If you were on Twitter in the past week, you may have seen an incredibly tone deaf tweet from Electronic Arts’ Twitter account riffing on a meme to dunk on people who play single-player games. You know, like Mass Effect, Dead Space, or Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, which are developed by teams under the publisher’s umbrella. Well, as you’d expect, workers within the publisher’s development teams weren’t happy with it either, to the point where a follow-up tweet was posted that stopped short of apologizing, but made it clear the account was backtracking on the whole thing.
They’re a 10 but they only like playing single-player games
— Electronic Arts (@EA) June 30, 2022
But according to USA Today the tweet had enough internal and external backlash it prompted an “all hands on deck” planning session for social media managers to reach the follow-up tweet that was eventually published. At one point USA Today’s report says there were talks of having internal studio accounts reply to the original tweet and roast it, but as some employees pointed out, seeing accounts like BioWare and Respawn dunking on their parent company would feed into negative narratives surrounding EA, such as being named the Worst Company in America in 2013 by The Consumerist.
After there was resistance to the original plan, multiple managers opted out, according to USA Today’s sources, and eventually the not-apology followed. As it turns out, the original tweet didn’t come internally from EA. USA Today’s sources told the outlet the EA account isn’t managed by EA’s internal social teams, and the tweet came from an external team not managed by the company directly. One of the sources pointed out the person who posted tweet is likely unfamiliar with EA’s own history regarding single-player games, which has been…complicated, to say the least.
— Vince Zampella (@VinceZampella) July 1, 2022
As one of the biggest publishers in the industry, EA and its studios have put out plenty of single-player games in its 40-year history. But as years have gone on, its relationship with them has shifted, to the point where EA Games’ then-label president Frank Gibeau said single-player games were “finished” back in 2010, less than a year after the EA-published Mass Effect 2 launched that January and went on to win several Game of the Year awards.
In the years that followed, even series that were once entirely single-player started implementing online and social elements. BioWare’s Mass Effect 3 and Andromeda included cooperative play and even Dragon Age: Inquisition ended up with a multiplayer element. Dead Space, a survival horror series that reveled in isolation, had a multiplayer modes in both its sequels. Mirror’s Edge launched in 2008 with only a single-player campaign, but when there was a soft reboot of the series in Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, it included live elements and asynchronous multiplayer to compete with friends.
But in the years since, the company’s tune has started to slowly change. At least, according to reports coming out of EA from places like Bloomberg, which said BioWare was removing a multiplayer element from the upcoming Dragon Age: Dreadwolf after the success of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and the cancelation of Anthem’s overhaul. Which is still annoying, to me, not because I want Dragon Age multiplayer, but because it’s as if EA is unwilling to look out the window and see other companies like Sony and Nintendo doing well with single-player games, and is unwilling to look beyond its own successes and failures as a barometer for the market. That being said, the company did greenlight the internally developed Mass Effect: Legendary Edition remasters, which included three single-player RPGs without Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer.
Thinking about working until midnight for the better part of a year to help ship Mass Effect 2. https://t.co/POtZrFX0Fi
— Patrick Weekes (@PatrickWeekes) July 1, 2022
It’s got to be frustrating for people who are working on these projects, and several even posted about their dissatisfaction publicly. Because those people are doing work that would, ostensibly, help change the narrative around the company as a single-player opposed corporation and bring attention to the single-player-centric projects happening there. But then, a public-facing account, one that none of them were involved with, throws them under the bus and reinforces the narrative they’ve had to fight against. The tweet may have come from external sources, but EA’s own history made it believable, and I can’t help but feel sympathy for those who felt their work dismissed when they saw it.