It seems that beating the tobacco companies and those behind environmental negligence to the title of ‘Worst Company in America’ has not been an exercise in humility for Electronic Arts
In a statement to Gamer web site Kontaku, EA said “We’re sure that British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren’t nominated this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide.”
The statement was described as arrogant and dismissive by Paul Tassi, Forbes contributor. I would add short sighted too.
EA are pointing to their worldwide sales achievement to dismiss the vote as inconsequential. However, what they are forgetting in their hubris is that sales is the classic ‘lagging’ indicator. Sales are recorded monthly and publicly announced quarterly and annually in most businesses. Sentiment, on the other hand, is a leading indicator. A dip in employee engagement means that customers are about to become unhappy. A dip in customer sentiment means that your sales are about to be hit. Robert Kaplan and David Norton introduced the business world to this cause-and-effect chain decades ago. Customers drive revenues, your business produces value that your customers love or hate, your staff drive the business, your investment in your staff motivates or demotivates them. Simple but a point that the EA spokesman appears to be missing.
Now I don’t know the extent to which gamers are about to extract their ire but I do know when a company has spoken too soon. And EA have. EA should reflect on the feedback. Their customers are telling them that they don’t feel respected, that their culture is corporate over creativity, that they are emptying wallets but giving only the bare minimum back.
In the light of that sentiment, they should really not be sitting on laurels made of last quarter’s or last year’s sales. They are gone. Sentiment like this can gather momentum, capture the imagination of a well connected community and have far reaching consequences down the line. EA should have thought before they spoke. The impact of the ignominy behind this award is yet to be felt.