Tuesday, August 03, 2010
EA to Nintendo Wii Owners: "Drop Dead"
EA thinks you're a chump.
After months of hype, including the cover of Nintendo Power and an impressive performance at E3, Electonic Arts finally admitted today that their Nintendo Wii "exclusive," NBA Jam, is also about to be released on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 as well. Better yet, the PS360 version will include HD graphics, online multiplayer...and come packaged as a free download with EA's NBA Elite. Surprise, surprise!
So, to recap, Nintendo Wii owners are expected to pay $50 for Jam, while the HD Twins get the same game for free. And this was all being done on the sly, without anyone else knowing about it. No mention at E3, no mention to the press, no nothing. Pity that the news from the ratings boards leaked to the internet. I wouldn't at all be surprised if that tipped EA's hand.
So, once again, Wii gamers get shafted and are made to feel like suckers for buying third-party games. Why am I being charged $50 when the Twins get it for free? Heck, let's be generous and assume NBA Jam will eventually migrate to Xbox Live and PSN. That's still a $15 downloadable game - less than a third the Wii retail price.
I suspect this deception was a very cynical marketing ploy by EA. They could have announced NBA Jam for all three consoles from the start. But I think we know how that scenario would have played out. All the attention would have been on the PS360 versions, from the developers as well as the press, and the Wii would - once again - be stuck with the leftovers. We would have assumed the Wii version was an afterthought, tossed off to the C-level design team, probably some poor losers who lost a bet, and we wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole.
After all, this has been the strategy by the game industry for the last four years. They've never respected the Nintendo Wii, certainly never expected it to become a runaway success. And I think this is part of a very long power struggle between software publishers and Nintendo.
This is particularly galling to me, because it appeared that EA finally began to show some respect. NBA Jam not only filled a very large void in the Wii library - sports games - its classic arcade gameplay fits in perfectly with New Super Mario Bros and Donkey Kong Country, and the 2D revival in general. Jam on Wii was a damned smart move, destined for blockbuster status. That's all lost now.
EA has successfully managed to cannibalize their own video game. Why would any informed gamer buy the Wii version now? EA is literally giving the game away for free to PS360 owners. That shows you how much respect they have for you, Nintendo gamer. And it shows you how much respect they have for NBA Jam. To their eyes, the paying customers are suckers and chumps; the Wii gamers, doubly so.
Frankly, if you pay full price for this game, then EA's right. You are a sucker.
(P.S. 8:35pm -- It appears that PS360 owners may be grumpy about having to purchase NBA Elite '11 in order to get NBA Jam. Wouldn't it be funny if EA ends up offending everyone? Serves them right. They should have been honest from the beginning and announced retail releases of Jam on all three consoles. This too-cute-by-half approach could seriously backfire. Jerks.)