We Shouldn’t Have Cared About EA’s Single-Player Tweet As Much As We Did

Brands should simply never tweet. Companies are desperate to go viral and to be thought of as our friends, and it almost never works out. Fall Guys had the world (or at least Twitter, which feels like the whole world) in their hands for a time last year, but quickly faded into obscurity. Wendy’s is able to consistently earn itself good press through spicy tweets, but for the most part, when brands try to tweet relatable things, the chances that anyone will be impressed is extremely low, while the likelihood of being dunked on hard is extremely high. Last week, EA learned this lesson the hard way, but it’s pretty embarrassing how much we all cared about the aftermath.

EA’s tweet was an attempt to get in on the ‘she’s a ten, but…’ meme, which by the fast-moving pace of internet language, was already a little outdated. The tweet in full was ‘They’re a 10 but they only like playing single-player games’, which many immediately read as an attack on single-player as a concept. While EA makes both single-player and multiplayer games, there is a general sense in the industry that EA as a company despises single-player experiences. They are one-and-done affairs rather than year-long money pits for players, and are much harder to shove microtransactions and battle passes into, so EA hates them. This was sheer contempt for its customers, it was a mask-off moment, it was the social media coordinator in complete agreement with the unspoken ideals held by the shareholders, and it should sicken us to our very cores. Except it wasn’t, and everybody just misunderstood the joke.

The reason your partner playing single-player games makes them less than a ten is because they can’t play with you. If you want to game together, and your partner only plays stuff like Jedi: Fallen Order, that’s less fun than if you both play FIFA, isn’t it? It’s just a very harmless, very tame joke, and while EA’s position of unpopularity means the company is never going to be given the benefit of the doubt, the reaction to this tweet has been extremely strange. I can feel myself turning into the sort of conservative reactionary who makes three hour long videos over the fact a healthcare robot acknowledged that menstruation is a thing, but why were we all so offended by a joke? This isn't just a defence of a brand. EA is a company with a shady, money-grubbing past, and there are lots of reasons to be angry with it. A tweet from some social media staffers who have no say over the cost of FUT packs is not a good reason.

I can just about abide EA’s single-player devs getting annoyed by this, assuming their misinterpretation of the joke was accidental and not wilful. Although with the amount of people who seemingly didn’t get it, I have to assume some people missed the point on purpose. In any case, if I had crunched for month on a single-player title for EA – and, as happened with the likes of Dragon Age Inquisition, also been forced to shove in a pointless multiplayer mode – I would be annoyed that the company behind it all was looking for cheap laughs on Twitter at my expense. I might feel a little embarrassed later on when I figured out I’d got the punchline wrong, but at the time… yeah. I understand devs who were pissed off.

The rest of us? Not so much. And I’m less willing to be charitable with the whole ‘well, a lot of people didn’t get it’ thing here, because I think if you’re readying a dunk tweet and you turn out to be wrong about everything, the joke is officially on you. There is the argument to be made that journalists and players springing to the defence of single-player games were gallantly protecting the developers of said games, but that’s not true. It’s never true when people say they want to support the devs, with the exception of buying bundles on itch. It’s not true when people say they’re going to buy Hogwarts Legacy (why not buy every other game), and it’s not true here. If you cared about the well being of hard-working developers pushed to breaking point by EA, your retort would not be to kick Anthem and Battlefield 2042 when they’re down.

Mostly it’s just a little annoying that this is what we care about in gaming. It’s obviously possible to care about multiple causes at once (though getting your feelings hurt because you misunderstood a brand’s attempt to do a mild, spiceless meme is not a cause), but the sheer amount of people who cared about this in contrast to other issues is mind boggling. It’s rare to see this level of passionate response when there are reports of abuse or discrimination at a company. We’re numb to stories of crunch. Racism and sexism faced by minorities in gaming every single day? What else is new? Twitch streamers continuously promoting (and profiting from) gambling addictions within their suggestible fanbases? I sleep. They’re all par from the course for gaming, why should anybody care. But a games company making a joke about multiplayer games being more fun to play together? Boy, go get my gun.

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