On April 15th, Electronic Arts (EA) has announced that they will be retiring several of their most popular social Facebook games: The Sims Social, SimCity Social, and Pet Society. EA stated that the reason is that,
“After millions of people initially logged in to play these games, the number of players and amount of activity has fallen off. For people who have seen other recent shutdowns of social games, perhaps this is not surprising.”
These three games will officially go offline in approximately 2 months, on June 14, 2013.
An issue that follows the closure of these games involves the in-game currency for these games. Facebook games are free-to-play, but many games (“freemium” games) like EA’s allow users to purchase in-game currency with real currency to buy certain features in the game that are not free. So while EA is fine with retiring the games, many dedicated players are not happy with the fact that they spent real money on the game, and will no longer be able to access the game and the items they purchased once it goes down. EA’s response is as follows:
“Players are encouraged to spend their remaining balance of SimCash in The Sims Social before the game is retired on June 14th. As of that date, any remaining SimCash left in the game will be invalid.”
This does not really solve the problem. Players cannot do anything about it and refunds will not be provided.
These announcements have all came after EA had recently been voted for and crowned as the Worst Company in America for two consecutive years, as well as the chaotic launch of their newest game, SimCity 5. EA’s closure of these games continues to shed light on the issue of consumers not “owning” a product that they purchased, most notably intangible products such as online-only games.
As an ex-player of some of EA’s Facebook games, I think that the reason why people gradually stopped playing their games is because they failed to meet the consumer’s requirements. They were great games at the start, but as they started becoming more aggressive with the new content and the push to purchase in-game items, the games started going downhill. Many of the players, as well as myself, did not like it. Even though the community had expressed their feelings about these decisions, EA failed to address the problems. Just as our class failed to consider the consumer group’s requirements in the paper airplane activity, EA failed to meet their players’ requirements and expectations for their games.
What do you think of EA’s move to retire these games, and their responses to their consumers’ complaints in regards to the in-game currencies? What do you think about the issue in regards to the payment for and the ownership of intangible products? Furthermore, what does all of this say about the quality of EA’s products and services, as well as EA as a company in general?
6 thoughts on “EA Says Good-Bye to Several Popular Facebook Games”
I agree with the blogger here that EA does not have the best track record in consumer relations. They need to step up to the plate and understand that in the gaming industry they hold a large market share. If they continue to lose their consumers then they will lose market shares as well. I personally have not played any of the games aforementioned in the blog. I have met people who do play some of these games, and they would be furious to know that some of their money is going to feel wasted. As a male into sports I often play Madden which is an EA game. This is probably the only EA product I still use. I have never been dissatisfied with playing Madden, as every year the technology and quality seems to increase. I can imagine the frustration though if I was to go buy a Madden game, and then all of a sudden it did not work and I would not be compensated. The entire online gaming industry should not be focusing on in-game sales in my opinion. They should be focusing on making an addictive game that eventually will have large sponsors. This business model was used by the creators of Angry Birds who are successful.
I agree with the blogger on certain points that they mentioned such that EA does not have the best customer service record. Having said that, I believe a 2 month notice for all the players of these games is beyond reasonable. If the product is not producing income or is defective, then you move onto another one. This is no different in the gaming industry. These games are not producing income or cost too much to maintain so they are eliminating the product. If EA cut the games without notification or a couple days notice, than there would be an issue but that is not the case.
As an EA player, I am glad to know that I am not the only one that feels like their online Facebook games are a deception. The major reason why I stopped playing their games is because like you said, as you play the game you find it tougher and tougher to advance or level up. EA then offers a solution by having the players spending real money in order to be able to buy in game items. I can agree with the previous bloggers about EA giving a two month notification; however, in the company’s situation, I believe that it does not matter how long of a notification they give because the players are going to lose their money regardless. There needs to be some other alternative to making the customers satisfied, such as giving a refund.
This makes me wonder about the future of gaming on Facebook. If it was unable to generate enough users for EA, other companies may follow suite. This could be very interesting for companies such as Zynga that have large amount of revenues from their games on Facebook.
I really enjoyed reading this blog post because I have always wondered about how successful Facebook games have been. I used to play the Sims software game on the computer and really enjoyed it, however never really wanted to play games on Facebook. I also believe one of the main reasons for the major decline in players was because many people want to use Facebook solely for social networking, not for playing games. I don’t believe it is fair for the players who have paid that they lose their money. EA games should allow their players to use this remaining money towards to any other EA game, because most likely these players play other EA games beside just the Sims.
Facebook has become an online monopoly and left other company’s in a drought. Then Facebook acquired Instagram, for it pictures. Now the decline of EA games like SIM has to be taken down because of demand not meeting is just the beginning. I for one don’t like to spend much time on Facebook, but others like to play games while browsing at others’ social life. Not paying the customers back is not a good move from EA, but from economic stands point it also does. The company simply cant afford to pay back the customers which will hurt them in the future.