Project for GDMA 4100 - Corporate Communications Design 2
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
EA (Electronic Arts Inc.) has been under a lot of scrutiny the past few years - from consumers publicly voicing their distaste to being voted the “Worst Company in America” in 2012 and 2013 by The Consumerist. Much of EA’s troubles come from their horrible public relations management - often saying one thing, having consumers respond negatively, then backtracking on what was said. In the end, this has resulted in an outraged public. Furthermore, this mismanagement has caused them to lose millions of dollars. From the years 2008 to 2011, EA posted a combined net loss of $2.42 billion USD. It’s only in the past two years that EA has begun to bring in a net income - largely due to a few games, such as FIFA 2013 and SimCity. The latter turned out to be a PR and systematic disaster, and will likely stop bringing in much profit.
This project is directed at refreshing and repositioning EA for the future. EA no longer communicates a clear message to it’s target market, and appears to be more focused on how to pinch every penny than providing quality service for their customers. EA must refocus and get back to being an honest company that takes responsibility for their actions, and one that goes above expectation in order to meet customers needs.
EA must be “re-launched” as a clear-headed, fresh company - one that is trying to distance itself from what was voted “The Worst Company in America”. It is essential to the company’s success to maintain and build relationships with customers that help bring positive press to EA, not negative.
EA Games current business model revolves around putting micro transactions into every single game, often making the consumers feel as if they’re not getting the full game experience without paying extra. EA seems to design their games in such a way that you will reach a point that will be near impossible to get through without using micro-transactions. Many times, they are poorly thought out and upset the balance of the game, especially in an online setting. With the ability to purchase items, levels, etc - people are quite literally playing to win, which ruins the enjoyment of those who pay for a game up front but don’t want to pay any more after.
EA is enforcing this by instructing their studios to have multi-player elements in every game - whether it was designed to or not. This causes all games to act as a vessel for micro-transactions. Furthermore, they are no longer shipping single-player games, and these must be bought via one of their other services, such as Origin, which requires the user to be connected to the internet at all times. This required internet connection / code linked to a game makes it hard for users to re-sell video games as they are linked to your console or account.
EA also has games on a 1-2 year cycle as they are trying to replicate the success that was beneficial with games like Madden and FIFA.
One area that has been quite successful for EA has been the mobile gaming market. EA uses a “freemium” payment model, where users can acquire the base game for free, and pay for extra content within the game.
New Business Model:
In theory, micro-transactions can be a very beneficial, positive thing for a video game company. It’s about how these micro-transactions are presented, and how they influence the world in which they exist. If EA Games were to offer micro-transactions in an unobtrusive way (IE: vanity items such as character skins, things that would normally be in the game anyway, etc), they would be much better received. If players were able to unlock what you can buy with micro transactions in a reasonable time limit, there would be no problems and this would turn a healthy profit. This model works especially well for “freemium” games, but the principle can also be applied to purchased games. Gamers will purchase if they want to, not if they’re forced to.
On another note, EA offers no incentive for customers to continue playing and buying their games. Companies such as Steam try and give back to their consumers by offering huge weekly sales on games, having the ability to access your game data anywhere once you have purchased it, and having achievements for playing the game. If EA wants to mend relationships with customers, they need to think about them. A rewards program which gives users incentive to play the game would be great for EA - implementing achievements which result in a tangible reward would make consumers feel a lot better, and give them incentive to spend more time within the game world.
A digital-only future makes a lot of sense for games, but many people are against the idea that you must be connected to the internet to play a game. Games that are meant to be played in a single player way should still be able to do so, with extra features (IE: achievements) accessible with an internet connection.
EA also has to look at their release cycle, and realize that 1-2 years works for certain games - such as sports franchises, but not for others, like story-driven RPGs. If a game takes longer to make due to refining game play elements or the story, this should be looked at as an investment, not a waste of time. The benefit of creating a game that is well received by the public is much more worthwhile than creating a game that has short-term sales success.
In terms of the visual identity, I felt that the current EA logo had lost the strength it once held. Much of this was due to the fact that there were so many different iterations of the logo (as seen in the before section) that the brand became diluted and inconsistent. The logo would appear in different places, with different stylings, and at a first glance, one may not even recognize it.
My goal with the new logo was to keep enough of the current logo’s DNA while bringing it up to date and making it feel more friendly, open, and playful. As a big part of EA’s revenue is now coming from the mobile realm (Plants Vs. Zombies, The Simpsons: Tapped Out, Real Racing, etc), making the logo feel more “accessible” was important as many of those who will see it will be of a younger generation. Furthermore, the goal was to streamline the logo and have it appear across all mediums - no matter what type of game it is presented on. As EA is a publisher, I wanted to let the games speak for themselves and EA be almost secondary, much like a book publisher would do. With the relaunch, it was important to develop a new logo that held enough of the current logo's brand equity while washing out any bad taste that may be associated with it.
EA Rewards Program
With the reluanch, a rewards program will be rolled out with every future game. This is an easy way to give back to customers who support the brand. Whenever you buy a product or video game by EA, you’ll have the opportunity to use the provided input code to add to your account. For every product you purchase, you’ll earn points that can be contributed towards amazing rewards. Another great way to earn points that go towards amazing rewards is by playing our games. We want you to get the full experience, and the more achievements that you complete while playing, the more points you’ll earn for rewards. Once you have earned enough points through purchasing and play, you’ll have the opportunity to redeem them for some amazing prizes. This means you can get free products, games, exclusive content, and much more!
Re-Launch Ad Campaign
Alongside the rest of the deliverables, an ad campaign will also be launched. This campaign is focused around nostalgia, throwing back to when EA made games that people really loved. This is throwing back to a simlpler time, where it wasn't always about how good the graphics were or how next-gen it is - it was simply about providing an amazing gaming experience. Games from various timeframes were chosen to broaden the campaign's reach, and not a lot has to be said when the target market see's the life-sized pixelated images.