Each year, The Consumerist polls its readers with a simple question: “What’s the worst company in America?” and narrows down its “winner” through an NCAA tournament-style bracket.
This year, it came down to Bank of America and video game-maker Electronic Arts. It was no contest: EA took 78 per cent of the vote to be named the worst, for an unprecedented second time in a row.
EA angered customers this year by requiring that gamers be connected to the Internet to play SimCity 5. The company tried to make the argument that it was about user experience and giving people the ability to connect cities, but customers didn’t buy it. The move was seen as being all about preventing piracy. And because EA underestimated SimCity’s popularity, server outages made it difficult to play after its release. (Check out Viking’s punter Chris Kluwe’s review of the game for insight on why fans felt frustrated.)
The timing, and EA’s refusal to consider a change, shows poor judgment. It’s part of a larger trend where the company has focused on profit over the user experience, The Consumerist’s Chris Moran argues. Despite feedback from customers that in-game purchases were getting too intrusive, that games felt unfinished and rushed, and the outrage over SimCity, the company has kept the same strategies.
That customer dissatisfaction shows in the company’s finances. The company’s CEO John Ricciteilo resigned in March after pre-announcing bad results for the fourth quarter.
Usually, utilities, cable companies, and airlines come at the bottom of customer satisfaction ratings because the interactions people remember are paying bills, delayed flights, or dealing with outages.
EA’s a company that is supposed to entertain people. The fact that it’s won this poll twice in a row shows how much it needs to alter its priorities.