So here we are, on the eve of what may be a new era for the Sims world, or may prove the catalyst to better days ahead if it results in the almighty bloodletting of those complacent bumnuggets at Sims Studio that is long overdue if disaster strikes.
This time last year, we were completely out of step with the vast majority of the gaming community who could see nothing but flying cats shitting rainbows over Sims 4. Now we’re the ones who called it out right from the start. No big deal: in a few days time we’ll be celebrating five years of being proven right a million times after everyone else said we were wrong.
Credit though where credit’s so richly due. Honeywell – plumbob bless her – did more than anyone else to make people see the light, and she was one of the original enthusiasts. Nothing more devestating than a Paarthurnax to make people think twice.
(Here’s a thought for you all by the way courtesy of the sweeter half of the team: Haiden with Paarthurnax’s voice. Hippiedippie and Mikezumi’s not going to sleep tonight now! Oh by the way, if you haven’t heard, Mikezumi’s moved back to Australia – that’s why she’s been so quiet of late, thought you guys ought to know…)
But let’s be clear about this, it was EA that did more than anyone else to turn people against their own game.
Here’s the question: when was the tipping point?
When was the point EA – or rather the Simgurus – had, as they say, ‘lost the audience’ along with the plot?
Was it the 9th June 2014, the day the launch date was finally confirmed accompanied by another insipid video that showed nothing had changed in over twelve months of silence since the first promo video?
Was it Graham Nardone being forced to admit that Sims 4 wasn’t open world by the 16th? For many, the lost of open world was the moment EA lost them.Was it word appearing on the 19th that EA were considering a subscription system for buying additional content?
Comtempt towards the Simgurus – the supposed eyes, ears and voice of EA with its fanbase, the corporate ‘cuddly side’ – became more open and more virulent than it had been by the end of June.
What was missed by many at the time – but ought to have been taken as a sign that things were very badly wrong – was that one of those Simgurus had quietly left without a word, the very one that had been so anxious to get back in the door at the first opportunity after she was fired.
Lauren McLemore – whom EA had fired earlier in the year as surplus to requirements and then brought back a few weeks later – had jumped ship to League Of Legends, an online multiplayer game. As a former expansion pack producer she was well positioned to put in to get the gigs for the various Sims 4 expansions, stuff packs and Store content – after all, they’d already found out once they couldn’t do without her. If one of the Simgurus had little confidence in a future with Sims 4 when Sims 3 had been one of the cushiest numbers in the whole gaming industry…
She was far from being the last to abandon Sims 4 as a lost cause. Rflong7/13 – one of the YibSims and one of the most highly respected creators within the Simming community since the early days, admitted that she was not going to be buying the new game because so much from previous versions had been removed it wasn’t worth full price.
Back on the 7th August came another of those ever increasing ‘we had to see it to believe it’ moments in the sorry saga of the run up to Sims 4, as Windweaver – one of the diehard cheerleaders for it – politely told Graham Nardone to stick his pom-poms where the sun doesn’t rah-rah-rah.
As recently as June time, Windweaver had been firmly in the Sims 4 players camp.
But now it seemed it had all been a premature congratulation.
More to the point, as can be seen from her signature, she has been encouraging people to send letters of complaint to the Chief Organ Grinder of EA about his Couldn’t Care A Monkeys’. Now you know why EA were so keen initially to omit that feature from the new forum.
The part which really got people mad on the EA forum, Mod The Sims and elsewhere was Nardone’s blasé attitude that in the event of anything in Sims 4 that you don’t like or was left out, you should use your imagination to compensate.
We think Windweaver and Glic2003 want EA to imagine they’re going to buy Sims 4 – it’s as near as they’ll be getting to their money at this rate.
Tarantar9 made a reminder that BioWare tried that one before.
It was somewhat fitting that Rflong7/13 should come in at this juncture, whose admission back in June she had also cancelled her pre-order was something of a crossing the rubicon moment insofar as the whole Sims 4 debate has raged on the EA forum – if not further.
‘But you were so excited for build mode’ said Cinebear – echoing what many of us had said both pro and anti back at the time. When they lost Rflong7/13, the Sims 4 evangelicals were not so much in retreat as full melée.
Indeed, it was the retreat of so many veteran Simmers – the ones they ought to have expected to keep as a matter of routine – that was another of those defining moments that the tide had turned.
Or as Rflong7/13 was to put it on the EA forum later:
Three days after Rflong7/13’s announcement and the day after Lauren McLemore admitted she’d left EA, the first negative review in the mainstream media for Sims 4 came out.
After months of whitewash, Tom Sykes at PC Gamer broke the convention there had been for non-critical appraisal for the still not revealed in full game, pointing to the omission of Create A Style, pools and toddlers and accusing EA of trying to bury the bad news within one of their atypical bouncing puppies shitting rainbows press releases.
Even Darkslayer, who developed a right petted lip towards us over our stance and was taken to task for it by Anavastia:
… was doing a backflip on her St Valentine’s Day assertions come that same day in June when GabbyGirlJ said exactly what we’ve been saying all along – Sims 4 was a half-arsed job…
… itself part of a response to a epic post by Cinebar – a voice crying in the EA forum wilderness for far too long and who was routinely crucified for it from the snark kiddies for well over a year for stating her forebodings that all was not well with EA’s flagship release for 2014.
By July, another of the early Sims 4 evangelicals SimsTias had also turned apostate.
And with only two months left until launch date. But July in many ways topped June for dealbreaker moments, with the now infamous roast of Graham Nardone over at Mod The Sims exposing him as a bunco booth merchant willing to say any crap in the world if it got another sale – and contrary to the MTS cynics, there was an equally hot reception awaiting him and the other Simgurus on the EA forum forthcoming, and even a parody website dedicated to EA’s own Comical Ali was set up.
On MTS, there was a growing sense that those at EA weren’t even really trying…
… and as such, why should the fans care less about it?
To come back to earlier points from Windweaver and Glic2003 it was precisely this arrogance from the likes of Graham Nardone and Grant Rodiek on Twitter (the latter admitting the game wasn’t even finished yet in an unguarded moment on 3rd July) – ‘this is what you’re getting, suck it up because we know you will, you always do.’ – that grated, encapsulated by Nardone posting the following major howler:
This is pure Gerard Ratner territory – a senior game producer dissing the very product he’d been co-responsible for, and this is someone as we’ve said before who is meant to be employed in the capacity of public relations.
Schantal aka McKinneyMini was in good company in her rage in Litabelaqua:
‘The arrogance of EA is astonishing really, and Graham Nardone’s comment just crystallises that arrogance… that they can lie to us then tell us they lied to us and then give us even bigger lies.’
Lucyvp86 summed up this self-nuke entirely: why should we ever believe any promises the likes of Graham Nardone and his ilk ever make about the Sims series – let along Sims 4 – ever again? Complete and utter contempt for the fanbase without which they don’t have jobs, let alone Nardone’s beloved Pizza Fridays at Sims Studios Redwood City (they were later to close down the EA forum for Sims 3 after telling everyone it was being ‘upgraded‘)
Indeed, such lies began to become more and more commonplace, right down to promising a big announcement at Gamescon, but all it consisted of was announcing that the CAS Demo had been released – which was hardly a secret to the media let alone Simmers when it had been out for over a fortnight by this time.
All actions that further wore down Simmers enthusiasm.
Arrogance leads to complacency, complacency leads to botched products and services – when they couldn’t even be bothered to check their promotional screenshots for glaring evidence they were photoshopped, more people like Mishkabee began to have doubts about what they were being expected to buy in a few months’ time:
For those wishing to see the original:
EA were facing a crisis loss of fanbase confidence which may have spilled over into the media and boded ill for their flagship launch for the year. In order to placate the fans, they rushed out a CAS demo which they’d earlier told everyone would only appear very close to launch day – pity for them the launch was tarnished first by limiting numbers to a random group, followed by the almighty howler of their PR manager Charlie Sinhaseni in conjunction with Simguru Ryan Vaughan giving a huckster a CAS access code for no other reason than it was a ‘hot babe’ – the extra punchline being the ‘hot babe’ in question had lifted ‘her’ photos from someone else.
Such rookie mistakes weren’t merely confined to the PR side, as Simguru Grant Rodiek admitting the cock ups coding in breast feeding that would have embarrassed an amateur on 25th July. Finally, there came more lying as EA merged the old EA forum in with the wreck of the broken Sims 4 official one to make a new one: an unwitting admittance that they weren’t confident that the launch of Sims 4 would sustain enough interest to merit a website of its own the way Sims 3 had (just for good measure, a Sims 2 section was added).
And finally on 18th August, the news that EA weren’t going to be giving out review copies until after Sims 4’s release. the ultimatel admission of trying to sell a pig in a poke.
All grist to the mill of the former Sims 4 cheerleader who turned into Honey The Wallet Vampire Slayer:
So once again, what was the tipping point that was to lose so much faith in Sims 4 ? Was it a series of tipping points in swift succession that lost EA those they’d expected to be their free advertisers tomorrow and for the future. Or was it a slow gnawing away of expectations and parallel growing disillusions?
Whatever the case, to have so decisively lost such a massive part of your core fanbase in two to three months flat before launch – let alone one of the most loyal of any gaming community – takes the bumnuggetry blue riband.
Congratulations EA – here’s hoping you reap what you deserve for Sims 4. You’ve certainly worked for it.