Game producer Electronic Arts has endured a torrid year, being forced to concede that their catastrophic release of the latest SimCity game was “dumb” while having to concede sales to free to play games like Angry Birds. At the beginning of this month they reported that profits had fallen and they have also been forced to shed jobs, cut costs, and find a replacement for former chief John Riccitiello, who resigned his position in March following a series of profit warnings. They have also announced that they will be dispensing with the Online Pass, in reaction to gamers’ pleas, but they have indicated that they expect a more profitable 2014.
SimCity is a town building game that has amassed millions of fans in its various iterations. The latest title was launched at the beginning of March this year and players were forced to endure 30 minute waits before they could start building a new city in a lot of cases. Three days after its release, Amazon suspended sales of the game and another three days later, EA conceded that the release had been a failure, describing it as “dumb” and promising gamers a copy of a free Electronics Art PC game as compensation for the troubles they suffered.
At the beginning of May the company released financial figures that were less than shining. Net income fell by 19% due partially to the failure of the SimCity launch but also due to hardships faced across the gaming industry. More and more consumers are turning to free games and apps on mobile devices. They are spending less on £50 games, instead opting to download apps like Angry Birds on their mobile devices.
EA also said that the profit slide was due to consumers waiting for new consoles before they made purchases of the biggest, and therefore most profitable titles. They expect things to pick up once the new Xbox and Playstation consoles are in living rooms across the world.
The most recent news from EA is that they will be dropping the Online Pass that is included in many of their titles. This one-time pass enables buyers to register their game and benefit from online play and even some downloadable content. Second hand game buyers were forced to pay for an additional pass if they wanted to enjoy the same benefits. However, gamers were not pleased by the introduction of this and Electronic Arts have stated that they have listened and the Online Pass will be removed.