An Open Letter to EA
To John Riccitiello, Lucy Bradshaw, et al:
It is now official: your company has become the #1 laughingstock of the entire gaming world, surpassing Ubisoft.
It’s not enough that last year your company was voted the worst company in America by consumers-no…it would have to be surpassed in awfulness by the release of Sim City 5, which has garnered nothing but contempt, hilarity, anger and general outrage from everyone-gamers, gaming magazines, forums (including your own), and anyone who was naive enough to buy the game.
What a pretty impressive list to read:
Reviews of the games’ release came from the NY Times, Ars Technica (which did 2, and still didn’t like it), Eurogamer, Techdirt, Games Industry International, among them. Most of the gaming sites have had running updates on a daily basis, becoming a major attraction of their own-a veritable series of how not to do a major game release. Even Forbes chimed in on the clamor-a business magazine, for heaven’s sake!
Reviews of the game itself are still pouring in from buyers at Amazon and Metacritic-and they have been pretty outspoken about the quality, to be mild. Contempt doesn’t seem to even begin to cover the entire base, but it’s pretty close. It looks like a 200 to 1 ratio of “Don’t buy it, I regret my purchase” right now.
Even your own employees are talking about it. How embarrassing it must be to have such disloyal and outspoken people who don’t even like what they do for a living. Your own Sim City forum is alive with huge amounts of displeasure.
It’s clear now that this has become a public lesson on how not to cope with public relations disaster of the first magnitude by a publicly held company. Way to go, EA!
However, in case you want some lessons on how not to deal with those awful creatures called customers, here are a few from me-I’ve worked with the public for many, many years, and I can tell you that nothing will destroy your customer base quicker than these beliefs:
1. Don’t ever listen to your customers. After all, who are they to tell you how to run a company? Really, what are they besides the only reason you’re in business? Who cares what they think?
2. Ignore all complaints with offers of a free game if they’re not happy. For lack of a better word, I’d call it bribery. Not a nice word, but it works for me.
3. Dazzle them with bullshit if they don’t understand your work. Don’t mind them if they see right through it and call you on it. Trot out a corporate parrot time and time again to talk about your “vision” of what the product should do.
4. Don’t ever refund their money. Not a cent. They bought it, they keep it. Who cares that they spent $60-80 dollars on a piece of unplayable junk? You got their money-that’s all that counts.
5. Don’t ever change your attitude: “We’re not going to give in to popular demand and do any changes.” Stick with what isn’t working, what isn’t selling and just grind in your heels. They don’t need any improvements. They don’t deserve them, the ungrateful wretches!
6. Defend at all costs your incredible stupidity to go counter to all of their past and present pleadings: “No, we’re staying with the DRM, and on-line play only. Suffer! We don’t care!”
With such a winning attitude as yours, EA will this year undoubtedly again be awarded the title of the “Worst Company in America”.
Congratulations on your utter self-destruction. You had it coming.