EA Named Worst Company in America
April 9, 2012

EA Named Worst Company In America

Video game developer Electronic Arts (EA) has been named the Worst Company in America (WCIA) by The Consumerist, beating out the Bank of America to lay claim to the dubious honor.

EA "faced stiff competition from Walmart, Citibank, the US Postal Service and a small army of other corporations" in the website's annual reader poll, Heather McLellan of The Escapist wrote last Wednesday, "before squaring up to the much-reviled Bank of America in the final. Bank of America, which contributed to the global financial crisis several years ago and later absorbed 138 billion dollars' worth of taxpayer-funded bailout money."

The video game maker received 64.03% of the votes, versus 35.97% for Bank of America.

In a write-up announcing EA as the winner of the website's "Golden Poo" award, The Consumerist said that the voters "ultimately decided that the type of greed exhibited by EA, which is supposed to be making the world a more fun place, is worse than Bank of America's avarice," while also sending a message not only to the Madden '12 and Mass Effect publisher but to "the gaming business as a whole: Stop treating your loyal customers like crap."

EA and other video game companies "nickel and dime consumers to death," they say, with the Redwood City, California-based company and others like them facing "numerous accusations" of "deliberately" holding back content in their products "with the sole intent of charging a fee for it at a later date. It's one thing to support a game with new content that is worth the price. It's another to put out an inferior -- and occasionally broken -- product with the mindset of 'ah, we'll fix it later and make some money for doing so.'"

The company's Senior Director of Corporate Communications John Reseburg was not "terribly upset" about being named the Worst Company in America, according to McLellan. In comments made during an interview with video game news website Kotaku and reprinted by The Escapist, Reseburg said that the company would "continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide."

Forbes Contributor Erik Kain published the WCIA contest brackets, which saw EA defeat Sony in the first round of the tournament-style competition, Best Buy in the second, Comcast in the third, and AT&T in the fourth.

Bank of America, meanwhile, was voted worse than Chase, Citibank, Ticketmaster, and Walmart in their bracket. Other notable companies involved in the contest include Sears/K-Mart, PayPal, Capital One, Netflix, Gamestop, Verizon, and Facebook.

However, Kain notes, there were some notable omissions in The Consumerist's competition.

"All the companies here are service-oriented corporations that consumers have regular contact with," he wrote. "Still, the lack of any weapons manufacturer, any big oil company, or any military 'private contractor' such as the mercenary outfit formerly known as Blackwater does make one wonder what exactly qualifies a company to become the 'worst' in America."

"What this seems to indicate is that it all boils down to public perception. We are all much more likely to bemoan what we see every day in the news or in the products we buy than we are to gripe about the bad business practices of the huge corporations that work largely behind the scenes," Kain added.