Readers have voted Electronic Arts (EA) the “Worst Company in America” in The Consumerist’s 2012 poll. The videogame publisher won out against last year’s winner, Bank of America in the final round of The Consumerist’s yearly March-madness style tournament poll.
The Consumerist awarded EA the 2012 “Golden Poo” award for this dubious honor. The consumer advocacy website visualized this by turning the “A” in EA into a swirled pile of dog poo.
Both EA and Bank of America made it to the final round of the tournament on the strength of their willingness to nickel-and-dime their customers. While Bank of America charges various fees for consumers to use their checking accounts and other services, EA does the same for consumers who want to play videogames in their entirety. The company has begun to release downloadable extra content along with their games, already complete, that can only be played if an extra fee is paid. EA and other game companies have also begun to make exclusive deals with retailers such as GameStop and Best Buy that offer in-game items to only those customers who pre-order the game with those specific retailers.
The Consumerist poll tournament started with 32 teams which included GameStop, Netflix, Apple, Google, Ticketmaster, Best Buy, and Facebook. Much of the bracket was made up of clusters of similar companies. For example, in the first round Apple beat Google, Comcast beat Time Warner Cable, DirecTV beat Dish Network, and AT&T beat Verizon. AT&T would go on to tear through its bracket, beating both Apple and Facebook before losting to EA in the Final Four. Walmart met a similar fate, beating both Kmart and Sears in the first round, then moving on to victories against GameStop and PayPal before losing to Bank of America.
While “Worst Company in America” is certainly subjective, I have to agree that EA has taken some big strides toward the dark side by putting DLC directly on game discs that can only be unlocked through another payment. That, and that fact the Katy Perry version of The Sims 3 exists is enough to justify the title for me.