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Sim-Dud? 355

Posted by michael
from the simulated-profits dept.
Lumpish Scholar writes ""The Sims Online" was one of the most anticipated releases of 2002; but (according to this Los Angeles Times story in the Baltimore Sun, "'The Sims Online' sold 105,000 copies, or only about a quarter of the initial shipment in December," and (as quoted in this article in the New York Times), "the company's president, John S. Riccitiello, said the number of subscribers was half what Electronic Arts expected." (Check out Google News for more articles, and a registration-free partner link to the New York Times story.) Meanwhile, the game's customer reviews at Amazon.com have an average rating of only two (out of five) stars."
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Sim-Dud?

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  • by NetMagi (547135) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:10PM (#5232446)
    was I the ONLY one who never played the darn thing in the first place?

    • was I the ONLY one who never played the darn thing in the first place?

      Apparently it's just you and me.
    • You are not the only one, I never saw the point in playing it. Now mix Diablo and The Sims, then you might get me to play it.
      • You are not the only one, I never saw the point in playing it. Now mix Diablo and The Sims, then you might get me to play it.

        I realise you were kidding, but I'd love something like that.

        Diablo gets really boring after a while - I'd love the backplot and associated stat modifiers etc. of your assassin having a family life (an odd one, but still.) Although decorating your tent in the rogue encampment would be a little much...

        Triv
    • No.

      Was I the only one who saw ads for the Sims Online and could not possibly see the point. It's an online version of real life, but with butt-ugly graphics. Picking up women on the computer (and let's face it, that's all the ads ever dwell on) seems to be a completely pointless activity with no reward. This game could only appeal to complete social outcasts who are also not very smart nor discriminating in their entertainment.

      Then again, the same could be said for a lot of TV...

  • Perhaps the business model of 'pay per use' really isnt that popluar..

    "join our gaming network. .bla bla bla" no thanks..

    • by neverkevin (601884)
      It is not the business model, it is that the game just sucks. MMORPGs like everquest and doac are making a killing using the same business model because their games are mildly interesting.
      • The problem is they made a jump from a one player game to a MMPORG that is vastly different. You can't just frig around with stuff anymore, it's costing you money, and other people are involved.

        It's not the same game by any means, even though the name and graphics are the same. That's where the problem is. The original had huge success because it allows people to make a world that they want to be in. MMPORGS take away the control you have over "your" world. It's like switching from WarCraft to EverQuest thinking they're the same thing.
    • by dead sun (104217) <aranach&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:32PM (#5232683) Homepage Journal
      This is why I will never buy a game like The Sims Online, Ultima Online, Everquest, whatever. I refuse to pay a fee monthly to ensure that I'm able to play a game that I already shelled out for, for a couple reasons.

      First, I don't have hours and hours to play games in the first place. I've got homework to do, college to pay for, and then afterwards a little time to unwind. Even at say $10 a month for a single online subscription game I might play at most a few hours of it a month. That's about all the more I get to play most games now. The hourly cost isn't that high, but the total cost over a year is obscene, $170 including purchase cost for maybe 36 hours of gameplay. Sorry.

      Second, I can find an abundance of quality entertainment, online multiplayer even, other places for free, or included in the purchase cost of the game. Battle.Net seems to be working out alright, though I'm not a huge fan of playing with some of the jerks on there. I'd rather set up a LAN and play that way, or prearrange an Battle.Net room. Otherwise there are tons of MUDs and other free games out there as well. Those have kept me entertained for longer periods of time than some games I've purchased.

      Maybe when I'm making more money than I currently am trapped in college I'll feel differently. Right now, however, I don't even toss subscription games a second look. For some reason I don't think I'm going to change my mind lightly either.

      • by realdpk (116490)
        You aren't limited to 36 hours of gameplay. And in EQ, that wouldn't get you very far, in any case..

        Consider tho, that $170 for 36 hours of gameplay is ~$4.72/hour. Pretty cheap compared to many alternatives. If you play 100 hours in that year, there ya go, $1.70/hour. Gets better the more you play!! ;)
        • Like the 3 people before me said, it's because of limits imposed by my life outside of the game, not by the game itself.

          It is very true that the more you play, the more the cost is driven down. Even at $5 an hour it is less expensive that many things, like going to a movie and getting popcorn even. It's just that if I don't go to a movie for a few months they don't terminate my account, kill my characters, and the like. Well, not that they could anyway.

          Perhaps when I have a real, well paying job and am not so deep in coursework I'll reconsider. I'm sure I could find time for one such game, and once one makes enough to have a disposable income $10 per month probably won't look like too much.

          Still, I can play on a MUD for free, and compared to from what I've seen of EQ, I think the experience might be more favorable.

      • One year ago, I probably would have posted something almost exactly identical to what you posted. I was a college student, and $10 a month to play a game was ridiculous. I couldn't afford it, and I didn't have the time to get my money's worth. I swore that I would never play an MMORPG.

        Fast forward to 1-2 months after graduation. I was bored senseless in my after-work hours, and I remembered that an old friend had been trying to convince me to play Dark Age of Camelot.

        I now own two DAoC accounts and find it worth every penny. Once you're in the working world, $10/month isn't that much. The cost of buying the game covers development costs, and the monthly fee covers the massive costs of big servers, lots of bandwidth, and (attempting) to provide customer service. It also pays for development of additional content. (Both EQ and DAoC have expansion packs, but they have plenty of content and cool things that have been added to the game even for non-expansion users.) In MMORPGs, patches aren't just bugfixes. They bring new monsters, new merchants, and changes in the gameplaye which are USUALLY neat improvements. (For example, the implementation of in-realm dueling in DAoC.) This is drastically different to most pay-once games where patches are merely for critical bugfixes and rarely add any new content.
        • Interesting to know about the patches, though I guess to keep getting subscription money you need to keep players interested.

          Looking at my post, perhaps my italicised never was a little bit harsh. I'm guessing that once I'm off and out of this ivory tower of academia I'll at least re-evaluate this statement, though I can't say for certain that it'll change. Years back, before college and social life and all that good stuff, I used to play on a couple MUDs which really were great fun. The interaction between players was always something that made each session interesting and unique. I tried picking one up again in college, about three years ago now, but I can't find the time to play as much as I'd like to keep up the interaction. Having seen some of the MMORPGs being played I almost think that I prefer the interaction through the horrific ANSI colored text to something like Everquest. Same charm in nethack I guess, but I don't dare install that again lest I wish to fail out of grad school.

          Right now the only game that I really play online is Utopia [swirve.com] which is a rather large completely human player kingdom game. It consumes a little bit more time than I should give it, but it's usually in little 10 minute chunks a couple times a day.

          • I'm a veteran of Planetarion, another web-based strategy game. Like you, the advantage to me in college was that it was played in 5-10 minute chunks. Each hour I'd quickly "check planet" then go back to what I was doing. Such games are definately more appropriate for college students due to the way their time is structured.

            Once you're in the working world, 9-5 is dedicated to work, after that is completely free. In this case, games that take your attention for an hour or so at a time are more practicable and appropriate. (Planetarion and to some degree Utopia, which I played for a little bit, required you to check your account pretty regularly to react to current events.)

            Some MMORPGS are definately better than others... EQ was a pioneer, but it has since been eclipsed with much better and well-thought-out games. (Dark Age of Camelot has a lot of similarities to EQ, but differs from EQ drastically in the areas where EQ was weakest, such as economics. DAoC also provides a common goal for each realm, that of battling the other two realms on a given server, whereas EQ has no apparent common unifying goal that I can see.)

            That said, coming from a DAoC player - STAY THE HELL AWAY until after you graduate! But it already (fortunately) looks like that was your plan. :)
  • Sim the sim (Score:5, Funny)

    by anicklin (244316) <slashdot&nicklin,info> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:12PM (#5232464) Homepage
    Maybe they should have simulated the release of the game in The Sims to see what the outcome would have been. :-)
  • Err... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Bitman (95493) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:13PM (#5232478) Homepage
    Maybe it's because no one wants to pay what you'd expect to pay for a full-fledged RPG when all you get is IRC and a set of meaningless stats that don't actually effect gameplay?
    They should be trying to get sales, not subscriptions. If it were like Battle.net, people would be stepping over eachother to get a copy. Pay for Chat? Not bloody likely. Remember Alpha World?
    • Ahhh Alpha World (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Christopher Bibbs (14) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:36PM (#5232717) Homepage Journal
      Execellent point. Alpha world blew because you had to walk around to find someone to chat with (more work than IRC) and there wasn't any interesting or useful interaction with the world around you. Sims Online seems to be just a better implementation of the same sucky idea.

      And yes, I'm bitter that no one ever enjoyed the house I had built out of rectangular blue blocks.
      • Even better are the worlds that Worlds.com [worlds.net] has now. They have Hanson World...why? Are there enough Hanson fans that want a crappy pseudo-VR IRC experience?

        Sadly, I, too, played Alpha World, but I could never find anyone, let alone someone interesting, to talk to.
  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:14PM (#5232485) Homepage Journal
    When I told him about "The Sims":

    "Great, a simulated life for people with no real life."

    Kinda summed it all up right then and there.
  • ... of a rush job capitalizing on customer loyalty from a previous product.
  • I am suprised. It seems fanatsy, mutliplayer action, as well as regular IM chat is quite hot. I myself love the pc over the game console because I can interact with real people. If I worked at Maxis I would probably have pushed this sort of game because thats what the demand is in the market.

    I guess people want a fantasy to interact in like Everquest or Ultima online. Not something modeled after the real world. Or the people who are addicted to irc and IM chat are probably not game players and would not buy this. The web has tons of chat rooms and communities that are free. No need for sims.

  • by cenonce (597067) <anthony_t@3.14mac.com minus pi> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:14PM (#5232499)

    I think EA (and Microsoft) probably overestimated the number of broadband users.

    At 40 bucks a month (at a minimum), Broadband ain't cheap. And though Sims Online is quite fun, it would suck without a highspeed connection. And anyway, The Sims is pretty fun on its own... without dealing with virtual SimTrolls.

    -Anthony

    • Wide Open West offers a "limited" broadband option for $15/month on top of your cable service. You're limited to 150Kbps, but your ping times are still good so it isn't that bad.

      I don't know what it is like in your area, but around here (Detroit, MI) broadband is starting to become assumed in the "technology-minded" house holds.
    • Well then why did AOL, MSN, and Earthlink all report lose of subscribers due to an uptake of broadband?

      I'd think that it is more of 'what does being online offer The Sims' vs the stand alone version. Not much judging by what other people here are saying.
      • Well then why did AOL, MSN, and Earthlink all report lose of subscribers due to an uptake of broadband?

        Because they are idiots.

        None of the people I know that ditched those services did so to get broadband, they did it because they could get the same internet with better customer support for 1/2 to 1/3 as much (and in the case of Earthlink, without all the double billing).

        I think your assessment of the Sims is right on, though. That was certainly my question, although admitedly it followed 'What does The Sims offer me at all?'

  • by FortKnox (169099) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:16PM (#5232523) Homepage Journal
    When you play "The Sims" you get multiple people you control, and a whole environment you have a decent amount of control over. You garner people, make two seperate people and make them fall in love, introduce a third to start a fight.

    When you add the 'multiplayer' experience, you add in two things that are negative to this style of game.
    Loss of Control
    and Competition

    Now this simple game has become Everquest when that isn't the whole point of the game.
    • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:45PM (#5232797) Homepage Journal
      Later add-ons continued this trend. I have five neighbourhoods with about 20 people each, my wife controls three of them and I control the other 2. We sort of compete in affluence and general look of houses (each neighbourhood has one or two "theme" houses, a la Trading Spaces, such as one I built with an olympic sized pool in the courtyard). It's kind of fun playing "against" her.

      But Online, the sims gives you one person. You're competing basically to see who puts the most time in the game, not who plays more creatively. Where's the fun in that?

      Really, the game we're anticipating most (we use a Mac) is not The Sims Online, but Sim City 4. SC4, besides allowing you to input your sims, continues the whole "multiple simulation" idea by giving you a peninsula to build a few cities on.
      • Really, the game we're anticipating most (we use a Mac) is not The Sims Online, but Sim City 4.

        I don't know if you mean the game hasn't come out yet when you say "anticipating", but Sim City 4 is out (at least in the U.S.) Here's a review [ign.com]. I saw it for sale at Sam's Club a week ago.

      • by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:24PM (#5233154) Homepage
        I've played Simcity 4 on the PC, and was horribly disappointed. I mean horribly, I haven't found anything this disappointing since Diablo 2.

        The region system they came up with doesn't work anywhere near as well in practice as in theory. The game constantly wants to "reconcile" the edges of the screen to match other regions, even when it doesn't need to be done. This regularily destroys anything near the edge of the screen.

        Want to put a power plant in a neighboring city and buy power from it? If you figure out how to actually do that, let me know.

        Want to spend time building neat stuff? First you need to individually adjust the funding for every school, hospital, and police station in your city. Not doing this makes it much harder to get anywhere at the beginning, and its just a pain in the ass.

        Changing cities is slower then hell.

        And so on, so forth. Looking at one message board, there is a person who discovered that the transportation model is based on people driving at 6mph. Thats just lovely.

        It looks beautiful, but the game just ends up being more like work and not any fun.
    • Actually, I think if they had introduced competition in a more reasonable way, it could have made the game fun. It would have changed the game and probably the kind of people that wanted to play it, but they did that anyway by taking the game online.

      My biggest gripe was actually that competition and non-conformist behavior were stifled. Basically, you either fall in line or your character is quickly incapacitated. I was all ready to stage a naked McDonalds protest but instead I'm making pizza (one of the more interactive jobs) with stimulating conversation such as:

      PLAYER 1: "ls sd st"
      PLAYER 2: "lc sd st"
      PLAYER 3: "ss sc st"
      PLAYER 4: "Burn"
      PLAYER 2: "We suck, Lol"
      PLAYER 3: "Need to green"
      PLAYER 1: ";) Lol"

      I think part of the problem is that there are no public spaces. I want to be able to go somewhere and express myself and not have to worry about the owner kicking me out. In general, I guess I'm agreeing that loss of control is a problem because I was too reliant on the whims of other people.
  • by Ravenscall (12240) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:16PM (#5232525)
    Interact with thousands of real people, doing everyday, real life things.

    If I wanted to do that, I would go to work. And then Dinner and a movie.

  • people are actually living their lives. But the continued existence of Evercrack et. al. would seem to support the interviewed individuals who complain that it is currently boring and repetitive. I'm sure they'll work on it and in three to six months it'll be Simscrack.

    • nterviewed individuals who complain that it is currently boring and repetitive.

      i think that about sums it up. the people who play everquest do so to escape what they perceive as a boring and repetitive life, so of course a simulation of the same will be found equally boring. for those of us who enjoy real life and all that goes with it, the idea of paying for a simulation of something we already enjoy seems incredibly redundant.

      so essentially, there is really no market for TSO. those who like their MMORPGs want fantasy, and those who like real life... already have it.
  • Take it from me... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Geekenstein (199041) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:17PM (#5232535)
    This game is fun for about 10 minutes. With the orignal (offline) Sims, the novelty aspect of the game was great. It was new, it was unseen before.

    With The Sims Online, you basically end up with a graphical chat room. The tasks you perform are repetitive and dull. Each involves clicking on something and staring at the screen until that task finishes or your happiness levels go down far enough to finish it for you. Fix that up, rinse and repeat. All in all, the game ends up being a glorified IRC chat room that you pay for.

    The only partly redeemed quality is that you can build your own houses and have people come over, but that is severely hampered by a silly limit on the number of objects you can put in your house, so in the end you end up with lots of money you can't spend after doing all those boring tasks.

    Finally, the biggest pet peeve I have with Maxis over this one is the fact that instead of fixing the bugs and finding ways to increase the limits and make things more interesting, they take a sack full o' money from McDonald's to advertise their products and waste development time throwing it in.

    That being said, all MMORPG's have problems at startup, and hopefully they can get their act together and make it a decent product. As it is now, I'll stick to IRC.
  • It's Dead... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deathlizard (115856) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:18PM (#5232536) Homepage Journal
    ...Because you had to Pay to Play. Especially when McDonalds and Pepsi was Buying Ad's on it.

    If they would have made the thing free but then used the sims game design to sell product placements they probably would have been more sucessful and probably could have demanded more money from advertisers because of the huge turnout of players to the game.
  • Sooner or later the live-online thing had to max out. Remember, the people who do this can only do one at a time. No one spends 60 hrs a week on UO and ANOTHER 60 hpw on EQ...

    Fact is - most of the people who do this are already doing it. The land rush is over. (Excepting Internet growth which is still pretty good, but the land rush is over.)

  • It's boring! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mean_Nishka (543399)
    I tried out the trial edition of this software and it's just plain boring. My stupid sim couldn't hold its bladder half the time and was peeing all over the place.. So most of your time is spent making the stupid avatar eat, shit, and sleep.

    Why should I pay $10 a month for something I do now in real life for free? And I can even get laid in the real world!

  • Pointless concept (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RedX (71326) <[moc.tsewnepoediw] [ta] [xder]> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:20PM (#5232570)
    I downloaded the free public beta version of Sims Online a few months ago for my wife as she was an avid Sims player but was becoming bored with the offline versions. After a couple of days of Sims Online, she just stopped playing the Online version because there really was no new concept to the game. It was basically the same offline version with the added chat features, and the chat features really added nothing to gameplay and certainly aren't worth a montly fee.
    • by mcjulio (68237) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:34PM (#5232705)
      I can't figure out why EA ever thought this was a good idea. For me, 9/10ths of the appeal of a subscription game is being someone, and being somewhere, that I can't be in real life. Spending 3 hours to earn another bar in my "Strength" meter in order to keep up with my friends is completely worthless, unless I can take that extra bar and do something cool with it.

      If the only cool thing I can do is get a slightly better job as a 3rd string linebacker and bring home $10 more/week to flush away on virtual McDs, there's no way I'd waste the time.

      That's the irony of the Sims Online: in order to be fun, they'd have to do away with all the things that made the Sims (offline) a success.
  • by Kibo (256105) <naw#gmail.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:22PM (#5232582) Homepage
    The greatest joy a man could have is victory; to conquer one's enemies armies, to pursue them, to deprive them of their possessions, to reduce their famillies to tears, to ride their horses, and to make love their wives and daughters.


    How do you kill people and steal all their stuff in the Sims online again?
  • Yeah, right. Just because some game reviewer calls it "highly anticipated" does not make it so. Just because it gets 300 reviews from hard-core gamers proclaiming it the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread (tm) doesn't make it fabulous. It's just talking heads, so no one should be surprised. No one wants monthly fees.
  • by Rayonic (462789) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:23PM (#5232600) Homepage Journal
    Why pay $30, $40, or even $50 for a game which you then have to start paying for monthly? I don't have anything against subscription-based games, but I would think that the continuous payments might somehow offset the initial purchase price of the product.

    I know most of these MMORPG games give you X months free, but that price sticker on the box in the store contributes a lot to their purchasing decision. It'd be a great deal if they charged $200 for the game and gave you 40 months free, but do you think that such a package would sell?

    The cost of entry for an MMORPG should be low-to-free. What about development costs, you say? Raise the monthly rate a dollar or two. Yeesh.
  • Who actually pays attention to the ratings on Amazon, at least as far as DVD & games reviews go? As soon as the new title is logged in their system and way before anyone could possibly have a clue what the final product would be like, it is receiving rave reviews. Look at the assholes who rate EQ expansions months before they appear and did likewise with Lord of the Rings Special Edition DVD set. It makes a total joke of the system.


    Amazon should allow reviews but clearly mark them as opinion and when the product finally comes up for sale, wipe the pre-release reviews and start over. As it is, reviews in these sections are next to useless.


    Of course, in this case perhaps they were accurate... The Sims was a boring, boring game and its unfathomable why anyone would have derived any enjoyment from its predictable and reptitive nature. On online version might appeal from a IRC/chat point of view, but otherwise its the same old crap.

  • Why pay? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ivan256 (17499)
    My sister loves The Sims. She returned The Sims online when she got it for christmas though. She said "I can play the sims and run instant messanger for free. I don't need another bill to pay".

    She just hits Alt-Tab like she's flipping through TV stations.

    All I have to say is I hope this pay-to-play trend ends quickly. The initial cost of games is already high. I have no desire to pay per month to have access to something I don't know how often I'll have the free time to use. If Battle.net can be free, why can't The Sims online be free?

    • "All I have to say is I hope this pay-to-play trend ends quickly. "

      I don't have a problem paying for something. I pay for electricity and internet access, why not for a good online service? The only problem is that the only online service out there that might meet this, Xbox Live!, is already useless. No downloadable content, game stats not normalized vs. hours played (so all the 13-year-olds who can play 6 hours a day are #1), etc.

      If I played online in Battle.net a lot, I wouldn't mind paying 5$ cdn a month for it. Or even a little more. If you work it out per day, it's nothing. Per day you pay around 20 or 30$ for rent, and 10$ for food and utilities. What's 20 cents for online play without advertisements, with no cheaters, etc?

      "If Battle.net can be free, why can't The Sims online be free?"

      Maybe you should tune in to sanity FM [penny-arcade.com]. If someone is offering a service, they can charge what they want for it. If it sucks, it'll go away. But there is no way that a service can exist and cost 0 dollars to run, someone pays somewhere. You pay with your eyeballs, and the advertisers who get your eyeballs bankroll your play time. Or perhaps economics wasn't one of your strong points growing up.
      • Um, ther's no advertising on battle.net. It's funded by box sales. It doesn't matter wether you'd be willing to pay per month for it because you payed up front. Also, if you couldn't play on battle.net alot, lets say only on saturdays for an hour but you really liked it, wouldn't it suck to have to pay $1 an hour for what everybody else gets for $0.20 a day?

        The trouble with most pay-for-play online gaming is not that it costs money. Usually the problem is that the cost is the same no matter how much you play, and the structure of the game is such that the rewards of playing are based on time spent playing. This blocks out a whole segment of gamers who can't play a game for hours a day, or perhaps can't even play every day. The cost per unit fun increases exponentially for people with less gaming time.

        That's still not the problem with The Sims online. The problem with The Sims is that they're trying to charge a fee for somthing that their prospective customers already get for free. You're getting to read this comment for free. Why don't you send me some money to read it. Of course you're not going to, because why would you if you can read it (and even publicly respond) for free. Trying to charge people to read my slashdot comments would be a bad business model even though thousands of people read them without paying every day. Similarly trying to charge people to play The Sims is a bad business model even though millions of people play The Sims for free every day. Having alot of mindshare doesn't mean people will give you money.
  • by zeronode (513709) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:26PM (#5232623) Journal
    EA, sadly, has a history of trying to make MMOG and failing. UO is the exception, but then again, EA bought Origin after UO was in production.

    Just look at the last two MMOG's they tried to make work: Majestic (dead) and Earth and Beyond (Life support). Granted they were good ideas, but EA can't make the shift in thinking from producing box games to MMOG's. Farming out their jobs to a contractor in india effectively allowed them to get rid of a collective 150 years of online gaming knowledge (Kesmai Studios).

    I just don't think they'll get it right any time soon.
    • by Flamerule (467257) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:58PM (#5232900)
      EA, sadly, has a history of trying to make MMOG and failing. UO is the exception, but then again, EA bought Origin after UO was in production.
      The problem EA is suffering from is one of its own making, and it is far more pervasive and damaging than merely MMOGs.

      Reading the linked NYTimes article gives a good idea of their mindset and "strategy" for the future. They mention the idea of the Sims Online and EA.com as a "third arm" to join the first and second arms of their PC and console game empires, respectively. Presumably, they think they can build a gigantic new revenue stream by tapping the great, mythical "Joe Average" and convincing him to pay to play casual, very non-hardcore games like solitaire, chess, and now the Sims Online, over the Internet.

      For those /.-ers unfamiliar with EA.com, it appears for all intents and purposes to be a relic of the dot-com age: a couple years ago, EA decided to turn their website into something very close to Yahoo Games, instead of merely serving information, support, etc., about their PC/console games. It turned by stomach at the time to see what EA was turning itself into, when it had just killed Origin, the greatest or certainly one of the greatest PC game developers in history, which EA had bought out some time before. Ultima Online fans will remember that when EA destroyed Origin, it simultaneously axed hopes for a UO 2, instead deciding to wring the game for cash by releasing low-quality expansion packs.

      EA has been a behemoth for quite some time, but the debilitating effects on the developers it holds have never been more evident. Take Westwood, formerly an innovating, renowned game developer. Since its purchase by EA, Westwood has totally lost all vestiges of its former greatness, and churned out almost nothing but (largely uninteresting) rehashes and reworkings of its Command & Conquer series. Witness Earth & Beyond, its MMORPG, set in space -- I believe they briefly discuss its lack of success in one of the linked articles. I beta-tested the game for a brief period, before I grew disgusted and wiped it from my hard drive. Suffice it to say EaB was not the space MMOG so many SF fans like myself had been waiting for; you can easily see just what was so disappointing about it by Googling for reviews, or noting EaB's presence as a runner up for Gamespot's Most Disappointing PC game of the year. (Gamespot's yearly awards were posted in a /. story a couple weeks back.)

      I think the pattern is evident: EA these days, and since years back, has been all about its yearly releases of console sport games -- Madden 2000, Madden 2001, Madden 2002, ad nauseam -- and relatively mindless action games. EA is focused on nothing but profit margin and expansion, and while their strategy has certainly succeeded up to this point (they are by far the largest game publisher in the world), they are certainly not a company that puts out interesting and innovative games. Their wretched strategy to hook the average person with lowest-common-denominator online time-sinks is degrading, and I'm glad to see that their massive investment into Sims Online, and into expanding this degrading and disgusting revenue source, are turning into a complete failure.

      EA is not a source of good things in the gaming industry. I can't call their total dedication to the bottom line at the expense of quality "evil", but I know it will never produce the superb kind of games that people like Sid Meier, Warren Spector, Chris Taylor, etc., continue to create at small development companies.

  • by Winterblink (575267) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:27PM (#5232630) Homepage
    I'm one of those who refuses to give The Sims Online the time of day, much less monthly dues. That's not to say I'm opposed to paying monthly dues, I'm currently playing Neocron [neocron.com] (a frickin awesome game). The idea of waking up in the morning, going to work, and coming home just to load up TSO and do essentially the same thing doesn't turn my crank. I can get my socializing fix from friends, family, IRC or IM, and I don't have to put more money into EA's pocket to do it.

    That being said, I do play MMOGs as I said above. Yes there's a socializing aspect there, but it's a hell of a lot more fun to battle mutants and warbots in a post-apocalyptic wasteland with Deux Ex style character management than go to the gym in the game and pedal my ass off to up stats. Better to do that IRL than in game anyway.

  • I'm a big Sims fan, I bought all the expansion packs, made skins, etc. But I havn't bought The Sims Online yet, and I'm not sure I will. I don't have a lot of time on my hands, since I work full time and go to school full time (and I post on Slashdot.) What I liked about the Sims is you could basically play it from beginning to "end" (meaning you got bored with the character and hit the top) in just a few hours a day for about a week. I'd do this, then stop playing for a few weeks, then create a new character and house and start over. I play way too little to pay $10 a month for something that really doesn't offer this same experience, and I think most "Sims" players are the same, casual gamers.
  • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:30PM (#5232668) Journal
    Meanwhile, the game's customer reviews at Amazon.com have an average rating of only two (out of five) stars.

    Given that "death by Ebola virus" would probably average two stars in Amazon reviews, that's not very promising.

  • The only person I know who plays the Sims is my mother. I remember mentioning Sims Online to her, and she didnt get the point. She didnt see why she needed to 'compete' against other people to see whos the best person. She kills her sims probably a half hour after bringing them to life, she just enjoys watching them run around and make toast and whatnot. She does ICQ and chats online with people who play scrabble and other mom-type stuff. She just doesnt get the point of Sims Online.

    My point is, this game is popular because it's merely a good old distraction. It's completely uncompetitive and not really goal-oriented, at least to most who play it. You just screw around and watch the people do stuff. It just doesnt fit into the MMORPG genre.

    Add that to the fact that it just comes off like another in the long line of Sims cash grabs (they have a whole new game/expansion pack bi-weekly it seems). After plunking down $50 on "The Sims get New Pants(tm)" people get wary. The dead horse has been beaten beyond recognition.

    Plus it's just a boring game to most traditional 'gamers' in the first place.
  • Buyer Beware (Score:5, Informative)

    by asv108 (141455) <alex@phatauNETBSDdio.org minus bsd> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:33PM (#5232697) Homepage Journal
    I bought the Sim's online about a month ago, because of all the hype surrounding the release. I played it for about 2 days, and came to the conclusion that it is just too time consuming except for the die-hard Sim's fan. Another problem with the game is the replay-ability factor. The secret to any online game is replay-ability. The Sims online gets boring real quick and I can't imagine only having one computer to play this game. If you only have on computer, Sim's online prevents you from web surfing, iming, or any other activity while playing the game.

    BUYER BEWARE, I purchased the Sim's online under the notion that I could try it out, cancel my account, and sell the game used on ebay or amazon. Even after canceling my account, the person who bought the game told me that EA said the game was registered to another user. EA is trying to strongarm the used market, and force everyone to buy the game new.

    • Re:Buyer Beware (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DrXym (126579)
      This is no different from any other online game these days. Every online title such as Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Neverwinter Nights, Dark Age of Camelot will require you to enter a CD key, or serial number and if you don't have one or its been used before you can fuck off. Now when online play is free this makes sense, but not so much when you're paying 15.99 or whatever per month.


      Personally I believe subscription games should be given away at cashiers desks, magazine front covers, available for download etc. Hand them out like toffee to hook as many people as possible. Requiring people to put up money upfront and a monthly sub is a surefire way to put them off.

  • Maxis managed to take the few things that were fun about the original game, (customizability, being able to wreak havok with a large group of Sims 'lives'), and remove any trace of them from the Sims online. A game where you have to spend days of real-world time doing telemarketing and making pizzas to try and save up to buy a virtual refrigerator? This game isn't just dumb or boring, it's sadistic.
  • From the Amazon reviews:
    Parents - take my advise PLEASE do not buy this game for your children. Prostitution, runs rampid! It is NOT and I repeat NOT for anyone under the age of 18!

    From the NYTimes article, quoting Riccitiello the president of EA:

    We wanted this to grow into a `third arm,' " he said of the Sims Online

    People complain about the tasks of the Sims Online being repetitive and dull. So make them repetitive and exciting. I think I can cum up with a solution.

  • Developer Chat (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bruha (412869) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:39PM (#5232745) Homepage Journal
    We had a devloper Chat over on www.warcry.com You can find the transcript right here. [warcry.com]

    For the amount of people that attended it they did ask some good questions and the team that's working on SO are a good fun bunch and answered a lot of questions I was surprised they skipped over like other publishers tend to do. Ala Microsoft on any hard question about Asheron's Call or Asheron's Call 2 during their dev chats.
  • Maxis just can't get it together with online games. By the time they get something workable, they have already milked the games fans for all they can. The online stuff available in The Sims Online should have been available in the original game.

    It's kind of like how they released Simcity 4 with online features that don't work -- Is it just me or are there other people who dig and dig for Maxis' promised online features just to find nothing -- not even a decently designed and coherent website?

    ~GoRK
  • EA doesnt care (Score:2, Interesting)

    Sure we can attribute the Sims' decline to the pay-for-play model or the lack of any moderation in a game played largely by teens, but I think there is a greater, overarching reason for this:

    EA simply doesnt care about their customers, and they have no interest in maintaining the loyalty of them.

    Anyone who has ever played one of their games knows this. They destroy every multiplayer enviroment by allowing cheats to be used, thus ruining the integrity and playability of their games. They refuse to do anything about cheats, thus cheating paying customers out of money. They outright refuse to help customers who have problems with their software. Many of their gaming environments have been taken over by hackers to which they REFUSE TO RESPOND! (In fact when logging on to multiplayer Red Alert one is met with a hacked ad for the site www.fuckea.com, set up by disgruntled players). They have discontinued the Westwood branch of their corporation in order stop maintainence of their games. Basically they simply refuse to help their paying customers enjoy their game, and in some cases ruin it for them.

    I'm not surprised TSO failed, not am I that they used false advertising tactics in order to sell the game (apparently some features such as running a business or a casino are not available to users, yet this is advertised on the game box). This Christmas cash grab just goes on to prove to me how poor the company is, and I for one will not be supporting them at all in the future.

    I demand morals and integrity from people, so why should I expect any less from a group of people?
  • by Duds (100634)
    I'm Famous!
  • I miss the old good days of sims... when it was innovative. my favorite one was the underrated Sim-Life. [bensinclair.com] It was so fun to mutate your animals and see the ecosystem change. It is still incredible how they could model some of the complexity of an ecosystem!
  • Why it doesn't work. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gyorg_Lavode (520114) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:42PM (#5232769)
    I've talked to some people and hopefully have some insite into why it flopped. The main reason seams to be that there is zero driving force. With Everquest, even though the work to advance groes exponentially with the amount already advanced, By the time it starts to be prohibative, you have bonds to the game, (bonds to guilds, your character, and other friends).

    It seems that the Sims online missed out on the advancement to create those bonds. Many of the things I heard from players were along the lines of, "well, when you play the sims you have to keep all your sims happy, alive, etc. When you play the sims online you can just live in other people's houses, you don't really have to work to keep your sim alive and happy, and there's really no reward for keeping them alive and happy." I think the sims needs a much more interesting beginning and a much more challenging middle so that, by the end, players who may have become uninterested and less challenged have formed bonds that cause them to stay in the game.

  • She owns the original + all expansion packs, but she became bored with Sims Online 3 days into the free beta test period and went back to the single player.
  • I was one of the people invted to beta test the game. I would have liked to help, but I could never even run the installer on a freshly formatted and installed Windows box (with only video and audio drivers).

    Contacting Infogrames technical support produced a promise for help but I never received any, and I couldn't post on the forums for help because you have to create at least one character in the game first (smooth move EA).

    The message boards for the beta testers were filled to the brim with complaints, bug comments and the very annoying artificial limitations that EA decided to place on the game (like only a few hundred objects could be owned per sim house area that caused people at a certain point to be so rich they co no longer buy anything even though they could afford to).

    This is another game that should have never shipped. I'm not terribly happy what EA has turned Maxis into. I want the old Maxis back!
  • Since when? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SilLumTao (134743)
    EA executives say they are doing all they can to fix things. Because the game occurs online, EA can tinker with content to make it more fun, something the company can't do with offline titles.

    Since when can't "offline" titles get new content added to make a game more fun. I bought Neverwinter Nights about 6 months ago and I'm still getting new content.

    - Sil

    • This is a copy of a letter I sent to ID and Activision a few months ago. These companies are loosing players in droves and the companies don't even care. Check out the PB forums and see the comments from all the irate players:

      What happened to the Quake (2/3) Series?

      This is basically an open letter to id Software and how little importance they place in their products. They are loosing players in drovers and their reputation is going down the toilet.

      But first a little intro.

      I began playing Quake 2 in 95 when some friends at work were having a DM/CTF LAN party. Needles to say I was hooked. I went out and bought the game and downloaded Map after Map. I Became pretty good and eventually became one of the best Q2 CTF players around [theclq.com] .

      The Q2 CTF MOD was, at the time one of the most innovative MOD's around and pretty much dictated what a Capture the flag Mod should be like. I enjoyed playing on the old YYZ CTF servers and testing new maps from some of the most awesome mappers at the time (Hafhead and gizm0 to name a few). Everyone was into the games, teamplay was amazing and cheaters were nonexistent because Id was on top of various hacks (wallhacking excluded).

      Eventually, my scores started to go down and I was ending up at the middle of the pack at the end of rounds. I began spectating people and noticed that people were gibbing enemies from the side and from behind them and discovered the world of bots.

      What is a bot?

      Some n00bs may get confused by the definition.

      There are two types of bots. 1) Used as an AI opponent on various servers to fill empty spaces on servers. These AI players have incredible aim. These bots are good if you want to practice aiming on the run. On Half-Life Servers you can tell bots by their ping. (They all have a ping of 5)

      2) Players use the bot components noted in #1 and integrates the auto aim features into their character and play on servers with the auto-aim components. I'm not going to post any of the bot links but they are out there. The people who started using the bots to enhance their own playing experience were mostly pretty stupid. They usually configured their bots to cover auto aiming in a filed of vision of 180 degrees or more around them. What this means is that if a player with a bot is looking forward and they hit fire, the bot will hit anything 180 degrees or more around them without turning. Secondly, they will usually just (if playing a CTF map) shoot and kill people and not work on any of the team objectives.

      One more thing to note is one other problem with Quake 2 was that Q2 Servers were susceptible to IP Ping Floods and could take down a given server.

      ID Software has a practice of Stopping builds and not releasing any further upgrades or practices. Not long after this, I started to loose interest in this game.

      This was about time that the Q3 Arena Demos started to Circulate around. I began playing this game and reading the advanced press from various sources.

      When I learned that CTF would loose all the cool components that made Q2 CTF a classic, it was time for me to find a new on-line game to play.

      I wasn't drawn to this game very much. Sure there were some cool things about it but I wouldn't buy it ($59.99 was the price I believe) when Q3 Arena came out.

      I chose to buy Half-Life and still play it to this day. It's an amazing game and Awesome Mods are still coming out to this day.

      In my opinion, if a company can't take what made a given game famous and remove some or all components in a multiplayer game in the next release of a game, the company looses face in the gaming community. No One Lives Forever 2 is a good example of this. No One Lives Forever 2 was initially released without a DM or CTF mod (DM were later added with the first Service Pack after MANY irate customer complaints) the MODs that made NOLF1 a classic (running over people with snowmobiles rock!!!).

      Bought Q3 Gold

      I was at a Wal-Mart one day and noted Quake 3: Gold for $19.99 and bought it for the heck of it. I was interested in seeing what became of the game and was looking at what it took to map CTF maps. I've been looking into getting into mapping and wanted to do some research into what is needed to create Maps. I soon learned this was a kettle of workms that I probably should not have opened. Install a pain on XP Long story short, Quake 3: Gold has to be installed in a specific manner (it has to be a complete install) on the primary partition, in the default 'suggested' path (XP Pro) (this information was found on the Planequake forums [forumplanet.com] ).

      I soon found out that this install was to be the source of some of the issues I've been receiving.

      I also use The All Seeing Eye [udpsoft.com] to connect to games and because Q3 wouldn't work in the manner I wanted to install the game in, ASE wouldn't work.

      PlanetQuake, Fileplanet other quake related files

      Ok, when I played Quake2, planetquake.com was the place to go for all information, patches, maps, etc. I went back to this site and went to the Quake 3 section and began researching what would be needed to update my installation. The planetquake site was slow (I'm on a Cable Modem) to load and took a good 2 minutes to load a page. When I found a given page on maps or mapping, the links that were available were outdated or didn't work. There was no definitive 'manual' on how to find different mods or what programs are needed to map and which files were the most up to date. The links they provided (when they worked...which was about 10% of the time) were anything but helpful. I found four different mapping programs, none of which I've gotten to work correctly yet.

      Planetquake [planetquake.com] has gotten lazy in their old age.

      I found the Q3 MODS and patches on fileplanet but due to the new structure of the site (wait in line?!?!?...LAME!!!) I would have had to wait 4-5 days just to download a few files. I searched all over the net for the files I needed on other sites and was able to finish the download in a day.

      Once I got some semblance of a Q3 install completed, I connected to a Q3 Server through ASE.

      I remembered in the Q3 Install and patch that a program called Punkbuster [punkbuster.com] which is a program that would detect cheaters and bot users. I thought 'cool' Id is doing something about bots and cheaters!'

      Punkbuster a nightmare to upgrade

      When installing and upgrading Punkbuster to current Standards I was not able to either through the game or using the command line update util. I found out that the problem with the PB (again on XP Pro in Non-Domain mode patched to current standards) is two fold:

      1) The Quake Final Patch Release does not install a couple of key files for some reason or another (I found this out on the Planetquake forums [forumplanet.com] ).

      2) XP has a default behavior [microsoft.com] in that all system directories are 'read-only' and cannot be changed no matter what you try (Group Policies, ACLS, command line attributes, removing simple file sharing, etc.). In the case of Quake 3: Gold on XP, the default install dir is 'Program files' directory. Punkbuster needs to convert a couple of HTML files to binary and since the Read-Only Attributes are pushed from the Root Level of the primary partition, PB can't make the conversion.

      New Cheats out that render Punkbuster Useless

      I'm not going to go in depth about this but there are a couple of serious issues with some cheats out in the wild that PB can't handle at the moment. One issue seems to be addressed. The other is a bot that is undetectable by PB and is being used more and more on Q3 servers.

      Players are furious that this issue isn't being addressed (myself included) by ID.

      Read the Punkbuster Forums . Just about every single post is a rant about when/how is ID/Punkbuster will be addressing the current hacking issues and how ticked they are on how this issue isn't being addressed. (Side note: as of approx 27.Jan.2003 Punkbuster's forums have been removed [punksbusted.com] and this site is taking the brunt of the PB issues. [punksbusted.com]

      I played on some of ThreeWave's [threewave.com] CTF Servers (A killer MOD by the way)the other day and played against bot users. Some of these players are so stupid they turned their bot settings to 180 degrees or more and all players on my team wereable to spot this immediately.

      Before I wrote this article I played a Vanilla CTF Game on a Q3 Server and there were a couple of players who were killing players in midair with weapons with the littlest fire power or hitting people in midair (from long distances) so they fell and cratered.

      Needless to say, the team that I was on were trying and were winning in caps for a while (but not gibs) slowly left the server after many of the players on my team left (we started with 8 and when I left there were 3 versus 7 on the other team).

      What's going on ID?!?!?

      You're loosing players that used to be hardcore Q2/Q3 players in droves and they probably won't buy any more of your games due to the lack of attention you're giving to the cheaters and hackers.

      Also, as a result of my experiences, I have since turned my mapping interests to the Half-Life Mod 'Day of Defeat' and the new James Bond Game '007: NightFire'.

      I tell you one thing, I'll never buy another ID product again.

      Software is easy to fix, reputations are next to impossible to fix. Get with the program ID!!!

      Dolemite

  • by SteveX (5640) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:48PM (#5232824) Homepage
    Is that in the Sims you can fast-forward through the boring parts. Okay, you're tired and you have to pee.. tell your dude to sleep, tell him to pee, and then fast forward until it's done and you can get back to doing what you want to do.

    In the Sims Online, you have to sit there and watch while your avatar naps, showers, eats, etc. For me, anyway, that's what made it not fun.

    - Steve
  • Snow Crashing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TexTex (323298) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:49PM (#5232829)
    It's a thought that The Sims Online shows us how far we've got to go to accept a true virtual world, in which the point is simply to exist.

    The projection of avatars and worlds of Stephenson and Gibson weren't based as a game of any sort, but an environment, and The Sims Online might be trying too hard to be both. As The Sims alone...it's not really a game as much as a management simulator for life. And existing in multiplayer mode, I'm surprised people expected a lot more out of it that a graphical chat environment.

    If you read the Amazon reviews, they're split with people either loving it or completely hating it. I'd guess the ones who enjoy it are also the ones who find minutes and hours slipping away in AOL chat rooms. It's not necessarily the same people who play Everquest or any other MMORPG.

    I'm not sure The Sims Online is supposed to be a fanatic success to the level everyone expected, but I wouldn't count it completely out yet. It's possible that it holds early groundwork towards a universal, easy-access virtual environment...kinda like AOL back in the early 90s.

  • What turned me off (Score:2, Informative)

    by ihistand (170799)
    I purchased the game for my kids for xmas, they seem to like it ok and I figgered I'd give it a try, I popped in the CD and installed, but they wouldn't set me up a new account because the serial number had already been used. I called them on the phone and they will not even sell me a new serial number, all I can do is buy a new CD.

    This is poor marketing, and they just lost a potential customer. I'm not shelling out another 50 bucks for something I already have.

  • The problem mainly is the price and maintenance, with little return of playability. Hardly anyone wants to spend $40 on a game, to pay $10 a month, just to be part of a popularity contest.

    Maybe Maxis should admit defeat on their hopes and still try to salvage the game and its current subscribers... Either sell the game as it is with a small or no subscription fee (I wouldn't mind $10 per half, but per month?), or sell the game cheap with a small subscription fee ($10 game at the counter of most stores, like those annoying AOL CDs, and $3.95/mo. to play), or...

    Why not sell the game and allow people to setup their own SO servers? If a family wants to have fun, they could start a SO server on a computer, or just lease one from a company for the $10/mo., and they can all play free. Make it so the person controlling the server software can set a public server, or private with passwords.

    There's still a lot of potential, but Maxis should have done a thorough test with the game with the public to see what their opinion was. This is not simply The Sims, gone online, it's a totally different game based on The Sims, with different objectives and play.

    Not that Maxis would read this, but some food for thought.
  • Okay EA were optimisitic and thought that this game was going to generate shedloads of cash for them and be a massive it. It obviously isn't going to do that as it just isn't good enough.

    However the article says they've sold just over 100,000 for a revenue of $30 a game for EA plus 40,000 people have subscribed to play the game online for $10 a month.

    So total revenue so far is almost $3.5 million and climbing at half a million a month, so although it might not make much cash, it's certainly no Daikatana (or Xbox).
  • make the service free to play. Give currently paying people credits to use toward future modules - this guarantees you will have people using the new pay for modules.

    put real-world advertising in the virtual world
    have Pepsi and Coke vending machines
    have billboards for Guess jeans
    have VW beetles.
    most every SIM product should be backed by a real product.

    make it paid for by virtual ads that are as prevalent as they are in the real world.

    NO POP UPS!!! - unless the sim is using a computer heh.

    make it paid for by advertising and you get past the biggest hurdle - getting people to try it.

    Then, release modules and open up the code so that other folks can make modules.

    keep ownership of the server/service but let the power players play.
    • by RatBastard (949) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:24PM (#5233158) Homepage
      The problem here is that you are assuming that it is the monthly fee keeping people out. That is simply not true for most people.

      The real problem is that the game is boring. And this is coming from someone who not only played The Sims for two years, and bought every expansion pack (I don't have "Unleashed" as I stopped playing after "Vacation" came out) and even ran a popular (and expensive) website for two years! While The Sims is boring to a lot of people, The Sims Online is boring to almost everybody! I don't know of ANY of my The Sims friends (real one, you know, meatsacks) who even care about TSO.

      Making it cheaper by stuffing it full of ads (Sweet Merciful Jesus! Is there anywhere we can escape the endless onslaught of advertisers?) will not solve anything.
  • It will be the biggest game ever seen, in my opinion. It's gonna take a while. "Sim" players aren't used to the idea of playing online, and I'm guessing most don't have broadband. Of course it's not gonna take off like current online games... those are all geared at geeks. But this will take off, without a doubt, and it'll be around for a long, long time.
  • by UberOogie (464002) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:09PM (#5232999)
    1) Maxis SEVERELY over-estimated the demand. Because of this, there are too many shards and not enough players.
    2) Skills dominate the game too much. Everyone has got to keep their skills up, the skills houses dominate the game, to the detriment of other types.
    3) The economy was crippled from the get-go. The only real way to make money with a property is to be a money, skill, or cybersex property. Selling isn't implemented, so sales properties are useless. Casino games have been on the back burner forever, so games properties are useless.
    4) Wrong priorities. Instead of getting out fixes that can make the other property types useful or fixing the bugs, they spend time on their corporate sponsorships. The ads don't work if there's no players to see them.
    5) Ignoring the core audience. Everyone loved the Sims because you got your own house to mess around with. The fact Sims Online is specifically geared AGAINST that model is insane. All the newbies try to start up their own property, so you get UO all over again. The bar for property ownership needs to be much higer. What is needed is a core group of houses and services, instead of thousands of closed or abandoned houses.
  • Mr. Riccitiello can go hang out with Mr. Bremen and discuss how they don't really understand their audience because they aren't a part of it. I'm sure Rick would buy him a beer.

    Simulating ordinary people can be kindof fun to do, but it's something I'd setup and then go do something else and check back every so often to see how well they're doing. Sorry, it just isn't riviting to watch a simulation of normality.

    At least in other MMPORPG's, you have the sense that you're exploring, improving, or possibly just being a prick to someone else. In the Sims, you're watching a character sit around and talk (presumably about how they were sitting around at work). In the single-player game, it's a challenge to try to convince the AI to do something interesting.. in the multi-player game, you can't even do that.
  • by ronfar (52216)
    One of the funniest articles I ever read on the Internet was "My Dinner with Origin" by Tom Chick, published on the old Next Generation website. The article is no longer available, maybe it scorched to much hair of at Electronic Arts, but the gist of it was that Origin was being transformed from a great game company into a company that produced "mainstream online" games. The fake Origin exec interviewed for the article had no respect for games or gaming but loved money. This fake exec hated companies like Blizzard which let people play Diablo online for free.

    This article gave me the same feeling as that article, as I see two reasons to create an online game:

    1. The game will be fun and engaging, people will want to try their skill at playing against/with other people.

    2. Why sell a game once when you can sell it over and over again? (The same philosophy behind the original Divx, "Why sell a DVD once when you can sell it over and over again to the same person?")

    Well, I think Sims Online falls into the latter category. I also have to wonder who they think plays online game? When I was heavily into MUCKing, I had no social life at all outside of the MUCKs I was on. (My life basically sucked.) If I had had to pay to MUCK, I might have (though I was making pitiful money at my K-Mart and Winn Dixie jobs.) My life was not even close to "mainstream" though, and I think if the majority of people had lives like that then suicide/killing spree statistics would reflect it.

  • At 40,000 current people paying the $10US a month that is still a nice amount of money each month.
    However TSO does point to a couple of things why SWG will also fail.
    1) Current MMORPG players don't switch games.
    2) Most people know about MOGs and if they were interested would be in them already.
    3)SWG is placing heavy importance on trading and Sims Online and 'A tale in the desert' do trade only stuff alot better.
    4) A big name does not really matter over the game, considering the vast number of star war games that have sucked and not really sold well.
  • by Wynns (235657)
    Wrote this in an email to a non-gaming friend this morning (so excuse the lack of proper grammer) and thought I'd share it here as well since I think someone who's reading here who doesn't have a background in gaming might find some nugget of info in it...

    --------------
    kind of a bad article i think. it makes the bad estimates of EA look like
    the industry doesn't have a market...

    "...many in the video game industry wonder whether online games will ever
    find a large following."

    a large following isn't the question, it's finding the right game to tap
    into it. there's over 400k people playing EQ alone. there's probably 10
    others that have 250k each. all of those people play at least $10/month
    to play. the market is there, EA is just having a hard time compelling
    people to play online. here's the thing... EA has "the Sims" that is
    competing with "the Sims: Online" at the same time. people aren't signing
    up to play online when the non-MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) version is
    just about as fun. EA keeps releasing new content for the single player
    version, so there's really no need, if you're a fan, to play the online
    version. they kinda messed up i think.

    most other MMO games, you can *only* get the experience online. not so
    with the sims. not only that, but the whole genre of what the Sims is
    trying to do online is brand new. it's not a "questing" game. it's just
    like a large graphical chatroom where you can do other stuff.

    the market for online version is odd too. other games (like EQ and such)
    try and grab the hardcore gamers. basically, young males that are into
    gaming. the sims market is much more broad, lots of ladies, housewives,
    casual gamers. these aren't the typical people who are going to start
    spending $$ and hours online.

    the last thing is probably that the game in itself is kind of flawed. not
    flawed really, but maybe it doesn't suit itself to longterm play. they've
    sold a lot of copies of the game and the expansions because it's *really*
    fun to play for a short amount of time, then it gets old. people pick up
    the expansions because they're really fun. this makes the sales numbers
    look good and tricks EA into thinking that everyone out there is playing
    the game nonstop anyway. the truth is that people have put the game away
    on the shelf for the last three months and haven't given it a second
    thought. it's not that it wasn't fun, but the longevity isn't there.
    but, people get excited for some new content and go pick up the expansion
    to get a quick fun hit of the game again. then, after they've seen all
    the new widgets and whatnots, they shelve it again.

    what EA is going to end up doing is having to add content all the time to
    the online version. give people a new fix every month of new graphics,
    new items, new functionality. that's one of the advantages of being
    online anyway, and most games are moving to that model (Asheron's Call was
    the first to do it) once they start doing that, people will stick around,
    or at least come back every couple of months to renew their account to see
    what's changed.
  • insignificant as it may be, why do i need the hassle of another one?
  • by Dolemite_the_Wiz (618862) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:30PM (#5233220) Journal
    I Beta Tested the Sims Online and didn't think it was anything special.

    Here are my comments:

    - I spent over 60% of my time downloading updates. There were always updates I had to download. At one time Players had to download a 70MB update. This update came from one source (EA). When updates come out

    - The Sims world seems to be too homoginized, too politically correct. If you want to add some fun, let players choose if they want to be crime lords. Let players be whomever they want to be.

    - The UI isn't too intuitive. People who don't play the Sims have a huge learning curve.

    - Finding a place to start isn't easy. There should be some sort of 'want ads' or gathering place for new people.

    - Their monthly prices are not worth the minimal gameplay you get in return.

    - The game can consume too much of your time. This can become very adicitve for some people.

    - What am I working towards? Nirvana? CEO? President? Playing this game is like a cross between watching fish in an aquarium and watching grass grow.

    - If this game is to be a Simulation of real life why can't there be variables to have sucess and failures? I'm not able to gather a bunch of investors for a business venture and see if I can used the pooled money to become a mega conglomerate. I want to sell stock! I want to sell junk bonds!

    Dolemite

  • by Cruciform (42896) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @08:38PM (#5236415) Homepage
    The Sims franchise has been made successful by a demographic of people that want a simple game where they interact with little people under their own control. It's not really a social game. It's more like an advanced game of Solitaire. There are the few that bought it that want the social experience added to the game, but many are content with the "anti-social" aspect of having your own world, with your own people, and no one else to intrude and take the fun out of it.
    Games like Team Fortress, Counter Strike, the team variants of UT and Q3, are all social games with an established base of organized groups. The Sims community probably wasn't ready for the jump yet. Given time, they may.
    Then again, maybe they should have eased them into it by letting people create small dedicated world servers for their friends to Sim on, building a social structure that way before implementing it as massively multiplayer.

    Time will tell.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

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