EA Deploys The Comcast Defense: 'It Only Sounds Like A Lot Of Complaints Because We Have So Damn Many Customers'
from the these-'launches'-are-hardly-deserving-of-the-word dept
EA continues to prove it is unable to offer up even the slightest bit of contrition for its disastrous game launches. Both SimCity and Battlefield 4 were plagued with problems that prevented many game purchasers from playing their purchased games. Server problems and other related issues locked out many gamers for the first couple of weeks.
When SimCity debuted in a Hindenburg-esque blaze of glory, EA reps scrambled to pin the blame on anything but its awful decision to make it online only. Every complaint was deflected with PR doublespeak and vague allusions to "server-side calculations." Nearly a year down the road, it "embraced" its SimCity community by handing them a set of stunted modding tools and an offline mode that had been possible (according to one modder who did exactly that) within a week of the game's release.
But nowhere among the many statements issued during EA's twin catastrophic release did you find any indication that the company was rethinking its online deployment strategies or even truly hearing what angry players were saying. The tone-deafness continues, as is indicated by the responses given to Rock Paper Shotgun's Nathan Grayson when he tracked down EA's chief creative officer at the recent DICE Summit in Las Vegas.
RPS: SimCity and BF4 both had terrible launches. SimCity didn’t work for more than a month, and BF4 still has issues. Surely you’re overhauling how you approach launches internally from now on?Unbelievably, EA's creative officer trots out the same excuse as Comcast's CEO did recently: a lot of complaints means aproblem of scale, not an indication our company sucks at doing its job. This eerily similar dismissal of complaints as simply being an indicator that a company has lots of customers helps explain why these two companies race neck-and-neck for the title of Worst Company in America year after year.
Hilleman: I’m not sure I accept your premise. Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product on both consoles and PC. From a sales perspective, from a gameplay perspective.
RPS: Sure, BF4 is fundamentally a good game, but you can’t just write off months of glitches and server issues. Some people straight up could not play for the first couple weeks.
Hilleman: I think there was a lot of noise about the game, but some of that is a function of your surface area. The more customers you have, the more noise becomes available. We did things wrong. We know that. We’re gonna fix those things. We’re gonna try to be smart about what customers want in the future.
Fixing problems doesn't have the same ROI as cranking out "new" titles and pushing DLC. When a company's customer base is sufficiently large, it can drown out complaints by shoving wads of cash in its ears. At least EA's front-mouth admitted the company did something wrong, but that comes at the tail end of him describing the uproar as nothing more than the byproduct of "surface area." And that part followed him attempting to deflect the question entirely by obtusely refusing to "get" what Grayson was inquiring about. "Your product was broken at launch." "What do you mean? It sold tons and gameplay was solid."
This part at least clarifies how EA views game "success." If it sold well, all else is unimportant. Keeping customers locked out of their own purchases because you can't keep servers running is a problem only EA can solve and as far as it can see, it did nothing wrong. Crashing servers is a "scale" problem, too, but one of no more apparent importance than the ignored complaints.
EA at least had the sense to momentarily halt the DLC assembly line in order to patch Battlefield 4 into usefulness, but other companies are also finding that patching games doesn't fill the coffers.
Warner Bros Montreal explained its plans for the rather hollow sequel/prequel in a forum post:WB says maybe we'll fix a bug that prevents people from finishing the game. Maybe. In the meantime, here's some stuff to buy. That's the endgame. Buy. And keep buying, no matter how much we ignore you or break your purchases. As long as the "surface area" remains roughly intact, EA will live on to
“The team is currently working hard on the upcoming story DLC and there currently are no plans for releasing another patch to address the issues that have been reported on the forums.”
“If we do move forward with creating a new patch, it will try to address the progression blocking bugs for players, not the minor glitches that do not prevent one from continuing to play. The issues that are not progression blockers will unfortunately no longer be addressed.”