EA Hates You: SimCity Kneecaps The Modding Community

from the control-hungry dept

Hey, remember SimCity? You know, the game in which its creators botched the release so badly that it essentially became the how-to manual on how not to release a game? The game that the series creator came out against, calling the actions of the publishing company "inexcusable." The game that so pissed off its biggest fans with the online-requirement DRM, locked down platform, and anti-consumer behavior that they once again were voted as the worst company in America? You'd have thought they'd have learned their lesson at this point.

But you'd be wrong. See, SimCity is a PC game, and if PC games have any great advantage over their console competition, it's the ease with which gamers can mod the originals and make them better, more interesting, and even drive sales of the original product. Unless that game is SimCity, that is. Why? Because apparently EA hates you.

The good news is that SimCity will soon be allowing user-generated content. The bad news is that EA is looking to place so many restrictions on what you can actually mod that it seems almost pointless. In reaching out to the game's community with its initial plans, EA has already put its foot down on mods that change the way the game plays. Here are the two key points from its "first draft":

-UGC that effects the simulation for multiplay games and features are not allowed.P
-Examples of acceptable UGC include swapping art assets, like buildings and vehicles.
In other words, EA took one of the greatest sandbox games of all time and is limiting what you can to with it to what color sand you put in that box. This is stupid. You just don't kneecap the expression of your biggest damned fans, of which the modding community for any game is certainly front and center, all for the same already-maligned "vision" you have for how the greater masses play the game. This is the same nonsense that started this whole debacle: EA insisting that the game only operate with everyone's cities to everyone else's, as if the game couldn't function otherwise. Except that it could, making this all stupid.

All they'd really have to do is relinquish an ounce of control and watch whatever community they've managed to retain build up some awesomeness around SimCity, likely driving further sales and/or plays of the original game. But no, instead they'll wave around their iron fist and release some talking points about vision and community and blah blah blah. Going for a "worst company" three-peat, guys?



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 2:44am

    To be blunt, why should they care?

    Enough suckers... I mean punching-bags... I mean valued customers still bought the thing, even after the outcry over 'online whether you like it or not, and we have no problem lying to your faces and telling you it's not only required to be online to work, but for your own good', that they really have no reason to care what people think.

    Now if those that objected to their practices were willing to put their wallet where their mouth was, and forgo a game or two(or even better, all future releases by them) until EA either shaped up or went under(both being equally unlikely), then they might care what the walking money-bags that are their customers think, but until then, this is hardly a surprise, but just more of the same.

     

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

  2.  
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    Jay (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 2:51am

    In this article...

    We find out why Minecraft, a $10 game is a far better sandbox to play in than anything EA could possibly imagine.

     

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

  3.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 3:55am

    Bah, what did you expect from EA? No surprises here. The surprise is that people still kept buying after the problems became mainstream and everybody was mad. Some bought TWO copies so double the stupidity. I'm doing my part, I didn't even bother to pirate the game.

     

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

  4.  
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    Violynne (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 4:15am

    Not surprising.

    The executives of EA probably believe "PC" means another HR mandatory training class is coming up.

     

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

  5.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 4:24am

    People need to stop buying all of EA's shite, not just SimCity. Hit their bottom line, they will soon change their tune.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 4:36am

    Re:

    The last game I bought from EA was The Bard's Tale 2...

     

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

  7.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 4:47am

    Re:

    Yeah, that's so gonna happen.
    Like not feeding trolls on techdirt.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Jake, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 5:00am

    Re: To be blunt, why should they care?

    Well, I don't know how badly it hurt their sales, but it certainly seems to have shifted a lot of copies of Cities XL on Steam.

    Some people might even have stuck it out when they learned that Cities XL isn't very good.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Nomis, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 5:06am

    "Silly fool, You knew I was a snake before you picked me up!"

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 5:14am

    Re: To be blunt, why should they care?

    Just another cap on the Bondage Spaghetti Monster that is EA.

     

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

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 5:22am

    name which area of the entertainment industries, particularly the USA entertainment industries, that isn't more concerned with control of their fans rather than pleasing their fans? i cant think of one!!

     

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

  12.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 5:36am

    Re: Re:

    Well the last few games I bought from EA were Dead Space 1-3, but they were through the Humble Bundle, and I made sure not to give EA a cent, so does that count?

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 5:47am

    Re: To be blunt, why should they care?

    That's true -- gamers are stupid. REALLY stupid. Which is why EA is still in business, making buckets of money, looking down on their customers, and laughing at them.

    To put it another way: EA customers DESERVE to be treated like shit, because they don't have the brains or the guts to do anything about it. They DESERVE to be mocked. They DESERVE to be ripped off. They DESERVE to suffer.

    So please, no more of this EA-bashing: they're not the dummies here. They're displaying far more intelligence than their customers.

     

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

  14.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 5:49am

    Re: Re: To be blunt, why should they care?

    Is it that bad? I was wondering about trying it. I think I'll get an alternative copy for testing purposes ;D

    The game seems too expensive at $30 for me.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 5:57am

    And in the event that sales drop because of corporate dumbass decisions it will certainly be blamed upon piracy.

     

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

  16.  
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    PaulT (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 5:59am

    Re: To be blunt, why should they care?

    "Now if those that objected to their practices were willing to put their wallet where their mouth was"

    A lot of us do. Unfortunately, the educated consumer willing to stand up for their principals is not a breed in the majority. Not to mention that any title that underperforms just gets blamed on "piracy" anyway.

    The best we can really do is try and push games that don't do this sort of crap and give money to more honest competitors. Sadly, EA's spent so much money buying up many of the best known franchises, developers and licences that the average clueless consumer finds it difficult to use alternatives. Hopefully things like the Steambox/OS and Kickstarter funded titles will help shake things up a little, but we'll see.

     

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

  17.  
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    squall_seawave (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 6:12am

    Re:

    well hasbro is doing a good balancing act with my little pony friendship is magic at least better than all the others

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 6:13am

    If EA feels that way about their newest Simcity game, then I guess that means this is yet another reason not to buy The Sims 4 when it comes out in a year or so.

    Not like I was going to anyway. I've played the sims since 1 was out. While 1 and 2 got better with each expansion, 3 has gotten worse and more unplayable and prone crashing and freezing up with each patch and expansion, even if you don't buy the expansion.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 6:20am

    Open source alternatives:

    Lincity
    Simutrans
    OpenCity

    LGDb (Linux Game Database

    Here are some games that caught my attention.

    Mole Invasion
    ZEQ2-Lite (I am curious to see the DB effects they talk about)
    Escape The Toilet: A Triple Flush
    Smokin' Guns
    Seven Kingdoms
    0 A.D.
    Jammer the Gardener
    Red Eclipse
    Beats of Rage
    OpenBOR
    Zero Ballistics
    Open Sonic
    Ripples (Visual Novel seems boring)
    Dink Smallwood
    Lugaru
    Go Ollie!
    Those Funny Funguloids!
    Thunder&Lightning
    PainTown
    Nimuh
    CRRCsim
    Stormbaan Coureur
    OpenFracas
    Ri-li
    Cultivation
    netPanzer
    Blobby Volley 2
    Dark Oberon
    Frozen Bubble
    World of Padman
    Danger from the Deep
    PlaneShift

    I don't think I will have time to think about Simcity.

     

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

  20.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 6:44am

    Re:

    Of your list of games, I've played Seven Kingdoms and Dink Smallwood, and both are fucking AWESOME. I'm surprised that Kingdom's unit loyalty feature didn't carry over to other games (the closest I can think of is city/town loyalty in other games like Civilization but 7K has each unit with its own loyalty score; if it drops low enough, you could have one of your generals defect or rebel, and if he's popular enough with his men, they go with him).
    Lol-worthy moments would be whenever I sent a spy to infiltrate, he gets promoted to general and the enemy king is killed and the spy succeeds him: does the spy surrender to you or betray you?

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Jake, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re: Re: To be blunt, why should they care?

    It isn't awful, but you get the distinct impression the developers ran out of time and hastily threw the most stable beta release they had out the door. The modding community has done some really impressive stuff, but I have to admit I got bored with it after about a week.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Rich, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Re: Re:

    Bronies are just so creepy.

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 7:36am

    You can't charge people for stuff those stupid modders put in for free.

     

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

  24.  
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    PaulT (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 7:54am

    Re:

    Yes and no. Valve would certainly disagree with that statement. EA are probably hoping to charge for everything they can until the game dies a slow horrible death and they dispose of its charred corpse, unforeseen advantages from mods be damned...

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Would it creep you out to know there is an Tron + Bronies game?

    https://code.google.com/p/pink-pony/

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 8:34am

    One word: Minecraft

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 8:41am

    Re:

    But will be a sales drop.

    A free market learns even if each actor's programming remains unchanged. What varies is access to capital.

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 10:02am

    You know, it's not like EA has never screwed over it's customers before. This is not a revelation. It's not even news in the sense of it being out of character for EA.

    Anyone still playing EA games deserves what they receive on this one. I long ago quit buying EA games and Ubisoft games, both companies that are up to their eyeballs in shenanigans against their customers.

    If you agree to buy their games, you agree to their game. Simply, I don't.

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    Namel3ss (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I just got Dead Space 1 off ebay for $6 used, so I can play a game I really like with a clean conscience that EA got none of my $$$.

    PC version too, so none of that DLC or "micro-transaction" bullshit either.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 10:17am

    Fuck EA I had to give up my online account which was connected to many games to charge back those dirty sons of bitches.
    Which led me charging back every recent virtual purchase.

    I fucking despise EA and I hope they all get an ass-full of **** from a *** hose wrapped with rusty brillo pads.

    Sorry :( every single time I hear EA it blinds me with rage.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 11:40am

    Tropico

    I haven't played SimCity, any version, but Tropico is similar I guess. It's enjoyable. Kalypso is still updating it, fixing bugs at least up to last week. Something to consider during the next sale on Steam.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 12:27pm

    And we hate EA.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 2:38pm

    Aside from the DRM, SimCity is actually quite amazing in its own right...the UGC concerning economics would likely skew the game's economic system and cause errors in the already fragile servers.

    The only mod I would make is concerning buildings and artwork...you had this option in Roller Coaster Tycoon 3...so yeah..

     

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

  34.  
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    Matthew Cline (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 4:18pm

    Why?

    Does EA have some weird hypothetical in mind where not restricting user mods will somehow cost them money? Or is it the result of some corporate culture that's so deeply ingrained that they don't even consider if a move like that will gain or lose them money?

     

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

  35.  
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    FM Hilton, Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 6:28pm

    EA's crap shoot

    They learned their lesson from Sims 2, which spawned a huge and still thriving modding community-almost all of which content is free.

    They learned that to get the bucks, they need to restrict all content possible, make sure that the content that can actually work in the game is only from EA (anything else doesn't work), and charge outrageous prices for it.

    Sims 3 was the culmination of all they learned, and now they're carrying it forward. I don't expect Sims 4 to be any great prize, even with improved design or content.

    So, they're just carrying on the tradition with Sim City.

    Another mark against a crappy game to begin with.

    It's just business, you know.

     

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

  36.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 6:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: To be blunt, why should they care?

    You get the distinct impression the developers ran out of time and hastily threw the most stable beta release they had out the door.
    At least that shows EA are willing to learn from other companies. Like Bethsoft...

     

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

  37.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 6:58pm

    Re:

    I'm doing my part, I didn't even bother to pirate the game.
    Now watch EA claim that only proves the effectiveness of the digital restrictions malware on Sim City, conveniently 'forgetting' the fact that pirates can rip the DRM off anything within days if it's good enough to put the effort into doing so. Swing and a miss, EA. Swing and a miss.

     

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

  38.  
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    Matthew Cline (profile), Oct 3rd, 2013 @ 8:44pm

    Re: EA's crap shoot

    So EA offered extra content for a price, but no one was buying any of it because there was so much available for free?

     

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

  39.  
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    Postulator (profile), Oct 4th, 2013 @ 1:42am

    Seriously, EA - spelling?

    When I read this story I figured Kotaku must have stuffed up in quoting "UGC that effects the simulation for multiplay games and features". Fortunately they had a link to the original, which confirms that EA doesn't know the difference between affect and effect.

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Oct 4th, 2013 @ 3:10am

    Re: EA's crap shoot

    "So EA offered extra content for a price, but no one was buying any of it because there was so much available for free?"

    Sims 2 was universally loved for the amount of freedom anyone had in creating content that others could use. EA did not stop anyone from creating things by locking up code, or making the game unplayable if you did.

    EA did have a 'store' of sorts for 2, but they really got into gear with 3-and a lot of things are not available for modding or creation by players from that venue, such as 'worlds'.

    Sims 3, on the other hand, is well-known as being the game where if you put in someone else's creation for the game, it will probably not work, or interfere with EA's stuff. EA planned it that way, and that's because they did learn the first rule of business: don't ever let the competition give away stuff for free-you can do it for a price!

    Doesn't mean that creators have given up on doing that for 3, but it's infinitely more difficult and less rewarding.

    After all, you can't improve on ugly unless you burn it, and lots of Sims 3 is flame proof, and still ugly after all efforts to salvage it are done.

    Which is undoubtedly the way SimCity will go. Ugly and unplayable to the end.

    EA just doesn't learn very well.

     

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


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