Electronic Arts

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Electronic Arts Inc. logo

Electronic Arts, Inc. (or EA Games) [1] is an American technology company responsible for designing many popular video games, including the FIFA series games, NBA Live, the Sims, and Need for Speed. Among Nintendo, Valve, and Activision, EA Games ranks among the largest revenue-generating video game companies in the world [2]. With such a wide variety of game genera EA Games faces a number of ethical issues such as copyright laws and licensing as well as cheating. Also, EA received a lot of criticism for trying to "pry more money out of gamers' pockets" [3] through things like DLC packs and incomplete games.

History of EA Games

Electronic Art's first logo
Electronic Arts was founded by Trip Hawkins in 1982. Originally naming his company Amazin' Software, Hawkins wanted to recognize software as an art form and concurrently renamed his company Electronic Arts in October of 1982. Some of EA's first titles released in 1983 included M.U.L.E, Hard Hat Mack, and Worms?. [4] Hawkins also attempted to capitalize on the use of popular sports figures in games. The first game to do this was Doctor J and Larry Bird Go One on One. This also marked the beginning of EA Sports, which would go on to release other popular sports titles such as the long running Madden Football series. Most of EA's game release efforts were focused on personal computers, but in 1989, the Sega Genesis was introduced to America and EA quickly adapted its efforts to console gaming. Some well-known titles for the Genesis were Road Rash and John Madden Football. As EA gained traction in the gaming industry, it's individual game designers and programmers, people that EA deemed artists, struggled to keep up with the market and the company purchased Distinctive Software, its first development studio in 1991. EA saw large success throughout the 90's making many popular titles for the Sony PlayStation, and also releasing some of the company's best selling titles, like numerous games in the Need For Speed series and EA's "Holy Grail", The Sims. [5] Trip Hawkins retired and left his company in 2000, putting Larry Probst in charge. The company has shifted CEOs a number of times since then but still focuses on creating new, high quality games for its audiences.

Online Gaming

One unique feature that EA provides is an online gaming environment. Allowing players to engage competitively with others around the world inhibits a new, unique experience. Although usually a service provided by the console is necessary to play online with other players (such as Xbox Live or Playstation Network), this is a very popular method of gaming [6]Creating new friends within the game play setting is a common way for users to get more out of their game play experience.

The online community can be seen as an Information Communication Technology or an ICT. An information communication technology is anything that can be used to communicate electronically. Luciano Floridi claims, we are in the information age where communication systems are necessity of life. [7]Typically, most think of cellular devices, computer communication like email, or even radio. However, these gaming consoles now have interactive methods of communicating, whether it be chatting over text messages on screen or over recorded voice messages. EA, along with other game designers, often allow online multiplayer gamers to communicate while the game is happening, which allows them to strategise, or even trash talk the other team. Since gamers are paired up all over the world, this is an effective method for news to travel quickly across the globe, through the gaming community.

Online Sports Games

Most sports video games give users the option to play with another person over the internet. These interactions can range form multiplayer games where all the users see are the other persons user name to leagues with chat rooms and in game audio. Players can pair up with their real life friends or play completely random users. Another way players can interact is through chat rooms and video walk throughs. Players can become very wrapped up in these games devoting hours to play 162 game baseball seasons [8]

Ethical Issues

Consumer Opinions and EA Products

In 2013, EA won Consumerist's "Worst Company in America" poll, receiving 78% of the popular vote [9]. EA's games often place unfair and hindering requirements on their games in order to counteract piracy, including requiring constant internet connections for offline games and shipping incomplete games with $60 price tags and requiring additional payments for Downloadable Content additions or microtransactions to get the full game experience [9]. Additionally, EA has widely been criticized for failing to innovate, copying other hit games or releasing franchise sequels with minimal changes (especially with regards to EA sports franchises: Madden, FIFA, etc.) [9]. Consumers feelings toward these practices are often exacerbated by EA's management dodging responsibility through deceptive apologies. For instance, in the face of backlash following SimCity's always-internet-connected requirements, EA COO Peter Moore responded by claiming that this was not a DRM strategy, but was required for the game to work; an excuse that few believed [9]. Now, EA must battle to overcome the public perception of them as an anti-consumer and greedy corporation.


The issue of cheat cheating is prominent with EA Sports games as is the case with most other video games in an online atmosphere. One way of cheating, is tampering with the connection cables which affect the connectivity of other players, causing games to go unfinished at the expense of others.

In FIFA 16, the Ultimate Team game mode is the most popular among online FIFA players. To simulate the transfer markets that happen in most professional sports, "coins" are a form of currency is used in this game, and they are won by users completing tasks within the Ultimate Team game mode and also winning the game in its entirety. These coins are used to buy players. As is in real life, the best players are difficult to obtain as they are expensive. A player, on average, receives 500 coins if they win an online match in Ultimate Team, but the best players can be 1,000,000 coins or more. Games are played in two six-minute halves, which makes it difficult for some player to achieve the 1,000,000 amount.

To counteract this imbalance of play, some users opt to paying for coins in real currency. From an ethical standpoint, some players work diligently and try to achieve the coin value by winning each game, but the players who use real money for more coins purchase it with money instead of playing the games. Users who have ridiculous amounts of coins buy players at a much overvalued price, giving the seller the coins. This is considered a black market trade and is not condoned by EA Sports. If they do find out about players who participate int this trade, EA Sports will punish the players involved.

EA Help: An Attempt to Counteract Cheating

EA's website contains a 'Help' Section with the following categories: Game Information, Missing Content, Codes and Promotions, Report Concerns or Harassment, Technical Support, and Warranty. In their Report Concerns or Harassment section, details are given about how to report harassment in the following games: Battlefield 4, Star Wars Battlefront, Xbox Live games, PS4 games, and Origin. This list, especially the Xbox Live section, and the PS4 online gaming section are helpful, because they cover the most games. There are also many more links to specific articles of how to report others.

EA also offers communication and reports via email. One can fill out a form asking for help by using EA's Contact us page.[10]. The interface is generally easy to follow, making cheating easy to report. EA wants cheating to be reported, and contains many picture tutorials for those who choose to report a problem. This shows EA does not support cheating, and wants its players to report those who are cheating in order to make the game atmosphere a more fair place.

EA is concerned for their player's well being. They don't want cheaters to be outwardly blamed, and choose to have cheating reported by private email only. In this quote on their website, they suggest going through EA to report cheaters, and not outwardly claim someone is cheating in public. This way, the players feel safe using EA's platforms and can enable EA to investigate if a player really is cheating. In one Help section, 'How do I report harassment or cheating behaviour to Battlelog for MOHW and BF3?' They describe their policy. "Please take care to recognize that the Battlelog forums operate under a strict "Do not Name and Shame" policy, so please do not attempt to report questionable players in the forums, and instead use the steps dictated above."[11]

Partnering with WWF

EA Games has formed a partnership with the WWF or World Wildlife Fund to promote awareness about endangered species, climate change and overfishing [12]. EA has designed a game around the popular Star Wars series, allowing users to play as popular characters such as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. This game is administered through Apple's Apps For Earth program [13], where one hundred percent of the proceed go to the World Wildlife Foundation. These apps are sold on the Apple iOS Marketplace, and are available for purchse. Being that these large corporations are not gaining profits off these apps, may incentivize users to purchase these apps, essentially changing their information ethics. If a user of an application is aware that the app is under the Apps for Earth campaign, it may influence them to follow through with in-app purchases that normally they would not execute.

One marketing technique that EA Sports uses to market this campaign is the Join The Ewoks campaign on their website [14]. Ewoks are fictional characters that live in forest, making the connection to the anti deforrestation efforts by the World Wildlife Foundation. Connecting a controversial issue that is present in society today ethically draws more users to the application, ultimately earning more money for the cause. Integrating this issue within the game and marketing campaign was a strategic move that will pay off in the loing run, by bringing about concerns in society. This is a subtle tactic, yet has ethical implications when being looked at.

Explicit Content

In November of 2014, Electronic Arts cancelled the release of Dragon Age: Inquisition in India because of negative feedback they received over a gay character. [15] Many games that EA produces have violence, profanity, and the suggestion or showing of sexual acts and words.

Specifically with online gaming, there is no censorship for how players talk to other players. It can be extremely inappropriate in the way that they interact with each other and can have some negative consequences such has feelings of loneliness or lowered self-esteem. There is no way to successfully monitor age and therefore no way to monitor what is being said and/or if it is age appropriate.

Pay to Win

EA received a huge backlash leading up to their release of Star Wars Battlefront II, which contained pay to win mechanics. EA announced that players would be presented with two options when playing the game and trying to unlock heroes, who give a large advantage in battle. First, they could grind 40 hours of game time for each character that they unlock [16]. This led to the infamous explanation for this absurd time requirement, that EA wanted to “provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes”. This comment, which was on Reddit, is now the most downvoted comment in the history of Reddit. The second option was spending real money on loot crates that could unlock the heroes instantly. This created a bias within the game that directly benefited players with more money who could afford to pay for these microtransactions. Players with money to spend could pay to unlock characters and would subsequently be more powerful than their foes. The outcry against this system was so large that EA was forced to pull the system hours before the release of the game. While the title was released with microtransactions, which take advantage of game and gambling addiction, there were no pay to win mechanics upon release.

NCAA Football

The last installment of NCAA Football, NCAA Football 14, was released in July of 2013. The company announced that this would be the final installment of the series after the NCAA, SEC, Big Ten, and PAC-12 announced that they would no longer license their trademarks to Electronic Arts [17]. Due to NCAA regulations the games do not use the names of NCAA players. Electronic Arts claims that they do not use actually player likenesses and instead create fake players with similar physical attributes, abilities, and hometowns.

In March of 2016 former NCAA Football and Basketball players learned that they will receive compensation form Electronic Arts for the use of their likeness. 24,819 former players will receive between $259 and $2,703. Amounts will be based on the years in the video games (more recent players receiving more) and whether actual photos or avatars are used [18].

The NCAA Football video game released in 2011, and had Mark Ingram on the cover.

FIFA Series

The FIFA video game series by Electronic Arts is developed and released every year. The franchise has been one of the most successful sport video games bringing in millions in revenue with every release. Electronic Arts released its first FIFA game in 1993 called "FIFA International Soccer". The video game has featured the most popular soccer leagues in the world including the Premier League with teams like Barcelona F.C. and Real Madrid F.C. and the Major League Soccer with teams like LA Galaxy and Chicago Fire. "FIFA: Road to World Cup 98" marked the beginning of a new and improved FIFA video game for years to come. This video game released in early November of 1997 featured all FIFA-registered national teams and a licensed soundtrack of popular music artists at the time. In term of technical game advancements, the game featured a refined graphics engines, team and player customization options, and improved artificial intelligence. Interestingly enough, from 2004 to 2011, Wayne Rooney was featured on the cover of every FIFA game released during that time.


In December of 2004, EA Games signed a contract with the National Football League (NFL) for publisher exclusivity for trademarks of the NFL, NCAA, AFL, and NFLPA [19] Essentially, this gave them a monopoly over all football based video games, such as the popular series’ of Madden, NCAA Football, and other popular football games. These games were being produced for Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo consoles, and PC games.

The NFL contract prevented companies such as 2K Sports from producing games centered on professional football. Without the right to trademark and copyright information, it would be impossible to include team names, player names, or affiliations within the electronic sports game. As James Moor states in his “Why We Need Better Ethics for Emerging Technologies,” as technological revolutions increase their social impact, ethical problems increase. Although the gaming industry may not be a life-altering technological revolution, this was indeed a revolution within the gaming industry itself. The rights to sports related trademarks and logos is very important, because a large part of the market of video games sales relies around the sales of sports games.[20] When EA bought the rights to the NFL’s associations, it was a sign to smaller, less competitive game design companies that they wouldn’t have a shot in the football market.

Action Taken

In Pecover vs. Electronic Arts, EA was challenged to their rights of the NFL trademarks for game creation. Other companies like 2K Sports protested by claiming they had the right to create games using these same, popularized NFL teams [21]. The lawsuit ended in EA games, performing a settlement with the prosecutors in the litigation case against them. They we’re required to pay $27 million dollars in a settlement fund, which entitled all those who had bought EA games between 2005 and 2012 a small portion of their money back. [22]. The refunds were given based on which system and games were purchased during these years. Although it was a small portion of the profits EA made for these games, it was a big win for smaller game competitors.


With a large corporation like EA Games unable to monopolize video game markets buy using their monstrous income profits to buy out title rights, this is big ethical win for the video game community. Another aspect of ethics that are being explored are the intentions of FIFA, the associated organization in which EA bases its popular soccer video game series off of. FIFA is the organization oversees the international soccer play, but recently has had allegations of fraud and money laundering. Many believe EA Games should take a different approach to soccer games, reinventing the name and affiliations of the game’s primary identity [23]. However, such a major change in the system could deter current users from the game, because it is altering the traditional format in which they have enjoyed the game for many years previous. Either way, EA Games will be required to make choices that will continue them on their successful journey, but the ethics of information will be cautiously weighted factor.


The Madden Curse

Mainly surrounding EA Sports' game for the National Football League, Madden NFL, the Madden Curse is a superstition fans have developed. According to the curse, the cover star of that year's Madden NFL game will either get injured in the upcoming season or have a statistically poor season. Madden 17 cover star, New England Patriots' cornerback Rob Gronkowski, a standout in the previous season, was quickly injured in the season following his cover debut. While he recovered in the later half of the season, the injury came back to end his season. [24]. Some potential cover stars and their fans have also started campaigns against the Madden cover due to fear of the curse. Madden NFL 18 cover star, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady announced his cover star position in a video where he broke many commob superstitions such as breaking a mirror and walking under a ladder. While losing the Superbowl against the Atlanta Falcons, Brady's career for the 2017 NFL season was still statistically strong. [25].

Previous Games

Electronic Arts current game line up has titles from Action, Shooting, Horror, Sports, Racing, RPG, Simulation, Strategy, Family, Kids, Music, Puzzle.

Upcoming titles


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  10. EA's 'Contact Us' page
  11. "BF3 Rules of Conduct" 11 July 2016.
  12. WWF How you can help
  13. WWF Apple Apps For Earth Program
  14. http://www.ea.com/
  15. Lewis, Jason. "Game release cancelled over gay character" 19 November 2014. Retrieved on 20 April 2016
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  20. Moor, J. In Why We Need Better Emerging Technologies. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
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