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Iceciro's blog

2:49 PM on 09.12.2008

Spore. EA Games, and how they fail it.

EA Games : Challenge The Consumer (to keep buying our stuff after all the ridiculous stuff we've pulled)

No more. I made an exception for Spore and clearly that was a mistake, since I did want to play it.

The incredible creative talent of Will Wright and his people are being stifled by EA and their approaches. Profit? I work for a large, large company, which sells product and has offices all over the world. I understand profit, and the motive to make it.

You do not make profit by alienating the consumer.

Gaming companies are part of service industry. They like to think of themselves as production, like people who make toothbrushes or steel I-beams or power tools, but they are not - they've in fact, chosen this route for themselves when they stopped letting us control the software that we buy, only handing out licenses.

The gaming companies are selling entertainment, an experience. The ability to experience the game is tantamount to the product that they sell. Most gaming companies, especially small start ups, understand this concept. EA Games has lost sight of their purpose, believing that there is some magical way they can do precisely and only what they want to do and leech even more money from the pockets of their customers. They cannot, and customer service fiascoes like this only prove it. EA games does not lose as much money from Pirates as it does from legitimate normal people, like you or me, that take a look at their extreme practices, put our foot down and say "Enough is Enough" and it's become time for that now.

EA Games honestly thinks that their products are so indispensable to the gaming customer that they can bandy around whatever they want in order to sell more copies and make more money. This is not the case, especially with the recent drop in quality. EA needs to realize that they are not just competing with other big name companies, but with every small gaming company who is attentive to their customers wants and needs (Shout out to Brad and Stardock here!) and they COMPETE with the pirates themselves. They have to show that their product, their service is greater than the one that the pirates provide, which is practically none. The fact that they are fundamentally unable to show this is their single greatest problem, and the most threatening thing to their bottom line. I bought Spore to support Will Wright, and I do not regret that decision. However, I can now see that the "service" of online play that Spore brings to me is more of a problem than a bonus. I will be playing my Spore in offline mode from now on, because I do not want my computer to so much as contact the servers that these people put out.

It is effectively more reasonable from a customer standpoint to pirate Spore and play it offline, without DRM, with multiple installs, with more control over the creatures you create and add to the game, than it is to play it legitimately, and that is why Pirates are a problem for EA Games - because the stripped-down, DRM free version of Spore is in effect a BETTER PRODUCT. It does not take a brain surgeon to realize that a Customer does not want to pay fifty dollars for an inferior product. A product that you can play unrestricted, without a worry of "who's checking up on me every 10 days" or "I can only have one account and my wife and I will have to share."

EA Games clearly does not listen to its customer base. I think that in all honesty it notices the pinch to its wallets and the suits they have in charge, who have clearly never been in any form of retail customer service in their lives but only crunch numbers, blame this disappearance on the Pirates who are "Stealing" legitimate customers of their software.


The only thing that is killing sales for EA Games is EA Games. Oppressive policies which make the customer prove he or she is not a criminal instead of assuming that the game was purchased legitimately are killing the sales. DRM which annoys the consumer or causes their system to do funky things are killing the sales. Ridiculous policies like "Three installs, one account, one registration" are killing sales, not increasing them. Trashy, unfinished games are killing sales, not increasing profits by speeding up the release process. A patch should improve content, not add what should have been completed in the first place - by the time the patch is out, most people have made a decision whether to Buy, Pirate, or Forget.

It's time for EA Games to grow up as a company. They need to realize that the heart of any company is its customers, and the core job of every company is customer service, not what they create but keeping the customer happy. And until they realize this, I'll just take my business elsewhere. Add me to the list of people who will NOT buy another EA Game until this is changed. I took a chance with Spore to support Will Wright, and while he did not disappoint, EA did - unsurprising, but highly disappointing.   read

3:14 PM on 10.04.2007

Fury's redesign

Fury has gone through a HUGE redesign, mid-beta -

"We have watched, we have played, we have listened, and we’ve decided to make some changes – some BIG changes. Our whole design mantra has been that evenly matched battles are more fun, yet Fury Challenge has shown us that 2 in 3 players who try Fury do not even make it to the fun stage. We believe the biggest issue has been the imbalance between new players and experienced players and the difficulty in getting to grips with a new combat system. Throughout beta we have tweaked things and modified things. The time has come to be brave and make some far reaching changes to ensure Fury is fun all players

In a nutshell, the core essence of Fury is player skill. To truly recognize this, we’re making changes to emphasize this aspect out even more. We’ve decided to start everyone with 1,000 Equip points and offer a UAA option from Day One. In addition, we’re bringing everyone onto a single Realm and teaching the Matchmaker to understand that Premades don’t like playing against PUGs. We’re also giving new players a Training Ground where they can learn the game against other new players and bots. In addition to all this, we’re continuing to listen to the community regarding balance changes and fix bugs that impact your enjoyment of the game.

We‘re confident these changes will make Fury easier to learn, more fun for new players, less grind for all players, and more interesting for senior players. This really is your game now, it is our task as developers to listen and react by deciding how and when to implement improvements. Most of the changes outlined below will be implemented for release. Some may need to be held back until we have time to test them thoroughly.

Now is the time to get your Guild-mates to come onto the forums to discuss these changes and help us make Fury the Number 1 PvP game on the market. If you haven’t played Fury for a while, make sure you get into Fury Challenge this weekend to see all the previous improvements we’ve made.

-Tony Hilliam (Auran, CEO)

The following is a list of the major changes we have planned:

- Incarnation Rank
Incarnation rank will no longer exist. All Avatars and Incarnations will have 1000 equip points available to them. Your rank title, which is currently determined by Rank Points (formerly Combat Excellence Points), will instead be based on by your skill rating (the score that also determines their position on the ladder). This will make titles much more meaningful and serve as visual recognition of actual skill, not time played.

- Starting Incarnations
Players leaving the tutorial will now have eight default incarnations available to them, one for each archetype in the game. These incarnations will come with all starter abilities unlocked to Rank 10 (though it may not necessarily be Rank 10 on your quickbar). You will also start with higher tier and more effective equipment to match your increased equip point limit. This gives players starting templates that are much more solid and better illustrate the strengths of an Archetype.

- Purchasable UAA (Unlock All Abilities)
UAA will be available for purchase as an additional pack which will unlock every ability on your account. There will also be options to purchase smaller per-archetype packs as well. UAA unlocks will be handled via online account management. This has been the number one most requested feature from players who want to get straight into the competitive end game. As all players now start with 1,000 EP, this option is viable.

The exact pricing will be announced prior to release.

- Single Realm
We are migrating players onto a single Realm for release. (In fact, we hope to have this in place for Fury Challenge this weekend). This will allow all players to play with or against all other players.

- PUGs/Premades Matchmaking
Matchmaking will differentiate between solo players and premade (organized) groups. If you queue as a full group (or more), the Matchmaker will try to find another premade group to match you against. This change should help avoid mismatched battles between Clans and pick-up groups.

- Training Grounds
There will be a separate 8 man Bloodbath gametype, called Training Grounds. The Training Grounds are designed as a more gentle introduction for new players to Fury’s combat and gameplay. The Training Grounds Matchmaker will firstly look for other new (or low ranked) players, and then after a few minutes it will populate the game with bots. This will be the first warzone you enter from the tutorial and will be available through a warmaster in the Sanctuary for practice and testing purposes.

- Elimination Rounds
Elimination will be trialled as a best of 5 format, instead of the current best of 3. We believe this will make the matches more meaningful, giving players more chance to adapt and counter opponents. From a development standpoint, the change to Elimination requires trivial effort. As such, we are keenly interested in player feedback about whether to keep or revert this change.

- Combat Balance
During beta, we have been making some significant balance changes. This process will continue for the life of Fury. However, this week we have established out Public Test Realm and will be encouraging players to test further combat changes and provide feedback prior to putting them into the "Live" build. This will help ensure we make changes that enhance fun, not break it. It will also provide us a safe opportunity to test out experimental ideas the community suggests and ensure we have enough feedback and testing to get things "just right".

I hope you are as excited by these changes as we are here at Auran. Your feedback has been loud and clear and we feel these changes are a big step in right direction for Fury, both for the competitive and casual players. We would like to thank all our beta testers for their invaluable contributions and for helping us shape Fury into the Number 1 PvP game in the world."

In short, holy hell. They've taken it from the PvP grind equivilant of WoW into a more GuildWars-esque game for PvP.

Thoughts, Comments?   read

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