Worst Company In America Round One: EA Vs. Sony

If this particular WCIA bout were a video game, we’d charge you $59.99 to play the most basic version, another $20 or so to play the full version, and then we’d still nickel and dime you for extras… But not before your account data is compromised by hackers.

It is indeed the hacking of millions of Sony PlayStation Network accounts and subsequent three-week long network outage that earned the electronics giant a spot in this year’s tournament.

Of course, its believed that the hack only occurred as a response to Sony’s decision to sue a man who figured out how to jailbreak a PS3 and dared to post the information on this thing called the Internet.

Sony then followed up those attacks by showing how much it loves consumers… by changing the PSN terms of service to preempt class-action lawsuits.

EA has spent much of the last decade cultivating a bad name for itself among millions of game-buying consumers. Aside from its reputation for spoiling the good names of all the companies it acquires (and EA has acquired a lot of companies), it has played a pivotal role in the fact that video games continue to be expensive while the cost for many other home entertainment media has dropped.

Since the company obtained the exclusive video game rights to NFL teams, it’s been accused of gouging customers out of millions of dollars on an annual basis by grossly overpricing its Madden NFL series of games.

And like Sony, EA got no love from consumers for its tacit backing of the failed (for now) SOPA legislation.

But what is becoming the biggest sore spot to video game customers is the increasing amount of add-on content that the company doesn’t include in the games it sells, but only makes available in deluxe editions, store-specific versions or as a la carte downloadable content.

For example, Destuctoid recently calculated that you would need to spend $870 to get access to all of the content in the newest big EA release, Mass Effect 3.

We received numerous reader testimonials on why EA belongs in this competition, but this audio clip of the company’s CEO explaining to investors about squeezing money from customers through these micro-transactions basically sums it all up:

Now you’re ready for the big boss fight. Just don’t enter any cheat codes.
(Voting for this poll will close at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 15)

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2012 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2012 bracket and schedule of match-ups HERE.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Robofish says:

    I think this one might be close.

    • longfeltwant says:

      EA is way ahead, but Sony deserves it. The rootkit is sufficient for a Lifetime Poopchievement Award.

      • Robofish says:

        Gotta say I’m actually surprised at the results so far ( even as someone who is a PS3 owner and loves that system ). But I guess squeezing out the extra money is beginning to take a toll. Maybe they should have been up against Capcom instead?

  2. Zelgadis says:

    EA is the king of obnoxious DRM and of acquiring small, talented game studios only to run them into the ground. They get my vote.

  3. Marlin says:

    Sony, can’t even protect peoples information. Let alone all their other BS.

    • Kaonashi says:

      They aren’t maliciously attacking you though, unlike EA.

      • philpm says:

        No, Sony is doing it subtlely, which is worse. All of the crap they’ve had happen over the last couple of years have really made me question whether I even want a PS3 at this point.

  4. grimJack says:

    I HATE EA. They are obsessed with stupid animations in their games that delay you from actually getting into the game. The damn music going on in EVERY menu. Screw them.

  5. katarzyna says:

    Huh, well, this one is a surprise, at least for me.

  6. Cat says:

    Sony is sooo deserving.

  7. Chief CL says:

    Since a lot of people have been playing the ending of Mass Effect 3 in the past few days… with it fresh on their minds, EA has got a lot of momentum for winning this matchup.

    • DarthCoven says:

      Without giving anything away, the ending of ME3 has convinced me that EA pressured Bioware to rush the game out practically unfinished. There was so much potential…

    • VectorVictor says:

      Agreed. One of the crappiest endings ever, and the day one DLC (the majority of which is on-disk) was a move that really crapped all over their fanbase.

      I honestly don’t know who I would vote for if ME3’s shortcomings due to EA’s incompetence and greed hadn’t manifested themselves recently…

  8. Torchwood says:

    You just cannot feel Sorry for Sony.

  9. sufreak says:

    Im not a gamer. But sony has become the bastion of crap. Crappier products, the data leakage, etc. I don’t buy Sony products anymore.

    But customer data loss and getting hacked is a big deal. especially when you ‘lay off’ your security folk shortly beforehand.

  10. The_IT_Crone says:

    I have to say, I’m shocked that I’m voting EA over Sony. But it’s DESERVED.

  11. homehome says:

    As annoyed I get with EA, the fact that the have Bioware under their wing and put out FIFA, I might give em a pass. Madden is underdeveloped. Sony has had too many breaches but I like their products.

  12. Kaonashi says:

    Sony is bad but mostly because of incompetence. EA on the other hand is willfully malicious so they win out easily.

  13. hotpocketdeath says:

    It took me threatening Can-Spam violations against EA to finally get them to leave me alone.

    EA is what’s wrong with gaming. They have ruined so much and I am at a point where I refuse to install Origin onto any of my systems and I encourage people to pirate their games until it’s clear to EA they should not treat their customers like crap.

  14. iluvhatemail says:

    voting EA just because of how they screwed up BF3 :)

  15. valthun says:

    EA was on the road to recovery, then it pulled everything out of Steam, DLC you purchased for a game in Steam was no longer available and launched it’s own online store system where if you want digital distribution of PC games you have to use Origin. This is at least their third attempt at digital distribution store, and each time it has changed has screwed customers out of games they purchased.

    There is a reason why people trust Steam, they carry everyone’s games.

  16. erodahs says:

    Origins, the battlefield 3 “profile storing” web page that has to be accessed even for single player, and DRM within DRM, not to mention a habit of DLC that should have been included as content in the original game… That’s why you get my vote EA

  17. Mike Toole says:

    Going with EA, because of this amazing chat transcript:

  18. Straspey says:

    What’s extremely interesting here is the fact that SONY is being matched up against EA – which is a company that makes games – thereby limiting the consumer experience to those people who interact with SONY primarily, if not exclusively, for their gaming products and services.

    As somebody who has owned a significant amount of SONY audio and video products over the past thirty-five years, I can tell you that – for the most part – my experience with them has been positive, and certainly exemplary at times…

    Such as when the main computer on my large SONY TV (which I bought at Sear’s) died two months outside of the warranty and SONY was happy to help me pay for the extra fees related to the in-home replacement, which was successful.

    Yes – SONY may quite possibly be the worst when it comes to their gaming products and services – but as someone who has never been a “gamer”, but has used a number of their high-end audio and video products – I can tell you that they are not all bad – and certainly not deserving of the “Worst Company” award.

  19. Gorbachev says:

    How in the hell is EA winning this?

    • Bent Rooney says:

      Same way Mitt Romney is winning the primary.

    • Black Knight Rebel says:

      Because Sony is actually a net positive company and only a serious fanboy is voting against them?

      As one other person poetically put it, “EA is just pure butt gravy” lmao

  20. phonebem says:

    EA… If for nothing more than introducing the market to the notion that online play is DLC.

  21. clydesplace says:

    EA. They’ve done more to ruin gaming (of course gamers themselve have helped them along) than any other entity I know of. When one of my favorite games became nothing but a tool for them to do nothing but sell downloadable content at exorbitant prices while cutting back on actual game content,and doing their best to shut out the modders that actually made the game great, I quit playing. I don’t like Sony either, but it’s time to give this clown JR and EA their comeuppance.

  22. KTXL says:

    With the number of companies that provide services that most people depend on, and who so badly screw those same people, this is a pretty lame bracket. Both companies provide entertainment, and, if we’re being fair about it, their products are typically excellent.

    EA is responsible for some of the greatest video games of all time- both old (e.g. Archon: Adept, Mail Order Monsters) and new (Dead Space, FIFA, Battlefield). That people still get upset about DLC is particularly maddening, given that those whining hordes are not also mindless lemmings forced to pay for that crap. Did an auto manufacturer make these brackets for its “evil” decision to offer leather seats for an additional cost? Oh, and EA is not the “king” of DRM- that would be Ubisoft.

    Sony’s network went down for three weeks. Yes. A shame. What isn’t mentioned is that PS3 owners don’t pay for that service (while 360 users do), and I think I was given two or three games for free when it went back online ($30 value or so). And I certainly prefer Sony’s response to the hack than to several other companies who may have hidden the security breach and left their consumers’ information compromised, only informing them in a press release six months later. And finally, the company that made the Sports Walkmans we all had, you know, that one that lasted for 9 years and 200+ drops on the pavement/floor/stairs, should simply never fucking be on a “worst company” list.

    Any bank, however, involed in the $25 billion wrist-slapping for robo-signing should automatically get an invite.

    • erodahs says:

      You’re absolutely right. A company that’s responsible for multiple leaks of payment information of loyal customers and one that apparently purchasing the license for a game doesn’t entitle you to play it if you say one thing the company doesn’t agree with because you get deleted from their bogus content providing system, after they’ve pulled all the content from other distributors doesn’t belong on this list at all….

      *where did I put my sarcasm tags again*

      • KTXL says:

        I think you left your sarcasm tags in the drawer where you keep the things you know enough to talk about.

  23. BobOki says:

    This one was a VERY VERY hard one for me. I LOATHE Sony specifically for their Failstation 3 screwups over and over, their lack of security across the board, and their cheap ass laptops. However, EA is just pure butt gravy.

  24. usernameandp says:
  25. Nighthawke says:

    Hmm, toughie. On one hand, you have Sony that has a fetish for DRMing people into oblivion with software that has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese. Plus, they quit making one of the best robots to date; the Aibo! Plus their track record on DMCA has not exactly been rosy either.

    OTOH, you have EA, that churns out buggy or mediocre games, sometimes both. And then they want to charge users to Beta test their games. They gobbled up Westwood Games and destroyed one of the best real time strategy games to date: Command & Conquer. They have a nasty tendency to do that and their track record bears it out.

    Take your pick, but IMHO, to hell with both.

  26. idontknow82 says:

    Can’t we just call it even and say both?

  27. SavijMuhdrox says:

    gotta go with EA, though there are compelling arguments here for either, that soundbite on charging money for video game bullets takes the audacious cake.

  28. PhiTauBill says:

    “EA [Sports], it’s (no longer) in the game.” Instead, it’s an expensive add-on.

  29. Cicadymn says:

    Well there goes my bracket.

    I was expecting Sony to win out after giving away personal information of everybody, trying to cover it up and then eventually confess to failing hard.

    But bad consumer related practices by EA for years just wins out.

  30. Professor59 says:

    Tough one… I’ve enjoyed both companies’ products for a long time. I hate EA for pricing, for overhyping, and for quitting making games for the PC. I hate Sony for it’s obnoxious policies, it’s high pricing, and making everything it sells super-proprietary so you can’t get 3rd party parts for less. Oh, and they sold me a laptop docking station that doesn’t fit the very laptop it has printed on the box. So, I’ll go Sony.

    But really, both comapnies end up making solid and popular products, so I don’t expect to see either in the top 8.

  31. bigdirty says:

    Neither are that bad – yes Sony was hacked, they handled it pretty much the way any other company would have. They may actually have gone above and beyond for offering up the free stuff. If you expected them not to change their policies, you are living in a fairy tale land.

    As for EA, charging $60 for Madden, that’s not gouging – it’s going price for a new game. Online passes, DLC, and retailer specific bonuses are all part of how they have to do business to combat the used market. As a content creator, I stand firmly behind these decisions, as I would rather see the content creators get paid for their work than GameStop reap the rewards of being a glorified pawn shop, selling you a game for $5 less.

  32. billpendry says:

    Capcom is much worse about their DLC in my opinion.

  33. Maz says:

    The Mass Effect 3 bad-vibes is really what’s pushing EA to the front.

    Day One release DLC with some pretty significant plot revelations (the last survivor of the an ancient race that died fighting the Big Bad with keen insight into his race, the Big Bad and all).

    A rather craptastic matching set of endings thatn only really differ in the color of energy discharges you get.

    All interviews and public statements summed up as: We’re just that awesome, the fans are whining idiots.

    People surmising this was all a ploy to get players to shell out 10 bucks for DLC for an alternate ending.


    What most people who’ve followed Mass Effect for the last five years are feeling:


  34. natebum says:

    EA gets my vote for many reasons.
    1. ruining mass effect 3 ending
    2. ruining command and conquer 4 (i still angry abt that)
    3. DLC, i have to pay $60 for a game but DLC which run $10 to $15 each there are usually 3 to four of them.
    4. DRM for trying killing second-hand games.

  35. VectorVictor says:

    Hmmm, considering all of the recent (and justified) angst in EA messing with Mass Effect 3 and BioWare’s reputation of quality, I’m thinking Sony will luck out on this one.

  36. Anachronism says:

    I’m amazed Sony isn’t running away with this.

  37. Talmonis says:

    After what those rotten bastards have done to Bioware, EA.

  38. CirrusDM says:

    Wait…Sony isn’t an American company. Voted for EA though due to their crushing of good game studios, dlc policy, customer support, origins, drm, and the way the treat their employees. Sony’s big hacker incident didn’t have any proven cases of money being lost from credit cards being stolen. The reason: The card numbers weren’t stolen.

  39. Sparkstalker says:

    EA stinks, but Sony is much, much worse. Massive data breaches, rootkits, defective light engines in Grand Wega TVs, and a crappy HDMI port on my PS3. F**k Sony and their overpriced crap.

  40. Lefturn says:

    The way I see it, Sony is more negligent than anything.
    On the other hand, EA is actively destroying the video game industry. They have introduced and/or perpetuated a number of schemes that reduce the quality and value of the games that we purchase (or no longer purchase, in some cases).

    The decision is easy for me.

  41. Mark702 says:

    EA and their DLC garbage are destroying gaming. Pay $60 for a game and you only get half of it. A year or two from now, probably with the next-gen consoles, they’ll tie the ENTIRE GAME to a one time use code, totally killing used game sales, which help keep new game sales going.

  42. Pete the Geek says:

    EA because, believe it or not, they started out as a decent organization that offered good value for money. I don’t begrudge a company for making a profit, but EA’s leadership seems determined to snuff out the days when Grandma could buy a copy of the lastest game for Jr. and the kid could play the entire game for months on that initial purchase. In EA’s world, Jr. now needs a credit card and a part-time job to play past the first level.

  43. bobomb says:

    WTF!? How is Sony not winning this? NOBODY hates their customers more than Sony, and the have a long history of demonstrating exactly that, including several very recent incidents showing both hatred of customers and extreme incompetence.

    Don’t get.me wrong, EA sucks, but Sony is completely horrible.

  44. bobomb says:

    WTF!? How is Sony not winning this? NOBODY hates their customers more than Sony, and the have a long history of demonstrating exactly that, including several very recent incidents showing both hatred of customers and extreme incompetence.

    Don’t get.me wrong, EA sucks, but Sony is completely horrible.

  45. Thorzdad says:

    Sony’s just incompetent. EA, though, is actively evil. An easy vote on this one.

  46. Black Knight Rebel says:

    EA is, without question, the worse of the two. EA is fucking malicious and poisonous to the games industry the way it’s being run right now.

    Sony is at the very least pushing us forward to a better tomorrow with actual innovations in many different fields of interest. I think you’d have to be stupid to vote for Sony in this round.

  47. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I love the PS systems (have a PS2 and my bf has a PS3) but the whole rootkit thing makes me want to throw rotten oranges at them. That was EVIL.

  48. Chmee says:

    Well, what can I say. I like Sony products. Except for my car stereo. But that’s what I get for buying the dheapest one.

  49. JLyles says:

    EA has gotten pricey. Much more pricey than Sony has been.

    Aside from the bad pricing of games, there are few other things that separate these companies from being equally as bad.

    But If you go further outside of the gaming aspect of the companies, judging them in whole, then you find that EA is no where near as good as Sony.

    Sony is huge and does more for us.

  50. Yeah Right says:

    Voting for EA. Shipped a lot of their resourcing overseas and those in the game testing field in the U.S. have to raise their hand to go to the bathroom…not kidding.

  51. The_Fuzz_53 says:

    They forgot about EA’s attempt to devalue used games by forcing you to pony up $10 to play online multiplayer. Even if you live in a home with 2 users, only 1 gamertag can be registered to the disc. The other person has to pay $10.

  52. Robcalibur says:

    Wow, this is surprising…people are actually voting for EA over Sony? EA may be horrible, but Sony is responsible for one of the biggest breaches in personal security in history…

  53. proscriptus says:

    I fell about EA as I feel about cable companies–no one HAS to play video games, it’s a luxury product, so you can expect to pay a premium. Fine. My problem with them is the persistent and extreme difficulty in getting their products actually to work, with their arcane and unreliable DRM. I have several EA PC games I have spent money on and literally never played, because they won’t let me. The last time I contacted their customer service they asked me to email them a photograph of the game disc and my receipt, which would have been annoying if I hadn’t downloaded the game through Steam. That made it just plain impossible. A very bad company.

  54. therealffish says:

    How is Sony not crushing EA? EA might be screwing over gaming, but Sony is screwing over gaming, home electronics, copyright law, movies, music, and television, all while suing their customers early and often. And they’ve been doing this since before EA was a twinkle in their founder’s eyes. Rootkits? geohot? Any of this sound familiar?

    Website admins: could you check to see if Sony is astro-turfing this one? It just seems so counter-intuitive.

  55. FrugalFreak says:

    “In recognition of the recent GOP debate on Herman Cain‚Äôs tax 9-9-9 plan, EA has announced a special price discount so all candidates can simulate the economic plan themselves. For a limited time and exclusively on Origin.com, anyone can take charge and fix the issues plaguing sim-humanity like raising and lowering personal and business taxes, solving crime and fighting off giant lizards. For the fiscally responsible price of $9.99, anyone can get real and see the future of economic growth‚Ķsimulated of course.”

    And I can count 999 reasons I voted for you EA

  56. 99 1/2 Days says:

    Wow. Maybe Sony should have gotten a bye for the first round?