author: Michael Kulakowski
EA Apologizes for Removing Older Games From GOG
Following protests from gamers over the pulling of classic Electronic Arts hits such as Ultima Underworld 1 2, Syndicate Plus and Syndicate Wars from sale, the publisher has apologized for the situation and promised to change its policy on old titles.
In June, GOG.com warned that several classic titles from Electronic Arts - Ultima Underworld 1+2, Syndicate Plus and Syndicate Wars - would disappear from the store's offer at the end of the month. At the time, the website's crew confirmed that their removal was the result of "publisher's request". However, we did not learn what specific rationale drove EA to this decision. The situation aroused considerable protests, which forced the American company to respond. In early August, the company announced that the games are back on sale, and as part of the promotion lasting until September 3, all interested players can add them to their library on GOG for free. After a few weeks, one of EA's representatives finally officially referred to the whole matter.
In an interview with gamesindustry.biz, Chris Bruzzo, one of EA's heads of marketing, stated that the removal of the games was the result of a "bug" in the publisher's digital title management system. It was supposed to have already been fixed so that a similar situation would not happen again in the future. Bruzzo apologised, and admitted that his company had failed to take consumers' perspectives and needs into account when building the policy on classics.. However, the publisher certainly would not have changed it so quickly, if not for the loud and strong reaction of players. According to EA's representative:
"From the level of interest players showed in delisting these games, it was clear that people still wanted them to be available, so we did two things. The first was to ensure that going forward we have a process in place that considers the player perspective in listing decisions. The second was to relist the titles and make them available to as many people as possible with a month-long promotion."
Removal of Ultima and Syndicate was probably the result of cold economic calculation. As we know, the rights to old games are often a very complicated matter, as the studios that developed them usually no longer exist. However, contracts signed by developers with publishers do not expire so easily, and it is possible that EA still has to pay royalties to entities and individuals, such as music composers, who worked on these titles. By putting games up for sale the company usually loses more than it gains. Although these are usually very small sums, from the point of view of investors who do not care about legal access to classics, even such losses are unacceptable negligence.
- GOG.com - official homepage
- Electronic Arts - official homepage