An interesting war of words has broken out between publisher EA and gaming site VideoGamer. It started with the rumours that Dead Space 4, as yet unannounced, had been canned – that rumour started out on Tuesday and was swiftly followed up by a Tweet from Gamasutra that suggested all was well with everything.
“Rumors about poor Dead Space 3 sales and an unannounced Dead Space 4 being cancelled are ‘patently false,’ EA tells us,” says the micro-blog. “Spread the word!” It’s an odd state of affairs when an industry site breaks the news on an official level, but that’s what happened.
But first, that rumour.
It seems, from what we can gather from VideoGamer’s official stance, that the information about the cancellation (which the site claimed was down to poor sales) was from “a trusted source” – someone that had “background and statements” that were enough for the site to “trust their claims.”
That’s not unusual in the industry, but it’s probably best to always get at least two sources for stories as potentially big as this.
Regardless, it appears that VG contacted EA’s UK PR department on Monday, and were asked if they would wait until the Tuesday so EA could get “more time to get a response from its US team”. This they did, and then the site claims that the only response on the Tuesday was that EA didn’t want to comment on the story, as per their usual policy.
EA said the same thing when we checked with them.
From here on in it gets more intriguing. The “patently false” quote from Gamasutra? VG say that EA’s US press office issued no such statement. It transpires that it was EA’s Corporate Communications department that issued that statement.
Four hours later, there was an official line from the US that read: “These rumours are patently false. While we have not released sales data for Dead Space 3, we are proud of the game and it continues to be an important IP to EA. Appreciate your help bringing down this baseless rumour.”
We got a similar response yesterday when we asked EA again on the matter.
The curious thing is that Peter Moore, EA’s CEO, took to GamesIndustry to make public comments about the story and the site.
“Standard, shoddy website journalism recipe, born out of a desperate need to increase click-thru rates to support advertising revenue,” he said. “Fabricate a story using an ‘unnamed source’, post it first thing in the morning, add the letters” EA” to the story (oh, and link it to micro-transactions – always a fan favourite) and then stand back and enjoy the vitriol which you turn into revenue.”
“Rinse and repeat…”
He comments again: “…in answer to the question above, my comments were fairly and squarely aimed at Videogamer. My issue is not the rejection of community feedback (we get that in bucketloads all day long and we learn from it in real time), rather it was the fabrication of a story in order to generate controversy and ultimately readership.”
He seems adamant that the story is fabricated.
Regardless of whether it is or it isn’t, and whilst the story has obviously got everyone worked up, are these the sort of comments we’d expect from a CEO of one of the world’s biggest video game publishers? The timing is obviously cruel – EA are just in the middle of promoting DLC for Dead Space 3 – but surely there are readily available facts that will establish who’s right, here?
For example, VideoGamer’s claims that the sales were poor? They’d easily be verified via sales data. EA have publicly stated that Dead Space 3 needs to shift 5 million copies to make continued investment worthwhile – we’ll know soon enough whether they’ve managed it.
And whether or not there’s a Dead Space 4? Well, obviously if there is (and it’s not cancelled) EA aren’t likely to want to talk about it yet – it’s almost certainly next gen and with the third game at the forefront of their current marketing the “no comments” make sense.
But this seems like it’s gone out of control a little.
The posts from Peter Moore are hard to ignore, and websites run “rumour” posts all the time. This is the first instance of something really blowing up, though, and it’s telling that it’s with EA, a company seemingly constantly on the backfoot with regards to a fair chunk of public perception, especially with regards to Dead Space 3.
It’ll be interesting to see how this all turns out.