Maxis GM: Our Vision Is More Important Than Our Customers & Lots Of People Love Our Crappy DRM

from the so,-so-much-wrong dept

Well, it’s been several hours, so obviously someone must have done something stupid over at the SimCity franchise. I could run through a long list of links from our coverage of this debacle, but I’ll make it easy on you. The key links are the launch debacle, the backlash, and the evidence that all of this is wholly unnecessary. That last one is important because during the initial stages of this muck up, EA/Maxis came out hard, saying that offline modes were logistically impossible because of all the cloud-based resources needed to run the games simulation calculations. The evidence in the link proves rather conclusively that that is absolutely not the case. In that post, I had suggested that it was time for the game’s producers to finally come out with a strong mea culpa. Here is that mea culpa, from Maxis GM Lucy Bradshaw:

So, could we have built a subset offline mode? Yes. But we rejected that idea because it didn’t fit with our vision. We did not focus on the “single city in isolation” that we have delivered in past SimCities. We recognize that there are fans – people who love the original SimCity – who want that. But we’re also hearing from thousands of people who are playing across regions, trading, communicating and loving the Always-Connected functionality. The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology.

Okay, so it isn’t so much a mea culpa as a, “Hey, customers, why don’t you go outside and play hide and go f@#$ yourself!” It’s difficult to imagine a more tone deaf statement, given the circumstances. To essentially come out and say that you understand lots of people wanted an offline version of this game, and we already know you could have made one quite easily, but you rejected the idea of filling a customer need because it didn’t match with your “vision”? I’d suggest that if this launch has been a faithful representation of your vision, it may be time to get idea-glasses.

And can I ask the other obvious question? Where the hell are all the people clamoring for online only mode? I have no doubt that there are folks who wanted and still want online components to the game, but who the hell is asking for a blatant limitation on their game? There’s a major difference between offering online components and requiring it be online all the time. Personally, I think Bradshaw is reticulating our splines on that one.

On the other hand, when discussing the need for the servers in Bradshaw’s blog post, there was one glaring omission: server resources/calculations. It appears the game’s designers have finally decided to stop lying about why the servers in the cloud are needed and instead moved on to suggest that it’s just a big part of their customers that are unnecessary instead.

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Comments on “Maxis GM: Our Vision Is More Important Than Our Customers & Lots Of People Love Our Crappy DRM”

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96 Comments
Ninja (profile) says:

Is there anything else to say about this? After all the debacle they still put down their pants and take a huge dump at the fans’ faces. Is this enough reason to boycott EA? I’ve extended my boycott from buying EA stuff to downloading the pirate version too. Interestingly I’m finding it easier and easier as there are tons of alternatives.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: So, basically...

Wish I could do the same. Persona 4 Arena has been out in the US for quite a while, but there has yet to be a PAL release. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but the developers decided that this had to be the one PS3 game that is region locked.

Oh and a question to Techdirt staff: why is that every couple of weeks I get logged out of TD? I’ve set Firefox to always remember my password and to keep me logged in, and yet this only ever happens on Techdirt.

Designerfx (profile) says:

Re: So, basically...

I was going to say this actually motivates me to want to seed the torrent for this game, except that doing so would actually promote the game and not harm EA.

so I suppose the better option is to share the crap out of this article everywhere in hopes people will stop rationalizing that the battlefield series is worth buying over dealing with garbage like this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So, basically...

Pre-ordering is what is killing the “just say no”-idea.

People seeing “oh, its simcity I need it for my collection” and auto-preorder are too common. They are probably the only ones buying Simcity 6 but that is far in the future so the players might have forgotten…

EA was

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Go take a look at Path of Exile, an online Action RPG like Diablo (but so much better) and Torchlight put together (Blizzard are NOT happy) that is and always will be FREE!

Yep Free to play, free to do anything, though there are Micropayments they are ONLY for cosmetic pieces (colours, etc) and do nothing for the skillsets/weapons/etc

It’s currently in BETA with about 2million players (USA, EU,ASIA servers) 5.5gig download and New Zealand – amazing hearing dialogue in a Kiwi Accent ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s a good Diablo to PoE guide (with more about the Beta and FREE)
and Look and be awed at this freakin Passive Skill (1350 of them) tree.. OMG the mind boggles!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I started DiabloIII the day after it was released and I didn’t have any of the hangups people are talking about with SimCity.

Fortunately, Blizzard is miles ahead of Maxis/EA in this respect..

Maybe I got lucky. I dunno, the first day was bad, but it cleared up after that and it wasn’t as monumentally bad as SimCity.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Blizzard had major issues with the game in its first days (less than a week). The rest were minor bugs and monster/class balance that needed updating.

And IMO, D3 with online only isn’t as bad like simcity, mainly because if i remember correctly in Diablo 2 (which was a success), while you could have an offline profile, you would not be able to use it online, since the profile on battle-net is stored online.

Many people didn’t even bothered playing the local profile unless they were running servers on their own (like using hamachi or whathever) OR if they were using the hero editor to test builds.

Simcity ALWAYS has been offline and unlike Diablo 2 and Diablo 3, i’ve never felt the need to play it online.
In other words, Diablo didn’t pissed me off like simcity did (I didn’t bought simcity, because on top of being online only, it was EA leading the game and not a serious company like Blizzard, ArenaNet or even Bethesda).

Lord Binky says:

Re: Re: Statistcally, you're bound to find someone....

The GM?s response seems more along the line of someone simply being butt-hurt about the general dislike of the direction they took the SimCity reboot.

They did put a lot of effort into this project, and it definitely doesn’t feel good when you put so much time and effort into something that receives such a poor reaction. Based on human nature, it is a given they will cling to the few people that praise them for their work instead of criticize it. What makes it sound childish is crying out that such people exist, which given the massive market they have, no one doubts those people exist (although they may or may not be in the minority).

But the core of the problem, and I?m sure I?m not the only one who is tired of developers trying to take an established IP, and ?re-invent? it. They don?t make it better, they don?t improve upon the core elements that are expected for that IP, and they add some ?modern? feature that supposedly makes up for the rest of the game being half-assed.

What?s worse is that often times these teams are lead by someone who is acting as if they really believe that taking over someone else?s work is going to get their name on the box and make them the next Will Wright or Sid Meier.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Statistcally, you're bound to find someone....

The thing is liking the multiplayer is not mutually exclusive with not like it always being on or not wanting a single player. She’s assigning people liking that aspect to people liking it always having to be on. Which is remarkable really as I’d be utterly stunned if a single person, when asked, would say no to having an offline mode even if they felt they’d never want to use it.

G Thompson (profile) says:

If so many people wanted online only mode in a city simulator, and it seems from EA’s statements that their marketing has declared *snorts* there was/is a HUGE demand, then why didn’t they just make a MUD like CityVille.

Would of saved the bullshit though admittedly they wouldn’t of been able to charge the same amount. Though then again could of made a fortune in micropayments from idiots.

Me I think I’ll stick with the older Simcity 2000 and Simcity 4 and let EA fester in their own ego’s

Call me Al says:

Re: Re:

I dusted off Simcity 4 this weekend and lost most of Sunday to it. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

This whole debacle is a real shame as I was looking forward to this game. Now it is firmly boycotted. If they don’t fix the issues and introduce an offline option then they aren’t getting any money from me.

Bob Buttons says:

They were dumb not to include it to begin with, but if they don’t patch in an offline mode as soon as a crack releases that allows it, they are figuratively throwing money in the trash. Not only will the DRM be for naught since people could pirate it anyway, but people who were willing to pay for it will say screw this and pirate it instead since it’ll be a superior copy that lets you play offline.

anonymouse says:

Refunds

I think it is time for the consumer rights groups to start demanding the right to get a refund after purchasing a game. If anything this shows the reason why we need a little more involvement by the law.
One thing i am certain of is that if they had to by law give refunds none of this would have happened, and the game when released would have been properly tested and not just thrown out there with massive bugs that have been found, in fact the entire structure of the game is not as advertised.

I think we need to start demanding that the law covers the right to a full refund within 7 days of purchasing a game, and if people start asking for refunds once they have completed the game too bad, the right to ask for a refund trumps their right to assume people are committing a crime.

Seriously they cannot in any way assume people are going to buy the game play it to the end then ask for a refund, the law does not work that way, you have to prove someone has committed a crime before punishing them for said crime.

Demand refunds on all games if they are not working as advertised, and nowhere on the game cover does it say clearly that it is an always online game or that the game cannot be saved across servers, or that the game does not allow the features advertised by EA.Or that you could lose all your work if a server has an update applied to it.

And i for one don’t care what damage this does to the market, if the developers ignore the consumers then they need to leave the market to those that don’t.

One thing i think we can all feel good about is that EA is going to lose a lot of money with so many people not buying the game and hopefully not as many buying the DLC as they anticipated.

Anonymous Coward says:

the best things that EA/Maxis could do are to get rid of those that are so backward thinking over piracy and protecting the game in favour of protecting the customers. that could start with Maxis GM Lucy Bradshaw! is she fucking nuts? carry on with that attitude if you dare and see the game community telling you, in no uncertain terms, what to do with your offerings in the best way possible for you to understand, by not buying anything!! anyone with the same attitude needs to be relocated as well, in a hurry!! and when something is done, be honest and say why. lying really doesn’t go down well with irate customers!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Refunds

“Lemon laws are American state laws that provide a remedy for purchasers of cars and other consumer goods[1] in order to compensate for products that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.”

It’s going to be based on the state though as it’s a state law, not federal as “[f]ederal lemon laws cover anything mechanical.”

stuff in italics is quoted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_law, and yes I know it’s wikipedia and not a real source, but still

Anonymous Coward says:

I get the argument against the online deal and all, but my views of games have changed of over the last few years mainly I look at entertainment value to cost. go to a sporting event and you are gonna probably be forking out $90-300 for a few hours enjoyment. buy a $70 game and I log hundreds of hours of enjoyment. Also what Maxis (NOT EA) has done with this game is amazing and I have enjoyed playing every second of it. I am still finding new things to do and feel I have only scratched the surface of it. If this had been any other simcity game i would be enjoying it but it would also be getting a little repetitious at this point.
Sorry but the game is just phenomenal
Dont get me wrong i cant stand EA and with maxis was on Steam but this game is so much better then anything i have played in a long time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Wake up and smell the java my friend,

You and others like you are the reason EA continues to exist, and the reason they continue to push out DRM infected bs.

It shouldn’t matter how good the game is, DRM is malware, and EA’s version of it is downright condescending.

If your friend treated you like a thief, would you remain friends? Or would you find someone else who respects you?

Don’t support DRM, and don’t buy their game.

Tom (profile) says:

Naming Problem

If they wanted to release a new game that substantially deviated from the form and function of previous editions, they should have given it a different name. By continuing to use the “SimCity” brand, they not only succeeded in driving big $ in presales, but also jacking up player expectations. Further, the tightening of the DRM screws, ignoring quality and playability for moment, made what you get for the big $ worth something less since they effectively destroyed any resale potential the game had. Take that, consumer.

Beech says:

The best part is this is the same lady who said last week that offline play is impossible. This week, after she was proven to be full of shit, it’s, “oh, it is possible, but people really don’t want it”

After that huge flip-flop she should be fired. She has even less credibility than your average ea employee, and that takes some doing.

Forge says:

“That last one is important because during the initial stages of this muck up, EA/Maxis came out hard, saying that offline modes were logistically impossible because of all the cloud-based resources needed to run the games simulation calculations. The evidence in the link proves rather conclusively that that is absolutely the case.”

Don’t you mean *not* the case? That is what the evidence shows.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is why I wish open source gaming would take off like in other areas floss has been successful in.

That way if someone’s vision is blurry, someone with better vision can fork whatever good code there is and make the game not suck.

This works even if the content is still closed so you could still have your epic story driven FPSes that cost whatever.

special-interesting (profile) says:

As I said b4; haven’t bought an EA game since one of them did not work right out of the box. (it still sits in a another box somewhere.) I consider the event theft right out of my wallet. An always on-line sim-city? Hahaha. Not a chance. Still have SC2000

My own, estimated, negative contribution to EA’s bottom line is 3-5 games or 150-250 dollars. This negativity also reflects the degrading quality of current EA’s offerings which surely is a symptom of revenue loss. Even it they grew wings and said they tossed DRM it would take me years to read about it on game review sites to trust them with another 40-60 bucks again. Waste of available spending cash.

Since some of my friends feel even more strongly this has got to be a huge loss to EA and similar DRM’d games. I also hate it when I or family does want a game it takes so long to read game sites to find out the DRM condition for each.

Any DRM = no purchase. The kids whimper a bit but not obsessively. (they also know that whining gets a dirty look or even an extra chore) Linux games are getting better and more reliable too. (good examples shawnhcorey). I would say freeciv is awesome… except for the huge amount of time sunk into it.

The Anon comment about refunds would be nice. While we are at it lets go for first sale rights (ability to resell anything an average consumer/firm bought) for anything that sells more than 5000 units. It needs to be normal SOP that any firm/manufacturer must provide a no strings attached product.

The question might be better phrased as ?Do you like it when you are spied on or monitored so closely that it is spying anyway?? With the obvious EA doublespeak when questioned for justification (of DRM) no way I can find a whit of trust in them. It is always the case that when records are kept they are used/abused and almost never in your favor.

Note to TD staff: Thanks for the new https!

The Real Michael says:

EA is trying to set a precedent for the future, where everybody must use online in order to play. This allows them to control their software even after the consumer has already purchased it, as well as keep tabs on users. They can arbitrarily decide whether to force second-hand purchasers to pay an additional fee in order to play, not to mention all the other micro-transaction nonsense that’s become prevalent in the industry.

This is the reason why I don’t bother purchasing new software. Besides, the older software was superior. The only thing that’s imrpoved since back in the day is the 3D technology; everything else has been downgraded IMO. Even the soundtracks are thoroughly unmemorable.

I really wish that somebody would just say to hell with it and create an old-school 8-bit or 16-bit console without all the bells and whistles of the modern consoles. One caveat: NEVER allow power-hungry companies such as EA to develop for it (not that they’d want to, especially if it didn’t have online functionality).

Anonymous Coward says:

Do not Support DRM and do not buy DRM is my philosophy.I would rather not P2P stuff like this.
1.I would rather not Contribute to giving any Publicity for a DRM Krap Game.
2.I do my best not to play any of these DRM Online blah blah Games.The few (very few) are used with Cracks which makes it so I can avoid the persistant and invasive going Online blah.

DRM Sucks ! And in the Case of EA/Maxis it is obvious these guys played some outright lies and put out Adds for their Game which had Lies in the Adds themselves.
Those who played into their hands should do a Class Action Lawsuit against them.Gamers should also do some kind of International Week of Boycott to show these Companies the Gamers are the power not them and their Greed.

Coogan (profile) says:

I actually don’t mind this statement from Maxis. If they decide they want a game to function in a certain manner, then fine – let the consumers decide if the benefits of said function outweigh the negatives. Maxis has a right to design the game the way they see fit, and if it fails spectacularly, then they can go back to the drawing board and say “OK, that sucked. Let’s not do that again”

However, this would’ve been a better statement to make BEFORE all this crap went down. They’ve already been busted lying their asses off about the mandatory-online feature. They said it was essential to basic gameplay – LIARS! They’re reeling from the massive amount of negative feedback from a launch so frakked up that they got a Hallmark card from the Soviet space program. This statement is the equivalent of sour grapes – nobody believes our lies anymore, so we’ll just rationalize the whole thing away, with an emphatic “End of Story!” at the end.

If they’d come out and said, well before release, that they wanted SimCity to be online-always because they wanted to move the franchise in a more social multiplayer direction, then fine. This move reeked of DRM from the start, and every day something new pops up that confirms that. EA can no longer deny it anymore, so they make hindsight justifications for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Maxis has a right to design the game the way they see fit, and if it fails spectacularly, then they can go back to the drawing board and say “OK, that sucked. Let’s not do that again”

The problem is not their freedom to design crap. The problem is designing crap, then going around advertising it as not crap, and when people tell them repeatedly it is crap, they refuse to listen because “it is our game” excuse.

It may be their game, but how much can you get away with after you lie to people and get their money?

The answer should be, nobody should get away with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I Just don't get it....

“We did not focus on the “single city in isolation” that we have delivered in past SimCities. […] The SimCity we delivered captures the magic of its heritage but catches up with ever-improving technology.”

Because the new technology doesn’t allow you to simulate other players/cities in an offline mode right? Hell my Microsoft Hearts can even simulate other players decent enough…

This whole mess was a bad design choice that was likely made by the business people/publishers (ty EA) and pushed onto the developers “because of the pirates” (*even though they aren’t willing to admit it)

Anonymous Coward says:

So what they’re saying is basically because so many people are playing the game in the only way they can that they must love and enjoy and want it to be that way despite all the claims not to.
Got it.

Also their vision is flawed when they want the game to be an MMO style game when people just aren’t going to commit the time to SimCity that they would to a traditional MMO.

It’s sad because I want to play SimCity and I want to give EA my money but there is absolutely no way in hell that they’re getting a sale out of me until they fix this. I refuse to support a company that manhandles their customers in such a way.

Erlkoenig says:

You know, EA could’ve regained a lot of face if they’d just come out and ADMIT BEING WRONG. But insisted they’re once again dancing around the issue without admitting any direct fault and insisting that, no really guys, you just misunderstood. Shit like this pisses me off. Admit you fucked up and move towards fixing it. Coming up with EVEN MORE EXCUSES only makes people hate you more.

No, “tons of people like it” is not justification. First, give me a source on this information. Second of all…yes. It is a cool concept. I’m certain that it adds a new level of fun to gameplay. But FORCING people to use it is just stupid and stop pretending it’s not about DRM. EA has been DRM maximalist for quite a while now, Origin even watches everything you do on your computer, so saying ‘no really it isn’t DRM’ convinces precisely no one.

DOlz says:

The fallout spreads

I bought a copy of “Plants vs Zombies” as part of bundle before it became part of EA. When I upgraded my OS it no longer worked so I was about to get a newer copy when I found out EA now owned it, LOST SALE. Of course that long awaited sequel is no longer of any interest to me, LOST SALE. How many times EA do we have to tell you that you’re LOSING SALES before pull your head out of your ass and realize that you are selling a product that people would like to buy, but not with a heaping pile of bullshit added.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

My favorite bit of double-speak

BTW, the link to her statement: http://www.ea.com/news/simcity-update-straight-answers-from-lucy

My favorite part is where she says “It didn?t come down as an order from corporate and it isn?t a clandestine strategy to control players.”

However, Lucy Bradshaw is not just the GM of the Maxis division. She’s also a Senior Vice President of EA. So, if this was her decision, it’s a bit of a half-truth that this “didn’t come down as an order from corporate” — she is from corporate.

Of course, the rest of her statement is filled with lies, half-truths, and the usual PR nonsense, but this was particularly amusing.

Anonymous Coward says:

To say that tons of people like it is kind of funny because I am willing to bet the only ones that “like it” at all are those who bought the game, lucked out on being able to play without many hitches and even if there were any, they probably wouldn’t bother to go around and complain. In other words, some typical “casual” gamer that only cares about the next game etc… Probably the type of people who think “Oh it was not a good game? Great, I’ll just buy another one then…”.

It is kind of like saying fast food is great, many people like it, despite not recognizing that the only ones that do like is because they either are unaware of the consequences, don’t care, or can’t help themselves.

Any sane person who can reason(which may or may not be the majority) would think otherwise, and are also the ones giving them EA the heat.

So not only I don’t buy that statement, I also find it as irrelevant as trying to claim fast food(not at all crap or damaging to ones health) is good because fat people like it. Well no shit Sherlock.

The fact people bought your crap doesn’t mean it is not crap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Should have called it SimCity Online

Seriously, I thought it be more like the other games that require an online connection for DRM purposes… this is the worst yet… I can’t even get to my first ‘save game’ anymore; I’m not even allowed to select the server it was on… … If you’re gonna make your customers log in and keep their save game on your servers, make sure they can get to their save game from ANY server.

Back to Cities XL …

FM Hilton (profile) says:

The heads are starting to roll, now

It looks like there are some changes being made at EA:

John Riccitiello has resigned, effective March 30, to be replaced by Larry Probst.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-03-18-john-riccitiello-out-as-ceo-of-ea

I doubt that he’s going to be the only one, either. I expect Bradshaw is probably polishing up her resume as well-or she should be after the disaster that has brought down the CEO.

thames says:

I wanted to buy this but

I wanted to buy this game when I saw the trailer for it last year, I have owned everyone from 2000 forward, but I say no to this. I’ll buy a used copy of simcity 4 over this anyday of the week. Its not just the no offline but the lack of modding by users. I do not want to pay real money for things i want in the game, that is why I’m a PC gamer. I want to create content.

LEARN FROM SKYRIM HOW TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY.

Well that is 60 less from a fan EA/Maxis will not see.

Iridis says:

Why even bother?

I have to be honest, if this way the only way that EA were ever going to make another Simcity game, I wouldn’t have bothered with it. Multiplayer gets shoehored into abosolutely every single major game these days, as if there’s some laws that’s be introduced which prohibits otherwise. I think companies just realise that multiplayer is the future, to them having an online component makes just too much financial sense in terms of broader market appeal, DRM, social media, and the ability to sell add on items. I don’t know if this would have happened so prominently if it wasn’t for the boom in casual and mobile games.
I feel as if this tread is going to continue, and it’ll probably become even more pronounced in the years to come, to the point where you won’t even be able to play a game by yourself anymore. I feel for people who want a solitary experience, like when reading a book or perhaps watching a film, games won’t be able to provide this anymore, and being able to craft a memorable experience is going to suffer.

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