Veteran game designer Will Wright has called EA’s handling of its SimCity launch “inexcusable”.
Speaking to Games Industry, the founder of Maxis and creator of SimCity, who had no involvement in the latest game himself, sympathised with the many gamers who found themselves unable to play, because of the title’s always-on server demands.
“I could have predicted – I kind of did predict there’d be a big backlash about the DRM stuff. It’s a good game; I enjoy playing it a lot,” said Will.
“It was kind of like, ‘EA is the evil empire, there was a lot of ‘Let’s bash EA over it’. That was basically inexcusable, that you charge somebody $60 for a game and they can’t play it. I can understand the outrage. If I was a consumer buying the game and that happened to me, I’d feel the same.”
Wright expressed regrets that the SimCity team had to face such turmoil. Yet, his views on always-on connectivity remain pro-consumer.
“I think people care if it doesn’t work,” he added.
“If you can’t play it on planes, stuff like that… I think there are some very valid concerns about it. Also there’s a perception; I don’t expect to play World of Warcraft on the airplane, because my perception is it has to be on the ‘net. SimCity was in this very uncomfortable space, like the uncanny valley, almost; [it was caught] between was it a single player game or was it a multiplayer game?”
Wright also shared his thoughts on the recent spate of EA layoffs, describing the organisation as “loose federation”. “It is going through a lot of restructuring right now, but I don’t even have the time to tune into it,” he said.
Wright started his own company, Stupid Fun Club in 2009, to explore new ways to build entertainment. During the interview, he also explained that he will be launching a spin-off company, Syntertainment, which he hopes will come out of stealth mode later this year. On its jobs page, it’s currently hiring for mobile app developers with experience in iOS and Android.