This is actually something that’s been on my mind since the release of Mass Effect 3, and it suddenly became timely again with the insanely botched release of the new SimCity from EA Games. This is basically a big red button pointing out the serious lack of professionalism within the computer gaming industry. In a nutshell, it never looks good on your company that when something is botched, the first official response is “It’s the fault of our customer base”.
Understand, of course, that fans can be fickle even in the best of times, but it’s not the fan’s job to be loyal to a company, either. It’s the company’s job to keep the fan base (otherwise known as “paying customers”) interested and content with their purchases. A company disappointing customers with bad writing and seriously reduced features (Mass Effect 3, Dragon Age II) or with awkward interfaces and awful design choices, or serious bugs and terrible requirements (SimCity) is not a key to success.
But even worse than the above is when these issues are pointed out by paying customers, the official response becomes “Get over yourselves, we’re the game company here!” With Bioware, a once-giant in the gaming industry, the response was so abrasive that the company even included attacks on their (now largely former) fans within their games themselves! With EA, the response has even included threats to ban all game accounts to customers who dare complain about serious, legitimate issues.
It’s impossible to image Chrysler telling their customers “Yes, the car can’t go past 30mph, but you shouldn’t be driving that fast anyway and next time you call we’re taking the car back without a refund,” but that is exactly what EA has done. Can there really be a more asinine way to run a company than this?
I apologize if this is more of a rant than anything really solutions-based, which I normally try to do. Unfortunately the solution isn’t something that ‘one man ranting’ can accomplish. What it really requires is for millions of people to say “You know what, screw you too, game company” and just stop buying their product. The company may not learn their lesson, but at least people won’t be throwing good money after bad anymore.