What is EA's Play to Give?

Don't worry, the money is already Getting Gave.

I was waiting in line outside the EA press conference this morning, playing Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes-- my current microtransactions-fuelled phone-game opiate-- when I got a popup alert that EA was doing some sort of charity and that I could participate, somehow, by playing a special game mode. The special EA charitable game mode running in SWGOH right now requires you to play with a team of all women characters.

I regret that I barreled through this game mode the same way I do almost everything in SWGOH: by quick-tapping past all dialogue screens and fighting the enemies on auto-play mode while staring at the sky. So, unfortunately, I do not have any good screenshots for you, but I can report that the experience was a little vague, and I was never entirely sure whether I was contributing to the charity in some way by playing. "Play to Give" somehow suggests that the players may themselves be contributing to the act of "giving" by participating in "play," doesn't it? Play in order to Give? Right?

Now that I've had the Play to Give event explained to me in the press conference and online, I can report: there is no relationship between the Playing and the Giving, and I had no effect on it when I played my special game-mode and won precious precious Princess Leia unlock points. The Play to Give events are essentially just in-game playable advertising for EA's million-dollar donation; the donation will exist regardless of whether anyone participates in the associated in-game events.

Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, FIFA, Madden, and Battlefront also have associated events. They also do not require any players to Play in order for the money to end up Gave. It's getting Gave no matter what.

I'm not saying that it's bad for EA to be giving money to charities! The five ones they've chosen to split their million dollars between seem like good ones. Code.org and The National Center for Women and Information Technology are about getting more women in to tech. Code.org and CODE2040 help to get people from underrepresented racial minorities into tech. Special Effect is about helping disabled individuals with technology, and He for She is the UN's "solidarity" movement to get men more interested in supporting women's rights around the world. Seems like a bunch of good causes!

I am saying, however, that "Play to Give" is a funny way to advertise it. EA is donating a million dollars no matter what. There is no relationship at all between any Playing you may do and any Giving EA has pledged to do. And to be honest? I'm glad their donation value has nothing to do with player participation. If you've got the money lying around ready to give already, there's no reason to gamify charity like that.