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Electronic Arts
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 15, 2004   |   Episode 22 (Show Archive)  

   
And then there was Electronic Arts. Love them or hate them, EA is easily the largest and most influential third-party publisher in the world. Their annual sports line-up brings in enough money to support a small country, and it doesn't appear to be slowing down and stopping any time soon. Throughout their nearly two dozen years of life, Electronic Arts has managed to pick up a number of the most influential game developers, as well as snag individual programmers that would go on to make some of the best loved games. EA is a powerhouse unlike anybody else, which leads to some extreme feelings about them on both sides.

But we're not here to fight it out over who is right in this argument, that's something you can do on your own time. For this review we are going to do our best to ignore that Electronic Arts just landed one of the few game coups of the 21st century by signing an exclusive contract with the NFL. We're going to ignore the strong feelings that come with being the largest third party publisher out there and merely focus on the website. If we can . that is.


Carmen Electra seems to end up in all the video games, undressing must not be paying the bills!
Look and Design: Because EA has so many divisions, the Electronic Arts website is divided into four main areas; EA Sports, EA Big, EA Games, and EA Pogo (which features all kinds of mini games and downloads). Although these four sections are all spawned from the same website, they could not look any more different if they tried. For what it's worth, the sports page looks like what you'd expect from a sports section on Yahoo, CNN, or ESPN's own website. The main EA Games page, on the other hand, has a much more epic look, no doubt there to get you to feel the excitement over their recent games like Lord of the Rings, Medal of Honor, and Def Jam Fight for NY.

And then there's the EA Big site which looks like a newspaper, but not necessarily the sports section. It has a giant rotating banner and all kinds of useful links and guides right on the front page. All of the sites are well put together, and have a design that most of the other sites we've looked at would die to have. The pages are easy to load and the colors never get in the way or hurt your eyes. There are some flashy techniques used around the site, but overall it's on the conservative side.

Accessibility: There are problems inherent to any website that tries to split themselves into four completely different pages, and Electronic Arts runs head first into many of them. It's often difficult to find the game you're looking for, since you need to make sure you're always on the right website. Since two of the areas are sports finding an action game isn't too hard to find, but what is Def Jam Vendetta? Or what about Need for Speed Underground 2? These games are not immediately pigeonholed into one of the four categories.

When you're actually on the right page they are a breeze to navigate. The lack of a consistent style can be a little trying at first, but once you get used to the various layouts they are pretty interesting and a lot of fun. The pages aren't just useful for finding information about the games, but it also helps you get online with your PS2 and Xbox and has all kinds of other extras to keep you coming back. And hey, it has a Catwoman guide right on the main page . how can you beat that??


Here's Catwoman before she hunts a leather-clad mouse!
Insider Information: You can do a lot of crazy things on the Electronic Arts website, including free online games, cool downloads, crazy card games, and free prizes you probably don't want. But one thing you won't find on the site is a news section. Don't go looking for all the announcements, delays, endorsements, reviews, and patch info on this site, because it's just not here. You can find news about the various games in the game pages, but there's no one stop area like we find on other sites. This is actually a bad idea, and Defunct Games has no choice but to dock points away from the site.

Parting Thoughts: I don't think anybody would argue that selling games on your website is a good idea, but whose bright idea was it to never lower the prices? But you know, somehow I doubt that is the reason people hate Electronic Arts so much. Just about everybody I know has strong feelings one way or another about them, yet a lot of it seems misguided and jealous. I'm certainly not here to defend Electronic Arts, but no matter who you are, if you're at the top people are going to go after you until you bleed. The more successful you are, the more they are going to hate you, and really, there's nothing they can do about it. You have the power to not buy their games, but then if you do that you would have missed out on Burnout 3: Takedown, easily one of the best games of the year.

FINAL GRADE: B+

(Important Note: This review was written in 2004. As is the case with websites things tend to change and get moved around. We've decided to cover major companies who should have a presence on the web for many years to come, but the actual reviews of the layout may not be relevant for more than a month to a year. Having said that, we're hoping this article was still interesting, and if not, at least you go this extra little paragraph of explanation that you wouldn't normally get on the other websites.)
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