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Changes in EA Leadership, Including SimCity/Maxis

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http://www.polygon.com/2013/9/24/4766418/ea-executives-sports-games-labels-patrick-soderlund-frank-gibeau

 

Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw is now part of Wilson's management team as head of the SimCity studio

 

Frank Gibeau, who was over EA Labels (including Maxis), is now also over EA Mobile and Origin (which distributes SimCity).  Not sure if that impacts SimCity players.  Doubt it.

 

Lucy Bradshaw was demoted to just being over SimCity, so it'll be interesting to see who takes over Maxis, since they'll also be over The Sims, and what impact that will have on SimCity going forward.  A lot of us were/are worried that SimCity will become more like The Sims in certain ways.

 

She now reports directly to the EA CEO, and that's usually not a good thing when somebody is demoted and their product has had some negative publicity.  Especially not with all of the services/games EA has been cutting.

 

I'm going to remain cautiously optimistic/guarded and take it as a sign that EA considers SimCity to still be a strong IP, and that they have big plans for it.

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Where are the posters that said sc2013 was a success? Is this enough to show that it was a flaming disaster with the most senior person being demoted?

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Being demoted, while reporting to the CEO, does potentially show that the CEO thinks it can still produce over the long run.  It would have been worse had she just been demoted and left under whoever takes over Maxis, or just moved to a non-management position.  The CEO taking a direct interest in SimCity carries a lot of weight.

 

Maxis head might now be Ryan Vaughan, The Sims Producer.  Not sure though.

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Let's say you are the commercial manager of a small safety valves' manufacturing company.

 

Your product is quite high quality stuff, and your clients are happy with their performance. You have a base of fixed customers who think these valves are OK, althought they could be improved. Ten years is a lot of time for a technological product, and there have appeared new systems, new concepts and new materials in the market, which could be applied to your safety valves. 

 

At some point, as a CEO, you have two options:

 

1) Upgrading your product to meet your customers' new standards and keep having this "fanbase"

2) Presenting a new, revolutionary, state-of-the-art safety valve which will be THE safety valve every industry will want to have installed. The "non-plus-ultra" product, with the lightest and most resistant materials possible, with such a highly automatised manufacturing process that delivery time can be dramatically cut... You know what I mean.

 

You seriously survey your customers to see what would they improve about your safety valves, but at the time of designing, you just scrap these ideas because they are too conservative, not enough revolutionary. During a couple of years, you are sending a newsletter every day to all your customers letting them know how the progress goes and how cool and revolutionary your safety valve is. And offer sneak peaks about its shiny cool features. And let your customers come to a test installation and let them observe the safety valve on action. A hype is definately created among them.

 

Given that you want to take the new product's benefits as soon as possible, you begin producing this new valve and it is finally released. The casting process is not streamlined, there are some low quality small components on it, the operators are still unexperienced assembling this so cool safety valve and they have to be packed in a very special way so they don't get damaged during the transport, there is no way to undestand the user manuals because they have been translated via Google Translator... Suming up, the typical problems ANY too early released product could have.

 

Your customers order and order, because they just want your hyped product and they want it now. They have already paid and they want the valve in exchange. And you can't cope with that amount of orders because your facilities remain the same. Deliveries are not leaving the warehouse, the already delivered orders arrive damaged or entirely broken to their destination, and the valves that can be installed, fail after a few days. That cool features your safety valve has remain there, but just doesn't serve its purpose, you have no safety valve. You have a shiny piece of useless steel.

 

After this launch, your well-earned reputation through decades has flushed. All the other safety valves' manufacturers are laughing at your face and, obviously, your customers will not want to buy your other possibly flawed products. 

 

Your CEO obviously asks for responsabilities, and the commercial manager's head is the first to fall off.

 

After all, videogaming is one more industry. Sometimes one succeeds, sometimes one fails. And sometimes one creates and launches SC2013.

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Investors are the ones who are forcing the restructuring of EA as whole.

 

Investors want more profit per each game that EA produces and kill of games that fail to be a smash success (which is general the 5 million mark now).

Investors also want more paid DLC in games as well.

 

In the short term nothing will happen.

 

In the long term EA will be forced to follow the the other public 3rd party game makers who already forced to nickle and dime the consumers to the hilt to meet investors demands.

 

Pubicly trade companies are required to MAXIMIZE the PROFITS and RETURNS to the shareholders/investors as dictated by law.

If a publicly trade company acts against the wishes of the investors, the investors can sue or have the government press charges

 

The current state of the videogame and PC industries, most title due to development costs, marketing, and distribution must sell 4-5 million just to breakeven now days.

 

One of the most recent examples is the recent Tomb Raider (2013).

The game sold a little over 4 million and hasn't sold enough to turn a profit yet.

 

Frank Gibeau will probably be fired within the next few weeks after his most recent outburst on Monday claiming Apple is paying EA truck loads of money to make their mobile games iOS timed exclusives and/or full exclusives, while gimping the Android ports.

 

Lucy Bradshaw on the other hand isn't really a full demotion per say, as she was unable to handle all three major Maxis brands.

 

The three major brands at Maxis are:

  • Simcity - Lucy Bradshaw
  • The Sims - Someone
  • Spores - Someone else

 

Bradshaw was never incharge of running Maxis, she was incharge of managing the brands and their marketing.

 

The director of Maxis is one of the developers.

 

"We've sold more than two million units, and the number of people logging in and playing is holding steady. SimCity is a success. However, underestimating demand in the first month was a major miss. We hope that the game and the service we've provided since then meets the fans' high standards."

SimCity's sales figures were confirmed during EA's first quarter financial results. It was also announced that the Battlefield Premium community now exceeds four million members and Origin has reached 50 million users.

 

 

Simcity 2013 is the first PC Simcity game since Simcity 3000 to make a profit.

The iOS version of Simcity is also going strong as well (and isn't half bad as I own it).

 

TL:DR  Version:

Investors are now running the show at EA and plan to do what it takes to increase profits at all costs, which is bad for gamers.

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Considering the dramatic launch of SC2013 at least one of these two things happened:

 

- EA gave Maxis too little budget to make a decent game and didn't extend the deadline when it needed to.

- Maxis had enough budget but overestimated what they could do and should have put less features in the game and focus on getting the features that where in the game working.

 

I don't want to speculate over what happened too much. If the former happened, Lucy would be blamed for not managing the budget better. If the latter happened Lucy would be blamed for not holding Maxis' leech tight enough. I don't know her so I don't know how much she deserves to take the blame for it. I do think it's good to see that the Simcity launch did shake up EA. They seem willing to put effort into repairing the damage done to the brand and haven't abandoned ship. If they had declared the Simcity brand dead, that would have sucked.

 

In other leadership news: the new EA CEO's intro speech was basically: "we love our shareholders". Not much change happening there I'm affraid.

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