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Plugged In

Electronic Arts named the worst company in America – again

Plugged In

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EA COO Peter Moore (Credit: Getty Images)

For the second year in a row, readers of the consumer-watchdog website The Consumerist have named Electronic Arts "the worst company in America," vilifying the video game publisher more than Bank of America, Comcast and Ticketmaster (which took second, third and fourth places, respectively).

The results of the poll are hardly surprising -- even EA predicted it would repeat the dubious honor -- but they were certainly conclusive.

EA faced stiff competition en route to the championship round, besting fellow disliked companies Anheuser-Busch, Facebook and AT&T before squaring off against Bank of America in the final round of voting. BofA proved no match, however, as EA captured a decisive 78 percent of the vote to take home the not-so-coveted "Golden Poo" award. It’s the second straight "win" for EA and the second straight runner-up nod for Bank of America.

EA was cited for its love of microtransactions, the price of its games and its irritating DRM practices, among other issues. But the disastrous SimCity launch was a particular sore point.

"EA made a royal mess of the SimCity release by failing to foresee that the people who would buy the game -- and who would, per the game’s design, be required to connect to the EA servers -- might actually want to play at some point in the week after making their purchase," wrote the site. "But that’s just the latest in EA’s long history of annoying its customer base with bad support. Customers who paid full price for games, or who spent or saved huge piles of in-game cash in EA’s online products, would suddenly find a problem with their accounts, but attempts to rectify the problem -- or even get a response from EA -- would go unheeded."

EA chief operating officer Peter Moore, in an open letter to gamers last week, admitted the company could do better, but said the label of "worst company" was undeserved.

"Are we really the 'Worst Company in America?'" he asked. "I'll be the first to admit that we’ve made plenty of mistakes. These include server shut downs too early, games that didn’t meet expectations, missteps on new pricing models and most recently, severely fumbling the launch of SimCity. We owe gamers better performance than this. … But I am damn proud of this company, the people around the globe who work at EA, the games we create and the people that play them."

Editors at The Consumerist seemed to take umbrage at Moore's pre-emptive defense of the company, deconstructing it as they announced the final round. The Consumerist also shrugged off Moore's criticism of EA being compared to companies that have polluted the planet and evicted people from their homes.

"Make no mistake: Video games are big business," the site said. "A company like EA -- and Activision, Ubisoft, Nintendo, and Sony, etc. -- merits just as much scrutiny as any other business that plays a leading role in a multibillion-dollar industry. It’s only a fractured, antiquated public perception that video games are somehow frivolous holdovers from childhood that allows gamers to be abused and taken advantage of by the very people who supply them the games they play."

Though no company wants to win this kind of award, EA in particular doesn't need more bad news. EA is already dealing with a much more significant issue thanks to the resignation of CEO John Riccitiello last month, not to mention continued fallout from the SimCity debacle. However, investors were undeterred when the company won last year, as the stock price was unaffected, and it didn't hurt game sales demonstrably -- though apparently EA is doing a perfectly fine job hurting itself.

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