Tobold's Blog
Thursday, March 05, 2015
Biased game news reporting

EA shut down the main Maxis studio Emeryville. And the internet erupted in a wave of stories how the evil overlord company destroyed the developer studio that has produced some of our favorite games like The Sims and SimCity. Without any shred of evidence it is assumed that everything that went wrong is the fault of EA, while the developers of Maxis are innocent victims. But can we really be sure about that?

Both the latest SimCity game from 2013 and the latest The Sims 4 had huge problems which made them far less successful than previous games. On Metacritic SimCity got a score of 64, and The Sims 4 got 70. This are not high quality games. And I think it is too easy for a developer to claim that his game was shit only because of some high-level corporate decision or budget constraint. I played SimCity on release and for me it was clear that the code was flawed way beyond what could be explained by an evil overlord theory.

Gamers are frequently demanding unbiased game news reporting. I think that would be great. But what they often mean is that they want biased game news reporting that corresponds to their personal bias, the Fox News concept of game news reporting. I don't think that is such a good idea. Just because many people dislike EA for good reasons doesn't absolve Maxis from blame for the bad quality of their games.

The entire reason Maxis was forced to seek out acquisition was a series of flops. They were a shaky studio before EA.

Also, while most people assume EA was the source of the "always online" part of SimCity (despite what Maxis claims), it is generally regarded as one of many problems with that game. I don't know what damage EA did, but the game was poorly made in many ways that were undeniably the studio's fault.
I think it's simply bad to put the fault at the doorstep of just one place. The developer has delivered a subpar gunk of a mess, that much is clear. The reasons for it are of course that they were not ready for release. Now it doesn't take much to see how they probably misjudged their release dates and EA pushed on them on top. So if EA would have pushed the release and then put pressure on the studio to deliver something useful, that would have gone over better. That's on EA. The developer not managing the entire thing properly, that's their fault, but then developers are notorious for that.
While I agree with the general sentiment and that this decision by EA seems valid, based on the info I have, I do object against you massively generalizing and lumping all gamers together. True, a loud vocal section of gamers is blaming EA solely, but we don't even know if that is a majority or minority of gamers.
Well, we're not talking about your sainted aunt here being wrongly accused of something late in a life full of virtue. EA has worked pretty hard to build a reputation for being an awful company, knowingly and in the face of much vocal, and occasional legal, feedback.

When in that situation, having people assume you've done yet another awful thing isn't very much of a stretch, and doubly so when your company has a long history of buying, destroying, and then shutting down game studios.

There is always this longing in some corners of our little neighborhood for the good old days in EQ, when your reputation meant something. Well, this is an example of your reputation meaning something.
Imagine you have two neighbors: Neighbor A who is a registered sex offender, and neighbor B who doesn't have a reputation in that field, but is shown by evidence to have recently raped somebody. Are you telling me that you prefer to put neighbor A in prison instead of neighbor B, because you want reputation to mean something?
I think it's more that he wants to scrutinise the evidence with extra care.
Sounds like its time to change neighborhoods.
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