“I am deeply embarrassed by the troubled launch of Sim City and I hope you are too,” wrote a supposed EA employee to his company. “When I walk around our campus and look at the kind of talent we’ve collected, the amenities we have access to and the opportunities working at such a big company affords us, I can’t imagine how for release after release, EA continues to make the same embarrassing, anti-consumer mistakes. We should be better than this. You should not be failing us so badly.” He posted this message on Reddit and mentioned an email being sent around the office to celebrate International Women’s Day as proof of his worker statues, but later deleted his entry on the popular message board.
The anti-consumer mistake this artist for EARS referred to was the decision to make the anticipated SimCity an always-online game. While the unpopular move was made to prevent online piracy, the game’s strict DRM has prevented paying customer from playing due to unreliable servers on Origin. Despite an increase in servers and game features removed for the time being, SimCity remains unplayable for many, leading to bad reviews and removal from online stores. The anonymous employee notes the negative press EA is getting from SimCity’s server woes adds more fuel to the fire of their damaged reputation and trustworthiness with gamers. He then suggests EA issue an offline patch for SimCity to amend their mistake; a move highly favored if this petition is anything to go by.
While there’re still doubts if the anonymous EA employee was legit, it’s clear SimCity’s disastrous launch has done the company no favors. All this at a time where EA recently backtracked on raising game prices to $70, making microtransactions widespread, and denying the cancellation of Dead Space 4 over disappointing Dead Space 3 sales. EA needs to satisfy their customers before they lose any more potential sales and offering a free game for those suffering server errors for SimCity is a start. Below is the anonymous employee’s letter to EA in full:
To the executives at EA, from one of your employees
I am deeply embarrassed by the troubled launch ofSimCityand I hope you are too. When I walk around our campus and look at the kind of talent we’ve collected, the amenities we have access to and the opportunities working at such a big company affords us, I can’t imagine how for release after release, EA continues to make the same embarrassing, anti-consumer mistakes. We should be better than this. You should not be failing us so badly.
Another thing I see when I walk around our campus are massive banners that display what are said to be our company values. They are on posters on every floor, included in company-wide emails and hanging above the cafeteria in bright colors. You even print them on our coffee mugs so we see them every day. But somehow when planning the launch ofSimCity, you threw them all out the window.
Most important of the values you are ignoring is Think Consumers First. What part of the Sim City DRM scheme, which has rendered the game unplayable for hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, demonstrates that you are thinking about consumers before you are thinking about yourselves? Does “first” mean something different in boardrooms than it does to the rest of us? Does the meaning of that word change when you get the word “executive” in front of your title?
You can’t even pretend that you didn’t know consumers would be angry about this. Common sense aside, consumers complained about this during your public betas. In fact, when one of them posted his criticisms on the forums, he was banned! You tried to silence your critics. The same thing is happening now as users write in to demand refunds. What part of this behavior aligns with our company value to Be Accountable?
What you’ve demonstrated with this launch is that our corporate management does not believe in our core values. They are for the unwashed masses, not for the important people who forced this anti-consumer DRM onto theSimCityteam. This DRM scheme is not about the consumers or even about piracy. It’s about covering your own asses. It allows you to hand-wave weak sales or bad reviews and blame outside factors like pirates or server failures in the event the game struggles. You are protecting your own jobs at the expense of consumers. I think this violates the Act With Integrity value I’m looking at on my own coffee mug right now.
On behalf of your other employees, I’d like to ask you to fix this. Allow theSimCityteam to patch the game to run offline. If Create Quality and Innovation is still a core value that you believe in, then this shouldn’t be a hard decision. Games that gamers can’t play because of server overload or ISP issues are NOT quality. Be Bold by giving the consumers what they want and take accountability for the mistake.
Finally I’d like to ask you to follow the last company value on the list in the future: Learn and Grow. When you made this mistake with Spore, the company and all your employees suffered for it. You didn’t learn from that mistake and you are making it again withSimCity.
So please, learn from this debacle. Don’t do this again. Grow into better leaders and actually apply our company values when you make decisions. Don’t just use them as tools to motivate your staff. With the money, talent and intellectual property available to EA, we should be leading the industry into a golden age of consumer-focused game publishing. Instead we’re the most reviled game publisher in the world. That’s your fault. Things can only change if you actually start following the company values and apply them to every title we launch.
A Disappointed But Hopeful Artist at EARS