A few years ago, readers of the Consumerist website voted EA the worst company in America for two years running. That it beat the likes of Halliburton, Bank Of America and ExxonMobil was, admittedly, more to do with the ability of large Internet communities to mobilise than the company’s wrongdoings. Yes, it had botched Mass Effect’s ending, but it hadn’t committed mortgage fraud or caused the biggest oil spill of all time.
But EA took the hint, and promised to do better. And to its credit, it has changed, though change is relative. The company seems to have decided the most effective way to change your image is to do something other people do, but which you don’t. And so we have Unravel (p108), a quirkily charming, sidescrolling, physics-driven puzzle-platformer made by a small studio in Sweden. Unique? Not exactly, no. But it is to EA, which, of course, is precisely the point.
Ubisoft is at it too, though rather than snap up projects from elsewhere it has chosen to use its increasingly wellworn brand names in different ways. Not too different, of course. Far Cry Primal (p102) moves from the present day to prehistory and replaces a camera’s zoom lens with a tactical owl. And Assassin’s Creed Chronicles (p110) remixes a 3D action adventure into a 2D stealth game that owes a debt to Mark Of The Ninja and Prince Of Persia.
Hardly heart-stopping stuff, but EA and Ubisoft are trying – and at least they’ve done their research. With Street Fighter
V (p98) Capcom has supposedly built a live game, one to be updated with extra things to do in the months and years after release. Sadly, no one at Capcom has realised you’re meant to do that with new content, rather than stuff you’ve yanked out of the launch-day package. Luckily, Consumerist doesn’t poll readers on the worst company in Japan.