Things has really escalated for Electronic Arts these past two months to the point where it almost borderlines on egomaniacal behavior. The company was recently voted as the "Worst Company In America" by the Consumerist including hundreds of thousands of votes gathered from across the web. The result instigated a fiery debate across websites about the veracity of the poll where-as gamers clamored and cheered that the public at large would finally get an idea of why EA is so reviled as a publisher, despite publishing some really great games.
Well, conveniently, just as the heat around EA's "Worst in America" was picking up things quickly diverted to another case involving EA and it had to deal with a supposed protest involving anti-gay communities trying to get EA to rid their games of same-sex relationships. Then another group came into the spotlight, a pro-gay website, Allout.org, trying to petition EA to stay the course and continue providing attention in their games with same-sex content. And then...Allout.org got spammed with a bunch of votes by spam-botters.
The whole thing sounds ridiculous and is quickly fading into obscurity, however, Forbes' Erik Kain has been vigilant in trying to get to the bottom of this convoluted PR mess.
According to the Forbes' article the Allout.org group had no contact with EA and is completely uninvolved with the video game publishing giant. Their petition for EA to stay away from the "Dark Side" has been temporarily halted, though. What's more is that Kain maintains the stance that there is no proof indicating that the whole thing was organized by EA to derail the bad PR from a number of issues happening right now in the industry.
While Kain may lend his view to skepticism of EA's orchestration in the whole matter, I don't think it's too far-fetched to link two and two together.
EA previously pulled a PR stunt by hiring (fake?) Christians to protest Dante's Inferno just to kick up a marketing storm to promote the game during the 2009 E3 event. Recently, it was revealed that even their charitable deeds aren't done entirely for the sake of giving, when they used Child's Play to promote Battlefield Heroes DLC without their permission or knowledge. Child's Play had to clarify the event after they were dragged into a nasty public debate regarding their policies.
A lot of gamers are questioning if Electronic Arts may have used the Allout.org and anti-gay protests to derail a lot of the attention garnered from the Mass Effect 3 ending and the Worst Company in America win. However, since this is EA we're talking about, they've covered their tracks well and in the same way that no one can actually prove that "From Ashes" was purposefully stripped from Mass Effect 3 I tend to doubt anyone will be able to prove that EA had a hand in the PR mess involving the gay protests.
However, for skeptics, just be sure to check out how much money EA actually spends on marketing and it may not sound like such a conspiracy theory in the end.
Image courtesy of Kotaku