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SimCity photo

Developers leave Maxis to form new sim-focused studio

Jellygrade is a fun name
Jul 16
// Jordan Devore
A few notable developers who worked on SimCity have left Maxis Software to form a studio of their own with the intent to continue making simulation games. The studio, Jellgrade, has been formed by creative/art director Ocean ...

EA considers previously impossible offline SimCity

Survey asks if customers would like it (no sh*t)
Jul 05
// Jim Sterling
According to a customer survey being sent to SimCity players and posted on Reddit, Electronic Arts is thinking about adding an offline mode to the recently released game -- a mode EA said couldn't be done because of reasons. ...
SimCity Mac photo
SimCity Mac

Mac version of SimCity pushed back until August

Update 5 brings more bugfixes
Jun 06
// Joshua Derocher
Sad news Mac gamers: you'll have to wait another few months before you can get your hands on SimCity. The release has been pushed back until August, since Maxis has decided that it is "not ready for primetime yet." With the t...
EA sales photo
EA sales

EA: SimCity sales 'solid,' Crysis and Dead Space were not

Well, that's unfortunately backwards
May 07
// Brett Makedonski
Electronic Arts held an investors' call today, and one of the talking points was the performance of some of its biggest properties. Unfortunately, some of the information that was divulged was sort of disheartening. EA appear...
SimCity photo

EA on SimCity's launch issues: 'This won't happen again'

Labels president believes the game has 'recovered'
May 07
// Jordan Devore
Discussing the SimCity launch fiasco in a call with investors today, EA Labels president Frank Gibeau referred to the title as "a great game that has recovered from a challenging launch." Although that sounds disingenuous whe...
SimCity photo

Maxis details SimCity's upcoming 3.0 patch

Looking to fix a majority of the road issues
May 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Maxis has revealed what SimCity players can expect out of the upcoming 3.0 patch. A majority of the update will focus on the road system, such as traffic, transit, vehicles, and so on. Air pollution, trading, and data layer i...
SimCity photo

Will Wright: SimCity's server issues were 'inexcusable'

'I kind of did predict there'd be a big backlash about the DRM stuff.'
May 07
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Game Industry International caught up with legendary designer Will Wright who shared his thoughts on the train wreck of a launch SimCity suffered with all of the server issues players experienced when trying to play the game....
SimCity photo

SimCity's 2.0 update adds more bugs than it fixes

There's just too much poop everywhere
Apr 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
The SimCity 2.0 patch was released this week and has fixed some of the issues people were experiencing. Unfortunately the patch has also spawned a ton of new issues, most of which you can learn about in this ever growing Red...

SimCity, Colonial Marines, and The Silence

Apr 23 // Jim Sterling
The trouble with games media -- and indeed most news-based media -- is that it's predominantly reactionary. If there is action in the industry, the bloggers and journalists can react. Conversely, without action, there can be no reaction. During SimCity's launch, Electronic Arts and EA Maxis made all sorts of statements and promises -- activities we could react to, in order to keep the story going and add to the pressure being applied to the companies involved.  As soon as EA and Maxis keep their heads down, however, the story largely goes away, almost instantly. After all, most of the information comes directly from the companies, so if they stop giving out, there's nothing to take. A number of outlets can continue to ask for comments from these companies, but with launch period over and a reduced need for promotion, the chances of getting a response start shrinking at a rapid pace. Rock, Paper, Shotgun learned this -- it's attempted to get a comment repeatedly, but to no avail. Neither EA nor Maxis have to say anything anymore -- they had their SimCity launch, they got their money, now they just need to sit back and let the bad press shrivel into oblivion.  Aliens: Colonial Marines is another fine example. During launch, there was plenty to dig up about what I still maintain is one of the most fascinating screw-ups in recent videogame memory. At first, it was amazing to see how deep the rabbit hole went, to try and work out how six years of Gearbox time led to such an unfinished mess of a game, attempting to fathom how much of the project was outsourced to TimeGate, and who developed what. But during this time, Gearbox was largely maintaining a stonewall of silence, and even outspoken developer Randy Pitchford limited himself to a tiny handful of Twitter outbursts.  Nowadays, Pitchford spends his time retweeting positive comments about Colonial Marines, talking up the fanbase and boasting about how many people like it. As negative coverage dries up, these tactics begin to succeed, rewriting the narrative to shut out the criticism and portray a story where only positivity exists. People like me, who covered the debacle extensively, get referred to as harmful individuals, out to personally injure the studio for some vindictive agenda. This is the second major problem with covering these kinds of controversial games -- do it enough, and publishers start to paint you as a lunatic.  We saw this recently with Peter Moore, responding preemptively to its "victory" in The Consumerist's Worst Company of America competition. Moore, having already guessed EA would clinch the prize, wrote a blog demonizing EA's critics, suggesting that most people who dislike the company are homophobes angry about Mass Effect's same-sex romance, or irrational maniacs upset over certain athletes appearing on Madden box art. While EA maintains total silence over legitimate complaints -- such as knowingly launching a game that would be broken by design -- Moore pens self-serving fan fiction in which EA's raked over the coals exclusively by bigots and bedlamites.  The real kicker is, if you want to keep these stories alive, if you care about industry bullshit and feel it's too important to simply forget, you have no choice but to reinforce the publisher's narrative and look like a vindictive crackpot. After all, if publishers are staying quiet, if they're ignoring your requests for comments, what can you do? At that point, your options are limited, and mostly involve inventing new articles from whole cloth -- be it a no-news post that simply reminds people a certain problem still exists, or finding some contrived way to pen a "fresh" op-ed on things people already know about. At that point, you end up becoming the very fanatic publishers say you are.  Most writers don't want to do that. They don't want to become some raving demagogue, and I do find it hard to blame them. Some games writers want to just write about the software and blot out the seedy surroundings -- and I get that. Hell, many readers want that, and I understand it completely. In fact, if you cover a topic too many times, most readers will start a backlash, which is another issue that cripples one's ability to keep the pressure on.  A cat may love being petted, but if you do it to the point of over-stimulation, they start to bite the hand that's stroking, and no matter how passionate gamers are about a subject -- they will grow tired of it in time. It's a natural reaction, and one that I can't blame anybody for, especially in an age of information overload, where news moves quickly and no subject can stick around for long.  Once a reader has had his or her fill of a topic, the backlash begins. The shitstorm surrounding SOPA was exciting to most people for a while, but it required a lot of coverage to truly communicate how vile it was, and a lot of coverage -- in the Internet age of aggressive apathy -- is too much coverage. It didn't take long for comments to go from intrigued to lethargic, with calls for Destructoid to "let it go" and "move on" and "just go back to talking about videogames." Be it about online passes, Aliens: Colonial Marines, Electronic Arts or harmful legislation, I've been told to "get over it" more than I can adequately remember. I've gotten told to "get over" almost everything I continue to care about, and I dare say it's a familiar phrase to anybody who's talked about a certain controversial subject for a long enough amount of time. Sadly, that's exactly what publishers bank on. It's just what they're waiting for. All they have to do is batten down the hatches, erect the flame shield, and wait for the community to turn on itself, to split between those who have gotten over it, and those who need to get over it. Eventually, apathy wins, everybody gets over it, and the publisher can hype its next unfinished piece of shit, that the cycle may begin anew.  So what can be done? Nothing, probably. Just keep on keeping on. However, I do hope that those who do "get over" these things, and angrily demand others join them, understand that they're essentially a brick in the publisher's stonewall. Nobody is obligated to be angry and indignant -- I would not be so arrogant as to demand any reader or fellow writer take up arms for a cause they don't believe in, and more than likely don't think matters. However, I do ask for an understanding equal to mine -- an understanding that it's equally arrogant to demand others stop caring about something, just because you don't care. There are many who continue to give a shit about SimCity, Aliens, and all sorts of other nasty industry crap, and they're having a hard enough time keeping the discussion alive with publishers attempting to drown them out and snootily dismiss them as a "vocal minority." And that goes double for the "game journalists" of the industry. Those whose job it is to cover the industry and serve the readers, yet tell other writers to get over it, to stop whining, and to just talk about videogame press releases. Those journalists who call angry gamers "entitled" and dismiss their complaints. Those journalists who join publishers -- often publicly laughing with them -- and sneer at anybody with a criticism. You know who you are. I know who you are. And I know Electronic Arts is not your friend, no matter how much you cuddle up to them.  It should, really, go triple for publishers themselves. It should be said that they'd be best served not looking like decadent aristocrats, smugly dumping on the "vocal minority" and boasting about how much money they've made, as if raking in ill-gotten dubloons is an automatic invalidation of any complaint, rather than a fallacious use of argumentum ad populum. It should be said, but what's the point trying to squeeze blood from that stone? After all, these are the words of a lunatic from the fringe minority, who really should get over it. But won't.
SimCity Silence photo
Keep your head down, then rewrite the story
Recently, John Walker at Rock, Paper, Shotgun wrote a compelling article on SimCity, and how Electronic Arts' maintenance of radio silence has demonstrated total effectiveness in getting everybody to shut up. The basic argume...

Why people hate Electronic Arts

Apr 22 // Vito Gesualdi
Lack of creativity Electronic Arts is terribly afraid of the word "creativity." Being creative means taking risks, trying things which haven’t been tried before. EA, meanwhile, prefers to release the same game as many times as possible, seeing just how much money they can milk out of a franchise before the public realizes they probably don’t need the “Extreme Farming” expansion for The Sims.  I've said it before, but this is still the stupidest thing ever. For a good example of how shameless Electronic Arts is about their lack of original ideas, look no further than Goldeneye: Rogue Agent. After snatching the Bond license away from Rare and churning out an endless procession of uninspired shooters, EA finally decided to just try and trick people into thinking they'd crafted a sequel to the N64 hit. The game wasn’t even based on the movie Goldeneye, it was about a dude with an actual golden eye, which makes literally no sense whatsoever.  Worst of all, EA doesn't even have the decency to recognize when they've published another uninspired piece of crap. Medal of Honor: Warfighter was universally panned by critics, though rather than recognize their failure and learn from it, EA execs decided to loudly whine about how unfair the scores were. Is there anything more pathetic than a bunch of filthy rich executives crying because reviewers judged their game based on its merits rather than its gigantic marketing budget? Buying out the competition As established, EA hates coming up with new ideas, and nowhere is this more apparent than their massive lineup of cookie-cutter sports titles. Of course, who can really fault them for taking advantage of those knuckle-dragging cretins who are happy to pay $60 for the exact same game they bought last year? Look at how excited John Madden is about his royalty check.  That being said, it’s pretty pathetic to see how terrified EA is of their competition, likely aware that any developer with even a sliver of respect for the customer could easily blow their half-assed efforts out of the water. That’s exactly what happened in the case of Sega’s NFL 2K5, a game which was not only hailed as one of the best football games of all time, but actually sold for $10 less than EA’s latest lazy installment in the Madden franchise. Sweating profusely as they considered the idea of actually having to work for their consumer's money, the EA execs frantically called up their chums at the NFL, negotiating an exclusive contract and killing off any competing NFL game series, including NFL 2K and NFL Blitz.  Of course, Electronic Arts themselves actually brought back the NFL Blitz franchise in 2012, which is pretty disgusting when you think about it. It’s one thing to commit murder, it’s another to reanimate your victim's corpse and force it to dance for nickels.  Treating workers like Slave Labor You might argue that EA can’t be faulted simply for being good at business, and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve got nothing against good old fashioned capitalism. Problem is, Electronic Arts is a little too old fashioned, the company clearly pining for the days when where treating your workers like slaves was just par for the course. Ah, the good ol' days. See, in America we have something called “overtime law,” where any employee working in excess of forty hours in a week get paid at 1.5 times their normal rate for those additional hours. It’s supposed to encourage companies to hire additional workers, rather than simply hiring a burly guy with a whip to provide encouragement. Somehow though, EA never got the memo about not forcing your programmers to work like sweatshop laborers. In 2004, Erin Hoffman, the so-called “EA Spouse,” posted a scathing expose on how the electronic giant had treated her husband and other employees, forcing them to work as many at 84 hours a week  without any overtime compensation. Her speaking out led to three separate class-action lawsuits being filed against EA, the software giant forced to shelve their plans for motivational shock-collars. Beatings will continue until morale improves. Ruining companies In the 90s Electronic Arts set about buying up every awesome PC developer they could find, with the hopes of working with these talented studios to create great software values for the consumer... Wait, that’s wrong. What EA actually wanted was to buy up a bunch of already popular franchises, then force the developers to release an endless stream of crappy bug-laden sequels. Remember the biblical story of Abraham, who was commanded by god to take his son Issac up to a mountain and stab the kid with the first sharp rock he could find? It was kind of like that, except Issac was the Command and Conquer series and Electronic Arts wasn't kidding around about the “murder your child” decree.    C'mon Abraham, just ship Ultima IX. Who cares if it sucks? Not that EA cared as they helped run studios like Westwood and Origin into the ground. Once the studios were no longer profitable, they simply fired everybody and pocketed whatever cash they'd made. Everybody wins, except of course for those developers who were forced to stab their most-beloved creations to death.  Poor Richard Garriott. I hope he's happy now that he lives in space. Shamless Money-grubbing Though most publishers these days have resorted to a variety of tactics to earn some additional cash, Electronic Arts is perhaps the most shameless about these practices, eagerly trying to squeeze every possible dollar out of your wallet. Countless hours of login screen fun. Downloadable content - You can be sure every EA release will come loaded with it, much of which probably should’ve been included in the retail release.  Used games - Sorry buddy. If you want to play with your friends, you’re gonna need this ridiculous online pass.  Micro-transactions - Because your favorite video games are made better when you're constantly being asked to feed them quarters Digital-rights management - EA promises to make sure that playing the game you bought is as frustrating as possible, either loading your computer up with DRM software, or forcing you to wait weeks for them to fix the servers before you can actually play that copy of SimCity you bought. See, the reason gamers love companies like Valve, is because Valve makes it clear they loves the consumer. Gabe Newell has proven you don’t have to constantly shit all over your customers just to turn a profit. Every time I buy a game on Steam, I feel like I’m supporting a company which actually cares about me as a customer. With Electronic Arts, I get the feeling my money is being used to purchase orphaned children, whose souls are used to power EA's massive fear engine, gradually opening the portal to the hellish nightmare realm where their demonic overlords plot the total enslavement of humanity. Call it a hunch. Non-Existent Customer Service It’s interesting to see how different companies approach the issue of customer service. Many retailers hold by the old adage “the customer is always right,” going out of their way to please every patron. Electronic Arts goes by the motto "we hate you, give us your money," something which has unsurprisingly earned them few fans. Hi! How can we make your life miserable today?  EA's inability to care about their consumers was less of a problem back in the retail days, though the move towards digital downloads has forced people to deal with Origin's incompetent customer service reps. Got charged twice for Battlefield 3? That's a banning. An opponent swore at you during a game session? That's another banning. You pre-ordered Command & Conquer: Generals 2 before it got announced as free-to-play and now need a refund? Sorry bro, better luck next time. The recent SimCity debacle was excellent evidence of how little Electronic Arts cares about their customers. When you sell somebody a $60 product that doesn’t work, the right thing to do is offer them a refund. However, the idea of swimming in a slightly smaller money pool was enough to send EA executives to tears. No refunds for anybody, though you do get a free copy of whatever game EA calculated would least affect their bottom line. So, Electronic Arts has established the precedent that they are allowed to sell you something that doesn’t work, then refuse to give you back your money, and potentially ban you for complaining about it. If that’s not enough cause to cancel your Battlefield 4 pre-order, I don’t know what is. Preorder your inexplicable Origin banning today! In summary, Electronic Arts is like most American companies, their blind greedy love of money resulting in a terrible experience for the consumer. Though we can't argue that they put out some great games now and again, it's their crappy business practices which are the problem. The Worst Company in America? Maybe not, but they're definitely working hard to keep the title.  
Why EA Sucks photo
Worst company in America? You decide.
It wasn't much of a surprise when Electronic Arts was recently voted the Worst Company in America by readers of Consumerist for the second year in a row. Though the game publisher's sins are arguably less substantial than tho...

SimShady photo

Upcoming SimCity patch will address top requested fixes

Servers will be down during this April 22, 1 PM PST update
Apr 19
// Allistair Pinsof
On April 22, SimCity will continue its arduous trek to becoming a game worthy of its name. The Update 2.0 patch will address "a number of top-requested bug fixes and improvements," according to developer Maxis. Along with som...
SimCity photo

SimCity + toothpaste = $$$$$$$$$$!???!?!?!

You have to buy real products to get the new DLC
Apr 17
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
SimCity's latest stunt sees a tie-in with Crest and Oral-B tooth products, where if you buy specially marked packages of toothpaste and stuff, you'll be given a code to the new Attractions Set downloadable content. So what's ...

EA scrapping The Sims Social, SimCity Social

Oh, and Pet Society ... ha ha
Apr 15
// Jim Sterling
The Sims Social is being scrapped by Electronic Arts, along with fellow Facebook games SimCity Social and Pet Society. In the case of SimCity, this will be a case of a game shutting down less than a year after launch. That wh...
SimCity photo

SimCity: Cheetah speed returns, Mac release June 11

It's kind of like the game I bought, now.
Apr 10
// Allistair Pinsof
"Do you like to play with Cheetah Speed?" SimCity's Facebook asks. "No, I prefer not having basic functionality that keeps the game from being boring and painfully slow!" But for the rest of you, you may be happy to hear that...
N!$$AN RULES!!! photo

Free Nissan Leaf content paves way for greener SimCity

In news that I swear didn't come on April 1
Apr 02
// Allistair Pinsof
Guys, EA heard you. Your complaints about SimCity have finally been answered! "Why is my city so polluted and gross?" "Why would someone build a coal plant between a school and hospital in downtown?" "Why must my sims live su...
Jimquisition photo

Jimquisition: Bullshit In Sheep's Clothing

Jimquisition is a thing that happens!
Apr 02
// Jim Sterling
Join Jim as he celebrates the 100th episode of Jimquisition ... and complains about EA. Again. Companies (mostly EA) have started to learn they can get away with pulling their familiar stunts by giving them a new coat of pai...

EA: DRM is a failed, dead-end strategy

Mar 28 // Jim Sterling
Call me a cynic, but when I see games presented as online services -- especially when those services fail to serve us -- I see little more than DRM dressed in a shiny new suit. It strikes me as convenient that these "services" also serve the exact same purpose as DRM -- controlling how the end user behaves, shutting down if failing to meet requirements, and providing extra hassle for paying customers.  I find it hard to believe anything said about SimCity lately, given the general air of distrust EA Maxis' claims about the game's online demands have fostered.  If SimCity can do it, I expect to see a fair few other games calling themselves MMOs for little other reason than to get away with an always-online requirement. It seems to be quite a popular thing in the industry right now, to dress up old bullshit business tactics as new things. You'll notice how EA's been calling games with online passes special editions now, downplaying the fact it's gated off the online portion to let us know we can get maybe an extra weapon at the same time. Sheep's clothing at its best.  So yeah, games don't have DRM anymore. They're just special types of MMO! EA: "DRM is a failed dead-end strategy" []
EA: DRM a failed strategy photo
Games boss swears EA Maxis decided on the SimCity online stuff
Electronic Arts may have been one of the last big wielders of SecuROM, and SimCity's online woes reek of it, but EA Labels president Frank Gibeau claims to hate DRM. According to him, such anti-piracy measures have failed, an...

SimCity video photo
SimCity video

A SimCity highway that will make you soil yourself

Mar 27
// Fraser Brown
Given the limited space that EA Maxis expects prospective city managers to construct in, one might be forgiven for thinking that there's not much room for bizarre experimentation in SimCity. This is not quite true, however, ...

We don't wait for games to not suck

Mar 21 // Daniel Starkey
On March 15, I tried to log in and work on some of my cities again, but none of them would load. I know that some people have had a fantastic experience since Maxis and EA have beefed up their server capacity, but clearly for some of us, this system still isn't functional, and at this point it's unclear when it ever will be. I realize that experience isn't necessarily reflective of those of most players at this stage, but that's just the point -- it's impossible to account for every possible scenario. As a reviewer I only have my own experiences when I play, and that's all. Even if I were to go back and re-review it now, I would have no choice but to give it a 1/10. It is still a broken product. There are some people that don't believe reviews should be a consumer guide, and that's actually a perspective to which I am sympathetic. As a general rule, I like to think of reviews as discussion topics. I wait until after I've bought, played, and formed my own opinion on a game before I look at any scores or read any reviews. As a general rule, I consider any information about a game to be a spoiler. This way I expect almost nothing and have a fresh mind going into every experience. I realize however, that that approach isn't at all common. Many people don't have the cash to blow on a $60 game at launch and either need to rent, wait for the price to drop, or check out their favorite critics' thoughts. I get that. I know what it's like to be a gamer on a budget, and I know how hard it can be to scrounge up the cash for a new release, and it's for that very reason that I approached the SimCity review in the way that I did. People who really wanted it, the classic SimCity fans, would buy it no matter what I did. The same is true for the people that want nothing to do with the series. My target audience was the few in the middle, those who weren't sure about whether the game was worth buying at launch. I did the best I could to dissuade people that might otherwise sit on their hands for what is at this point, weeks, for the game to be playable while they have nothing to play in the meantime. Did SimCity get better? I'm sure it did for most people, but as of today, I still can't play the cities I started, and the prospect of creating a whole new region is reason enough to keep me away. As Jim Sterling said a few days ago, buying games like this at launch is not a good idea. The more that don't, the clearer the message to EA that such behavior is unacceptable. In that sense, I think I was still able to fulfill my goal of using the review to spark discussion that took place in the comments, on Twitter, and on other sites like NeoGAF.  If an otherwise rational consumer decided after reading my review that they still wanted to buy the game, good for them. I hope they get lucky and I hope they have the best time possible, but at least they did so knowing what was and is still quite likely to happen. They made an informed decision with their money. Ultimately, so much of this conversation depends on what you personally think the role of a game critic should be. I can say that I expect an engagement with the actual content of the game, and that I want to know far more than whether or not it looks good or if it has decent controls. If those components are exceptional -- going either way -- then that warrants a mention, but otherwise I want to know about themes, I want to know what XYZ critic thought about the message, if there is one. I want to hear about how the mechanics reinforce or clash with the core purpose the game, and I want to know if it's something that's culturally relevant. If a critic goes into an in-depth description about how combat works or about the menu system, I'm immediately turned off. Everyone, when writing, should ask themselves "Why does this matter? What is the point of what I'm saying?" While I'm sure many people have grown rather attached to the current format and structure of reviews, I've always figured that one of the reasons that people like Yahtzee are so popular is that they offer something more. He has a very clear point and is remarkably consistent with his approach. I'm sure some portion of this piece sounds like I'm trying to describe why people should read what I write, and it's entirely possible that that's what I'm actually getting at, whether I realize it or not. Consciously, though, I only hope that people find this interesting. I plan on watching the discussion closely and seeing if I can get a better idea of what others prefer to see in their reviews. Maybe I really am in a very small minority. Maybe I'm operating on a lot of baseless assumptions. I'd like to think, though, that I'm not so far removed from the opinions of most people that I'm completely off here. So what do you think? Is the role of a critic to provide the seeds for a discussion, are we in the business of creating consumer guides, or is our job something else entirely?  [Header image from Suvodeb]
Thoughts on reviews photo
A Critic's Manifesto
A couple weeks ago, I posted my review of SimCity on ScrewAttack. I gave the game a 1/10, which is the lowest I've ever scored anything. That review sparked a surprising amount of controversy amongst one of my roommates who c...


Elder Scrolls Online, Riccitiello Resigns & Transistor!

The Destructoid Show makes fun of a giant corporation
Mar 19
// Max Scoville
Hey guys! Here's today's Destructoid Show.  Big news, in terms of business stuff -- EA's John Riccitiello has resigned from his role as CEO. EA is offering a generous choice of one of eight free games for customers ...
Meat Boy dev on DRM photo
Meat Boy dev on DRM

Super Meat Boy dev says DRM is more dangerous than piracy

Refenes weighs in on the SimCity fiasco
Mar 19
// Brett Makedonski
Tommy Refenes has shown no problem speaking his mind in the past. With the SimCity situation fresh on everyone's minds, he seemed eager to share his opinion once again. Refenes wrote a well thought-out post on his person...
SimCity sales photo
SimCity sales

SimCity has sold over 1 million copies since launch

It's the best selling SimCity game of all time
Mar 18
// Joshua Derocher
According to Electronic Arts, SimCity has sold over 1.1 million copies, making it the fastest selling SimCity game to date. About half of those sales have been for the digital version of the game.  It's interesting that ...
SimCity photo

EA's free games for SimCity players includes SimCity 4

Plus Dead Space 3, Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3 and more
Mar 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Electronic Arts is trying to make good for all their disastrous launch issues with SimCity by offering select PC games free to players. Starting today, players that have activated their copy of SimCity should receive an email...
EA being EA photo
EA being EA

EA censors its own support number on its forums

If nobody calls, it must mean nobody has any complaints!
Mar 16
// Tony Ponce
[Editor's note: As I indicated in the third paragraph, I assumed that blocking the phone number on the forums has likely been a long-standing practice. As ZiggyMoff posted in the comments, Valve does something similar -- repl...
SimCity photo

Subset offline mode didn't fit Maxis' vision for SimCity

Developer responds to SimCity backlash
Mar 15
// Jordan Devore
After a rather eventful day of people tinkering with SimCity in order to play offline, Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw has written a "straight answers" blog post addressing the game's always-on design. Those hoping for a ...

SimCity can be played offline, according to anyone but EA

Mar 14 // Jim Sterling
[embed]248656:47560:0[/embed] This discovery follows reports by Rock, Paper, Shotgun that an anonymous insider is claiming SimCity never needed to remain online, and can actually go offline at any moment. While Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw claims offline play would require "a significant amount of engineering work from our team to rewrite the game," faceless informants cry foul.  "The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing," claims RPS' source. "They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless." It's suggested the server doesn't even react to your gameplay in real-time, and that it can take a few minutes for it to check your session for hacks or cheats. The bottom line is that, according to those who aren't in Electronic Arts' thrall, it wouldn't take much effort at all to get your an offline version of SimCity -- barring, of course, the game's regional features.  But of course, Electronic Arts made a bold stand on this issue, and is expected to pridefully stick to its guns. All the while, its resolute determination to keep players online will continue to confirm something I think was obvious -- the always-online requirement was only ever a business decision, not one made to enhance the gameplay. The end goal was to keep tabs on players at all times, and control their behavior beyond the point of sale, because EA is terrified of its own audience.  It's DRM in sheep's clothing, and the longer EA decides to keep SimCity online, the clearer that becomes.
SimCity online workaround photo
Evidence mounts that 'always-on' requirement is total bunkem
There is mounting evidence that, despite EA Maxis' claims to the contrary, SimCity is wholly capable of being played offline -- a capability that would have saved buyers a week of hassle and tons of creativity now lost to ser...

We need to stop letting hate define us

Mar 12 // Brett Makedonski
Before we get too far, this isn't intended to convey the message that you need to love everything. In fact, I believe that the opposite it true. Criticize and analyze everything. Without criticism, nothing would ever grow or evolve. Nothing would stick out above the rest. We'd be stuck in a perpetual state of middling, uninspired product. Instead, we need to tone down the undue cynicism. It's human nature for people to bond over shared experiences, but if we focus it on the positive instead of the negative, everyone will be much better off. Do you hate EA? Chance are, you probably do. About a year ago, it was voted the worst company in America. More recently, EA garnered more negative press for its statements about how microtransactions will eventually be included in all of its games. While CFO Blake Jorgensen has since gone on record to state that they meant all mobile games, the sentiment remains the same. It's not a unique opinion to think poorly of EA. However, without EA, there's a solid chance that your gaming experiences would be diminished in some capacity. Do you like Mass Effect, Battlefield, Dead Space, or Rock Band? Those franchises all exist, in part, because of EA. The same can be said for about a thousand other titles. There's absolutely nothing wrong with speaking out against its business practices that you don't agree with. That, along with voting with your wallet, are the only two ways that exploitative conventions will change. Still, it isn't fair to throw around blanket phrases like "I hate EA," because the company has had more of a positive effect than immediately comes to mind. The interesting niche about videogame culture is that there are considerable barriers to entry to even have an opinion. It requires both a monetary and time investment to be informed. Then, it takes the urge to go share your opinion. It's all much more complex than "Justin Bieber is stupid." As a result, it's a very vocal minority that engages on Twitter, forums, and comments sections that comprise the voice of the industry. Relatively speaking, it's a pretty small chunk of the population. In a way, we're more prone to falling into the trap of becoming overly pessimistic because we hear the same opinions recycled from all directions. And to be honest, it really doesn't even matter all that much. While our outcries feel loud as hell at the time, they're usually pretty muffled. Do the thoughts of Diablo III and Error 37 conjure terrible memories? The game still sold a ton of copies. I bet by the time that the SimCity fiasco is completely straightened out, its sales figures will be pretty impressive too. The truly disconcerting facet of this isn't even necessarily how overly cynical we've become, although that's certainly a problem. It's how, as Stump pointed out, many of us have become defined by the things that we hate. Rather than simply dismissing something that doesn't please us, we make an effort to stomp it into oblivion. I've been guilty of it, and I'm sure that many people reading this have been too. To quote Stump, "Near-masturbatory complaining has brought together more people than cheap liquor." He could not be more right. We feed off of others' spiteful opinions, and then we reciprocate. There's a cool kids' club for everyone that says the right things, and we all want to be included. It's incredibly easy to find a litany of bitter commentary about the popular topics, and with each opinion read, we become more and more influenced, and increasingly likely to weigh in ourselves. This is a mold that needs to be broken. It reflects poorly upon us, and frankly, it can't be healthy. I don't necessarily have a lot of hope for society-at-large, but being surrounded by like-minded people, I like to think that we're better than this. We naturally connect with one another via shared opinions, but there's no reason that these can't predominantly come from a place of positivity. Keep the critiques flowing, but let's stop hating things simply for existing. If we can do that, I can't help but feel that we'll all be much better off. [Image courtesy of Fogs Movie Reviews]
Where is the love? photo
We are the Pretty Hate Machine
I was recently inspired by a blog entry from a member of Fall Out Boy. If you're already rolling your eyes and making snarky remarks in your head, then this article is targeted at you. Patrick Stump, Fall Out Boy's lead singe...


Jimquisition: SimShitty

Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Mar 11
// Jim Sterling
DRM is back again, and it's here to stay! Games are a service, so we're told, but who do they really serve? SimCity's failure to launch thanks to ludicrous DRM restrictions has been the hot topic of the week, and naturally there's a Jimquisition afoot to skewer Electronic Arts right in its Electronic Nads. Time to put a bit of stick about, wouldn't you say?

Maxis has 'no intention' of making SimCity offline

Mar 11 // Jim Sterling
"The good news is that tens of thousands of new players are streaming into the game every day and the confidence our fans have shown is truly humbling," she wrote. "I can’t begin to explain the way a development team feels when something you're proud of is threatened at launch. Our biggest fear was that people who love this franchise would be scared off by bad reviews about the connectivity issues. "But you put your faith in us. You bought the game with the understanding that we’d quickly fix the server issues. For that support -- that incredible commitment from our fans -- we are deeply grateful. As the general manager of Maxis, I want you to know that we cherish your faith in us, and the love you've shown for this franchise." All very touching stuff, but these grand displays of humility ring rather hollow for me when it was so obvious SimCity was going to be unplayable at launch. We all pretty much called it, and I refuse to believe anybody at Maxis or Electronic Arts would be so dense as to have not called it too. Once you cross a point where what you're doing is so obviously detrimental to a game launch, and you do it anyway, you waive the ability to craft a believable apology.  SimCity's bullshit wasn't a mistake. It was the result of a decision that had to have factored in the frustration of launch day buyers, and deemed that frustration an acceptable risk.
No offline SimCity photo
Claims the problems are 'almost behind us'
While SimCity's DRM-in-sheep's-clothing continues to cause playabilty issues, EA Maxis has declared its intent to keep the game tied to a server. The company will do "everything it can" to make your game playable, but that do...

SimCity freebie photo
SimCity freebie

EA to offer free PC game for SimCity players

So it's come to this
Mar 08
// Jordan Devore
After a disastrous launch week for SimCity, Maxis and Electronic Arts are going to offer a free PC game via download to players as an apology. "On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email ...

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