EA and 2K Struggling to Meet Consumer Post-Release Expectations

Posted November 14th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

A reasonable expectation now from yearly sports titles is to get strong post-release support in the way of additional content and patches to address issues or improve the experience. Unfortunately both EA Sports and 2K Sports have been failing in some regard with their recent releases and their communication has been severely lacking. 

EA Sports assured consumers that Madden NFL 13 would have better post-release support. They were called to task for the weak support of Madden 12, which followed Madden 11’s surprising five patches making it all that more disappointing, and for the most part they have responded well. To the surprise of some they even added in passionately requested features like player editing and Fantasy Drafts in Connected Careers. There has also been the ultra-reliable extensive weekly roster updates and constantly flowing new items within Ultimate Team.

Still there is much that people are looking for out of a fourth patch for Madden NFL 13 – which has not been confirmed but almost certainly will be coming in the next few weeks. That one is necessary in order to fulfill the idea of truly improved support.  Player editing, added in a patch, had to be partially removed due to a body size bug. For some reason even the highly publicized gaffe of having the Bears wear orange pants on the road has not been corrected.

“We will have every uniform available in NCAA 13 this year. The cool thing is, is that we’ve been working with Nike and Adidas for almost a year to make sure that everything is correct and perfect for all of you jersey fanatics. And, what is really cool is that we know about all of the alternate uniforms that have been approved before that schools’ student body has any clue. It is quite exciting, and all of those will be in the game as well. So, yeah, we’re pretty stoked about the options and I know the fans will be too.” Ben Haumiller – Gamepro Interview

NCAA Football 13’s promise of uniform updates have not been completely fulfilled. While EA did deliver many of the default unis for free a ton of other jerseys introduced this season remain absent. Presumably EA made an agreement with Adidas but not Nike, Russell, Under Armour, or Reebok to add them in as the season goes. When it comes to patches there have been three that addressed issues but none have had anything to really get excited about as opposed to Madden. That seems pretty par for the course with the two products this year. The Roster Share feature was even down for over a week and EA either paid no attention to that being the case or simply didn’t care to fix it immediately.

NBA 2K13 has disappointed greatly with roster updates. 25 players are still completely missing from the rosters. Injured players have not been designated as such. Only three players have had their ratings change at all so far. As far as the company is concerned they’ve shown no desire to improve in that area and no care that consumers are frustrated by their inaction. On the plus side the art updates which have resulted in court changes have been handled really well.

A patch, desperately needed for issues like the second half of a season auto-simming, has not yet arrived and the original target is said to be late November. There’s even the issue where many users have been switched from “VC” to offline “SP” which can not be converted back resulting in the need to restart modes completely and no website for Online Association or other use like uploaded media. The time frame puts it well behind the pace of 2K12 which got it’s first patch on November 3 last year. Multiple patches for Madden, FIFA, and NCAA Football were out within that same span of time following their respective releases but the wait for a single one from 2K continues.

Xbox SmartGlass functionality which had been planned for Madden 13, FIFA 13, and NBA 2K13 has not emerged and the no comments from the companies implies that may not be coming this year. That is unfortunate as it could prove really useful and take some of the appealing features implemented with the Wii U for use on the 360. Maybe that is why they’ve chosen to bypass it though. Their first goal may be trying to sell the Wii U versions of the games and without unique features that would be more difficult.

Both EA Sports and 2K Sports could be said to be meeting their obligations but neither one is doing so in a shining manner. Where post-release support is reflected in sales occurs primarily down the line with future iterations more than it does immediately – though word of mouth can have some immediate effect once the first couple months have passed it becomes negligible. It’s absolutely justified for consumers to demand more out of these games than they are getting so far this year and time is running out to provide that.