscenities, acting stupid, ripping people off, and generally getting off ruining other people’s experience.

        After a long day I just want a little fun.

        I’ll check out GOG and see what they have. Lots of fun older titles out there, if you can find and run them.

        1. Art

          “Colonialism is a game with a lot of intricacies. Hard to get to run on a modern system but worth the trouble. Hard to master on tougher levels. ”

          I don’t know why I can’t keep the name straight. The game I’m talking about is named “Imperialism”, not Colonialism. Sorry for any confusion.

  8. 8
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    EA is a pretty horrible company. It’s the great evil alongside Activision (which of the two I hate more varies day-to-day.) For consumer faults, it’s got terrible customer service, it’s shoving half-finished, buggy products out constantly, it’s forcing consumers to connect to their DRM service (I’m sorry, Origin is a DRM service,) and it’s killed its game publishers.

    Is it worse than companies that destroy the environment, the economy, and peoples’ lives? No. Probably not.

    Is it the worst game company ever? Yea, I’d say so.

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    Ummmmm… if you find the real ‘worst company in the world’, it’s going to be some industrial company with no website that manufactures ceramic insulators or some randomness like that.

    This was shorthand for ‘treats retail customers the worst’. I fail to be outraged.

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