SimCity is probably one of the most controversial games in recent memory, but EA revealed recently that the always-online PC game has exceeded over two million in sales. Probably not the mind-blowing figure EA was hoping for, but things could have gone a lot worse, and EA Label President Frank Gibeau is well aware of this.
In a recent interview, during which he discusses everything from next-gen to mobile to consumer satisfaction, Gibeau mentions SimCity's loyal fan base, and how the most loyal of fans helped support the game through all its troubles.
When asked about the server issues SimCity suffered, he doesn't actually talk about the hard lessons. Instead, Gibeau mentions how lucky EA is to have a loyal SimCity following:
"In retrospect, our biggest takeaway is that we are lucky that SimCity has an enormous number of loyal fans. That first week after launch was really rough — an experience nobody wants to live through again.
"Since then, we’ve sold more than 2 million units, and the number of people logging in and playing is holding steady. SimCity is a success. However, underestimating demand in the first month was a major miss. We hope that the game and the service we’ve provided since then meets the fans’ high standards."
Could EA repeat their mistakes with some other game? Probably. No, Gibeau doesn't actually say that, but he does remind us of how difficult launching an online game is.
"Look, launching online games isn’t easy — particularly the ones that attract millions of fans on day one. Some of the biggest and best-run companies in our industry have stumbled on this. That’s not an excuse. It’s just evidence that serving AAA games online is hard.
"When service is disrupted, you move quickly to fix it and get the players back in their game. You learn from your mistakes and hope you don’t make the same ones twice. We analyze our operation to understand where it broke down, and we set new standards so it doesn’t happen again.
"But the fact remains: This is complicated. Every online game is different. As long as the games are getting bigger and better, and while the audiences are scaling rapidly, there’s going to be a high degree of risk in the first week of launch."
Several SimCity developers have already left Maxis in favor of greener pastures elsewhere.
Gibeau did say that EA wants to change so they don't get voted "Worst Company in America" by angry consumers. On this topic, he mentions changing business practices that gamers didn't like, such as their online pass system:
"We take it very seriously and want to see it change.
"In the last few months, we have started making changes to the business practices that gamers clearly don’t like. In the spring, we dropped our online pass program for consoles — both next-generation and current-generation. We listened to the feedback on SimCity and decided that The Sims 4 would be built as a single-player, offline experience. We announced some new intellectual properties at E3 and will unveil more new games in the months ahead.
"We’ve launched an initiative to help players transition to the new consoles. We weant to make moving day a lot easier by allowing players to carry forward their achievements. And there’s much more to come. The point is we are listening, and we are changing."
Recently, EA announced some next-gen perks for their sports games, like the Madden NFL 25 current-next-gen perks.