I still visit the SimCity subreddit every now and then. The hatred spewed against EA and Maxis has, for the most part, disappeared. About a month ago I stumbled upon this thread. The original poster did what very few people seemed to be doing at the time: he took into account the feelings of a Maxis employee.
Before the game’s launch, the SimCity subreddit felt like a harmonious community between gamers and developers. Of course, there’s a different story being told now. The sense of love between the two parties has completely disappeared. The essence of the decline can be seen in one post: Kip Katsarelis, senior producer for Maxis, made a comment saying that he appreciated the love the community was giving Maxis and that he couldn’t wait to share the game they’d been working on for so long. This comment was posted before release. After release, it received the following replies:
“Go (expletive) yourself.”
“ ‘ We’re so excited about this (expletive) ton of cash we are getting for a [expletive] game and can’t help but want to rub our [expletive] in your faces.’ I believe on reddit this is called a FTFY (fixed that for you).”
For what it’s worth, that’s the last post Kip made in the subreddit. To be honest, I wouldn’t blame him if he never returned.
I can understand the frustration SimCity fans have had over the March release, but this isn’t any way to vent. While yes, people portray publishers and CEOs as out-of-touch businessmen in suits; they’re not making the games, the developers are; the same developers that were interacting with you leading up to the release and the same developers you’re now anonymously bashing online.
This isn’t the first time it’s happened, either. Remember the Mass Effect 3 ending that everyone hated? Remember the disappointment that was Star Wars: The Old Republic? Remember the incredibly harsh negativity given to BioWare following both incidents? It’s no wonder both Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka resigned, with the negative fan reaction being as bad as it is. They even cited fan reaction being one of the reasons for their exit. Regardless of whether or not the fan backlash did lead to their departure, why would we even bother spewing out the hate we do?
It reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld. Kramer’s current fling joins him on a date to see a show Jerry’s stand-up comedy is doing. She doesn’t like a joke, so she boos and hisses. Jerry becomes flustered and his set suffers. Unfortunately for Jerry, a critic happens to be in the crowd, leading to a poor review. Jerry’s response is to visit her job and heckle her so she knows how it feels. It’s easy for us to say developers need thick skin, yet very few of us knows what it’s like to be in their position. If you spent three years of your life in a project only for thousands of random people to say it’s the worst thing ever created, how would you feel?
Am I suggesting that developers should find the addresses of every gamer and yell at them a la the ending to Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back? As cool as that would be, it honestly wouldn’t be worth the time and effort. But we do need to take into account that these developers have feelings. It’s not like they purposely sabotaged SimCity so that it had technical issues. So let’s take it easy on the developers. They’re not the ones calling the shots, they’re just trying to make a living doing what they enjoy doing.