American McGee on SimCity Launch: “People Need to Relax”

Veteran game designer American McGee believes the public overreacted to the launch issues that plagued SimCity and Diablo 3.

“There are right and wrong ways to solve the problem, for sure,” McGee said to Forbes. “Customers have a right to expect that products they’ve purchased perform as advertised.” However, he does believe the public reaction has been unwarranted. He said:

“Not sure I see how incendiary media coverage or player reactions are warranted when things don’t work as expected. Do gamers or the media think EA or Blizzard wanted things to go so badly at launch? Do they think all the screaming and gnashing of teeth actually helped resolve those issues more quickly? There’s got to be a balance to the relationship. Just because you’ve given a restaurant your business doesn’t entitle you to throwing molten cheese fries in your waiter’s face if your margarita comes out frozen instead of on the rocks. People need to relax a little and stop turning everything into World War III – Gamers vs. The Man. There are no winners in that scenario.”

What do you think? Do you agree with McGee? Did people overreact to the issues that plagued Diablo 3′s and SimCity’s launches?

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12 Comments on American McGee on SimCity Launch: “People Need to Relax”


On March 27, 2013 at 9:57 am

I think the game companies are too afraid to miss a deadline sometimes, and push out games before they are really done. Just to hit the deadline they set like a year ago. Game companies should release a game that should not need huge patches upon release. thats just not good business. The EA issue is they are forcing an online only game, then the online doesn’t work. Then its not a game, its a beer coaster. the easy fix (in most gamers eyes, especially on simcity) is don’t have it be an online only game, just a small fraction would have been upset the online wasn’t working, as they still could have played the game locally in single player. When you take singleplayer out, and multiplayer is not working, then the captives get unruly.


On March 27, 2013 at 10:13 am

McGee would be right, if the game companies were willing to meet us half way. If you want a relationship that isn’t all hate and bile then both sides have to put in the effort, and as far as I’ve seen, the gamers have tried with EA. And they haven’t been met with the proper response.


On March 27, 2013 at 10:20 am

When game publishers are so concerned about meeting a pre-set deadline that games are released before they’re truly finished, I feel customers have every right to be angry. Far too many games are released with large, day-one patches now for me to think it’s anything besides publishers pushing games out too quickly.

I obviously don’t think that EA, Blizzard, and other large publishers want their games to have poor launches; poor launches mean lost revenue. But when they’re so focused on their short-term profits, they seem to be unable to look at long-term results. I find it hard to believe that fewer people would have bought SimCity or Diablo III if they were delayed until they worked properly for the customers.


On March 27, 2013 at 10:51 am

I don’t think he adequately explained the problem. It’s not that the online wasn’t working. It’s that no one wanted it in the first place.
Everybody was annoyed at the news of always online SimCity. That the feature no one wanted made the game crash added on top of an already pretty big mountain of anger.
If the game had crashed because of any other feature it wouldn’t have been nearly has big a deal.


On March 27, 2013 at 11:31 am

I’m sorry, who where you again? Oh yes, that’s right. And when was your last successful game? Wow, that’s a long time ago. So you’re an expert on pleasing the fan? According to your success rate, I would put you at more of and understudy.
How you compare spending good money on a game that can’t hardly be played vs a drink that’s slighty off is mind boggeling. Let’s put it more this way. You go into a really expensive restaurant, they give you a meal that’s almost totally unedible. Normally the restaurant gives you the meal for free, or yes I would throw molten cheesy fries in there face. Not the waiters but the cooks.
No a message needs to be sent that the people wont put up with shoddy service. If they want to play with my money, they need to be prepared like a professional, not some street punk selling watches from under his overcoat. They’re taking waaaaaay too many liberties with always online BS, to pull this kind of stupid stunt. If they can’t handle it, maybe they should give more options like not always online. I think that would do nicely.


On March 27, 2013 at 11:54 am

Their is no “relationship” we are cunsumers, they are the ones providing a “service”.

“Just because you’ve given a restaurant your business doesn’t entitle you to throwing molten cheese fries in your waiter’s face if your margarita comes out frozen instead of on the rocks”

The analogy is not entirely right, lets take the same aproach though, I would say it is more like this;

-We throw cheese at the chefs face because of the food we were given while badmouthing the bistro owner because he gave the chef only ten minutes to produce the meal. The food was over priced, the serving was only half a portion and the taste at the end was distinctly dog poo flavored. As for DRM it is like being forced to eat the food in a crappy cellar that occasionally floods stopping you being able to even eat, rather than a takeaway which lets you enjoy it from the comfort of your own home. All the while they swear blind the food is great and more “quality food” will be served again soon.

The chef would be lucky he did not get punched in the face.

The problem with American McGee’s viewpoint is that he is an insider, he is not a ripped of consumer but a developer. Video games is the only industry where I see people defending bad business practices and ignoring consumer rights.

Mustachio Marauder

On March 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Not at all a correct analogy, this is like being forced to make reservations at a restaurants grand opening when you don’t really want to go in the first place, having to sit at a table with a bunch of people you dont know, paying in advance, then showing up only to find the doors locked with a sign saying “we’re sorry come back again another day”

I think what he is misunderstanding is twofold, one they forced us to use online drm, not the other way around. If they weren’t prepared to handle to load of customers playing on the first day/week/month that’s entirely on them, they need to at minimum provide enough capacity for players to actually play the product that was released, or failing that they need to provide a single player mode so people can use the product at the very least. secondly people had been asking ea/maxis (and blizzard in the case of diablo 3) for a single player mode for the game months before it arrived, and several people predicted just this outcome, nothing will anger fans more than taking an absolutely stupid line with your product, then botching it so badly that your users cant play it. and why oh why did maxis not learn from the diablo 3 fiasco? Did they purposely see the launch and decide that they too wanted one of the worst launches of a game in recent memory?

The Real Kevin

On March 27, 2013 at 3:06 pm

CD Projekt didn’t do a very good job with the rollout of Witcher 2 with its amibigious ending and less than flawless launch. yet very few people screamed up a storm. CD Projekt had a track record of putting out gold, and if it wasn’t, they would do everything they could to make it such, and they’d do it for free.

Consumers understand that games can be a work in progress, and mistakes are made. Yet when the companies are notorious for shady business practices, manipulative marketing, hostility towards their lawful consumerbase (DRM), when they screw up, people have a tendency (rightfully so!) to rub companies self-righteous nose in the stink.


On March 28, 2013 at 6:43 am

Reducing it to a wrong drink order analogy is highly insulting. The discontent and reactions go far beyond the launch. The reason the press has continued since the launch was due to the other glaring issues with the game. After a certain point the AI does extremely odd things, things that you *would* suspect to be fixed prior to launch. City rollbacks and lost cities still happen regularly, resulting in multiple hours of lost work, maddening traffic bugs with service vehicles, so on and so forth. Remember this is all on the heels of a PR BLITZ and people dropping up to $80 for a “digital deluxe” edition. Hardly a $5 (happy hour price of course, Margarita)

Not to diminish McGee’s palmarès, but it is very shooter heavy. Not exactly intensive agent-based simulators.

When Publishers start looking at games as “services”, they need to understand that they’ll be judged AS a service. If your Telecom provider is giving you shotty service, despite declaring “the fastest #G speeds in America (or whatever country you live in)”, you have every right to complain. If your cable provider charges you X per month for premium channels and they only come in spanish (or your non-native language), you’re going to call an complain. If you buy a car and the brakes don’t work, you RETURN IT.

For some reason developers/designers like to alienate gamers, read CONSUMERS, for being unhappy with their product. You can’t put a dress on a turd and call it a doll. It shows how immature this industry still is despite being around for a while. Not every developer of course like this, so it’s not fair to label them all as such.

But this comment falls in line with David Cage’s BS blurb about blaming gamers for sequels and stifling innovation. These guys need to get out of their ivory towers and actually listen to their consumers and blend consumer needs with their artistic vision, rather than abdicating their responsibility as a content provider. This is all compounded by the rigidity of refunds in a digital landscape, people would be far less angry if they could return their product. Instead they are $60 out with a game that doesn’t deliver.

Tommy B Rude

On March 28, 2013 at 6:52 am

The problem with complaining about Sim City not performing as advertised is because it implies you already bought it. Companies will keep right on turning out games we don’t want with features we never asked for as long as the same idiots who complain about them keep buying them.
Here’s a handy tip: If the buildup to a launch makes you utter something along the lines of “jesus, that sounds awful” more than once, DON’T FREAKING BUY THE GAME. No, it’s not gonna be different this time. No, you shouldn’t give it a chance.
Bottom line, if you give your money to these assrods, don’t waste your time complaining because they’ve already won.


On March 28, 2013 at 8:51 am

All good and valid points in the comments section. However, I’m going to have to agree with Tommy: Everyone needs to stop paying for the game with pre-orders or first-day purchases. I think much of the problem with the game industry is entitlement. Game companies think they are entitled to your money because the made a game. As a result, they think you should pre-order or buy soon after release. Having actual customers is a privilege, not a right. Take your money to Kickstarter instead.


On March 28, 2013 at 11:28 am

Did EA pay him to be butthurt?

Seriously, McGee if EA didn’t whip the developers on their backs to get the game out just so they can stay afloat perhaps this wouldn’t have happened and PERHAPS if EA didn’t bull everyone about the game having to be played online, less people would’ve cried. There is a REASON why EA won the worst company awards.

As for Blizzard’s Diablo 3. If anyone knows the stress servers take during launch of something it should be them. Being one of the biggest and perhaps most successful companies comes with A LOT of expectations, this is something Blizzard just has to deal with.

And let us not forget that Error 37 turned into something to laugh while I’m willing to bet that EA’s mishap over SimCity’s launch is NEVER going to be something to laugh about. How about you think about that next time you think you know what the heck you’re on about, McGee?