The Sims 4 Will be Single-Player Offline

Sims4It looks like EA may have learned something from the SimCity fiasco! One of the many problems with the launch of SimCity was that players were having difficulty being able to access the game. This was, to make a long story short, due to problems that EA was slow to resolve regarding their servers. Many have said that things would have been so much better if SimCity could be played without having to be online.

Perhaps the frustrated cries of thousands of gamers have been heard by EA. They have announced that The Sims 4 will offer a “single-player offline experience”. The EA blog says:

The Sims 4 celebrates the heart and soul of the Sims themselves, giving players a deeper connection with the most expressive, surprising, and charming Sims ever in this single-player offline experience. The Sims 4 encourages players to personalize their world with new and intuitive tools while offering them the ability to effortlessly share their creativity with friends and fans.

I don’t have any details about exactly how the sharing ability will function. What I do understand is that The Sims 4 won’t require people to share anything at all with other players in order to access and play the game itself. Perhaps The Sims 4 will be able to avoid the problems that happened with SimCity.

Another interesting thing, at least to me, is that The Sims 4 is currently in development for both PC and Mac. As a gamer who uses a Mac, this makes me happy. Of course, we will all have to wait until The Sims 4 is released, sometime in 2014, before we can play it.

Layoffs and Reorganizing at Electronic Arts

EA Logo Just when you think you’ve heard the last bit of bad news from Electronic Arts (EA), more is revealed. On March 18, 2013, CEO John Riccitello resigned from the company. His position was temporarily taken over by Chairman Larry Probst, who was a previous EA chief executive.

Riccitello’s resignation was probably not a huge surprise to many. EA has had a history of difficulties with their games. In June of 2012, Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) went “free to play”. Shortly after that, EA stopped reporting the number of subscribers the game had (which is never a good sign). Earlier this year, EA gained a lot of negative attention after the fiasco that followed the launch of SimCity. Many gamers were frustrated by the problems with the game, and felt that EA took too long before it acknowledged the problems or tried to fix them.

This month, EA announced that it will be retiring three of the games that are currently available through Facebook. Those games are: The Sims Social, SimCity Social, and Pet Society. They will be gone, forever, as of June 14, 2013. EA has been suggesting that players try out some of the Facebook games made by PopCap (which EA owns) instead.

Today, Kotaku reports that EA has done some layoffs, and is streamlining some of its divisions. Kotaku has published a memo from Larry Probst that was sent to workers while the layoffs were occurring. Here’s a piece of that memo that was released on the EA blog

In recent weeks, the executive team has been tasked with evaluating every area of our business to establish a clear set of priorities, and a more efficient organizational structure. This process has led to some difficult decisions about the number of people and locations needed to achieve our goals.

The workforce reductions which we communicated in the last two weeks represent the majority of our planned personnel actions. We are extremely grateful for the contributions made by each of these individuals – they will be missed by their colleagues and friends at EA.

Other portions of the memo note that Andrew Wilson will take on leadership at Origin (which EA owns). The Vancouver Sun reports that PopCap Vancouver and Quicklime Games studios are shutting down as part of the restructuring at EA. This resulted in some layoffs. Some PopCap Vancouver employees will be placed in jobs at other PopCap or EA studios.

EA is Retiring Some Facebook Games

EA LogoGamers who got really attached to their Sims games on Facebook are in for some sad news. Electronic Arts (EA) has announced that it will be retiring some of its games that are currently accessible through Facebook. EA is encouraging gamers on Facebook to check out titles by PopCap, instead.

What games are being retired? The announcement by EA states that The Sims Social, SimCity Social, and Pet Society will go offline on June 14, 2013. The games will no longer be available for play after that date. Why is EA doing this? According to their announcement:

After millions of people initially logged in to play these games, the number of players and amount of activity has fallen off. For people who have seen other recent shutdowns of social games, perhaps this is not surprising.

A quick glance through the EA website shows that there are several other Sims games available. There are some for iPad, iPhone, Android, or Kindle Fire. Unlike the ones on Facebook that are being retired, it looks like very few of the Sims games that are offered through the EA website are free to play.

Why is EA suggesting players check the games from PopCap? It makes more sense if you know that EA acquired PopCap in 2011. Specifically, EA would like the gamers who are sad about the loss of the games that will be retired to try Bejeweled Blitz, Solitaire Blitz, and Plants vs. Zombies Adventures. These titles will be available through Facebook. The announcement from EA says that the company will be making a “special offer” to help players make a smooth transition to PopCap.

Alas, your Sims and Pet Sims will soon disappear, forever. Perhaps shiny jewels and creepy zombies will help you to get over that loss.

CEO John Riccitello Resigns from EA

EA LogoIt’s official. The CEO of Electronic Arts, John Riccitiello, has resigned. Personally, I’m not very surprised by this news considering the problems that EA has experienced. In his place, for now, will be Chairman Larry Probst, who is a previous EA chief executive, while the board searches for a permanent replacement.

According to the Wall Street Journal, EA’s shares have fallen nearly two-thirds since John Riccitiello was named CEO of Electronic Arts in 2007. In a letter that John Riccitiello sent to employees, he acknowledges that the company has fallen below expectations and takes responsibility for it. Part of the letter said:

My decision to leave EA is really about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.

EA, as you know, is the company that makes the SimCity game that has frustrated so many gamers recently. To make a long story short, it is clear that the company failed to anticipate the server instability issues that it faced after the game went live. It didn’t help that it took a very long time before EA acknowledged the problems or tried to fix them.

Players became more frustrated when they tried to return the malfunctioning game and discovered that EA was refusing to accept returns. Eventually, EA offered “something for your trouble” to the disgruntled players it managed to alienate – a free PC download of a game from the EA portfolio. I’m not sure that was enough.

Previously, EA, (which owns Bioware) had problems attracting and keeping players interested in the Star Wars The Old Republic game, which was intended to be a competitor for Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. According to The Wall Street Journal, SWTOR cost “hundred of millions of dollars to make over the five years” it was created.

In June of 2012, the game went free to play up to level 15. EA charged players for certain items within the game. The company stopped reporting the number of subscribers the game had, and that is never a sign that things are going well.

EA Unveils Trailer for Real Racing 3

This week game maker EA held their Summer Showcase event, at which they unveiled, among other things, Real Racing 3.  The trailer video has now been posted online for those gamers who didn’t get to the show or watch the live stream that was broadcast.

The footage is branded “pre-alpha”, which indicates this is still very early in the build process.  However, if this is not even close to polished, then the final release should be stunning.  As you can see in the footage below, the video and audio are already amazingly realistic.  The new game is also expected to incorporate some real life tracks like Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Laguna Seca.

There is no official release date yet, but the game is expected before the end of this year.  In the meantime, you can get Real Racing 2 from the Google Play Store for $0.99.  It’s not available for iOS.