Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SimCity: A Lament

It's been very sad to see the kerfuffle surrounding the recent SimCity launch. Although at least it gave me the excuse to use the word "kerfuffle."

SimCity is a venerable brand. I've played many of them, including an old SNES version which, as I recall, was actually my introduction. The engineer in me loves learning the systems and making things run along, and solving problems when they come up (in fact, my biggest complaint is that SimCity never gave you enough realistic problems to deal with). SimCity 4 was fantastic, introducing the regions that you could tie together with various transport methods. I spent stupid amounts of time just sculpting landscapes.

Of course, EA wasn't content to let a good game be made. They wanted to engineer a revenue stream, making sure their players' gametime was filled with "oppurtunities" to buy extra stuff RIGHT AWAY. Hence the always-on connection requirement. More control, larger audience, more ways to suck the cash out of the customer. EA has grown so large they've lost the institutional focus on actually providing great games. I feel sorry for the folks at Maxis. I'm certain a lot of these "features" were demanded from on high.

This reminds me of what happened with SPORE, the Will Wright masterpiece that ended up being a pretty hum-drum little disappointment. Reading Will Wright's vision for the game and seeing some of their early demos, the game looked amazing. Plenty of buzz was building. In steps EA with DRM demands and modification designed to make the game "accessible."

In case you haven't cracked the code, accessible generally means boring. I've heard from several people that SimCity - in the brief moments they can play it - is also pretty shallow compared to earlier versions.

EA, please stop ruining good games. Stop "suggesting" changes. Stop demanding fussy DRM. People, stop pre-ordering games from EA. How many times do they need to abuse your trust before they lose it?

I never did buy SimCity, even though I was hopeful that it would turn out well. SPORE (along with others) taught me a valuable lesson, and I never pre-order games anymore. I've begun to back some on Kickstarter - we'll see how that turns out in the long run.

No comments:

Post a Comment