SimCity Was Never Meant To Be Online

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

SimCity Was Never Meant To Be Online

EA forgot it's own history with online games when it decided to turn SimCity into a multiplayer-focused game.

Read Full Article

Hmmm...I can get behind the "my town" thing, but being able to interact with others is sorta cool.

OTOH, they could have just made that an option, rather than a focus.

I'd be amazed if anyone in EA's management has even seen someone play a videogame outside of creating trailers.

You know, as much as I hate the practice of naming a new game after the original in the series with no change to the title

I bet you are in love with the new Thief game name.

captcha: THAT'S ENOUGH. How fitting.

DVS BSTrD:
I'd be amazed if anyone in EA's management has even seen someone play a videogame outside of creating trailers.

That's really the main problem. The people who actually understand games are beholden to people who don't, who just so happen to have all the money. Venture capitalists and bankers who see video games as the 'next hollywood', a ripe new field to make money in.

Yahtzee is right; these bad decisions form over time, in parts, all across the massive organization, to the point where when they finally get implemented, nobody's individual signature is on it.

The village stoned the victim together, so that the rock that finally did the job couldn't be traced back to a single thrower. They're all to blame. EA as a whole needs to fall apart for the industry to have hope of real growth.

EA-Land? How arrogant and pretentious can you get? Could you imagine the arms race for that one...Activision-Ville, Ubisoft-Burg? Dystopian (not a word?!?) society indeed.

itsthesheppy:

DVS BSTrD:
I'd be amazed if anyone in EA's management has even seen someone play a videogame outside of creating trailers.

That's really the main problem. The people who actually understand games are beholden to people who don't, who just so happen to have all the money. Venture capitalists and bankers who see video games as the 'next hollywood', a ripe new field to make money in.

And of course, they want their investment to be "safe," in either they'll only push buttons that everyone is already used to pushing, or that there is not no way those evil pirates can take our profits. And of course for any game to even be noticed it HAZ to have ridiculously bloated budget and sell MILLIONS of copies in the first week.

Captcha: Describe this brand (People) with any words
Answer: soylent green
:P

DVS BSTrD:

itsthesheppy:

DVS BSTrD:
I'd be amazed if anyone in EA's management has even seen someone play a videogame outside of creating trailers.

That's really the main problem. The people who actually understand games are beholden to people who don't, who just so happen to have all the money. Venture capitalists and bankers who see video games as the 'next hollywood', a ripe new field to make money in.

And of course, they want their investment to be "safe," in either they'll only push buttons that everyone is already used to pushing, or that there is not no way those evil pirates can take our profits. And of course for any game to even be noticed it HAZ to have ridiculously bloated budget and sell MILLIONS of copies in the first week.

Captcha: Describe this brand (People) with any words
Answer: soylent green
:P

Despite being critically acclaimed and selling millions of units, Tomb Raider could be considered a failure for not hitting targets. It's madness, sheer madness.

Bioshock in EA-land? Now you've got my attention!
There could even be a hell filled with all those tortured Sims that are stuck in a pool without a ladder, or in a room with 3 stoves but no door. Drown, burn, drown, burn.... ahahahaha!
Add a mortuary of scape goats to that... it will be the most hilariously horrifying game ever!

Also, make it always online. Just for the sake of it.

I'll be honest, I kinda like the multiplayer aspect of SimCity. It's nice to see my city developing as part of a small nation, and to have some small interactions with other mayors. I found it enjoyable to have a polluted, oil drilling industrial city while my neighbours futuristic eco-metropolis glimmered within view across the bay. With all the wealth I was making at the expense of living conditions I felt like one of those cartoonish corporate bosses with the huge cigar and piles of cash strewn about the office, scoffing at the do gooders and their quaint concern for the environment.

That said, an offline mode would have been appreciated. Not just an online private map with one city (which you can have), but a properly designed single player experience designed to be self-sufficient and with a huge map space to build whatever you want. I know they didn't want to disadvantage people with slower rigs but surely all you'd have to do is introduce a map size option when creating a new game, you know like the previous games had.

This is companies afraid of losing control. These are less "business decisions" and more the acts of wounded or dying animals lashing out defensively to cling to life and relevance.

Sim City did not need to be online. You know this. I know this. EA knows this. Everyone knows this. If it HAD to have online functionality, it didn't need to be ESSENTIAL. It could've been a feature. An option. And NO ONE would've complained because they'd be too busy playing the game offline when the servers go down. Making it essential is like saying you NEED online to play a game of Solitaire so it can "track your score and give you new features".

What's baffling to me is how they've drunk their own kool-aid so much they believe it. I'm sure they genuinely believe everything they claim, even as we insist it's stupid and untrue. But, to them, it's the only thing that makes sense because the people in charge don't play video games; they just look at numbers and have no empathy towards a number, or how the number came to be, or what the number means. What's that? Large numbers of people play Call of Duty? The numbers don't lie! Let's make every game like that!

But that's so weird because, in every OTHER industry, you can be damn sure the business people actually EXPERIENCE their products. Nobody signs a musician to a record label without LISTENING to them. Nobody fronts the money to a movie without seeing screenings of the movie they just put money into. And yet I doubt most of the business heads have ever played any of the games they publish, thus they also have no sound measure of what constitutes a good game! I'd love to force someone from EA or Activision's leadership to sit down and play some of these games and see how quickly they get frustrated punching in 50-digit online pass codes, syncing their profiles and signing up to mandatory Origin servers, figuring out which retailer is offering which specific pre-order content and trying to minimize your losses, entering in a few more 50-digit codes to get that pre-order and special edition content, updating the system and updating the patches for their broken games, then dealing with content that's geared towards microtransactions, always-on online, forced social elements, and much worse. See how quickly they give up and say that type of gaming environment sucks hard.

But then you look at games like Skyrim. No online pass. No day-1 DLC. No always-online. No forced multiplayer. No pre-order bonuses or retailer-exclusive DLC. No locked-on-disc content. No microtransactions. No DRM. It sold better than most games released by their competitors ever will, and it did so in a climate filled with this type of crap.

People will pay for a superior service, but right now game publishers and developers are putting more and more and more walls between you and the game. In some cases, it has taken me over 40 minutes to get a game "ready" to play with all the passes and codes and patches, but it takes literally a few seconds for me to put in a game in my Wii, PS2, or Gamecube and get right to playing a fully complete, fully enjoyable experience without any hassles whatsoever.

Yahtzee hit it out of the park here. The way he described it, this current SimCity is meant to be a reboot of the series, isn't it? Not that there was any continuity present. EA totally dropped the ball by making the online component the focus instead of an optional feature. Did everybody who worked on the original Sim-whatever games and knew what made them fun to play leave years ago?

captcha: minty fresh
If that's what game publishers think by naming their games with the same titles as their originals, they should think again.

Yahtzee Croshaw:

Certainly I'm of the opinion that the triple-A industry is not sustainable in its current form...

I've been saying this for a while now, but it is nice to see that someone with a lot more visibility and clout than me now shares the same opinion.

Darth_Payn:
Yahtzee hit it out of the park here. The way he described it, this current SimCity is meant to be a reboot of the series, isn't it? Not that there was any continuity present. EA totally dropped the ball by making the online component the focus instead of an optional feature. Did everybody who worked on the original Sim-whatever games and knew what made them fun to play leave years ago?

captcha: minty fresh
If that's what game publishers think by naming their games with the same titles as their originals, they should think again.

Yes, that's exactly what happened. To every dev house EA has ever bought. The original team gets fed up and leaves, and EA just hires new guys to replace them until the new team is so far removed from the original that it can't do its job anymore and they collapse. Rinse, repeat. You can see this happening with Bioware right now.

pfffftahhahahahahahahhahahah, EA Land is a thing? I just burst out laughing in the middle of work, imagine an entire game routed around praising EA, why can't we be as cool as our 2007 counterparts?

I hope this whole debacle will companies like EA that always online is a bad idea, even in the year 2013.

The online component wouldn't have been a bad thing had it been optional.

Y'know, I was looking forward to Sim City, or Sim City 5, or Sim City 2013 or whatever they could have called it. The whole always on thing pisses me off severely, though.

So, what I did, just in my spare, private time over the past Easter weekend, was to dig out Sim City 4. I installed it... wow, that was fast. I booted it up... wow, that was fast. Wow, that's a pretty low resolution for the FMV bit. I set up a random little city, and... all of a sudden... WHAT? WHY DO I HAVE TO CONNECT TO EA? WHAT IS THIS? WHY ARE THEY... HOW DID THEY? DID I NOT BLOCK ONLINE ACCESS?

And then I remembered... oh, this feature that lets me connect my various cities to each other, to sell my goods, get rid of my trash, let my Sims find jobs elsewhere... that's no online shenanigan thing at all. It's an offline feature that lets me use little blackboxes of presumably smart code that, using mostly statistical data about each of my cities, generates, at worst, nothing at all, at best some cool productive synergies that feel good. Most of the time, it did not really have much of an impact on me.

Why anyone would want to make this the one must-have feature eludes me and my at times overabundant imagination. It's a nice-to-have you get shoved in your face in Sim City 4. In Sim City 2013, which is Sim City 5 but goes by the name of Sim City, it's an annoying bit of always-on DRM that completely ruined it for me.

I'd like to play a Sim City with fancy new graphics. Not at the cost of seeing one of my favourite franchises come to feel like one of those soul-sucking black hole time sinks of friendface games or other micro transaction vehicles that simply are not worth the effort, ever.

I will not buy Sim City (5, 2013) as long as the always-online bit cannot be circumvented properly. Either by an aftermarket patch from EA/Maxis, or by other means. It sucks, but it's the way they chose to play war against their own faithful clients. I find that to be quite offensive.

Cities XL tried it too. Failed miserably, and at least that game was stable and relatively bug free at launch. It's not the bugs and broken servers that make an online city sim stupid; it's the basic concept that makes it stupid. The arrogance of EA to think they could ram it down our throats anyway is quite telling...

thaluikhain:
Hmmm...I can get behind the "my town" thing, but being able to interact with others is sorta cool.

OTOH, they could have just made that an option, rather than a focus.

This is what makes me mad. I think there are good ideas in there somewhere that could've worked if the execution was done well, but the developers of the game sound like they went into it backwards - as Yahtzee suggests - and the end result is a game where the focus is entirely lacking in what people actually want from a SimCity game. I can't judge the quality of the game itself - I haven't bought the thing, and have no plans to after the reviews were so bad - but as a fan of some of the previous entries in the series, EA and Maxis have just turned me right off the franchise.

Hopefully there's a Sim City 6 (is it 6?) and some of the faults of this game are corrected.

geizr:

Yahtzee Croshaw:

Certainly I'm of the opinion that the triple-A industry is not sustainable in its current form...

I've been saying this for a while now, but it is nice to see that someone with a lot more visibility and clout than me now shares the same opinion.

Most of us in the industry saw the writing on the wall a long time ago, usually with every hush-hush, brand-new, top-secret dev kit we got given that now has fifty times the memory and disk space to fill, and we ask ourselves... how the hell are we going to generate enough content in exactly the same time frame with not much more budget?

It's just not sustainable, and Microsoft and Sony aren't helping with their who's-got-the-biggest-dick competition every few years. Take the next round of consoles... there is absolutely no need for them. It's tons more RAM and super-beefy GPUs just for the sake of it. Neither first party actually asked the question: "does the industry need this", because the answer would have been no. I'm not too sure what the guy-in-the-street is expecting from these whizz-bang machines, but I can tell you now - he'll be disappointed. Same games, but with more realistic water and lighting. Whoopdey-do.

What do they mean for us actually making the games? Much larger teams (and we've proven quite conclusively that we can't manage the ones we have in a sensible manner), huge budgets, and that means unrealistic sales predictions otherwise the game's budget sheet can't possibly show a profit. The games, of course, won't sell nearly that many, and lots of publishers are going to be taking big losses on title after title. Is this going to (finally) be the wake-up call for the industry? I really, really hope so.

Trishbot:

But that's so weird because, in every OTHER industry, you can be damn sure the business people actually EXPERIENCE their products. Nobody signs a musician to a record label without LISTENING to them. Nobody fronts the money to a movie without seeing screenings of the movie they just put money into. And yet I doubt most of the business heads have ever played any of the games they publish, thus they also have no sound measure of what constitutes a good game!

I couldn't agree more, and I find it baffling. This is speculation on my part, but I'm convinced that it's because making a video game is still seen as this 'kids thing' and therefore easy to do, or perhaps unimportant. It's just like churning out chairs, right, or cans of Coke... I don't need to sit on every identical chair my factory makes, so why bother playing the video games that my company forces down people's throats? They're all the same...

PS. I don't have a factory that makes chairs. ;-)

thaluikhain:

OTOH, they could have just made that an option, rather than a focus.

This is what is driving me insane in today's gaming world. No one understands the concept of option anymore. Maybe some people want to play online, great, let them. But what about those who don't? We need more options and less "People said they wanted x, so we made it the entire focus of the game." No, people didn't want 'x' to be the focus, they just wanted it to be included.

DiamanteGeeza:

Trishbot:

But that's so weird because, in every OTHER industry, you can be damn sure the business people actually EXPERIENCE their products. Nobody signs a musician to a record label without LISTENING to them. Nobody fronts the money to a movie without seeing screenings of the movie they just put money into. And yet I doubt most of the business heads have ever played any of the games they publish, thus they also have no sound measure of what constitutes a good game!

I couldn't agree more, and I find it baffling. This is speculation on my part, but I'm convinced that it's because making a video game is still seen as this 'kids thing' and therefore easy to do, or perhaps unimportant. It's just like churning out chairs, right, or cans of Coke... I don't need to sit on every identical chair my factory makes, so why bother playing the video games that my company forces down people's throats? They're all the same...

PS. I don't have a factory that makes chairs. ;-)

I think the chairs analogy falls flat because you don't spend hundred of thousands of dollars (or even millions) designing a new type of chair - and if you did you're damn sure the business owner would at least sit on this new flagship project at least once to see what all his money is being invested in.

A chair is designed an replicated, but even a chair factory will test the prototype before going into mass production. EA seems to apply the idea of mass producing prototypes.

Anti-Consumerism is pretty much the name of the game right now. The fact is that some companies are going overboard on taking advantage of the public because of fear of going bankrupt, and the AAA games industry in particular is attempting to one up the movie industry on DRM practices. We even got the court siding with the companies on stopping pre-owned digital sales.

itsthesheppy:

The village stoned the victim together, so that the rock that finally did the job couldn't be traced back to a single thrower. They're all to blame. EA as a whole needs to fall apart for the industry to have hope of real growth.

Is this yours or another's statement?

I'm going to use this to advance a paradigm that I may have overlooked.

DiamanteGeeza:

geizr:

Yahtzee Croshaw:

Certainly I'm of the opinion that the triple-A industry is not sustainable in its current form...

I've been saying this for a while now, but it is nice to see that someone with a lot more visibility and clout than me now shares the same opinion.

Most of us in the industry saw the writing on the wall a long time ago, usually with every hush-hush, brand-new, top-secret dev kit we got given that now has fifty times the memory and disk space to fill, and we ask ourselves... how the hell are we going to generate enough content in exactly the same time frame with not much more budget?

It's just not sustainable, and Microsoft and Sony aren't helping with their who's-got-the-biggest-dick competition every few years. Take the next round of consoles... there is absolutely no need for them. It's tons more RAM and super-beefy GPUs just for the sake of it. Neither first party actually asked the question: "does the industry need this", because the answer would have been no. I'm not too sure what the guy-in-the-street is expecting from these whizz-bang machines, but I can tell you now - he'll be disappointed. Same games, but with more realistic water and lighting. Whoopdey-do.

What do they mean for us actually making the games? Much larger teams (and we've proven quite conclusively that we can't manage the ones we have in a sensible manner), huge budgets, and that means unrealistic sales predictions otherwise the game's budget sheet can't possibly show a profit. The games, of course, won't sell nearly that many, and lots of publishers are going to be taking big losses on title after title. Is this going to (finally) be the wake-up call for the industry? I really, really hope so.

I was going to post a rebuttal on how they'll be taken over by the PCs (or, as it is now, really) and we'll get back to the stage where developers wanting to develop high-graphic fidelity games will be hamstrung by the limited space on the consoles. So they develop for the consoles instead of the other way around.

But then... I haven't seen a high-graphic PC game for a while. Many of the stuff isn't needed, or doesn't add anything to the experience (Please feel free to prove me wrong). When did games need to represent real-life? Sure, having nice backgrounds and stuff is nice, but is it worth it to see developers needing to close shop just because they couldn't meet their unrealistic quota?

So yeah. I hope that this 'cycle' is it, but I doubt it. Too much to be still squeezed from the consoles just yet. With the announcement of the Steambox I'm pretty sure both Sony and Microsoft are taking note. Maybe they'll produce their own version of a 'Steambox' and leave it at that.

One can hope.

aelreth:

itsthesheppy:

The village stoned the victim together, so that the rock that finally did the job couldn't be traced back to a single thrower. They're all to blame. EA as a whole needs to fall apart for the industry to have hope of real growth.

Is this yours or another's statement?

I'm going to use this to advance a paradigm that I may have overlooked.

Mine. Maybe. If I got it from somewhere I don't remember where from.

I've become increasingly convinced recently that the games industry is actually run by incompetent morons. And I'm really talking about the big publishing houses here, not developers. We're trained in the West (being the home of capitalism) to think that if there's a big industry with several large competitors, then the people at the top must really know what they're doing because of competition and meritocracy and pixie dust and stuff.

In reality these people have proved to be highly incompetent. The games industry is growing every year, yet these companies are struggling to survive (THQ having already bit the dust). Contrary to the excuses of these publishers the problem has exactly nothing to do with piracy. Piracy on consoles is so insignificant as to be non-existent. Piracy on the PC however is absolutely rampant. Yet it is on this piracy-ridden platform that Valve have established themselves as the most secure, profitable publisher by far. How? By engendering good will from the community through pricing and convenience. It's really not rocket science. Keep the customers happy.

The likes of Activistion, Ubisoft and EA - which predominantly target the piracy-free console markets - are failing miserably, while Valve - the people who could legitimately complain about piracy - are effectively printing money. And it's not for lack of competition. EA have Origin, Ubisoft have uPlay and Activision have...a store...

The difference between them is that Valve actually tries to be on the side of the gaming community (or at least makes an effort to look that way), while all the others treat their own customers like The Enemy - hostile combatants who will steal and rip you off at the first chance unless you keep the noose tightened.

If I haven't yet convinced you that these people are legitimately stupid, let's consider one current, pervasive industry trend: shoehorning multiplayer into a singleplayer game. They seriously thought that putting online multiplayer into games that people buy for their singleplayer content will cut piracy and allow them to monetize the used game market?

We shouldn't lament the downfall of these companies or worry about the state of the gaming industry's finances. These companies are in trouble because of their own incompetence, not because of the "state of the market". Not competition from mobile devices, not competition from Facebook games, not piracy, and - I'm willing to bet - not even from increasing development costs.

"You are a washed out game journalist that seeks the story, to get your career back on track. To accomplish this, you set out to the desolate ruins of "EA-Land", the remains of a once great city, built upon a mountain of money. There you try to unearth the secrets behind the city's downfall, but soon realize it's not as deserted as it seemed at first glance. The citizens of "EA-Land" are still there, though corrupted and deformed by overuse of the bio-technical "micro-transactions", body modifications that give you power bonuses and special skills. Unlock DRMs, complex puzzles, to enter special zones like The Citadel or The Ishimura. Meet interesting characters, like the anti-bureaucratic renegade "Garrus", and fight your way through the city.

Can you solve the mystery of EA-Land? Can you get out alive?"

The problem with consoles is that they are trying to be PCs. That is the problem. It's not an uncontrollable factor, its just an aim that the industry has to sell a product to the most individuals to justify the cost. This is also why you have a ton of old IP making a debut on the new consoles.

You have old games on underpowered (compared to PCs) consoles that are trying to be PCs, though they can't possible succeed. This is going to drive up the price point, making consoles even less appealing. Now you have the possibility of always online DRM with single use disks on Microsoft's product and who knows what is going on with Sony's invisible hardware.

The worst thing is that there is no coherent way out for consoles, unless there are console-only exclusives, but there are not that many out there that are going to appeal to a wider audience.

DiamanteGeeza:

Trishbot:

But that's so weird because, in every OTHER industry, you can be damn sure the business people actually EXPERIENCE their products. Nobody signs a musician to a record label without LISTENING to them. Nobody fronts the money to a movie without seeing screenings of the movie they just put money into. And yet I doubt most of the business heads have ever played any of the games they publish, thus they also have no sound measure of what constitutes a good game!

I couldn't agree more, and I find it baffling. This is speculation on my part, but I'm convinced that it's because making a video game is still seen as this 'kids thing' and therefore easy to do, or perhaps unimportant. It's just like churning out chairs, right, or cans of Coke... I don't need to sit on every identical chair my factory makes, so why bother playing the video games that my company forces down people's throats? They're all the same...

PS. I don't have a factory that makes chairs. ;-)

Yanno, I think I can actually explain this with one phrase: Time is Money.

How long does it take to listen to a song? A couple minutes
How long does it take to watch a movie? A couple hours.
How long does it take to play a game? In general, a full day's worth of solid play, IF you're good at playing it and IF it's one of the shorter games.

Many times these bigshots just don't have the TIME or SKILL in order to actually try out the game and make sure it works right. So they have to rely on others. And since they don't want to hear their money is being wasted, they look for the people who are more yes-men, or work for cheaper, or can make more guarantees. And those who make more guarantees look for the safer options so they can save their own skin ("Hey, the numbers say everyone loves multiplayer. I don't know why it's failing, it's not my fault."). It just falls apart because of that.

Yep hit the nail on the head there yahtzee. Also with the simcity 5 fiasco I was keeping an eye on this kickstarter:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1584821767/civitas-plan-develop-and-manage-the-city-of-your-d/posts

And according to their latest update they have secured private funding for the project so hopefully we will have a true simcity experience soon.

Undomesticated Equine:

You know, as much as I hate the practice of naming a new game after the original in the series with no change to the title

I bet you are in love with the new Thief game name.

captcha: THAT'S ENOUGH. How fitting.

still beats thifourf.

lets all pray for a not human revolutioned game.

EA's decision is not so baffling if you think of it from a business perspective. What is the Holy Grail of business. To engineer a product that everyone will pay for. What is the holy grail of marketing? To convince people to keep paying you for a product or service they already own.

EA has, like many big name developers, stopped actually making "games' and are more interested in engineering 'Revenue Streams'. This isn't so different from the last time this bubble popped up. Remember a couple years back when just about every other game released seemed to be an MMO? Yeah, this is the same thing, except instead of designing games that are multiplayer from the get-go they've taken to welding on some token multiplayer requirement and a microtransaction thing to slowly bleed money out of you.

Funny that EA hasn't once addressed the 800lb gorilla turd in the room. In fact, none of these new champions of AOG(Always Online Games), a fitting acronyme for the genre I think since it roughly approximates the sound 80% of people will make when they hear a game is going to be Always Online. But Back to the matter. The turd in the room is, how long will those required servers remain up? To this day I can still fire up my version of SImcity 2000 and have a jolly time. There is a very real possibility however that after all is said and done that one day you'll wake up hear that EA, Blizzard, whatever has decided to shut down the servers and reallocate resources to more productive and marketable assets.

And EA and Origin can !@$#%^ my *&%$#@. Good Old Games and STeam have the right idea as far as I'm concerned.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Registered for a free account here