EA Defends BF 4, SimCity Launch Efforts, Discusses Future

By Nathan Grayson on February 11th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

I recently attended the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas (which is not related to game developer DICE, actually), and there I interviewed the entire gaming industry. OK, that’s not entirely true, largely because many D.I.C.E. attendees spontaneously break out into hives if anybody so much as mentions the word “indie.” But still, I talked to a whole mess of people. I encountered EA chief creative officer Rich Hilleman on an award show red carpet, so time for chit-chat was brief. Given recent events, however, I had to ask: what’s the deal with EA and hideously botched launches on games like Battlefield 4 and SimCity? And while Hilleman (very vaguely) promised change, I found his response more than a little upsetting. Read on and see what you think.

RPS: SimCity and BF4 both had terrible launches. SimCity didn’t work for more than a month, and BF4 still has issues. Surely you’re overhauling how you approach launches internally from now on?

Hilleman: I’m not sure I accept your premise. Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product on both consoles and PC. From a sales perspective, from a gameplay perspective.

RPS: Sure, BF4 is fundamentally a good game, but you can’t just write off months of glitches and server issues. Some people straight up could not play for the first couple weeks.

Hilleman: I think there was a lot of noise about the game, but some of that is a function of your surface area. The more customers you have, the more noise becomes available. We did things wrong. We know that. We’re gonna fix those things. We’re gonna try to be smart about what customers want in the future.

But I’m not willing to accept – and I don’t think most of my customers are willing to say – “it’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.” That’s not the conversation we’re having now. I think what we’re hearing is, “You made a game we really liked. We would’ve liked it a little better if it didn’t have these problems.” Many of those problems we can fix, and we have and will.

RPS: Have you looked into ways to improve your process? Better internal testing? Better beta testing? Early Access is all the rage these days, and that generally starts in alpha. I feel like BF4 should’ve had that tag on it when it launched.

Hilleman: I don’t have the numbers off the top of my head, but my impression is that BF4 had more than 10,000 beta testers before it shipped. Now, some of the problems we had were related to systems that were not released. Beta testing on an unreleased system is difficult.

What I would say is, there were dynamics that were different this time. There were organizational differences. Some of those have been fixed already. Many of those conditions will not be the same next time. Some of those fixes aren’t going to solve the problem next time, though.

The obvious and glaring issues – the ones we heard most about from our customers, the ones that matter most to them – we’ve really gotten on top of those and they’re fixed. What is most important is to know how to not have the problem next time, and that’s kinda what I’m proudest about.

RPS: How radically are you changing the process next time? Are you, for instance, going to focus on giving DICE time and space to iron out all the bugs?

Hilleman: That team got to ship that game when they wanted to. I don’t think we really pulled it out of their hands. But the process changes dramatically ever time. If you were to take a look at the process behind a gen three launch and a gen four launch, it’s 80 percent different. So the next major number release for Battlefield will likely have an 80 percent process change, because time has passed. So that’s why I talk about changing for the future, not changing for mistakes we made last time. If I reproduce what I did this time, it’s guaranteed to be 80 percent wrong anyway.

RPS: As a customer in the wake of all this – SimCity, Battlefield 4, etc – why should I buy in during another EA launch? Why should I trust, say, Titanfall?

Hilleman: Titanfall is made by a different organization. Respawn has very firm control of their project. Best I can do for you.

[Red carpet pit lords crack whips until Hilleman is forced to exit]

Much shorter than I would have liked (for obvious reasons), but you get the idea. I hope Hilleman’s is not indicative of general rhetoric among EA brass, because this is the sort of habit I think they should be trying to break with a ten-ton sledgehammer. Trust is massively important, and EA’s effort to re-earn it in the past many months has been confused at best. It’s awful, too, to see potentially great (or at least solid) games eclipsed by crummy launches. If EA doesn’t consider a game that doesn’t work at launch to be a “bad product”, then there’s cause for concern.

If nothing else, DICE has been extremely apologetic over the whole fiasco, and fixes have been slow but steady. Will that translate into improvement next time or on other EA games, though? Only time will tell. Fingers do-deca-double-septuple crossed that the worst is finally over.

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134 Comments »

  1. Loyal_Viggo says:

    BF4 was fundamentally flawed the moment they decided not to include a Nazi Zombie mode.

    • The Random One says:

      Three words: Cyborg Nazi dinosaurs.

      Wait, that’s Time, Gentlemen, Please! I think I’ll go play that instead.

      • Loyal_Viggo says:

        Cyborg Nazi Dinosaurs… the sheer majesty of such a game would be overwhelming.

        Like Jurassic Park, yet twisted into something else. If it had coop too… superb!

        Please, if a dev or CEO or someone who can make games is reading this… PLEASE MAKE THIS GAME.

      • TheVGamer says:

        How the fuck isn’t this a thing already?? Carmack is a hack for not making it a part of Wolfenstein 3D.

  2. zeroskill says:

    All of this is far less terrible then what this company has done to Dungeon Keeper.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      The entire interview should’ve just been “BUT WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO DUNGEON KEEPER!?”

    • ran93r says:

      Dungeon Keeper is yesterdays news.
      Today it’s all about Plants Vs Micropayments and after a patch, you now have to pay for game functionality.
      http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/1xjv8e/fuck_plants_vs_zombies_2_and_fuck_ea/

      • Synesthesia says:

        come on. Did you expect any different? PopCap and EA. Can we please, please, stop buying shit from them please? Pretty please. I’ll buy you something nice. Just stop buying shit. Shit will then not be sold to us. Sounds good?

        • Malfeas says:

          Right there with you mate. Nobody in my gaming circle is willing to buy anything from them anymore. They’ve utterly overdone it. That they can still exist shows the insidious (and most likely involving black magic and human sacrifice,) power of marketing.

        • El_Emmental says:

          EA bought PopCap and fired most of the existing staff in the following months, just like they did before. The new PopCap is just an empty shell, EA only wanted the IPs (intellectual properties) to milk them out with cheap sequels. Let’s not forget PopCap was once a great developer, that gave us Peggle and Plants vs Zombies.

          Remember Rare (damn you Microsoft !), remember Bullfrog, remember Westwood, don’t forget the great developers of the past, don’t let the publishers destroy the history of these studios.

        • mandrill says:

          I stopped buying games from EA years and years ago. I will not have Origin on my PC and this means that The developers of Titanfall have lost someone who would be quite willing to put down money for their game right now if it weren’t being published and distributed by EA. Everything they touch is transmuted in to shit, and still people fork over their cash to them expecting things to be better this time around when the only incentive EA needs to stop producing such turkeys (or handling them so badly) is for people to cut off their money supply.

          EA will not change until their cash-flow is severely threatened. And that isn’t going to happen because those who don’t know the company, it’s history, and its corporate culture, still go out and buy the latest FIFA or Sims. EA thrives on the fact that there’s one born every minute.

      • Moraven says:

        If you just used in game currency for the silly touch powers you can clear any level with ease.

        Lack of mini games and no way to access all the plants with in game currency turned me off. I cleared all 3 worlds, did endless a few times. But I probably won’t be playing anymore. Now PvZ 1 I will gladly replay over and over. Hell we have multiple copies of it in our house (x2 Steam, Android, DS). EA forced it into F2P and a crappy F2P system while they were at it. Really, force us to pay really money to use different plants and play how we would like to?

        Just make the worlds and costumes the only thing you have to pay for.

        • Premium User Badge

          Rizlar says:

          And the change of tone from the first game is just shamefully shit. It’s just so anodyne, where the first game was overflowing with character.

        • shaydeeadi says:

          I was turned off by the expensive and silly touch powers put played it occasionally anyway. Now you have to pay (in-game or microbucks) to replace lawnmowers? According to the linked reddit it is across all levels, If you want to keep playing without being massively hamstrung it will be tough. It’s a pretty shameful tactic and I wish EA well.

    • derbefrier says:

      you know i actually tried it out a few days ago and I have to ask, other than the bastardization of a great IP, whats the problem with this game? It seems like a typical free to play tablet game in every sense of the word. play the game to unlock stuff or pay to unlock stuff. I thought people were okay with this sort of model since just about every F2P first person shooter uses this model and pretty much every other big F2P game. I didnt play it long so i might have missed something but the extra hate this game seems to be getting as opposed to other F2P titles doesn’t make sense to me.

      • NotToBeLiked says:

        You either have not played many F2P shooters, or have not played beyond the tutorial of DK Mobile. In most F2P games, progress is very slow unless you pay, like in DK mobile yes. But in other games you can usually progress anyway without paying by just playing the game a lot or grinding. That’s somewhat boring, but not too much of a problem if the actual game is fun to play. You can level up by paying and killing 50 guys or you can not pay and kill 500 guys.
        In DK Mobile, you can pay, or you can wait. If you want to dig out a hole, that occupies one of your 2 free imps. So if you want to dig out a room (usually at least 9 blocks), you have to wait 2/4/12/24 hours (depending on the type) per block dug out. IF you pay to make it go faster, there still is barely anything to do besides building the room (which will cost money or time again) or starting to build another game. You can “raid” someone elses dungeon, which is just putting some of your creatures in their dungeon and hoping they destroy it, which gets you a bit of gold. But gold is not that usefull (real money payments require gems) and you tend to spend more on training new creatures than you can win. All deployed creatures also vanish BTW, even when they survive…. Who in their right mind creates (or plays) a game where no fun can be had?

        • Moraven says:

          So its Clash of Clans clone?

          I tried Sensei Wars and just got bored of it. At least you can repopulate your army every 10-40 minutes and do stuff. But progression required checking in every day and was rather slow.

          • NotToBeLiked says:

            It’s supposed to be pretty much exactly the same mechanics but worse. I haven’t played that because I don’t enjoy those kind of games, but tried this because it’s Dungeon Keeper. If there had been a proper game beneath all of the timers I would have even considered spending money on it.

  3. MuscleHorse says:

    EA clearly doesn’t give a solitary fuck. I would say his petulant manner towards you was a surprise if it were one. His answers boiled down to “We’re getting rich, fuck you.”

    • Meusli says:

      I wish I was there, I would have shoved another £30 up his arse for the mess I received that was BF4.

      • bstard says:

        Yeh this. I dont understand, clearly EA customers like it up from behind. Dont spend so much words on what could be rephrased elegantly and to the point: fuck you customer!

        • P7uen says:

          I disagree, I really liked his sound-bites.

          Electronic Arts: “guaranteed to be 80% wrong”

      • meepmeep says:

        In coppers, I hope

    • derbefrier says:

      heh why should they give a fuck as long as people keep buying their games.

      RPS: your game launches suck

      EA: yeah well, you still bought it didnt ya? so it must not bother you THAT bad

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      Sunjumper says:

      I find it telling that when asked about the problems of the games the answer was: ‘Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product [...]. From a sales perspective, from a gameplay perspective.’

      The first point he makes it that the product was successful stressing that in reality there weren’t any big problems. He later also does his best to further this idea that all reported problems are created by a strange vocal minority.

      He then continues to say that it was a great commerical success, as this seems to be the first thing he actually cares about. Only to then add that it was also a success from a gameplay perspective. Apart from sounding like an afterthought ‘It is a success from a gameplay perspective.’ doesn’t really mean anything. It sounds nice and has the word ‘game’ in it, but what exactly is the perspective of gameplay?

      Again an intreview with good questions answered in the usual media trained way to turn an interview into a PR opportunity. We have reached a point where we might as well give the reporters a week of media and PR training so that they can write the dialogue on their own.

      Nathan the next time you get responses like that please nail them down on their arguments until they are obvious in the way they are trying not to answer any question, run away or break down and turn into the human form of a broken record.

      • Apocalypse 31 says:

        His first response was that the game did well ….from a sales perspective.

        Interview over. We know where this guy is coming from. He’s obviously a d-bag, considering he’s climbed the walls at EA.

    • DThor says:

      I personally find gamers, on the whole, one of the whiniest, petulant, self-entitled and unrealistically demanding consumers on the planet. Along comes EA and suddenly gamers seem quite reasonable. I’m going to say it:EA is the Adobe of gaming. Ouch.

  4. Greg M says:

    EA, TAKE 2, WB…. all those big guns just end up flogging games and never fixing annoying issues. as long as it isn’t game breaking it isn’t worth investing time and money to fix.

    Understandable from a business point of view, but not everything should be about money as it ultimately just brings the quality down.

    They should think a bit more about gamers and quality and not just about the money.

    • Baines says:

      Don’t forget the fun when GFWL is completely shut down, and games from various companies lose some or all functionality.

      Hi Capcom, with your “We aren’t going to do anything about Street Fighter X Tekken or Resident Evil 5, but we are going to keep selling them up until/unless Valve removes them from Steam.” Although at least they finally admitted that they weren’t going to fix a bunch of their games, compared to how they stayed completely silent about it while they put all those games on holiday sales on Steam.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        I have to give WB credit for how they handled GFWL in the Batman games.

        But I also have to chide them for how they’ve handled Origins.

  5. Golden Pantaloons says:

    I wonder if EA execs have personal spin doctors. The way he deflects questions is disturbingly close to the methods used by politicians. Also, what’s his very first comment? “It was a good sale”. That’s a really weird thing to say to his customers. As if we actually care how much money they make and are somehow appeased by that. Bizarre.

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      Gap Gen says:

      Yes, they answer entirely different questions to the ones asked. Unleash the Paxman!

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      When he said:

      What I would say is, there were dynamics that were different this time.”

      All I could hear was Ed Milliband.

    • Memph says:

      This is exactly what struck me when reading it. He simply will not directly address the questioner’s viewpoint, but pulls up percentages and chicanic tangents to spout out a whole lot of words, with no actual answer within them. He deflects words like Raiden does bullets, except instead of sword, there’s just this gigantic hose spewing alphabetti spaghetti.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      “We” are not his customers. We are his PRODUCTS. The customers are the shareholders. The games are the means for transportation of money from one to the other I guess. But as soon as a company becomes public traded, it seems it has one goal, higher share prices. That is not necessarily synonymous with “better service, better products” etc.

    • solidsquid says:

      It was the apparent belief that a bad launch made for a bad game that got me (despite the question including the phrase “Battlefield 4 is fundamentally a good game)

  6. Humanji says:

    I love how he didn’t mention anything in relation to Sim City.

  7. Triprunner says:

    So basically that dude is saying “it sold well, so… fuck off… NEXT!”

    Haven’t bought a EA title since ME3′s greedy and cruel day 1 DLC cut out from the main game and that failure of an ending.

  8. Seafort says:

    Dungeon Keeper for iOS and Android is all you need to know about EA and what they care about most.

    It certainly isn’t their customers happiness with their products. BF4 and Sim City were horrendous at launch and still are today.

    I just hope Titanfall doesn’t go the same way and I hope Respawn have gained some common sense to get the hell out while they still can.

  9. Captain Joyless says:

    I really love the questions you asked this guy.

    Why don’t you guys ask questions like this to Paradox? EU4 and the CoP expansion could use some scrutiny.

    I wish you’d do more questions like this generally!

    • MichaelGC says:

      Genuine question: what’s up with EU4/CoP? I had a bit of a Google but haven’t yet spotted any controversy.

      • dongsweep says:

        Nothing, he is just complaining. Paradox is probably the best of the bunch for releasing patches that not only fix problems but add a lot of free content. Their DLC is also inexpensive and regularly goes on sale and most of it adds a lot of depth. I cannot think of why anyone would complain about Paradox when refrencing EU4 and CK2.

        • Graerth says:

          Not to mention at least in CK2, if you play it on multiplayer and host has it, everyone can play with it regardless.

          No dividing players based on who owns what expansions.

  10. kael13 says:

    I try to stay away from EA’s releases but with Dragon Age: Inquisition and the murmurings of a ME4 on the horizon it’s just so damn hard to say no.

    I did buy BF4, but not on release. And it is a good game, except for the daft amounts of DLC they’ve got going on.

    • chris1479 says:

      BF4 was nowhere near where it needed to be before release. The Beta ran with fewer problems for me than the complete game did, and the misleading way they marketed the “Deluxe” edition led me to believe I was getting all of the DLCs just as I did with BF3… WRONG… that’s an extra 50 euros bitch *gloveslaps customer*

      Yeah…no…do not buy anything from these people. Total and utter pricks, and they aren’t sorry either.

    • Premium User Badge

      Anthile says:

      I don’t see the problem. Buy quality games and avoid dysfunctional games. I think that sends the message well enough.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        On a singular level, you’d think something like that would normally work. Looking at it from above, however, it becomes obvious that personalized “pick and choose” boycotts don’t have any goddamn effect on how these AAA publishers run their overall business.

        The only way they’re going to learn is if they start losing massive quantities of money, and that’s only going to happen when gamers as a community smarten up and start boycotting companies’ products en masse.

  11. Snargelfargen says:

    Is there any quantitative data out there on BF4′s crashing and disconnection issues?

    I think an interesting question for EA is what percentage of the user base having such issues is acceptable.

  12. Calculon says:

    After my Sim City experience, if I see that a product has an EA tag next to it – I don’t buy it. Its sad that its come to that, but they are a disorganized mess quite frankly.

    Taking ownership of that mess should be priority number 1 to reassure whatever customer base they have left. I see that again, they have failed to do so.

    I am a little disappointed Nathan that you didn’t seize the opportunity to focus on SimCity – which he all but admitted it was a disaster. He defended BF4 – but I didn’t see a defense of Sim City. Perhaps it would have been beneficial to pounce on that and do some digging rather than sparring over the title he wasn’t ready to admit failure on? I wasn’t there, so not sure.

    Also – Im wondering if it makes sense to have statistics handy in the event of these types of interviews ie: number of problematic releases versus ‘smooth’ releases, and have him argue against those.

    • Premium User Badge

      bills6693 says:

      I doubt having stats on hand would help. The reply would just be something along the lines of:

      “Well there are those numbers but also I know there are numbers – and I don’t have them right now, I don’t know them off the top of my head – but there are the numbers that show that most of our customers are satisfied with the product they bought and that people generally are happy with the purchase, and the problems that some people had have mostly been fixed”

    • subedii says:

      You can’t really argue those stats to begin with when he flat out states that it was a smooth release, with perhaps a minor hiccup as is to be expected of any launch.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      I don’t just not buy it, I run screaming.

  13. chris1479 says:

    Wow… if there was some way for me to never buy anything from EA again *even more than I’m already doing* I would totally do it. I don’t know if it’s just me but the sheer arrogance of his responses was just breathtaking. What a complete prick. You could summarise the interview as “We made money. Suck it.”

    • dongsweep says:

      Luckily they split off from Steam and put everything on their own service. Now I don’t even have to worry about accidently downloading an EA game!

  14. Rad says:

    And here’s to EA winning “Worst Company in America” (deservedly or not) for the third year in a row…

    • dE says:

      They’re going for consistency.
      It’s funny how they continuously pull these stunts and are then all surprised at the backlash.

  15. Emeraude says:

    Gotta love non-specific, totally evasive and overall insignificant Corporate newspeak.

    • chris1479 says:

      Yep he didn’t so much as even admit there’d been a problem and if there were any WELL IT MADE MONEY DIDNT IT. MONEY. MO-NAY. *Wipes hand on interviewers face* NEXT.

  16. zaphod42 says:

    Guys, you either need to just skip interviews like this or you need to have the balls to really take them to task for it. Every single one of those responses is total marketing spin BS and you know it. Don’t let them get away with that! He didn’t even answer the question, he redirects and answers other questions so that he can look like he’s responding but really he’s avoiding facing the question.

    What an ass. EA clearly doesn’t give two shits what we think. The bottom line message is this:

    “Battlefield 4 sold well, so we don’t care”

    Now, you can’t say that so much about SimCity, so they felt the sting in their wallets. But they don’t really care about their customers and that’s ridiculous.

    EA’s been voted the worst company in America for years running for a reason, its pulling shit like this.

    Seriously RPS either don’t bother or take them to the cleaners. This kinda stuff does nobody any good.

    • Emeraude says:

      Consider the conditions of the interview though. It’s not as if Mr Grayson had the man to himself, in a room, to grill him with questions until proper answers were given.

      • subedii says:

        Yeah if this was a one-on-one interview setting in front of an audience, I could see it working. However here at a press conference? You’ve got limited time and no real way to pressure them. Any attempt to do so results in the PR person’s handler shoo-ing you away like a stray dog that wandered in unannounced and did something unmentionable on the carpet in front of the guests.

        As Wombat said though, the answers that he was forced into as it is are so ridiculously evasive that nobody reading this so far has actually defended the guy. Which is kind of surprising, usually everyone gets a cheerleading section, but the most anyone can conjure up is “I personally didn’t have issue with the title itself.”

      • The Random One says:

        Nathan, Son of Gray grilled him pretty hard, given the circumstances. He essentially opened with “Given how unquestionably SHIT your game launches have been, I’m going to charitably assume you’re taking steps so your next launch won’t be as shit. Would you care to tell what those steps are?” He can hardly be blamed if Rich, Man of Hille, literally responded “I reject your premise”.

        • Emeraude says:

          I had a weird Rahan flashback right now for some reason…

    • Surlywombat says:

      Actually I would disagree. It does everyone some good. This guy gave evasive and non-committal answers, which did not satisfy the readers here. This shows EA for what they are and brings up issues EA would very much like to be forgotten about.

      Keep prodding RPS!

      • subedii says:

        To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another site even PUT these kinds of questions to their interviewees. They almost uniformly play the “How excited are we? So excited!” questions.

    • Jumwa says:

      These interviews are far more confrontational than any other gaming site seems to dare to do. Do you not wonder why they struggle with PR bullshit and then cut short every time RPS takes them to task?

      RPS asks the tough questions, they dodge them, and when they realize the interviewer isn’t going to let up they cut the interview short. It’s not as if they can chain the reps to the chair and force them to give legitimate, honest answers.

      • Premium User Badge

        Zephro says:

        Yeah this, I’ve never seen any other games site even try.

        Also did anyone else get a Dennis Pennis vibe?

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Exactly, and this is why I keep coming back to RPS. Despite the answers they get sometimes, they’re at least trying.

        Outside of some poor half-assed attempts by Polygon, no other games journo site dares to ask these kinds of questions.

  17. db1331 says:

    I guess I’m in the minority with BF4. Yes, I had crashes every few rounds the first couple days after release. And I do still get the occasional BS kill trades, or shot around corners. Overall though, the game is amazing, and runs really well on my rig. I get over 120fps on a custom setting that is very near Ultra. I don’t even remember the last time the game crashed.

    I also don’t understand the premium and DLC hate. If you buy a season pass for BioShock Infinite, Borderlands 2, or Saints Row IV, nobody says boo. It’s just a way to save money on all the DLC in the long run. But if you buy a season pass for BF4 (Which is all Premium is) you’re a loser/noob/idiot. I don’t care about any of the stuff that comes with premium, like special camo, prioritized server queues, or dog tags. I only get it because it’s a way to get 4 DLC packs for the price of 3, and to get them 2 weeks early to boot.

    • Emeraude says:

      I also don’t understand the premium and DLC hate. If you buy a season pass for BioShock Infinite, Borderlands 2, or Saints Row IV, nobody says boo

      On the internet, nobody hears* me say “boo”. :(

      *; heard ?

    • jalf says:

      I guess I’m in the minority with BF4. Yes, I had crashes every few rounds the first couple days after release

      Yes, if you had crashes every few rounds, and found that acceptable, then yes, you are in the minority.

      • chris1479 says:

        I imagine we can expect more of the same then. If people find crashes and appalling game launches and arseholes like the dude giving the interview then we can expect much more to come.

        • Meusli says:

          Sometimes I don’t know who to be more angry at, the company delivering this mess or the customers lapping it up.

          • Emeraude says:

            Everyone.

            EVERYONE.

          • chris1479 says:

            I blame the people (including myself) who handed out money for this shambles. It’s only right and just therefore that the good money I paid to EA is used to pay shiny-suited corporate douchebags like the one above.

            Lesson = Learned. I can’t speak for anyone else though…

        • Premium User Badge

          bills6693 says:

          I think there probably are a lot of people who don’t mind some crashing and bugs on release, that get patched out in a few weeks, too terrible a crime. But those people don’t go to forums or comments to defend the game, as they have no need to, since they don’t have a problem. Those that do have a problem with it are more vocal.

          If you bought an indie game on release and there were bugs and crashes but in two weeks it was patched and sorted out, you’d give the guy a second chance. You may be unhappy about the initial state but it wouldn’t matter to you that much if they fixed it.

          Yes AAAs should do more testing and not have so many issues, but then the scope of the game is also generally larger and there is more to go wrong. Personally I think its fine to be upset on release about problems with the game but if it gets patched out, forgive and forget.

          I don’t think everyone will or even should take my stance on this, but I’m just saying that if I get a game that functions properly, I’m satisfied. If that product working properly takes a couple of weeks longer than it should have, I may not like it but I find it acceptable. If, however, its broken to the core and it doesn’t get fixed (E.G. SimCity) then I will not accept it.

      • db1331 says:

        I don’t know that I found it acceptable. I did just restart the game and resume playing (Which took about 30 seconds) rather than go on a forum threaten to sue EA. Is it a bad thing nowadays to realize that having millions of players on thousands of different hardware configurations all trying to play your game at the same time might lead to some hiccups for the first couple days?Yes, it sucks that you can’t play the game you bought at the moment, or that you are disconnecting. It SHOULD just work perfectly, and right away. But if it doesn’t, give them time to fix it before raging all over the internet.

        The real problem is the sense of entitlement gamers have today. I see people all the time posting on the Steam forums at 12:01 AM if a game scheduled to come out that day isn’t available yet. “It doesn’t unlock until 3:00 PM? Fuck that, it said it releases on the 13th. Well it’s the 13th, and it’s still not available. I want my money back.” And it’s people like that that contributed to a large portion of the server woes. Any server with players on a VPN (Which was all of them) was lagged to shit for everyone.

        • subedii says:

          I don’t know that I found it acceptable.

          Then why do you spend the rest of your post justifying it? Not to mention dropping the “E” word on the people raising complaints. I’m just going to call it: That’s a flat out ad-hominem.

          The BF4 launch was widely regarded as the most broken releases seen in the franchise, and one of the just plain worst in general. This is not a minority view of “entitled” brats, much as you want to cast it that way.

          Eurogamer:

          Battlefield 4 has been a disaster. That is not hyperbole. It’s one of the highest-profile games to have ever collapsed under its own weight, and one of the most significant mishaps in EA’s history.

          Polygon

          Let’s be 100 percent clear: EA and DICE are charging full price for a product that they very likely knew didn’t work at launch. They continue to sell copies of the game despite admitting that it’s still broken in a number of ways.

          DigitalTrends

          When it comes to online games, there are bad launches, and then there are bad launches. Electronic Arts and DICE’s Battlefield 4 certainly falls into the latter category, and the launch is being considered so bad – especially on the PC – that some investors believe EA execs knowingly lied about it to inflate their own stock, prompting a lawsuit.

          Games.On.Net

          EA have used their annual investor call to answer questions regarding the lessons they’ve learned from the launch of Battlefield 4, a launch that we called the messiest yet.

          GameInformer

          Since the launch of Battlefield 4 in late October, we’ve written many stories highlighting the ongoing problems with the game. Throughout, EA and DICE have been slow to respond to requests for information. When we follow up to understand what’s going on, why discrepancies in information exist, and how the publisher will be getting the game back on track, we receive very little useful information we can pass on to our readers.

          Battlefield 4 has had a lot of problems. Connectivity issues, crashes, lost progress, and more have set developer DICE back. EA has put off the studio’s future projects pending improvement to the game, which has yet to be fully realized. There is clearly something wrong internally, and for every small step forward, there are big steps back.

          Forbes

          I don’t disagree with much said here. Battlefield 4 was a technical disaster, and the way EA and DICE have responded since has been abysmal.

          VG247

          Battlefield 4′s launch was marred with instability, glitches, crashes and everything between.

          Seriously, these are NOT minor websites or the ranting of the “entitled”.

          I’d include the links, but you can find them yourself from the quotes. Putting in too many links upsets the spam filter.

          • db1331 says:

            Well that wasn’t my experience with the game at all. It crashed maybe 4 or 5 times the first two days. Over several hours of play. I understand that everyone’s experience is different. I have a blast playing it, and can’t wait for the next DLC to drop.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          “Is it a bad thing nowadays to realize that having millions of players on thousands of different hardware configurations all trying to play your game at the same time might lead to some hiccups for the first couple days?”

          Many of the more serious problems occurring in Battlefield 4 have been a chronic presence in the IP since Bad Company 2. EA and DICE don’t get the luxury of using “hardware configurations” and “player population” as excuses anymore.

    • kevinspell says:

      Putting so many DLC packs in a game has two reasons. First one is to stop the used games market as much as possible. And the second one is to destroy the community by the time the last DLC comes out and in that way force the players to buy the next game in the series even though is is the same fuc*ing game with two new map packs and reskinned weapons.

    • adammtlx says:

      The fact that you found crashes every few rounds totally acceptable for a AAA game by a multi-billion-dollar company goes to show that you’re exactly the type of customer that EA relies on to keep themselves relevant, and exactly the type of customer they use to justify their poor behavior.

      Here’s a summary of my BF4 experience:

      1. Multiplayer wouldn’t work at all for the first two days.
      2. Started single-player campaign instead. Played for 4 hours. Next day, my single-player game was corrupted and unplayable.
      3. Went back to multiplayer. Could finally get into a game, except not Conquest. Conquest mode 100% broken. For over a week.
      4. Played other modes. Was routinely tossed from games by crashes for the next two weeks.
      5. When I wasn’t crashing, I was consistently the victim of the insta-kill “bug,” kill trading, random lag spikes, getting killed behind cover, etc, etc, etc.

      That’s simply not acceptable to me. Before I bought it I had told myself I wouldn’t buy an EA game for a long time after the SimCity fiasco, but I relented on BF4 because my buddies were playing it and I’m a big fan of the Battlefield series. At worst I thought I’d be giving money to a company I generally despise, but as it turns out I not only gave them money, but paid them full price to let me be a beta tester. This was not the arrangement I had agreed to.

      And from this interview it’s clear that EA has no genuine remorse over anything they’ve done. They’re only sorry because they got caught. Until the corporate culture at EA changes this will continue to be the case. They will toss out unfinished, broken games with anti-consumer mechanics, sell a boatload and pretend to be sorry when a portion of the “large surface area” complains.

      Fuck them. We have better options. I can’t wait to witness their inevitable crash. Hopefully all the talent will recover and go into indie and smaller studios and the suits like Rich Hilleman can go back to whatever nasty industry spawned them.

      • db1331 says:

        I thought the conquest bug was only a console thing?

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Does it make it worse or better? If it is, so what, it’s still a bug, it’s still a release bug and a problem to a paying consumer.

          Of all the points given in the post, the only relevant one to point out is this possibly applies to a console game, and not the PC version? I don’t think it makes it any less of a problem. If SimCity had server problems and was a console only release, people would still consider it as big a problem as on the PC release, bigger in fact.

    • Viceroy Choy says:

      My biggest problem with BF4 (besides the absolutely fucking appalling job they’ve fixing the game) is that Hardcore mode is a fucking disgrace in terms of game design.

  18. Meat Circus says:

    EA hates it customers, and considers them to be nothing so much as stones to squeeze blood out of.

    But they’re never going to public admit to hating their customers, even when confronted with evidence where hatred of their customers is the only sensible explanation.

    Hence this curious alterno-universe that EA people live in, where they’re not all a bunch of hateful, exploitative, greedy, soulless, money-grubbing, incompetent, sociopathic fucks.

    • chris1479 says:

      It’s difficult to get a man to understand mistakes when the continuance of his job depends upon him not understanding.

  19. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    To be fairer to the guy than his response strictly deserves, his point about the new generation of consoles is vaguely salient. You can’t do an open beta test on machines that aren’t out in the wild yet. I suspect he’s overselling the impact on stability the new consoles had, but it’s still a valid point.

    If only it wasn’t floating in a sea of invalid points.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I’m not sure. Consoles have 1 hardware configuration. 1 network system (per console) etc. Much easier to hardware/bug test in that instance. It was only in last gen that the consoles even got public beta.

  20. FauxBen says:

    The interviewee here is just unbelievably tone deaf. When your response to “Why was your game launch such crap” is “Actually we sold a lot of copies!”, I want to give you a big sign that says THIS IS WHY NO ONE LIKES YOU.

    • chris1479 says:

      He’s not tone deaf he’s just paid to not listen to anything anyone says. Big difference.

  21. Noviere says:

    I’m not sure I accept your premise… We made crock shits of cash!

  22. Edgewise says:

    What a load of marketing horseshit. Does this guy even hear himself? “What I’m hearing is…” “…that’s not the conversation we’re having right now…” Seriously, do they grow these assholes in a tank? Genetically engineered to have no sense of shame? He must belong to one of those corporate cultures where admitting error is Death.

    • chris1479 says:

      “I’m not sure I understand your point. We made loads of money. What is the problem here?” LOL

  23. Arithon says:

    “Hilleman: I’m not sure I accept your premise. Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product on both consoles and PC.”
    I’m certain I don’t accept your BS! Battlefield 4 was an overpriced BETA that continues to disgrace the name of the franchise!
    It might have been exceedingly PROFITABLE, but it wasn’t playable and continues to be plagued by bugs.

    • chris1479 says:

      Ironically I bought the beta because it ran just fine, little did I know (duh) that obviously the beta would run fine, this would convince people to buy it, and then the actual full release could be as shit as they liked because GOT YOUR MONEY ALREADY KAY.

  24. Premium User Badge

    Smashbox says:

    Anecdotal, but I can say I didn’t even consider buying BF4 (and I loved BF3) after purchasing the unmitigated disaster that was SimCity.

    And I’m not going to buy Titanfall either, without an RPS stamp of approval.

    Once bitten twice shy, I’m afraid. I don’t have the confidence I used to have the EA finishes games before releasing them. And it takes more than bland denials from executives. It takes showing that you can finish your tentpole games before releasing them.

  25. JanusForbeare says:

    “I think there was a lot of noise about the game, but some of that is a function of your surface area. The more customers you have, the more noise becomes available.”

    In other words, it’s not that the game was buggy, it’s that EA has too many customers. You really have to feel for them.

  26. Jumwa says:

    So the developers of BF4 got to release the game on their schedule, when they wanted, but it was ballsed up anyhow. Oh, but don’t worry about Titanfalll because those devs have “firm” control and will release when ready, so it won’t happen with them.

    Brilliant.

  27. NotToBeLiked says:

    So because a lot of copies of BF4 have been sold, it’s not abnormal that many people have complaints. COD still outsells BF by a boatload. True, they barely change anything but seeing as it’s usually far more popular to hate on COD, why aren’t there as many people complaining about how their COD game barely works at times?

    And claiming the problems aren’t that bad and that the game wasn’t released before it was not ready is a plain lie. There was (probably still is) a post on the official forum about all the confirmed (god knows how many they won’t confirm) bugs, and there were things in there that were 100% reproducible and would have shown up during Q&A. If a server crashes EACH time the building in a map crumbles, that’s not something depending specific circumstances or a system. They must have been aware of that when they shipped.

    • Moraven says:

      While I believe game issues are in the minority who will be more vocal, comparing it to CoD launch is a great frame of reference. CoD sells more than BF and I am sure still has their share of launch problems and vocal minority. But there is a difference between a whisper and a riot as you mention.

      BF3 Open Beta transition to release seemed scary at first since you were on a earlier build but other than adjusting to Battelog (and a few problems that went away quick), it went rather well.

    • Baines says:

      People expect COD to be broken, the PC version to be barely functional, and the Nintendo console version to be some half-finished product that was fished out of a garbage can.

      That’s why you saw more complaints with BF4 than any COD release of the last several years. People expected more of DICE, only for Battlefield 4 to turn out to be an effort worthy of Infinity Ward’s worst. (Though DICE has admitted their mistakes and made an effort to fix their game, compared to developers like Infinity Ward previously playing the blame game and denying issues existed.)

  28. Radiant says:

    There’s a red carpet for these fools now?
    Fuck out of here.

  29. Jason Moyer says:

    “If you were to take a look at the process behind a gen three launch and a gen four launch, it’s 80 percent different.”

    What exactly does he mean by “gen three” and “gen four” there? At first I thought he was talking about console generations, but that can’t be right unless he’s comparing the process of releasing a game for the NES/Famicom with releasing a game for the Megadrive/Genesis.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Hmmm maybe he was talking about Battlefield generations? Makes little sense, but hey, marketing speak.

      • Premium User Badge

        Nogo says:

        Quick glance at the Battlefield wiki page shows they’re probably referring to the major engine changes.

        It’s probably how they keep track of it internally, since things got a bit muddy when Bad Company became a test-bed for the major releases.

  30. Premium User Badge

    fiendling says:

    Hmmmm… glad to see that that it’s still the safe bet to ignore all EA releases.

    Thanks RPS, for asking the tough questions and for ratifying my ongoing EA boycott.

    The money I used to funnel into EA’s gaping maw is now supporting many an Indie developer and that resulted in me having some truly great and memorable gaming experiences. Experiences very few AAA developers can or will supply thanks to their risk averse, play-it-safe approach and a penchant to cater for the lowest common denominator.

    • Fonzcorp says:

      RPS has also helped me in spending my gaming time and funds better.

  31. BrightCandle says:

    So EA doesn’t accept that these games were horrible release failures as bug riddled messes? Worse than that Sim City is still a broken mess in its most recent patch, its not like they are done with fixing either yet.

    But EA is a company, if it makes money (Sim City and BF4 both sold very well) then its meeting its obligations as a company to its shareholders. Nothing else matters. You should have no expectations of EA beyond its intention to make money from selling to its users at the highest price they will bare.

    Expect more of the same, all you have to do is choose whether you keep them in business or not.

  32. Sacarathe says:

    I didn’t have any problems with battlefield 4 and I’m on 5 year old hardware. Though Admittedly I didn’t play for the first 6 weeks because I was A. Busy and B. I was a server admin through the first 5 months of BF3 and was not all impressed – indeed I stopped playing when BF3 premium was introduced, didn’t even buy it, though I have it now for BF4.

  33. Fonzcorp says:

    “We’re gonna try to be smart about what customers want in the future.”

    This sounds very familiar. It really does boil down to how much f*cks EA gives and right now it seems they give as much as they have been.

    If this is the best they can say in regards to RPS’s questions… It obviously isn’t enough f*cks. I’ll continue to stay away from their launches and Origin.

  34. bleeters says:

    EA representative dismisses issues, dodges questions and defines success according to sales figures.

    In other news: grass green, sky blue, rain falls.

  35. Cytrom says:

    Anyone still buying EA’s shit is committing a crime against gaming, and gamers.

  36. DanMan says:

    I’m not willing to accept – and I don’t think most of my customers are willing to say – “it’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.”

    If you append “… at launch” to that remark, I think a lot of customers would say that.

    The only good thing about the BF4 launch is that they openly committed to fixing the bugs.

  37. Danda says:

    Why did John Riccitiello resign? I’m not seeing any change of direction.

  38. SuicideKing says:

    About BF3, i said: “it’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.”

    About BF4, I said: “BF3 was a bad product, this will be too, I will not buy it.”

    And I didn’t.

  39. rocketman71 says:

    Origin. EA.

    Did anyone really expect anything other than a total fuckup?.

  40. Lemming says:

    “I’m not sure I accept your premise.”

    EA, you’re doing it wrong.

  41. Axess Denyd says:

    “Have you decided to drop the requirement for single player games to be online, or are you still a Holocaust denier?”

  42. Arglebargle says:

    This guy’s title is actually Chief Creative Excuses Officer. And they weren’t even that creative…..

  43. HothMonster says:

    ” Battlefield 4 has been an exceedingly successful product on both consoles and PC. From a sales perspective, from a gameplay perspective.”

    Translation: We had tons of pre-order checks to cash who cares if large parts of the game were unplayable for large numbers of consumers. We already made the money.

  44. Screamer says:

    Fuck. Its like talking to someone who’s is sitting on a different planet having a “conversation” with someone else!

  45. Ladygrace says:

    he says: But I’m not willing to accept – and I don’t think most of my customers are willing to say – “it’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.

    I wish i didnt buy it and wish i could have gotten a refund for it. the reason he says Most is that people are learning to not buy EA games now and the only ones buying them are EA fan boys.

  46. engion3 says:

    It’s like EA doesn’t even exist to me anymore. I played BF3 a good amount but was sick of playing by myself since none of my friends used origin so I uninstalled it and never looked back. I didn’t even know BF4 came out until I saw a commercial like 2 months after.

    I would totally buy their games if they were offered on steam and put in my face every day. I guess EA just doesn’t want my business.

  47. HisDivineOrder says:

    Since they refuse to accept your premise of “reality” being most important to effective change, I guess we can expect more launches of similar quality from them.

    Can’t wait.

  48. Ogun says:

    It’s a bad product, I wish I didn’t buy it.

  49. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    “I think there was a lot of noise about the game, but some of that is a function of your surface area.”

    Are these actual words that a real flesh-and-blood human being said with their real human mouth? Because I have my doubts.

    The only drop of pure water in the sea of shit that is EA is their sports games are usually pretty decent — I don’t know about FIFA or whatever, but I enjoy their NFL and NHL titles. But I buy those second-hand on consolebox because I don’t want them getting a single penny of my money ever again.

  50. tomek says:

    As off yesterday 13.02.2014 when DICE deployed a new BF4 patch for PC the game is no longer playable for a large part off the community. They either crash/freeze with sound looping or do not even get to load into a server.

    I really hope the press stays on the ball when it comes to this trainwreck off game developement:

    http://battlelog.battlefield.com/bf4/forum/threadview/2955065670158725597/1/