A letter from a Danger Close representative to it's parent company explores the underbelly of EA.
DigitalHitmann, a moderator of the Medal of Honor forums penned the letter to EA Games after the disaster that was Warfighter. Will it succeed at changing EA's work methods for the better...
All the EA fans, even you at GD, have raised your voices at EA for bullying it's developers to pump out Call-of-Duty killers, especially for the past few years.
Think 2010's Medal of Honor reboot. That was released head-to-head with then Call of Duty title, Black Ops, that thrashed Medal of Honor as proficiently as it did all the other games that went on to release in Fall of 2010 (commercially of course).
It's approach to dethrone Activision and it's Call of Duty franchise has not gone down well with their fans and for good reason. Now, it seems even their own people are tired of forcing the game to make it in time for the holiday release. Battlefield 3, EA's biggest title to date with 17 million units shipped, had it's own share of problems.
Now, a Medal of Honor moderator has penned a lengthy letter to folks at EA Games in a bid, in a hope, to let them develop games that they want to rather than what EA directs them to. The writer also wants EA to go back becoming the publisher that the fans came to love with.
Go on, read it. It shows what an urge of competition can do to publishers and developers and how the fans pay the ultimate price.
"We come from all walks of life; retail salesman, IT professionals, students, and even military veterans. We are volunteers, community leaders who post blogs, videos, commentaries, and website entries out of our own free will to support your business. We are your consumers, the many who buy your products because of the sheer love for the game. You enable us to feel the thought of being someone we’ve only dreamed of becoming; to be the soldier on the frontlines, the star quarterback, or to build the city of our dreams. You’ve let us down though, and in a sense you’ve betrayed our trust.
The centralization and message Electronic Arts has always promised us until recent years is to be who you want to be, and play the way you want to play. The tides have changed as the focus is now competition in the industry which has lead to forced releases of games and additional add-on content to shift the players’ eyes from one particular title of an opposing company’s line up to your own. This is not how you gain revenue nor is it how you gain the trust of your consumers. This is how you destroy a relationship that players of all ages have built with you over the entirety of their live
During the Electronic Arts press conferences of E3 ’11 and ’12 it was clear the goal of your great company was to take shares from Activision and dethrone Call of Duty as the go-to franchise and shooter of choice. This tactic has proven to be your down fall and where you have betrayed the trust of your fans, gamers and consumers.
We purchase a game bearing the Electronic Arts publisher label because we associate the “EA” logo with quality. With the latest installments in the Medal of Honor and Battlefield franchise we have gotten nothing of the sort because suit and tie executives are forcing great developers like Danger Close and DICE to launch their titles before the competition reveals their next big thing.
“A few years ago, the game you bought was the game you got. Now, our games offer so, so much more. We dont stop creating when the game is ready, we go on building more content that connects and extends the experience.” – John Riccitiello, E3 2012
In 2010, Medal of Honor, was rebooted under the leadership of Greg Goodrich and Danger Close Games. It went in a direction the franchise had never seen before, with the modern theatre, as well as in the hands of a brand new, consolidated group of individuals. This would be Danger Closes’ first project together as a team, but a walk in the park for veterans of the industry like DICE.
The moving and emotional storyline of the Tier 1 soldier invaded our hearts and living room in October of 2010. Many fans of Electronic Arts bolstered it as being the best singleplayer campaign the franchise had ever seen next to the original in 1999, but the success of the singleplayer was overshadowed by what some referred to as a shoddy and lackluster excuse for a multiplayer. Having put in over one-hundred-and-fifty hours of play time in with the multiplayer I can object to these statements, but the fact still remains that there was a lack of support for the title that it deserved.
Two additional add-on content packs (I.E: “Map Packs”) were released for the title, ‘Hotzone’ and ‘Clean Sweep’. By the time ‘Hotzone’ was released, player counts had dropped on Playstation 3 to a mere few hundred or less. When I personally tried to play ‘Hotzone’ on Playstation 3, there were twelve players playing ‘Hotzone’ – twelve. DICE had dropped support for the game quickly after its launch to work on its’ own project at the time, Battlefield 3. Patches that were promised across all platforms were never released. The title on Xbox 360 never received the same title update that the Playstation 3 version did. The game was “pushed under the carpet” because of the lack of support by DICE and ill-advised financial gain by Electronic Arts, and it seems that this year’s launch of Medal of Honor: Warfighter is heading in the same direction.
You’re in the business to make money and we understand that. We want to buy your products because they have significant value for the price we pay. Little do most people know though how far the developers are willing to go to protect their development teams and their creations – in the case of Greg Goodrich, writing up his resignation twice just to prove a point.
Greg, is the type of person who I would refer to as a “hero”. To him, he would tell me the real heroes are the ladies and gentlemen overseas fighting for our country – and I certainly wouldn't argue with that. In this circumstance however, I label him as a hero because he has stuck his neck out for us, the fans and consumers, countless times to ensure that we are given a product that we will love and something we can relate to. Ive had the opportunity to correspond with Mr. Goodrich on numerous occasions through letters and forum posts, and I have always held him to high standards. He has always been the figure that I would refer to as the backbone and core of the Medal of Honor franchise.
In September of 2012, a colleague and I were granted the opportunity to visit Danger Close Games in Los Angeles to preview a pre-production version of Medal of Honor: Warfighter. It was a dream come true for any fan like us. We had the overwhelming honor to meet some of the industries top developers and correspondents like Kristoffer “Hoffe” Bergqvist, Seeson Mahathavorn, Daniel Chin, Kevin O’Leary, and Thad Sasser, but someone was missing . “Where’s Greg?” I asked. “Oh, He’s on vacation…” I got back indirectly. Little did I know at the time that “Vacation” meant something entirely different than sipping pinacolota’s on the beach.
So we pressed forward, five days to play test Medal of Honor: Warfighter and give our thoughts back directly to the development team. The game was phenomenal. I thought there was no way the retail version could out beat what I was playing in-house. There were little problems with the build we were playing other than the occasional crash here and there, but that was due to internal server errors or the developers switching game modes on us. This was a pre-production build too!
When our time was up, and as we were saying our goodbyes our final day in the studio, I shook everyone’s hand I could an told them what an honor it was to meet them and how inspirational their games have been for me. However, the figure who I wanted to shake the hand of the most was unavailable. Mr. Goodrich was put on leave by Electronic Arts because he stuck his neck out for us again, the fans and the consumers.
The situation at Danger Close is deteriorating rapidly, and its not because the game they made was lack luster or unfinished. It was because it was forced out of the hands of these great developers by Electronic Arts to put it ‘into play’ before Call of Duty drops this November. Reports are coming in from first and second hand sources saying that some of the Tier 1 operators have dropped the project because of your inability to stay true to Greg Goodrich’s vision. They have been reconfirmed by news reports across the globe yet you remain silent.
You’re trying to upbeat the competetion by forcing us to play through “Hollywood” moments that we don’t want, nor do we need. Give us a moving and emotional storyline that we can remember. Characters and faces that we can relate to. That was the true vision of Electronic Arts years ago, not this petty competetion for the best share of the profits.
“There is nothing real about a videogame – nothing, absolutely nothing. Combat is combat, games are games; and we’re an entertainment product. ” – Greg Goodrich
If you truly want to dethrone Call of Duty and Activision, you’re going to have to listen to your community leaders and let them help you create the best experience possible. Not just for Medal of Honor but for all of your marquee franchises. Forcing us to play a adaptation of the original that’s been riddled with problems, and injected with Hollywood moments (Zero Dark Thirty) like Medal of Honor: Warfighter is not how you garner trust. You’re going to have to prove to us that you will support your own franchises and their development teams regardless of profits. Cutting your losses will only hurt your reputation even further. There are hundreds upon thousands of us fans willing to give you advice if only you were willing to listen instead of trying to only make a profit. We’re not looking for money or fame, we’re merely looking for the quality that Electronic Arts was known for years ago.
I truly hope this message will open the eyes of fans, consumers, and the executives at Electronic Arts alike. Years ago, the catch phrase for Electronic Arts was “Challenge Everything”, today I am challenging you and your teams at Electronic Arts to come together as a team, a business, and industry leader to put forth better, more complete experiences for your fans and your consumers to enjoy. I will always remain a true fan of Electronic Arts and Medal of Honor, I only hope that this wont be “Preacher’s” last mission because his story and character is something that I can relate to.
To our friends at Danger Close Games and those who have left our Community “family” already, we sincerely thank you for your dedication to this franchise. Without you, ‘Preacher’ and his story would of never seen the light of day. Thank you for the stories and characters you have provided us to learn from, experience, and share with one another."
So, read all of it? This is what a true fan of the once great EA think about them now. Im pretty sure most of you feel the same. Now lets hope it reaches the (main) guys at EA Towers, and they embrace the need of change, again.
What are your thoughts on the letter? Have something more to add? Game-Debate is the platform to do just that - raise your debate below.