KarinL posted a link on this thread to an interview with someone called Rich Hilleman who seems just as out of touch with core, long term Simmers as the rest of EA. The Gamasutra interview can be found here and is titled “Getting EA ready for the future”. Hilleman has broken down us Simmers into 3 categories – those who create houses, those who have a virtual relationship with their Sim, and those who use the game to make movies with. How incredibly shortsighted of him. What about the story tellers and the Sim makers? The competition makers and the CC makers? No to mention the Legacy players or those who write mods so the game is actually playable for most people, or the World makers who can actually make a world that works properly, etc. etc.
His vision for the future is about services, not products:
“And so one of the things that I think is an interesting way to think about this is something I call service-oriented design. You’re going to get paid in the future not for your client but for the services, and so don’t spend all your time engineering a client to some undefined set of future experiences you think you might make out of it. The best way to build a new product might be to build the services first.”
Scared yet? How can EA build a service when they can’t even write games properly, maintain a website securely? More importantly, how can they build a service when they are so out of touch with what their players really want? Most Simmers are screaming out for a Seasons EP/a building SP/a University type EP, heck, just a game that WORKS, yet EA get some C lister singer (who’s more famous in the UK for her short lived marriage to Russell Brand than her singing career) called Katy Perry signed up in order to endorse an Expansion Pack which should have been part of a previous one, and a Stuff Pack full of crap which will make your town look like a diabetic’s nightmare. They then churn out another Stuff Pack endorsed by Diesel, the over priced high street store, which sells t-shirts for £50 (my sister buys them, she’s mad).
So using the Sims franchise as a ‘hypothetical’ example, Hilleman goes on to explain where he can see the future, based on his 3 categories of Simmers:
“If you think about each of those current audiences today and what future Sims product we’d want to give them, what the dollhouser wants is not an application on their computer, but they want an application on their phone that I can go take a picture of that chair, and “get that chair in my game for $20,” or for some number. And then what I want is I want the ability to express my houses to my friends; I want to be able to build a parade of homes for my particular house, so that I can win the Bathroom of the Year award for my particular category.”
This is the category I fall into, the ‘dollhouser’ (although I don’t want to live in all the houses I build and upload) and I can guarantee you that I am absolutely not interested in an App on my phone which would enable me to take a picture of an object and then pay EA for the privilege of adding it to my latest build. I bought the Sims games and add ons because it provided me with a tool to create houses, a hobby I used to love, with a bit of gameplay thrown in for good measure. And I think you’ll find that there is a massive community of builders out there who already express their houses to the community. There’s even a forum dedicated to it on the EA website, it’s called Creative Corner.
“That second group — the virtual character owners, the people who want a relationship — they want to be able to have a deeper emotional interaction with their characters. What I would give them is the ability to have video chat with their Sims. Now, the Sims speak Simlish — and I wouldn’t change that, by the way — but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have something that produces an emotionally evocative experience.”
If I ever came across someone who wanted to video chat with their Sim and had some emotional relationship with it I think I’d quickly make my excuses and leave. Maybe Hilleman is drawing on personal experience?
“The other thing I want to do is make the Sims a part of your social life, make them a part of your friends circle, and how you do that is you make where your Sims go with you be as interesting as where you go. And so for instance, imagine an application that when I went to Mount Rushmore with my Sims in my phone in my pocket, that it sent a note to all of my Facebook friends with a postcard of the Sims standing in front of Mount Rushmore and the note on the back of what we did there. It’s a goofy idea, but for somebody who cares about that character as deeply as one of their other friends, it’s a natural kind of thing.”
How about sharing real life experiences with real life people? The whole point of The Sims was a virtual world, VIRTUAL, not real. A lot of people don’t even admit to playing The Sims, it’s a guilty pleasure.
“For that last group, you know, the most frustrating thing about using The Sims to make a movie is that unfortunately the Sims do what they want to do. So like in the middle of a perfectly executed scene, they decide to go to the bathroom; it’s like, “Uh-oh. Wait a minute.” So what movie makers want most of all is the ability to direct the Sims. But if I give them the joystick control to drive the Sims around, they’re going to break things, and we’re going to have less fun.”
What? Have you actually watched any machinima?
“So as an example in this case, what I’ll do is instead I’ll give them the director. Instead of being able to direct the character themselves, I’ll give them Martin Scorsese, who can. Now the trick becomes not getting the Sims characters to do what you want, but getting Martin to do what you want. I’m still abstracted in the same way The Sims has used before, but what I’ve done is I’ve turned it into a different kind of a problem that fits to the gestalt of what that customer does.”
“The underlying point there is that by building the service first, you align yourself with how your customers value your product. And chances are you built a client that builds the best possible incarnation of that service, that’s going to be the way to build the most compelling project. The Sims is just one example; I would say the social and free-to-play and mobile spaces are probably even more important in those places.”
Not many of us value your products anymore. EA’s stock is the lowest it’s been in over 12 years yet all you’re interested in is Facebook/Twitter/YouTube giveaways and promotion. Your core gamers are jumping ship because the quality of your products is so poor, not to mention ridiculously overpriced. We’re not interested in advertising your games for you for free on our Facebook etc. pages, we want to play an entertaining game for a few hours. That’s why so many of us have stopped buying the EPs and SPs.
You won’t listen to us so we’ll stop giving you our money.