As a senior software engineer at EA Sports, Bob Summerwill was usually a pretty busy guy. Today, however, Bob leaned back in his chair, placed his hands behind his head, and smiled smugly. With the launch of the Wii U back in November, Summerwill had anticipated a long year ahead of having to develop for an extra console, but today, his company had publicly admitted what Summerwill had known for weeks: the company had no Wii U games in the pipeline. And that meant all Summerwill had to do to get his paycheck was just show up.
With little else to do, Summerwill pulled his phone out of his pocket and did a quick Twitter sweep. He was a passionate, loyal employee, and he wanted to see how his company’s latest statement was being dissected by the social media sphere. EA had been having a rough go of it in the press lately, what with CEO John Riccitiello’s departure as well as the rather dubious honour of being voted the “worst company in America”; however, Nintendo had also attracted their fair share of fanboy hate lately thanks to their tanking console as well as their recent encroachment on YouTuber advertising dollars. Summerwill’s face broke into a wide grin as he imagined the vicious NeoGAF hordes finally turning their attention away from his beloved EA as they focused on a new target.
However, as Summerwill perused his Twitter feed, he came across a tweet from Scott Hanselman asking (rhetorically, probably) whether there were “problems at EA” that resulted in their decision to not develop for the Wii U. A dark shadow crossed Summerwill’s face. Those stupid gamers were still twisting EA’s words and throwing them back in its face! As his blood boiled and his bulging veins stretched his neck skin, Summerwill came to a single definite conclusion: this will not stand.
Angrily, Summerwill composed a rebuttal to Hanselman’s tweet. “The Wii U is crap,” he typed, his fingers a conduit for his righteous fury. “Less powerful than an XBOX360.” Summerwill wasn’t actually sure whether this was true; he was a software engineer, not a hardware engineer, so what did people want from him, anyway? At any rate, the capitalization would surely let the dumber readers know which console Summerwill preferred. “Poor online/store. Weird tablet.” Just stating the obvious, he thought. Everyone knows it’s true. But what can I say that’s culturally relevant and still a pretty potent burn? “Nintendo are walking dead at this point.” Yeah, that’ll do it.
Summerwill’s finger froze above the “Tweet” button. Deep in the back of his mind, he wondered whether this could potentially come back to bite him in the ass at some point. He vaguely recalled an incident only a few weeks ago where a Microsoft employee was fired for commenting on company business on Twitter. Summerwill knew he had to be careful.
And yet, his mind was his own, was it not? EA doesn’t own me. The disclaimer on his Twitter bio, right after stating he was an EA employee, proudly proclaimed that his tweets were his own. Surely that would be enough to protect him from any overzealous and out-of-touch boss-mans who might be looking to put the kibosh on his airing of Internet grievances. It was a free world and he lived in a free country. He could say whatever he wanted and he would say whatever he wanted; and in the end, wasn’t he just defending the company name anyway?
With an air of confident finality, Summerwill tapped the tweet button and let the Internet work its magic. Someone somewhere instantly started a new NeoGAF thread.
Oddly, the tweet left Summerwill feeling somewhat empty. At first he thought that maybe he was subconsciously anticipating some backlash, but he quickly put that absurd idea out of his mind. After a little deep thinking and a quick round of Angry Birds, Summerwill soon identified the true cause of his uneasiness: he hadn’t made his point clear enough. He needed to say more.
Summerwill took to Twitter once again. The world needed to hear his message; he was the divine messenger of a great and noble cause. “Nintendo are still operating like it’s 1990. They should have “done a Sega” and offered Mario/Zelda as PS4/Durango exclusives.” When he gazed at his own words, he marveled at the simple truths contained in them. Summerwill couldn’t believe that no one else had ever thought of such a sound business strategy before.
He knew he was very close to gaining the trust of the people. In time, they would come to embrace his words; he could already see the retweets by prominent games journalists pouring in. Summerwill knew the time had come for absolute transparency; it was time to put on his spokesperson hat and give the entire Internet a glimpse into the internal workings of EA Sports.
“It is an utterly intentional decision to focus our resource on markets which actually matter… like mobile, and Gen4,” he wrote with genuine candor. “Nintendo platforms have always been very poor revenue-wise for third parties. Only Mario and Zelda make money.” Summerwill again felt a small twitch of apprehension after re-reading the way he described his company’s business practices, but he shrugged it off quickly. His cause was now above the petty mortal world of corporate infighting, performance reviews and HR complaints; it had become a holy crusade, the ultimate goal of which was to let my people know. If his words woke up the Internet and helped them realize what an “awful” console the Wii U was, then he could take whatever corporate lashing his bosses deemed necessary.
When Summerwill thought about it long enough, though, he knew that his sacred words were beyond reproach. He had defended his company’s honour and ultimately struck a massive blow to Nintendo and their “crap” console. Who on Earth could find fault with his methods? As he tucked his cell phone into his pocket, he felt refreshed and energized. He felt ready to engineer more software than he had in his entire life; all the softwares, even. As he grabbed his mouse and got ready to open up a new project folder, Summerwill felt a tap on his back. His boss was standing behind him, his face red with what Summerwill perceived to be embarrassment. Summerwill chuckled to himself; he wanted to make sure his boss understood that there was absolutely nothing embarrassing about thanking an employee for doing such a great job, but he realized it would be awkward to do so in front of some of the company’s lesser workers, so he accepted his boss’s invitation to join him in his office. Summerwill kept his face as neutral as possible, but on the long walk to his boss’s office, all he could picture was the extra zero that was surely about to be added to his paycheck.