24

The Simplest Of Rituals

February 1, 2019 by Tim

If you’d just woken from a twenty-year coma, you’d be forgiven for thinking that “EA” was some sort of abbreviation for a literal Lovecraftian horror, an entity of pure unspeakable darkness and evil, the way the Internet speaks of it.

I’m not saying it’s an undeserved description… EA has certainly associated itself with more than enough contemptable profit-forward decisions, often at the perceived expense of a game’s quality, to earn its reputation. While I could argue that EA is a business, and the purpose of businesses is to make money, so therefore they’re simply doing what they’re supposed to… lots of businesses make money, and yet have not earned such palpable disdain from nearly the entire gaming community at this point.

This was only on my mind recently as a result of the Anthem “Demo” last weekend, having seen a fresh surge of hate levied in EA’s direction, a conviction that the troubles with loading must somehow trace back to EA’s blackened hands around Bioware’s throat. I don’t imagine it’s likely… they probably have little to do with the actual code in play. But such is EA’s reputation that if they are anywhere near an injustice to gamers, they are clearly the cause.

I often wonder what it must be like to work there. To work in their customer service department, for instance, your sole purpose to help people resolve an issue. You’re not management. You’re not a hollow-eyed suit on the top floor, cackling as they alternate between dancing the strings of their sad marionnettes-formerly-known-as-developers, and gleefully shoving fistfuls of microtransaction-cash down their slippery gullets.

No, you’re just a person. There to do a job so you can feed your cat. And yet you toil under the logo of Evil™, and so even you, too, must bear the blowback from decisions that were not yours to make. Your days full of interfacing with people that have already decided that you are the villain, the enemy. It must be exhausting.

Update: I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but occasionally I’ll put out a comic and someone asks “Ooh, can I get that as a print?” And that’s something we used to offer, but haven’t done in many years. However I’m going to try and offer it again now, so if there’s a favorite page of yours that you’d really wanted printed in high quality and signed by yours truly, you’ll now be able to order one from this page.


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foducool
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foducool

they’re doing it backwards
first you release a good game,
then you let it simmer for a couple months
and ONLY after that, you try to fuck your customers up the ass with stupid updates

EA’s jumping over the first two steps, so of course it doesn’t work

KaoGen
Guest
KaoGen

“B-but Pride and Accomplishment!~”

Pawel
Guest
Pawel

Damn. That’s a creepy comics 😀 The last panel is crazy! So simple yet vivid and gory. Love it but I think I may have nightmares after this one 😀 Anyway – nice change of style.

mandoschMUh
Guest
mandoschMUh

It’s the same style like this shirt for instance: https://www.qwertee.com/product/let-s-summon-demons
There are other motives as well and I have the feeling it’s an hommage to something in the 60s?

And I agree, absolutely glorious comic / art.

John Bunch
Guest
John Bunch

As a call center employee, I really appreciate your comments here. I don’t work for EA, but have worked in a couple different call centers as customer service for fortune 500 companies and am very familiar with the mindset you are describing here.

So I just want to say thank you for saying this, on behalf of all call center employees out there.

merendel
Guest
merendel

I’ve never understood folks that feel they need to take out their frustrations on the help line folks. I may ask to have my request elevated if the first level folks dont seem to be able to help solve my problem but theres no reason to take out my frustrations on them for something thats come from much further up the chain. It would be like finding your favorite icecream flavor has been discontinued and taking it out on the cashier at the store that they dont have any in stock. On the other hand there is another type of… Read more »

Swiftbow
Guest
Swiftbow

I agree, but some of the low-level help line folks do their level best to PREVENT you from talking to anyone that can handle your problem on an elevated level. That’s when I start getting annoyed.

Draguss
Guest
Draguss

In many call centers, escalations count against your metrics, regardless of context.

Ven
Guest
Ven

Are YOU one of the guys who keeps calling me 5 or 6 times a day trying to sell me something or begging for donations? If so…. what happened to your self-respect, man? You could do literally anything in this world, and you make a living out of annoying people. How do you expect them to react? If you have a shred of dignity left to yourself, go turn in your 2 weeks notice tomorrow.

If you work for tech support and make a living off HELPING people, then disregard my previous message.

Amethyst
Guest
Amethyst

Dear Callers, There is only so much the people answering the phones can do. We don’t make the policies. We just follow the rules, and often the answer really is NO, no matter what your sob story is or how easy you think it should be to just do a thing. No, I can’t give you a refund. I’m not the billing department. No, I can’t page the doctor for [thing she doesn’t want to be paged for]. Call back during normal office hours. No, I don’t know who you are, but if you were really that special you’d the… Read more »

Amanda
Guest
Amanda

I agree, except the one time I called EA’s customer support because Origin had uninstalled 6+ of my other EA games (that had been installed pre-origin), the rep treated me like crap and basically told me I was crazy and that I must have SOMEHOW simultaneously uninstalled all these games without realizing it at the exact same time Origin was installed. Never said sorry or even took my complaint seriously. Basically turned it around and made it all my fault. Maybe the person was jaded from having to work a crap job where they got dumped on all the time,… Read more »

Keith
Guest
Keith

Reading the last paragraph reminds me of the Austin Powers cut-aways whenever one of the henchmen gets killed by Austin in the first movie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag_AFraxj-4

Hunter
Guest
Hunter

I concur with your statement. Too many people are getting abusive because of EAs shit, and that abuse always hits people who have nothing to do with the decision making process.

Here’s an idea, don’t buy games that are apart of the EA brand. They and now BioWare have built up a track record of subpar to absolute shit in recent years. The Golden era when BioWare can do no wrong is over. Time to stop rewarding game companies that shovel out shit.

Just stop buying their games. Otherwise you will continually be angry and waste money.

Grekkill
Guest
Grekkill

I think it’s funny that BioWare makes one subpar game, and now everyone is all “This is their last shot!”

The gaming community is so dramatic.

Bilious
Guest
Bilious

There’s been quite a few.

Ian Stimson
Guest
Ian Stimson

mass effect 3
mass effect andromeda
dragon age 2
dragon age inquisition
starwars the old republic

all subpar or outright bad games of biowares recent catalog.

it isn’t by any means just one game and anthem likely is their last chance to recapture a fan base.

Grekkill
Guest
Grekkill

Idk, I had a lot of fun with DA2, DAI, and TOR. As did many of the people I know that had played it.

I never played any of the mass effect games so.i can’t speak on that front.

Logan
Guest
Logan

SWtoR only became ‘subpar’ when they got forced to monetize the hell out of it. Before F2P, and their Chapter structured story release, it was still a decent game.

But they had no extra love for their long time testers, either..

Kaedis
Guest
Kaedis

Mass Effect 3 was phenomenal, the only issue was the hacked-in ending, and they fixed that fairly quickly. I didn’t play the latter two DAs, but Mass Effect Andromeda was made by Bioware Montreal, and SWTOR by Bioware Austin. The original ME trilogy games and the original DA were made by Bioware Austin, which is the same one studio that’s making Anthem.

Kaedis
Guest
Kaedis

Sorry, ME, DA, and Anthem are being made by Bioware Edmonton (the original Bioware). Mistyped.

Darrin
Guest
Darrin

“Your days full of interfacing with people that have already decided that you are the villain, the enemy. It must be exhausting.”

I work in news. You have no idea.

Fela
Guest
Fela

Even easier: stop falling for advertisements and buy new games. There’s likely way more than a lifetime worth playing of games out there that you have not played yet, are bug free and can be bought at sales with 60% or more off. Just don’t be the immature child that wants THIS and wants it NOW.

Somewhere
Guest
Somewhere

Nothing quite like enjoying Chrono Trigger’s decade-later rerelease a decade late.

Shona-SoF
Guest
Shona-SoF

EA’s higher ups are sucking the soul out of gaming as a whole and too many companies are taking notice that they’re making profits despite their atrocious tactics.

I’ve had to deal with their customer service several times to deal with account and rights-management problems and they’ve been nothing but helpful, understanding, and willing to help.

EA sucks, but never take it out on the front desk people. They don’t get paid enough for abuse over decisions they have no say in and they do their best if you treat them with respect. (this is true at _any_ business)

Aston
Guest
Aston

I remember EA from Dungeon Keeper 2.

Is that 20 years yet?

I like to think they learnt from that.

Given your comic. 🙂

Twilight Faze
Guest

You got it half-right. I work for a gaming company (not EA) and can confirm that they have no power over the game’s coding or mechanics. My company also works for a higher power gaming corporation, so I’m going off this model. Where EA is fucking up is that they have this notoriously bad habit of rushing things without approving the QA checking, like more companies. They are more worried about meeting deadlines than quality-checking their goods. For companies under them like Bioware, they can complain all they want, but EA is the boss so they try their best, but…THAT… Read more »

inverted4life
Guest
inverted4life

Exactly. I have not seen a single person blame EA directly for the code. I don’t know where on earth Tim got that idea. Maybe he has seen that, but I haven’t. Anyway, yeah, we blame EA. Doesn’t mean we think they code it. We know it’s because they rush out games without proper testing. It’s not a coincidence that every game EA puts out, regardless of which developer actually made it, always seems to need a few months or more of patches until it’s in an acceptable state. I’ll never forget Battlefield 4 coming out and getting slammed for… Read more »

Logan
Guest
Logan

>”EA charged people money to play that “VIP demo”. If you pay for a product and that product is low quality, you complain. ” The real kicker about this though? I didn’t even need to pay to try it last weekend! (granted, with the loading issues I couldn’t *Actually* ‘play’ it. lol) No pre-order, no friend invite code, nothing. Simply searched Demo on Xbox store looking for other stuff, and it popped up in the list. Said WTH, and let it install it’s 20 some odd gigs and, well.. at least go to play around with some of the customization… Read more »

FITCamaro
Guest
FITCamaro

Yeah I actually played through all of Andromeda almost a year after release and did most of the quests. Was it great? No. Was it an utter piece of garage? Far from. I rolled my eyes at the social justice warrior parts. Ignored some other things. But got through it and mostly enjoyed the game.

Twilight Faze
Guest

Ignoring the Anthem Demo debacle, I honestly hope Anthem performs well. Last rumor I heard was if Anthem did well, it would determine if Andromeda would get the sequel it deserved. I don’t care for a trilogy. A second game would be enough to tie loos ends, I think.

Kaedis
Guest
Kaedis

Andromeda was made by Bioware Montreal, a completely different spin-off studio. All the great Bioware games were made by Bioware Edmonton, their original studio, and that’s the same one making Anthem. And aside from the instability, I had an absolute blast in the Anthem demo.

Drake
Guest
Drake

Worked for Blizz customer support for like 6 months. What this guy is saying is very accurate.

And, personally, I miss the job. Even with the angry customers, looking back now, it was the best job I ever had.

Twilight Faze
Guest

I live a few hours away from Irvine. I’m hoping to build enough experience under my belt to work for them I have an extended friend who worked on Overwatch and gave me the virtual tour. Rapture.

Joey
Guest

Oh for…reread what he said. Tim did not say “blame EA for bad code.” He even says “they likely have little to do with the actual code.” Which is probably true. But, EA are funding it, in the end the quality is up to them. So they are probably forcing Bioware to skip steps, halfass their work for the sake getting a product out to the customers quickly.

Learn to read, not react.

Twilight Faze
Guest

When did I say that’s what Tim said? Point that out for me. Sure some players have that misconception, but I never said that’s what Tim implied.

Turning your words back on you: “Learn to read, not react.”

On a completely unrelated note, your art is really well done! Kudos!

Twilight Faze
Guest

Never you mind me. Read through the other comments and forgot the one who directly commented below me. My bad entirely ><

KaoGen
Guest
KaoGen

I think Twilight Above made the point as well, but even if EA isnt responsible for the coding specifically, they could be (like Destiny and Activision) responsible for expectations and ‘demands’ that have borderline the same effect. Expecting the game to sell a specific number of copies/make a certain amount of money/have a specific amount of potential income from Microtransactions/Release content at a specific pace/etc will still influence the development in SOME way.
No, its not exclusively responsible for the issues and mistakes, but it certainly doesnt help them.

Twilight Faze
Guest

They most likely are. Bioware are the game’s creators, but the actual whip-crackers are EA. They are the ones who determine the pace of the game as well as the resources poured into it. The actual creation (code, music, art, etc.) is Bioware.

My guess is they want a reputation for always releasing their games on time, but they disregard the sensitivity of technology that causes the last-minute snafus to occur; especially where multiplayer features are concerned.

As you said, either way, it’s not helping them.

KaoGen
Guest
KaoGen

It was actually one thing that recently occured to me about Destiny, especially in regards to a number of more recent releases (no naming names, no need). Is that the game, while pitifully bereft of content, released more or less… flawless from a technical standpoint. Same with Destiny 2 to an extent. Which makes me feel like Bungie made the decision a while ago to focus on making the content functional > quantity when forced to make a choice. I understand it… but its still what resulted in Destiny that we know.

Milamber33
Guest
Milamber33

You weren’t playing Destiny 2 around the release of Forsaken then, there were heaps of issues in the week leading up to release as they half-pushed the new mechanics and waited for the actual release to make everything work normally again. Not to mention the tie-in app that was horribly broken for weeks afterwards. And that’s just the biggest things. There were plenty of bugs and issues.

Rin
Guest
Rin

I blame EA for everything. Everything. But only EA and the top dudes that get millions (or 40 billions) for thinking up new ways to screw up their customers. I’ve never had any contempt for their employees, even when talking to their support staff. I mean, I’m sure some people abuse the hell out of the support staff, but if you look at “Not Always Right”, people just treat support staff as worthless NPC instead of people, it’s not EA-specific problem. Most people step on those who work in service industry.

Drakontis
Guest
Drakontis

Personally, I’ve just abandoned EA entirely. I think my last two forays into their software was Battlefield 3?4? on PS3, and that was used, so I had to pay for that 10 dollar online pass (Which at the time, I didn’t see as a big deal. Pay for my own server time, whatever, that’s fine.) And then as I learned and listened about their various releases before and after, I resolved that I would buy Star Wars Battlefront. If it was launched well and was a solid experience, I’d rethink continuing to buy their products. Unfortunately, the game was unfinished,… Read more »

Glaedien
Guest
Glaedien

As have I.I gave them the benefit of the doubt for ages, far longer than I should have. It wasn’t until a mobile game of all things that I finally cut ties. Dungeon Keeper… seeing what they had done to a series I held in such high regard… it finally clicked that no, gamer outrage against EA is barely hyperbole. When they’re not releasing their own mediocre titles, they’re scooping up things people love, corrupting them, and tossing ’em out in the wild hoping for a quick profit before we realize what they’ve done.

Blaine
Guest
Blaine

I used to work for EA when I was in college while taking some time off for a co-op. (Helped make the PC version of Madden NFL 2003.) This was the time that the “Letter From a Developer’s Wife” came out, and it was pretty much as bad as the letter made it sound. Completely turned me off from working in the industry after graduation. We had normal hours for a few months, but then we had 4 months straight of 18-20 hour days 6-7 days per week. About the only benefit was that when you get out of work… Read more »

Chris Jones
Guest
Chris Jones

I worked at the Tiburon office as a developer on Madden 2008. It lasted 3 months and was the worst place I ever worked. I refused to work those insane hours. I was none too popular for wanting to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

Blaine
Guest
Blaine

You have my sympathies…

Dave
Guest
Dave

1) Business making money point… the problem with EA…also with most publicly traded companies… is that they’ve made short term decisions at the expense of the long term, and their shareholders reward them for that… it’s better to make half as much profit today, than twice as much on the next quarter… example: if EA had allowed Andromeda to be delayed 6 months, that game would have been much better… I, personally, think it’s better than the average score it got, but even just the patches they were able to do have made that game loads better, imagine if they… Read more »

Kaedis
Guest
Kaedis

You realize that Anthem’s gameplay isn’t really *that* much different from Mass Effect, right? It’s heavily story-based (a Bioware trademark), it’s a third-person shooter with multiple different classes and a high level of customizability within each, and it’s a grand-scale sci-fi. Aside from the flying bit, Anthem’s actual combat gameplay is in the same genre as Mass Effect, it just has other players instead of NPC minions. Third person shooters aren’t exactly new territory for Bioware, the entire ME series was a third-person shooter with the exact same type of class-based ability integrations into that combat that Anthem has.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Story focused??? Maybe… I’m not arguing the point, but I’m not conceding it either… Bioware style storytelling… dialogue, player choice (or even the illusion of choice)… not seen anywhere… The story of this game doesn’t look like bioware…

Dave
Guest
Dave

Mass Effect Gameplay like Anthem’s… the player fights a lot like Sheppard/Ryder…. but the world around them moves and lives VERY differently…

You do know that when you design a game it’s a lot more than the player character, right?

Germi
Guest
Germi

This is awesome. Will you make it a poster that we can buy?

Urazz
Guest
Urazz

Surprisingly, I don’t think we can blame EA for the bad Anthem demo. Apparently, they used an older build of the game compared to the latest version of the game that some streamers/youtubers played before the VIP demo came out. RyanCentral did a video comparing the VIP demo with the latest build of the game he played before the demo came out. So this is just a hilarious example of Bioware making a stupid decision in my opinion. Another thing to note, I kept the demo installed so I didn’t have to reinstall it for when the public demo starts… Read more »

KaoGen
Guest
KaoGen

Its not a stupid decision, its just that they cant do much about it. Unless they were to halt development until after the Demos ended, then the Demo which theyd have to cut down, code in, sign off on and then distribute to the server hosts would always be behind the development version. It just sucks that the bugfixes/etc were later on.

Jaysyn
Guest

They knew what they signed up for.

JusCuz
Guest
JusCuz

I felt EA was evil way back in the late 90’s when they bought and killed of Janes who at the time was creating the best flight sims ever.

JusCuz
Guest
JusCuz

heh…..yea yea yea…..over 20 years ago……I DO hold a grudge.

Ven
Guest
Ven

So THAT’s what happened to them… =.= Thanks, I can add that to the list of good game developers from my childhood those fucking bastards murdered.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff

I do sympathize with customer service; I’ve worked for a particular mouse once or twice. Definitely as you mentioned that with a company like EA, people on the other side of the phone have decided you’re evil from the get go.

On the other hand, it makes me think of this scene from Clerks 😀 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQdDRrcAOjA

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

Remember that old EA saying:
“Get the fuck out of my building”

trashyacct
Guest
trashyacct

I like how the part in his hair went from the side to the middle. Almost like the demons moved it…

CTowns
Guest
CTowns

Guys, guys…. you’re over-thinking it. EA has proven themselves unworthy for (in gaming-history time) eons now. Just join me in tuning them out altogether. There’s a new EA game? That’s nice, what else is happening? Don’t even think about it. You know anything put out by EA is junk. Don’t waste your own time even discussing or thinking about their junk. 😀

huh
Guest
huh

Sounds like an episode from blackmirror.

Prime_pm
Guest
Prime_pm

I just want to play Dragon Age 4. I miss Thedas so much, EA be damned.

meatballs21
Guest
meatballs21

I worked in customer service for a passenger train operator. You would not believe the vile, hateful things people would say even after being told their train was cancelled after someone committed suicide in front of it.

edgesoul
Guest
edgesoul

Just to echo the call center idea (and I appreciate Tim’s comment), as someone who is working in help centre, though in a different field, I find it interesting, actually. I would say only about 20-30% are actually angry, and most of those have legitimate reason to be so. Actually I have found only maybe 5% are genuinely hostile to you, the person on the phone, though this may be because I mostly deal with business customers. HOWEVER, those are the calls you remember….

Ven
Guest
Ven

” a conviction that the troubles with loading must somehow trace back to EA’s blackened hands around Bioware’s throat”, Tim? That might have something to do with EA pushing Bioware to cut corners and meet harsh deadlines. Something that they are very infamous for doing in the past? Like with ME3’s original stock ending? I respect you, I like your work, I disabled my ad-blocker for you, and I can appreciate the stance of devil’s advocate but please, don’t defend these people. You’re better than that. The best thing for the industry at this point is for EA to go… Read more »

Jimbob
Guest
Jimbob

I like the Steven Rhodes-style imagery