EA CCO Says SimCity, Battlefield 4 Launches Weren't That Bad

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EA CCO Says SimCity, Battlefield 4 Launches Weren't That Bad

Battlefield 4 screenshot

Electronic Arts Chief Creative Officer Rich Hilleman doesn't think that SimCity and Battlefield 4 had bad launches and he doesn't seem too concerned about the upcoming release of Titanfall, either.

You may recall, if you've been paying attention over the past year or so, that neither SimCity nor Battlefield 4 had what you'd call especially smooth rollouts. SimCity collapsed under the weight of server demand and controversy over whether or not those servers were really necessary in the first place, while Battlefield 4 was just a disastrously bug-ridden mess. Each dealt a serious blow to EA's credibility as a game publisher capable of a certain baseline of competence, but speaking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Hilleman suggested that the company doesn't actually see them as a problem at all.

"I'm not sure I accept your premise [that SimCity and Battlefield 4 had bad launches]. Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product on both consoles and PC. From a sales perspective, from a gameplay perspective," he said. "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."

"But I'm not willing to accept - and I don't think most of my customers are willing to say - 'It's a bad product, I wish I didn't buy it'," he added. "That's not the conversation we're having now. I think what we're hearing is, 'You made a game we really liked. We would've liked it a little better if it didn't have these problems'."

A willingness to fix things is always good, but it's of no use if you don't actually recognize what's broken. These games weren't just a little rough in one or two particular areas, they were fundamentally broken and did not work as they were intended - and that, it can very reasonably be argued, makes them "bad products."

Hilleman presumably wasn't accompanied by a handler during the interview, because his response to a question about why gamers should expect different (and better) things from the Titanfall launch was more than just a little dismissive, too. "Titanfall is made by a different organization. Respawn has very firm control of their project," he said. "Best I can do for you."

Well then, I guess that's that. But I really hope that's not actually the best EA can do for us.

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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That's like saying WWII wasn't technically bad because Hitler lost at the end.

Oh EA, you're the gift that just keeps on giving.

You are one of the best entertainers out there... Oh your games? I personally think all your recent games are garbage, I'm talking about your press releases. The sheer amount of lies and corporate doublespeak is comedy gold.

Goddammit EA, I thought you were really trying to turn it around after the whole SimCity debacle. But the launch of Battlefield 4, making Titanfall Origin-exclusive on PC, fleecing people with Dungeon Keeper Mobile, and now this... I really want to like you again, but you keep messing it up. Just please, don't do to Mirror's Edge 2 what you did to Dead Space 3.

Gearhead mk2:
I really want to like you again

It's a fucking publisher, not your troublesome ex-girlfriend. It's not like there's a shortage of games out there.

EA CEO:
"Shit, guys, the awards for the golden poop are this year again and we haven't had a controversy in weeks!
Quick! Get a beloved franchise and make a shitty remake with crappy business practices! What were our most recent controversies? Sim City and Battlefield 4? Great! Arrange a few Interviews denying that these were actually bad, that will bring back the memory and make everyone nice and angry again!"

Keep living in denial. And make sure to stomp out any goodwill you might have had left among gamers. Let's see how long you'll last.

If you're a business man a good launch is loads of units sold, not "that shit works!". Stands to reason battlefield and simcity, which are both huge franchises, would sell well.

We are looking at it from a working/enjoyable experience, which is meaningless to EA once they have your cash ... I guess they want the "worst company in America" title again.

*hits head on desk repeatedly while laughing hysterically*

Ah, EA. With or without their PR department, they dig themselves a deeper hole every time they try justifying their actions.

Sim City not a bad product... in what universe? seriously within 2 weeks of buying that game I'd sent it the fuck back to Amazon and got my money back and used that money and brought Heart of the Swarm instead, much better game.

Also

Respawn has very firm control of their project," he said. "Best I can do for you."

Except for what consoles its released on. Yup they have complete control. Eat a dick Hilleman.

I kinda want Titanfall to have such a problematic launch that it actually makes consoles explode. Not because I hate Respawn or anything, more just for the hilarity of EA's press release afterwards. I don't even hate EA that much anymore, rather, I alternate between laughing and feeling sorry for them.

Simcity: The Biggest DRM Failure since Diablo 3 and a public example of how unprepared EA's servers were.

Battlefield 4: Arguably most bugged Battlefield game in the series and the cause of several class action suits by shareholders.

If these are "Decent" launches, what's a bad one?

CrossLOPER:

Gearhead mk2:
I really want to like you again

It's a fucking publisher, not your troublesome ex-girlfriend. It's not like there's a shortage of games out there.

I know, I know, but I'm just so disappointed with EA. They have Mass Effect, Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, and the entire Star Wars brand under their belt, and I am a huge fan of all those franchises. I don't want to see them take great brands like that and waste their potential.

While I have never really agreed with EA being called the "worst company"...they certainly do seem to be the most out-of-touch with reality. I recently played some SimCity, and while it's not the buggy nightmare that it was on launch, I do still absolutely say "I wish I didn't buy it". There was no way in hell I was going to touch Battlefield (and I'm quite happy that I didn't), and there's no way in hell I'm getting Titanfall either (and I doubt I'll regret that decision). So, if my experience is any indication of the average customer, I'd say they are in a whole lot more trouble than Mr. Hilleman knows, or is willing to admit.

I think what I'm hearing is: 'You made a game we really liked. We would've liked it a little better if it didn't have these problems'.

Well then, you are in dire need of a visit to the ear doctor. Because what I heard in regards to Sim City was: "You took a game we liked and shat all over it. We might have felt something other than abject rage if you'd at least not lied to us about the need to always be connected to the servers..."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Battlefield 4 still suffering from terrible, terrible bugs?

I mean, they have their own official "Bug Tracker" that has a whooping 22 bugs listed as "top issues" when it came out in December:

http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bf4/forum/threadview/2955065670203355766/

And 7 of those bugs are still listed as "investigating" and 1 isn't fully fixed across all platforms

SEVEN INVESTIGATING! SINCE DECEMBER 10th!

That's 2 months to fix 22 top priority bugs, and a third are still unfixed.

And you are saying that isn't "bad"?!?

I bought both Sim City and BF4(PC) on launch day and I really wish that I wouldn't have done that and won't buy any game of EA before the first Steamsale/Originthingamajig. Or through a GMG sale. Or something

Amazon physically removed your product from their inventory for a time because they felt selling simcity amounted to possible FRAUD, how much worse does your launch have to go before it's considered 'bad'.

Really, the message we should take away from this is "EA: We now openly admit we don't have standards"

It seem strange that being just shy of "non-functional" for a week and then "marginally functional" for months is, by any interpretation, "good". I flat out could not play Battlefield 4 multiplayer for several days after purchasing (which was a week after it came out) and, after a series of updates, was upgraded to "could not play more than one match" without either my client or the server crashing. Yes, it is stable enough now, months after release but it is enough that next time around I'm probably going to wait a month or more to get any online focused game from EA.

Used to be that waiting a week was long enough for the major problems to resolve.

I don't even need a court jester - these fellows are simply too much!

Gearhead mk2:

CrossLOPER:

Gearhead mk2:
I really want to like you again

It's a fucking publisher, not your troublesome ex-girlfriend. It's not like there's a shortage of games out there.

I know, I know, but I'm just so disappointed with EA. They have Mass Effect, Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, and the entire Star Wars brand under their belt, and I am a huge fan of all those franchises. I don't want to see them take great brands like that and waste their potential.

That is what they do, and they are terribly good at it. By this stage, I would be surprised to find they know how to do anything else at all!

Amaror:
EA CEO:
"Shit, guys, the awards for the golden poop are this year again and we haven't had a controversy in weeks!
Quick! Get a beloved franchise and make a shitty remake with crappy business practices! What were our most recent controversies? Sim City and Battlefield 4? Great! Arrange a few Interviews denying that these were actually bad, that will bring back the memory and make everyone nice and angry again!"

To be fair to your last comment, this wasn't a planned interview: RPS essentially chased the guy down during the D.I.C.E. red carpet event and demanded answers. That doesn't make the responses any better at all, but he wasn't looking or going out of his way to spit on everyone again.

My guess is in a week or two PR will take this unplanned negative event and host a press statement, this time officially spitting on everyone by denying that they released broken games, because they still haven't learned to not screw the pooch. You know, disregarding the fact that the actual DICE devs have already publicly apologized for releasing a broken game or detailed how the executives (i.e. this CCO) told the devs to skip game testing.

You know, between this, Dungeon Keeper, the sudden backpedaling on Sim City, the disastrous Battlefield 3 launch, and their willing obliviousness to criticism, it's probably only going to take a horrendous Titanfall launch for EA to be in line to win worst company of America for the third year running. Yes, other companies probably deserve it more, but while those companies at least try to lie convincingly, EA just seems to revel in how awful it is and how little they care about their consumers.

'We make lots of money whether it works or not. Not bad? That's awesome!'

Andy Chalk:
"But I'm not willing to accept - and I don't think most of my customers are willing to say - 'It's a bad product, I wish I didn't buy it'," he added. "That's not the conversation we're having now. I think what we're hearing is, 'You made a game we really liked. We would've liked it a little better if it didn't have these problems'."

No. It was a bad product. Once the massive server problems were dealt with I enjoyed SimCity for about an hour. Then I ran into the city size limit. The game was never fun again. Say what you want about regions being big enough to compensate, but it's not the same by a long shot. The only reason I'm okay with my purchase is because I got Need for Speed: Most Wanted out of it, which itself was worth the $60 I spent. SimCity sure as hell wasn't.

P.S. No. I'm not going to end this one with "thanks". Not for EA.

ClanCrusher:
You know, between this, Dungeon Keeper, the sudden backpedaling on Sim City, the disastrous Battlefield 3 launch, and their willing obliviousness to criticism, it's probably only going to take a horrendous Titanfall launch for EA to be in line to win worst company of America for the third year running. Yes, other companies probably deserve it more, but while those companies at least try to lie convincingly, EA just seems to revel in how awful it is and how little they care about their consumers.

Hilleman does actually have a valid point with Titanfall, though. This time around they are strictly the publisher, as Respawn is working VERY closely with Microsoft and it's Azure cloud service. It doesn't mean the game can't get screwed over, but Microsoft and its online/multiplayer actually has a solid track record.

Diablo1099:
Simcity: The Biggest DRM Failure since Diablo 3 and a public example of how unprepared EA's servers were.

Battlefield 4: Arguably most bugged Battlefield game in the series and the cause of several class action suits by shareholders.

If these are "Decent" launches, what's a bad one?

Spore, Most pirated game in history at the time and buggy and unenjoyable to boot.

Stop complaining people, he is totally right. Anyone who experienced a bug in SimCity or Battlefield 4 was just playing the game wrong. Plus they are a vocal minority anyway!

I get the feeling that EA won't get nominated for a golden poo this year as they will complain to the site running it that they don't deserve to be on there. If they do get nominated then they'll just pay some interns to put in fake votes for another company rather than face the shame of getting it three years running. They certainly don't want to actually change their ways, just look like they are doing so.

I don't even...what? Why? How can you say that? I never touched either game (not interested), but even I saw that they had some serious issues. This is not a healthy mindset to have.

"Sir, there's a gaping hole in our hull. We're taking on water!"
"The ship has not sunk. Stop panicking."
"But, uh, sir...the water? We're sinking."
"I said stop panicking!"

wow, what a prick...

i don't think i have much to add really, but the man is fucking deluded if he doesn't think that BF4 and SC launches were anything better than garbage...

here's a tip to figuring out if your game release was any good, ask just one question to the people who bought it, "can you actually play it?" if the answer isn't a confused look and "yeah, why?", you dun fucked up

I can't wait to check out this guy's seminar on how to fit as many PR buzzwords as possible into one statement.

Seriously, who uses "conversation" in that context anymore? Though that's not as hilarious as "Function of surface area," I thought I'd heard "vocal minority" said every way possible until that gem.

MoltenSilver:
Amazon physically removed your product from their inventory for a time because they felt selling simcity amounted to possible FRAUD, how much worse does your launch have to go before it's considered 'bad'.

Really, the message we should take away from this is "EA: We now openly admit we don't have standards"

There is also the issue of refusal to refund digital copys of SimCity.&

blanket disabling keys given to amazon due to the sheer number of chargebacks.
http://consumerist.com/2013/03/18/ea-disabling-user-accounts-because-it-thinks-any-contact-with-amazon-must-be-a-refund-request/

That is up there with War Z in terms of bad launches that did not quite kill a company.

I hate to agree with an EA bigwig, but....I have to. He's spoken the truth here.

I know, I know! I'm committing a travesty to gamers everywhere. But it's just one small instance, if it helps.

What I mean is, when he made this statement:
"Titanfall is made by a different organization. Respawn has very firm control of their project," he said. "Best I can do for you."

...he was technically right. Respawn has control over virtually every aspect of Titanfalls production. EA, in this instance, is only really handling distribution.

So really, save for perhaps the 360 build of the game, the success or failure of the launch of Titanfall rests squarely on the shoulders of Respawn and Microsoft[1]

As for the rest of the mans shpeel, well....

I really don't think I need to clarify to everyone here how utterly idiotic it is.

[1] In the sense that the launch is predicated on the reliability of the Azure servers.

Holy shit! What the hell happened? After E3 it really seemed like EA was trying to turn it around and were kind of sort of pulling it off (with baby steps) but god damn have they ever just thrown all that progress right out the fucking window.

Good to see you are back to you old self again EA. It wouldn't have been the same without you...such a shame things didn't have to change.

Can we get on with giving them their shitty company trophy for the third year?

The Titanfall launch is going to be a disaster. Between EA's involvement (which you can bet is more than they are letting on) to pressure from Microsoft for the game to ship on time, there are going to be issues. I was actually thinking of picking this up at some stage, and maybe still will (my first EA game in years) but these last few months have really put a sour taste in my mouth.

Anyway, to everyone sick to the back teeth with EA, I offer the following two-step plan:

1) Wait 24 hours before buying the game. Because seriously, how little will-power does it take to wait ONE STINKING DAY to find out if the game is a buggy, unplayable mess?

2)Shame people you know who are pre-ordering the game. Tell them exactly why you think it's a bad idea, and if (when?) the shit goes down, give them the full "I told you so" routine. When people go onto forums to complain, give no sympathy. It's not as if they weren't warned a thousand times, by you, the internet, and EA's track record.

CriticalMiss:
I get the feeling that EA won't get nominated for a golden poo this year as they will complain to the site running it that they don't deserve to be on there. If they do get nominated then they'll just pay some interns to put in fake votes for another company rather than face the shame of getting it three years running. They certainly don't want to actually change their ways, just look like they are doing so.

I was thinking this last year; how many of those voting against EA were actually working for them? I'd wager more than a few.

In what universe is bringing out two games that are literally (LITERALLY) unplayable for months after their release date considered "not a bad launch"?

I mean, jesus, they've only just turned 'cheetah speed' back on for SimCity, six whole months after turning it off. Both games were built around features that have crippled both titles, almost irreparably in one case, so yes, Mr Hilleman, categorically speaking they are bad products.

I don't... I genuinely don't know if this guy is just insultingly delusional or a very effective parody of clueless, ivory tower residing corporate executives... or both.

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