Will Wright Says SimCity Launch Was 'Inexcusable'

from the from-god's-lips dept

While we recently discussed how EA's silence has managed to push the backlash over the SimCity launch debacle into the background, anyone at all familiar with the story realizes what a complete botch it was. The initial backlash was bad enough, but it was made all the worse when company executive after company executive came out of the woodwork to excuse, obscure, and otherwise make misleading comments about the more egregious aspects of the launch failure. The most frustrating of these was the insistence that the online requirement for the game was in no way a form of DRM, it was a simply a matter of vision in core gameplay, and anyone confusing the two doesn't understand the gaming software business.

You know who does know a great deal about that business, however? The creator of the Sim City franchise, and legend, Will Wright. And when asked to comment about the latest iteration of the franchise, which he didn't have a hand in, he spoke quite plainly.

"I feel bad for the team", he says. "I could have predicted - I kind of did predict there'd be a big backlash about the DRM stuff."
Yeah, that's Wright telling EA that they should have seen this coming. He goes on to say that he actually enjoys the game quite a bit, but adds in some fairly harsh words for the anti-customer method of the launch.
"That was basically inexcusable, that you charge somebody $60 for a game and they can't play it. I can understand the outrage. If I was a consumer buying the game and that happened to me, I'd feel the same."
To understand the gravity of a legend like Wright making these comments, it would be as if the leaders of the world went on a world tour telling you how great the entire planet was in every way and how you had only them to thank for it being so mega-awesome, all the while war, murder and famine occurred around you. Then, just as you were getting fed up with the lies and BS, whatever God you might believe in parted the heavens, poked his head through, and said, "Hey, not bad, but you guys kind of f%@#ed the whole thing up."



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Akari Mizunashi (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 4:23am

    It doesn't matter. The fact is, people still paid (and are still paying) for this game.

    EA can do no wrong. If people really cared, they'd stop buying all EA products right now, to make a statement. Nothing hits a company like its bottom line, and consumers are more interested in the "here and now", so when EA launches Sims 4 soon, all this starts anew.

    There are only a few of us who refuse to buy EA games. A few doesn't change anything.

    The only differnce here is: I saved myself $60 so I can invest in a game from a better company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 4:46am

    Re:

    I saved myself $60 so I can invest in a game from a better company.

    That.

    Nothing justifies making a game that can be perfectly played offline to run online only. I'll go back to the example of Diablo 3.. The game is pretty good, the DRM is a disaster regardless of how well and how much uptime it has.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 5:51am

    Re: Re:

    The difference is that D3 has two very valid reasons for being always online.
    1) It's designed to be a multiplayer game not single player with a view of what others are doing.
    2) Real money auction house - this makes it very, very unwise to ever trust a client.

    D3 got some flack but the issues were resolved fast, the game was also available at a huge discount to many of the people who purchased it which mitigates some of the outrage.

    The BBC reported this morning that EA are trying to blame gamers waiting for the next-gen consoles for their bad year. They just can't stop the bullshit.

     

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  4.  
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    Rikuo (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 5:56am

    Re:

    I was in Gamestop one time and the guy ahead of me bought SimShitty and I had to look him in the eye (after the cashier was kind of enough to warn him about the connection issues) and say "Really? You're okay with wasting 60 quid on a game that you have been told by the cashier will more than likely NOT WORK?" He just shrugged, paid and left.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:07am

    Re:

    "The only differnce here is: I saved myself $60 so I can invest in a game from a better company"

    A better company doesn't charge you $60 for a game.

    I paid less than $20 for Torchlight 2 and $10 for FTL (Faster Than Light), and I got much, much more bang for my buck.

    I still have $30 left over to spend out of those $60, which I think I will spend on Frozen Synapse.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:09am

    Re: Re:

    I should mention that both FTL and Frozen Synapse have Linux (and MAC) versions (FTL works fine under Debian without much fussing about, by the way). Torchlight 2, presumably, will have one in the future.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:10am

    Re:

    I think you make the primary sin of pure free market libertarians: You assume that everybody knows everything!

    Some people are, as you mention, very uninterested in news about games and will act based on what their friends do and marketing around games. Mostly they do not care about what EA is.

    A lot of people knows what Simcity is and can make the connection of Simcity 5 is bad so Simcity 6 is probably gonna be bad too, which will hurt the game a fair bit.

    Fewer people can make the connection that Simcity and The Sims are connected.

    Even fewer still, knows how EA is operating (even though some might have gotten the "worst company in America"-message).

    The lack of knowledge/information is the reason for most of the problems in our society: It is one thing to act from playfulness, naivity, inebriation, illness or lack of information. It is completely different thing to act purely evil.

     

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  8.  
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    AbbaDabba, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:12am

    no more EA for me

    Bought it, tried it, wasted HOURS trying to get it to work... Then, they tried to bribe me by offering free games for my 'inconvenience'. I filed a PayPal dispute and cited as evidence articles from their management saying they flopped and were unable to support the game's rollout and offered further evidence that they acknowledged the game did not work as designed. I got a complete refund.

    EA... you've done with your DRM what you couldn't do otherwise and that's really piss me off as a customer. I will NEVER EVER buy your products again.

     

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  9.  
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    PaulT (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 6:21am

    Re: Re:

    There were stories of people buying 2nd copies of SimCity because the first copy they bought didn't work on release day. Sadly, that seems to be EA's target market at the moment - abject morons. Hopefully the tide is changing, but who knows...

     

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  10. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:27am

    And yet EA goes rolling right along to Star Wars!

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/05/07/ea_disney_star_wars_games_license/

    As I said prior, your gamer fits don't noticeably affect their profits. I suspect EA may even stir you up intentionally for the publicity: YOU are being gamed.

     

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  11.  
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    Rikuo (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What kind of moron goes "Hey this widget I bought doesn't work on release day. I'm gonna go out and pay more money for a second one". No you don't do that. You go and demand your money back or demand that it be fixed. Given EA's reputation, a refund is what should happen. Not blowing more money on something that has already proven not to work.

    Besides, the guy I saw was about a week or two after release.

     

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  12.  
    icon
    Rikuo (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Re: And yet EA goes rolling right along to Star Wars!

    The two biggest copyright whores in existence, in bed together...my god, my mind explodes at what freak offspring they'll produce.
    Kingdom Hearts (We forget what number we're on): Ultimate Edition: Final Fantasy, Disney, Star Wars, Marvel...

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Re: And yet EA goes rolling right along to Star Wars!

    Except they do. EA didn't do well this year.

    "For the three months to the end of March, net income fell 19% to $323m (208m), from the same period a year ago."

    (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/22443602)
    as i mentioned above they're trying to blame it on anything but their failures but that's just PR.

     

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  14.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 6:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    1) It's designed to be a multiplayer game not single player with a view of what others are doing.

    I barely ever play it with anyone.

    2) Real money auction house - this makes it very, very unwise to ever trust a client.

    It's also valid to the game money auction house. Make it so offline characters cannot benefit on the system, simple as that.

    D3 got some flack but the issues were resolved fast, the game was also available at a huge discount to many of the people who purchased it which mitigates some of the outrage.

    I'm not talking about the initial issues (due to heavy server loads). I'm talking about an offline mode. I can't play if I don't have an internet connection. That's far enough reason for it to suck. Diablo may have multiplayer perks but it is not by design and even if we take into account World of Warcraft that's fundamentally based in multiplayer aspects you can still provide an offline mode if you so desire (ie: in the current patch there are solo dungeons).

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:42am

    Re:

    I must agree. ANYBODY stupid enough to give EA money for ANYTHING fully deserves the pain they're signing up for: let them burn.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:46am

    Re: And yet EA goes rolling right along to Star Wars!

    Right, EA is doing wonderfully. Top drawer and all that.

    Hey, what's this link:

    http://games.slashdot.org/story/13/04/25/235207/electronic-arts-slashes-workforce

    Oops.


    (I don't feel sorry for EA crashing and burning, but I do feel sorry for all those people who just lost their jobs)

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:53am

    Re: Re: And yet EA goes rolling right along to Star Wars!

    Don't forget that Disney also owns Marvel.

    The ancients spoke of a three headed creature from hell called Cerberus. This must be what they were talking about.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re: Re: And yet EA goes rolling right along to Star Wars!

    Ah, it appears you didn't.

    Sorry, I misread...carry on.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 6:59am

    That last paragraph in the article? I hate to say it, but what a horrible and miserable fail. I would have chosen a simpler anecdote and one that actually made sense.

    Otherwise, great job with the rest of the article. There is nothing good about DRM.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Rikuo (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 7:07am

    Re:

    How is it a fail? It's actually kinda appropriate, since one descriptor of the Sim City games is that they're "God games" i.e. the player plays as God. With Will Wright being the Uber-God.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 8th, 2013 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    1) That's your look-out, the game has been designed with multiplayer in mind.

    2) An always offline mode would be nice but it causes "I want my offline character online" complaints. At the end of the day the both the AHs are so integrated into the game that it really wouldn't work without it (crafting system, random drops ect).

    My point is that while D3 isn't all it could have been there are legitimate reasons for the design choices that were made. SimCity does not have that excuse.

    I don't quite get what your point on WoW is. It's my understanding that even in a solo instance you are still connecting to a different server which handles all the events of the world.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The biggest problem with this "Always online" malarkey is that at any point in time the game company can decide: "You know what? You can't play anymore, because we don't want to keep these servers running, they cost us too much."

    And there you are with your $60 game, and no way to play.

    I'll stick with SimCity 2k, and spend my money on Kickstarter games.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Dave, May 8th, 2013 @ 7:28am

    Re: last paragraph fail

    Seconded. I came here to post the same thing. It was a great article then just went right off the rails. Let's try to keep this in perspective here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Stuart Gray, May 8th, 2013 @ 7:50am

    Will Wright

    Is Not God

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 7:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    1. you could play D2 online, or - you know - on LAN with your friends. That was a perfectly customer friendly solution. All the reasons for always online are made up bullshit.

    2. I found the AH requirement pretty annoying. I wanted to play a barbarian, a brutal savage swinging a gigantic battleaxe into someone's face, not a sly merchant spending half his time counting money and browsing the market.

    IMHO the MMO aspect of D3 only took away from the experience, not added to it. (extending the playable hours by forcing everybody to farm for gear? C'mon!)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re:

    The funny thing is, you will probably spend the rest of your 30$ on games too. And more likely their games, not on EAs.
    They just have to manufacture more copies of the game.. wait, digital copying is practically no-cost!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 8:02am

    Re: Will Wright

    Agreed. Will Wright exists.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    The Libertarian, May 8th, 2013 @ 8:34am

    quote: it would be as if the leaders of the world went on a world tour telling you how great the entire planet was in every way and how you had only them to thank for it being so mega-awesome, all the while war, murder and famine occurred around you.

    Me: Sounds like sarcasm to me. Because that's exactly what the Leaders of the world do with the MSM. The Mainstream Media only shows how great our leaders are doing while they gloss over the famine, murder, and mayhem.

    The entertainment Industry wants to turn your computer into a movie theater instead of a copying device. They just want to push the movies on you. I think they really see the computer as the greatest threat to their Government subsidized business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Bengie, May 8th, 2013 @ 9:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I would argue that the core experience of Diablo3 has nothing to do with multi-player, but at least Blizzards excuse for always connected D3 was that many customers complained with D2 that they couldn't use their single player chars for multi-player.

    Blizzard's fix was to not allow single player, which 100% got rid of that problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Blizzard's fix was to not allow single player, which 100% got rid of that problem.

    Got rid of Blizzard's problem...for the players, especially those who have spotty internet coverage...not so much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    apauld (profile), May 8th, 2013 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What kind of moron goes "Hey this widget I bought doesn't work on release day. I'm gonna go out and pay more money for a second one".

    You must have missed the self-help book, "Everything I learned I learned from Advertising." Seriously though, it seems that if EA's advertisements says 'EA is great' people believe it enough to try to buy a better copy!?!?

    Doesn't make any sense to me, but I've met some idiots...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 9th, 2013 @ 3:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    1) No, multiplayer is one part of it. As it was part of the previous versions. I used to play D2 with a friend over a LAN setup and it was fun indeed, even via direct TCP connection. But that's it. Battlenet could kiss our asses as far as we were concerned.

    2) I never used the AH either and I got some pretty good items so it is integrated in the online, multiplayer portion. You see, I'm not the only one asking for an offline mode. I liked meddling with those old character editors in D2 after I had built my character enough to go past Baal on Inferno difficulty. And there was no AH.

    You can say whatever you want. D3 is no different from any previous iteration. I'd wholeheartedly agree to totally separate online and offline characters but online only? Does not make sense regardless of how you look at it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 9th, 2013 @ 3:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, and complementing:

    crafting system, random drops ect

    This has been emulated locally already and most of this was available in D1-D2. Your point is still flawed.

    I don't quite get what your point on WoW is. It's my understanding that even in a solo instance you are still connecting to a different server which handles all the events of the world.

    Any half-assed computer can do it. I used to run a WOW server on an old Core Duo. You see, there are dungeons and bosses specifically designed for multiplaying. You need different roles to overcome obstacles (healer, tank, dpsers). But if you scale down the damage and some enemy skills you can make it offline too. They could do this to D3 but that would simply transform it in another game as it is not a mmo. As it is now multiplayer is optional thus there should not be a requirement to be always on.

     

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  34.  
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    special-interesting (profile), May 9th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    Kara Mizunashi san desu; I saved myself $60 so I can invest in a game from a better company. Ditto! (copy that, the same)

    Dont care about whatever issuers EA went through to beef up their infrastructure to handle the DRM always on nonsense. Its irrelevant to the fact that any DRM'd program is dependent on the health and success of the technology and the company/firm that controls it.

    EA has not been doing well as a company. Its earnings are falling despite all the poor people purchasing SimCity6. The DRM program looks like a loss for EA and its customers. What happens when EA goes under or is bought out by some random firm looking to recoup their buyout expenses?

    Its bad enough that consumers are harmed/dissatisfied/denied-use/anoyed by the obvious DRM that EA put in/on SimCity.

    Its dangerous to the existence of companies rely on DRM'd software. It should be an entry on the stock portfolio about how much a firm depends on DRM'd software licenses just to get a better risk profile on that firm.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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