In yet another blissfully ignorant and frankly stupid interview, one of the EA lot has decided to take the patronising of their fan base to a whole new level. Role up Rachel Franklin, a.k.a. SimGuruRachel, Executive Producer/Vice President/General Manager of The Sims Studios.
In an interview published today on GameCentral, the gaming section of metro.co.uk, Ms. Franklin apparently confirms that EA have absolutely no understanding of their customer base at all and rely on their in game
snooping/data harvesting telemetry to tell them what their customers want. Ignoring the simple fact that if it isn’t actually in the game then how can their snooping give them accurate information?
I won’t bore you with the whole interview here (yes, it is actually pretty boring for the most part), but here are a few of my favourite, delusional snippets:
GameCentral (GC): I was quite addicted to The Sims 2 for a while, but then I didn’t really like the open world element in the previous game – and I know that fans are divided on that issue.
Rachel Franklin (RF): It’s been a contentious issue. But my feeling is that with the open world it’s harder to feel as connected with the town and your sims.
What? They had taxis, cars, boats, bicycles, subways, broomsticks and could run and walk. Arguably part of the connection was watching your Sim travel to other lots in whatever town you were playing and seeing what was happening in the world around them. Or am I missing something?
GC: I think it’s an industry wide problem now that gamers are just less trusting of publishers, that they no longer take their word for anything.
RF: Yeah. Yeah.
Really? That’s your offhand, couldn’t give a damn, answer? How respectful is that of the people who buy your products, who are basically paying your wages?
GC: I know if someone tells me that a bug will be fixed or that content will be added just after launch, I can’t trust them anymore. We’ve all been bitten too many times. And even if that’s not your fault you, and every other developer, has still got to deal with it.
RF: Right, right. And I think of it as two-fold, I think that we didn’t do a great job of exposing the content that was actually in the base game already. And The Sims is kind of funny that way, in that it’s a game that unfolds as you go through it and it takes a while to kind of really get into it and see, ‘Oh yeah, there could be this kind of reaction, that kind of reaction, the other kind of reaction’.
That’s right, blame the glaringly obvious errors in content and gameplay on the PR and Marketing department.
GC: (On the lack of toddlers in game) Is that something that’s going to come later, in maybe the next expansion? Since that is one of the main things fans are still asking for.
RF: You know, our fans ask for a lot of things! [laughs] And here’s the thing, we look at a lot of different factors. We look absolutely at things that are being said in public forums. We also have groups of fans coming in, but we also have telemetry to tell us what people are actually playing with and using.
This is what I just can’t get my head around. EA have always made it abundantly clear that, whilst they may look at their public forums, they ignore pretty much everything that anyone has to say. Unless it gives them an excuse to hand out a warning or ban for disagreeing with them or one of their tweenie fans. AHQ is a lot better as the EA reps. there do actually seem to care and interact way more than their counterparts on the official game forum. With regards to the telemetry, how would you measure how popular toddlers would be if they’re not actually in the game? Has it ever occurred to EA that maybe a lot of people don’t play a family style game anymore because for them it’s not realistic enough without toddlers? I’m not a family player but the majority of Simmers appear to be. It’s not so much a huge disappointment, more like a gigantic slap in the face.
GC: So you’re satisfied that not having toddlers was the right choice?
RF: That’s the decision that we made based on all of the information that we had at the time. So absolutely, I feel like it’s the best decision for the game to date. I’m not talking about future stuff. But I do think it’s important to know, that players play in very different ways. We see all kinds of different play styles and family players are very passionate, so are players that play other ways.
I wonder where they got that information from? Data from the Sims 1? And note that she’s not actually discounting toddlers altogether, she’s being very ambiguous in her response. I’m not the slightest bit interested in toddlers but a year on and it’s impossible to ignore the amount of people demanding they be reintroduced. This issue is not going away any time soon.
GC: I guess you’re not going to answer the question of how many more expansions there are to come?
RF: You know what, all I have to say is that The Sims 3 lasted for five years of content and still has lots and lots of fans.
Of course it does because there’s so much more in the game, even just the base game.