When the new SimCity came out, and crowds of gamers leapt to vilify EA for the problems with a new always-online “feature”, I kind of laughed at players getting so wound up over launch-day issues. I even snarked about how worked up players were getting in a Geek mag piece. I just haven’t been able to get too worked up over those mean and awful things that evil developers do to players.
When Next Island folded, I felt sorry that players who were excited about solving the next part of the story wouldn’t be able to do so now. I’d enjoyed writing them. I’d also enjoyed having a job and having income. Some players tracked down my personal soc med accounts to berate me about “letting” Next Island close without resolving major storylines, as if I’d known all along that one Tuesday we’d all come into work to be told to clear out our desks, and I’d deliberately kept developing anyway, just to screw with players.
I imagine that EA is in a similar situation, and that the folks on the receiving end of the worst company ever awards and getting attacked as morons are mostly devs who’ve been missing sleep and missing their families as they worked for this game launch.
Recently, I got back into another EA release, Sims 3, and added an expansion pack. I love The Sims! (I also wrote in 2004 about the launch of Sims 2 but I’m not linking to it because I just cringed while re-reading it. Turns out my games journalism has improved in the last nine years.) After installing and connecting to Origins, EA’s portal, my Sims3 had several updates. Actually, I uninstalled and registered my games through Origins and reinstalled and then updated through Origins, just as prompted, because I love the Sims.
Now Sims 3 has added ingame pop-ups asking me to socially share my Sims events or options to spend real money on Sims fashion and decor. This “upgrade” is not a very surprising result of social and freemium trends in the industry, but it is really, really disappointing.
I feel very old saying that an upgrade and new features don’t connect at all with how I play a game, but I don’t want to tell my friends or spend premium currency. Between the game itself, expansions, and stuff packs, I’ve spent almost three hundred dollars on Sims 3, so it’s a little annoying to get hit up for microtransaction purchases while playing the most expensive game I own. Also, Sims 3 is my favorite single player game, and I’m pretty sure no one cares that my Sim learned to cook salmon. (NO WAIT! I am going to start InstaSim, a hip new app to instantly share artsy photos of your Sims’ meals on Facebook. It’s going to be a free app, but you pay for filters.)
Turns out that I have a lot more in common with those disgruntled SimCity players than I’d thought.