Why EA’s SimCity Apology Games Are Gross

Yesterday EA released the games that they will be giving to SimCity players for all the server hiccups (or heart failures) that the game has had since launch.  In the article I wrote last week about the SimCity debacle, I suspected a lackluster list of games that would be dispensed by EA and when I saw the list yesterday I could not help but shrug my shoulders indifferently at the lineup of games that, while not all bad, were underwhelming. I went over the list, one-by-one, trying to find something that I would actually play and came up nothing.  Each game has its specific flaws and none of these games would be generally categorized as “must play”.  Let’s take a look at the list.


Battlefield 3

Current Price on Origin: $15.20 (Discounted from $39.99)

This is actually the best game on the list and probably where your money should really go.  Battlefield 3 is an impressive shooter with a rabid fan base and can give you countless hours of fun in return.  Take a gander through the countless youtube videos that show the impressive visuals and creative gameplay that makes up a thrilling multiplayer experience.

However, that multiplayer experience is subject Origins oft-trouble servers and Battlefield 3 can have more online troubles than most blockbuster online shooter experiences.  If those servers do go down, players are left with a boring, mediocre single player experience.  This also reeks of EA desperately trying to push its Battlefield 3 DLC, which is the type of commercial nonsense that gives EA such a bad name in the first place.


Bejewled 3

Current Price on Origin: $9.99

It is hard not to look at this game and chuckle to one’s self.  The immediate thought is, “Why not include the latest version of Snake while you are at it.”  Make no mistake, Bejewled 3 is a competent puzzle game that offers about as much as Pop Cap Games could squeeze out of it. But it is still Bejewled.  Not being able to play your $60+ game for the better part of a month is hardly made right by a game that is free for the first hour and less that $10 at full price.  The game may have its addictive qualities, but I have yet to meet the person who tells me that I must add Bejewled to my game library.


Dead Space 3

Current Price on Origin: $29.99 (Discounted from $59.99)

Apparently, Dead Space 3 didn’t meet the five million copies it needed to in order to break even.  It is nice for EA to offer one of their most recent releases which is still being sold for the full $60 at most stores, even if they are selling it at $30 themselves.  Many people would have thought that game was off the table as far as SimCity compensation was concerned.

As the Dead Space series goes, Dead Space 3 is almost unanimously thought to be the worst of the trilogy.  If EA wanted to showcase its space horror franchise, it would have been a much better move to bundle the original Dead Space with its sequel.  The two earlier games, in terms of quality, far outweigh their new brethren.  However, once again, marketing rears its ugly head as the potential to make a return investment with the game’s microtransactions, promote new DLC, and make players sniff the originals could be the real motivation here.


Mass Effect 3

Current Price on Origin: $9.99 (Discounted from $19.99)

Mass Effect 3, while garnering a fair share of complaints about its ending, was a great game.  It capped off the Mass Effect Trilogy in with a well crafted final chapter.  It is generally not thought of as the apex of the franchise, but I doubt anyone would call it a bad game.

Yet this almost feels like the most insulting game on the list.  First, Mass Effect 3 is almost worthless without playing the original and its sequel.  Never before have prequels mattered more in video games.  Players who jump right into Mass Effect 3 will miss out on seeing their crucial choices from the first two games effect the finale.  Once again, this almost seems to be a push to get people to note the games extensive DLC library and get access to a game that has a fundamental monetary kickback to EA.  The worst of it, is that EA recently released the Mass Effect Trilogy which includes all of the Mass Effect games.  But clearly they don’t want to include a game that people might buy on their own.


Medal of Honor: Warfighter

Current Price on Origin: $14.99 (Discount from $29.99)

Woof.  This game was released to some of the worst reviews in 2012.  EA announced, shortly after the game’s release, that they were shutting down the Medal of Honor franchise for the time being.  Getting absolutely pummeled by critics probably resulted in moving very few of these titles. Thanks a lot EA, clearly this is one of your real gems.  EA’s website states “We’ve put together an assortment of some of EA’s top hits” in response to why these games were chosen.  Someone explain to me how a game with a sub-60 Metacritic score and less than 1 million units sold globally counts as a “top hit”.


Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Current Price on Origin: $29.99 (Discounted from $59.99)

There really isn’t too much to say here. Need for Speed: Most wanted appears to be a competent enough driving game.  It has decent reviews and is still relatively new.  The only drawback is that it is a racing game and caters to a pretty specific audience, but I am sure the audience for it exists.  EA gets a star on this one.  I guess one good offering (for a specific audience) out of eight isn’t bad.


Plants vs. Zombies

Current Price on Origin: $5.00

Plants vs.Zombies is a great game.  It is unique blend of art style, comedy, and well balanced strategy controls.  It has some solid depth and really promises to be a great time.  However, it is really a game that is most suited for mobile devices when it can be picked up and set down on a whim.  In fact, you can get this game on any mobile device for about $5, which is its current price on Origin.  Players could (and should) feel slighted getting only a $5 value when there are plenty of games available which are worth more on Origin.


SimCity 4

Current Price on Origin: $19.99

Lastly is SimCity 4, which might seem like a logical fit on this list.  If people are so desperate to play the same old SimCity they know and love, why don’t they do it here?  The thought is nice, though it could be assumed that a fan who is excited enough of about SimCity to jump on during its launch window already owns a copy of SimCity 4.  But EA’s point with this offering is well taken, even if it is a little crass.

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I might come off as negative about these offers from EA.  On the surface, they seem pretty nice; Mass Effect 3, Battlefield 3, Plants vs. Zombies, and Need For Speed: Most Wanted are fine games.  What is funny is that EA could have put out decent games at the same cost and this would have come out significantly better; games like Dead Space 1 and 2, Mass Effect 1 and 2, The Sims 3, FIFA 13, and Dragon Age: Origins.  These games would not have cost the company any more than the already offered options and would.  The reason EA chose the game that they did is because they were either easy to give away (Bejeweled 3, Plants vs. Zombies, SimCity 4) or they were games that EA felt could provide future money for the company through DLC and microtransactions.

That is what feels wrong about this.  EA didn’t really have to offer up any sort of compensation for their SimCity problems, it looked like they were making a gesture of goodwill.  Unfortunately it was disingenuous, more a ploy for good press than an actual attempt to make sure their customers were happy.  This is why EA continues to be one of the worst companies in gaming, because while other companies think of helping their customers, EA can only think of themselves.