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SimCity's always-online never meant as DRM, Gibeau says

EA Labels President Frank Gibeau says DRM had nothing to do with SimCity's always-online requirement. In a GamesIndustry International interview he stressed that the game was conceptualized and built by Maxis as a massively multiplayer experience.

"DRM is a failed dead-end strategy; it's not a viable strategy for the gaming business," Gibeau said. "So what we tried to do creatively is build an online service in the SimCity universe and that's what we sought to achieve. For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that's not the case at all."

His statements match those of Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw, who shook off calls for an offline mode, saying "in many ways, we built an MMO."

Gibeau pushed the MMO angle further, though he admitted EA did not make that aspect--and its potential drawbacks--clear enough before SimCity's launch.

"At no point in time did anybody say 'you must make this online'. It was the creative people on the team that thought it was best to create a multiplayer collaborative experience and when you're building entertainment... you don't always know what the customer is going to want. You have to innovate and try new things and surprise people and in this particular case that's what we sought to achieve. If you play an MMO, you don't demand an offline mode, you just don't. And in fact, SimCity started out and felt like an MMO more than anything else and it plays like an MMO."

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17 comments

  • Inthedistrict - March 30, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    Doubt this will hurt EA's sales in the short term (hell, it's sort of hard when you own every and any video game company out there except for Ubisoft), but I think they're going down the wrong path, in terms of both decision making and PR. They need to know when to shut up, and move forward. Perhaps even going as far as to say, "we're sorry, we made a mistake, we decided this isn't in the best interest of the company or consumers and won't take this path again anytime in the near future." Obviously that won't happen, but EA needs to get off the blogs and stop admitting failure while continuing to pursue just that. And credit to the person who said it above, EA really needs to stop the nickel and dime BS - it's just bad for image, especially when your products and image are a complete failure at start up.
  • Robostegosaurus - March 28, 2013 8:50 p.m.

    If what he is saying is true, why didn't they call it "Sim City Online"?
  • JackC8 - March 28, 2013 1:34 p.m.

    Let me get this straight now: DRM is a failed, dead-end strategy, but they put it in Sim City? I'm confused. And this is after saying that the game couldn't be played offline because it runs local computations on the servers. But then they didn't have anything to say when people figured out that it did no such thing.
  • FoxdenRacing - March 28, 2013 1:50 p.m.

    Thank you for making me re-read this article...I caught something I didn't the first time. I get the feeling it's implying "DRM [running on the user's computer] is a failed, dead-end strategy", since to do it that way the key and the lock both have to be in the same place. That he then immediately called Simcity an "Online Service" is telling of EA's strategy moving forward. They intend to move into the "Software as a service" realm. Whether you pay once or pay monthly or get nickel and dimed to death makes no difference...they're intent on no longer selling you a copy of the game, but rather access to it for as long as their good graces last. That mindset will quickly destroy their credibility with the old school, and it'll only take a couple product shutdowns before the new-school 'social gamer' is alienated. EA, you've signed your own death warrant. Nice knowing you...or at least who you were 20 years ago.
  • KnowYourPokemon - March 28, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    This is the bullshit that never ends, it goes on and on my friends...
  • FoxdenRacing - March 28, 2013 8:28 a.m.

    The backpedaling and attempts at damage control is, if nothing else, entertaining. "You don't always know what the customers want"? If that's true on the painfully fundamental levels Simcity 5 is messed up...then you're too disconnected from your fanbase and your franchise itself, especially for one as old and storied as SimCity, to be giving creative direction. The name SimCity, just like the name of any other known [as opposed to new] franchise, comes with expectations. What it entails, how it looks and feels, how it plays, and the little touches that set it apart from the competition. The MMO aspect...if it was announced, and no secret was ever made about, it being an MMO, then what could have easily been called "SimCity Continents" would probably be a no-qualms-except-the-server-stupidity, rousing success. Instead, a bait and switch was pulled. Expectations were set for a Simcity in the vein of all previous SimCities, with hints that neat ideas from earlier iterations [like the Regions aspect] would allow you to connect to each other. And then the 'Surprise!' was anything but a pleasant one...and every followup since has been some variant of "You just don't get it". ----- I'm also not especially settled by his DRM comments. "DRM doesn't work, it's a failed strategy" could and should be a 'Wow, somebody with the power to influence the industry has finally figured it out!' moment...but instead, it comes with the heavily suspicious undertone of "so everything from here on out is going to be MMO-ish, sorta." I'm getting some popcorn. The process of EA righting the ship...or worst-case, imploding...should have some interesting moments.
  • sevenSixteen - March 28, 2013 12:45 a.m.

    These blatantly obvious nonstop shill comments have convinced me to never give Age of Wushu a single dime of my money.
  • CUFCfan616 - March 28, 2013 7 a.m.

    I've never even heard of it and I don't have any inclination to find out anything
  • winner2 - March 28, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    I'll give you a yen to do seppuku if you like wushu so much.
  • CUFCfan616 - March 27, 2013 10:01 p.m.

    Well, if it wasn't planned as DRM, it sure ended up that way. And if it was built as a MMO, why didn't they sell it as a MMO? Thousands (millions?) of people would have expected it to be an offline game like every previous Sim City but with online features. None of the Gamesradar previews mentioned it couldn't be played offline, more that it had nice online features. I wasn't aware that it demanded to be always online, even when you're not interacting with the online community, until the farce that was the game's launch happened and I'm sure I'm not the only one. How many people with rubbish/no internet connection picked it up and can't play it because they weren't clearly told that it's a MMO? The worst thing though, they know that the community never wanted it to be always online, so where's the plans to make it playable offline or're they going to continue to force gamers to play how they're told to play? The game might have played out more like a MMO, but that wasn't what people wanted
  • theflyinfoote - March 27, 2013 8:38 p.m.

    Maybe you should have marketed it as a MMO and not as a sim city game with an online component.
  • ParagonT - March 27, 2013 7:04 p.m.

    If that was the case, then they would have taken the damn thing out already. It's already shown that literally most of the features can be used offline. You show consumers by action, not by words. Talk is cheap.
  • PlainLikeVanilla - March 27, 2013 6:16 p.m.

    I think it's possible that Maxis didn't mean for it to be DRM but EA intended it as DRM the whole time.
  • Shinn - March 27, 2013 5:19 p.m.

    Unfortunately, that doesn't help me play this single player game by myself. And I'm not looking forward to the inevitable "you cannot connect to x server without purchasing y dlc first"
  • MrXLiebezeit - March 27, 2013 5:14 p.m.

    BS

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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