When SimCity first released, those people who did publish official reviews clearly had reviewed a demo copy. Eurogamer Sweden published a 100% rating on the 4th, when the servers were taking a pretty large poop and a true play test of the multiplayer portions had not really begun. A few days after launch, the metacritic score was around 85. Now it’s 67. Let’s not even discuss the user score.
I know that most publishers tie a revenue bonus or tier percentage on returns based on the metacritic score. This can clearly be gamed if the review sample is small, such as what happened with Fallout: New Vegas, where a single % cut off all bonuses for what was arguably one of the best games that year.
Now let it be clear that I like Maxis. They’ve made some pretty amazing games over the years, one of which I’m pretty sure is still the all-time best selling game (The Sims). Darkspore, to me, was their first toe step into the multiplayer arena. Again, the reception for that game was mediocre. Given that, it’s hard to imagine that it was EA that was pushing the muliplayer aspect of SimCity and that a portion of the blame of what was delivered sits squarely in their lap.
So here we are, 1 week after launch and the game 10 years in the making is most definitely going to cost EA a few million in lost sales, Maxis any possible bonus and likely quite a few people their jobs. It’s a business after all and one with next to no tolerance for failure. I do feel bad when people lose their jobs, but at the same time, you can look at SimCity and see nearly everything wrong with games today:
– Underdeliver (bordering on flat out fraud)
– We still buy a lacking product