Well that escalated rather quickly. Electronic Arts' Chief Operating Officer, Peter Moore has accused VideoGamer.com of fabricating the story about the publisher cancelling the Dead Space
franchise due to disappointing sales. The popular games website isn't taking the allegations lying done, stating that they made EA aware of the story in advance of publishing it and that EA chose a standard 'doesn't respond to rumours' response.
Moore's accusation came as a comment left on a GamesIndustry.biz
report about the supposed cancellation.
Moore said: "Standard, shoddy website journalism recipe, born out of a desperate need to increase click-thru rates to support advertising revenue,"
he wrote. "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..."
Which he followed up with, "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."
VideoGamer has since denied the allegations and responded with a statement on their website
detailing the process of how the story came about and how EA initially refused to comment on it and then later accused them of fabrication.
VideoGamer has maintained that the story came to them from "a trusted source: an individual whose identity we agreed to protect, but whose background and statements gave us valid reason to trust their claims."
Once they had the lead on the story they made contact with EA's UK office, which asked them to hold onto the story until they could confer with the US office and formulate an official response, which VideoGamer reluctantly agreed to do.
When EA eventually came back with a "does not comment on rumour and speculation", the website took the decision to publish the story. Not long after Gamasutra
claimed to have received a statement from EA calling the VideoGamer story "patently false."
The VideoGamer statement then gives a detailed timeline of correspondence they had with EA UK, trying to ascertain why they received a 'doesn't comment rumours response', while other media outlets were given the "patently false"
response. After much backing and forthing, EA UK confirmed that the companies Corporate Communications team and not its US Public Relations team had spoken to Gamasutra.
VideoGamer ended their statement denying any wrongdoing on their part and questioning why EA would have one response when first presented with the story and then change it after it was published. "VideoGamer.com would never publish information from a source whose identity could not be verified, or that we do not believe to be accurate. We carried out internal checks to verify the validity of the comments made by our source - and while we have a duty of care to protect their identity - we stand by the comments made in the original story. We would also like to reiterate that we ran the story in good faith, taking the necessary steps with both EA and our source to ensure that the story was as accurate, fair, and well-represented as possible.
We find it perplexing as to why EA changed its stance on its decision not to comment on rumours and speculation, especially given the opportunities that the publisher had to clarify the situation before and after VideoGamer.com published the story. We firmly deny any accusations of fabrication on our part."
Given VideoGamer's detailed account of the events, it seems clear that they have a clear paper trail for their version of events, though ultimate veracity of their original story cannot be confirmed at this time. It would seem that what happened was a case of EA's right hand not knowing what it's left hand was doing, a rare, though not uncommon problem with companies that have a global presence.
While it's clear that there is still more information to come about this storm in a teacup, it would seem the blame for the whole debacle should rest with EA and their failure to put out a unified corporate response .
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