Friday afternoon, an anonymous Reddit account named DisappointedEA posted a letter from a supposed Electronic Arts employee to the executives in the gaming corporation that were involved with the planning and launch of SimCity. While no one has received confirmation from DisappointedEA if he or she is actually an employee, other media outlets have reported that the account is indeed controlled by an employee of EA.
The proof that was presented was that the OP is an artist at EARS and that an internal email was sent to all EA employees from CTO Gabrielle Toledano on Friday, which was true. The only reason why we are reporting on this story is that the letter was one of self-deprecation about the always online DRM required in last week's SimCity release. When the reviews came out, they were all very positive and as I've watch many streams since I can't play it on my desktop, I can attest that the game is actually really good but the game currently isn't functional due to server overloads happening constantly to the point that EA and Maxis had to cut non-important features in order to speed up connectivity to those players attempting to play SimCity.
In my opinion, the biggest callout the letter to EA executives has is the poster said the game should feature offline play. In its current state, there is no way to play the game in a solo-experience unless you jump into an area that hasn't been occupied before but you'll still need to be connected to the Internet similar to how StarCraft II's multiplayer is. I'll probably catch some flak from this but the game is designed to be online and a patch that would feature offline play would only take away from the additions made to the newest SimCity.
The employee who posted this hasn't been fired as of yet but I believe there is a strong possibility that this letter might have been made by someone who was never an employee of Electronic Arts. If you wish to read the letter in its entirety, I'll post it below or you could read it on Reddit.
According to Maxis boss Lucy Bradshaw, the online team is looking to do everything to improve gameplay experiences. One thing most gamers might not know is that there are international servers including one just added for Antarctica so jump on new news to avoid crowding. Lucy says player response time to servers has jumped 40 times. All of those who purchased the game digitally aren't able to currently get a refund for the sometimes nonfunctional game but Electronic Arts will be offering gamers a free game that all Origin accounts that have purchased SimCity.
To the executives at EA, from one of your employees
I am deeply embarrassed by the troubled launch of Sim City and I hope you are too. When I walk around our campus and look at the kind of talent we’ve collected, the amenities we have access to and the opportunities working at such a big company affords us, I can’t imagine how for release after release, EA continues to make the same embarrassing, anti-consumer mistakes. We should be better than this. You should not be failing us so badly.
Another thing I see when I walk around our campus are massive banners that display what are said to be our company values. They are on posters on every floor, included in company-wide emails and hanging above the cafeteria in bright colors. You even print them on our coffee mugs so we see them every day. But somehow when planning the launch of Sim City, you threw them all out the window.
Most important of the values you are ignoring is Think Consumers First. What part of the Sim City DRM scheme, which has rendered the game unplayable for hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, demonstrates that you are thinking about consumers before you are thinking about yourselves? Does “first” mean something different in boardrooms than it does to the rest of us? Does the meaning of that word change when you get the word “executive” in front of your title?
You can’t even pretend that you didn’t know consumers would be angry about this. Common sense aside, consumers complained about this during your public betas. In fact, when one of them posted his criticisms on the forums, he was banned! You tried to silence your critics. The same thing is happening now as users write in to demand refunds. What part of this behavior aligns with our company value to Be Accountable?
What you’ve demonstrated with this launch is that our corporate management does not believe in our core values. They are for the unwashed masses, not for the important people who forced this anti-consumer DRM onto the Sim City team. This DRM scheme is not about the consumers or even about piracy. It’s about covering your own asses. It allows you to hand-wave weak sales or bad reviews and blame outside factors like pirates or server failures in the event the game struggles. You are protecting your own jobs at the expense of consumers. I think this violates the Act With Integrity value I’m looking at on my own coffee mug right now.
On behalf of your other employees, I’d like to ask you to fix this. Allow the Sim City team to patch the game to run offline. If Create Quality and Innovation is still a core value that you believe in, then this shouldn’t be a hard decision. Games that gamers can’t play because of server overload or ISP issues are NOT quality. Be Bold by giving the consumers what they want and take accountability for the mistake.
Finally I’d like to ask you to follow the last company value on the list in the future: Learn and Grow. When you made this mistake with Spore, the company and all your employees suffered for it. You didn’t learn from that mistake and you are making it again with Sim City.
So please, learn from this debacle. Don’t do this again. Grow into better leaders and actually apply our company values when you make decisions. Don’t just use them as tools to motivate your staff. With the money, talent and intellectual property available to EA, we should be leading the industry into a golden age of consumer-focused game publishing. Instead we’re the most reviled game publisher in the world. That’s your fault. Things can only change if you actually start following the company values and apply them to every title we launch.
A Disappointed But Hopeful Artist at EARS