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The Power Of Silence: Why The SimCity Story Went Away (rockpapershotgun.com)
443 points by Vekz on Apr 23, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments



I facilitated a workshop recently where one of the speakers specialised in, among other things, crisis PR. She said that the two best ways to approach most brand attacks were 1) Silence, and this wasn't appreciated enough by brands wanting to respond; and 2) to 'burn' the story by giving access to mid-level news organisations or softer journalists - once they run with the story, it's often 'burnt' for larger / hard-hitting outlets because it's been covered.

Definitely won't work for all crises, but was eye-opening to me, and a good lesson to those of us with businesses.

Bonus tip: the best / worst time to make a social media complaint is on a Friday night - most businesses don't pay someone to monitor social media on the weekend, and conversely most people interact when they're not at work, so complaints are more likely to go viral without a response for many days.


Definitely won't work for all crises

The golden standard for PR crisis management is probably Johnson & Johnson: http://www.aerobiologicalengineering.com/wxk116/TylenolMurde...

They definitely didn't choose silence. You're right, you definitely have to choose your strategy carefully, depending on your situation.


If something goes wrong and it's your fault and you don't want to pay the consequences, silence may not be so bad.

J&J had the opposite situation. Something went wrong and it wasn't their fault. Choosing to pay the consequences anyway made them look double good; once for taking responsibility, and again for doing it when other companies might've walked away.

The problem with EA is not so much their PR strategy per se, but their general unwillingness to fix fuckups. No amount of marketing can fix a fundamentally broken company.


It's also a strategy that's so hard to follow that even Johnson & Johnson has had trouble replicating it in later disasters (it also didn't hurt that J&J was completely blameless of the original charge). On The Media had a nice story about it in reference to the Toyota "unintended acceleration" issue:

http://www.onthemedia.org/2010/feb/12/better-safe-and-sorry/ (transcript: http://www.onthemedia.org/2010/feb/12/better-safe-and-sorry/...)


The "Tylenol case" was a "sniper-fire crsis" - aka, a crisis caused by an outside force, like a psychotic killer. In this case no one's going to root for the serial killer regardless of how much the company may be at fault. Also, J&J has a long history of manufacturing popular products and has a good reputation with the general populace. These are the major factors that allowed J&J to handle the situation in the way that it did.

Conversely, if a client is in tabacco, genetics or weapons manufacturing then the tactics adopted by J&J will be completely useless to them. Saying that the "Tylenol case" is a golden standard is missing the big picture.

For anyone out there interested in crisis PR I highly recommend "Damage Control": http://www.amazon.com/Damage-Control-Revised-Updated-Managem...


Is burning a story still effective?

HuffPo will run a story from a mid-tier news org (AFAIK), and then it will go viral.

So it seems this might be a deprecated crisis PR strategy.


HuffPo doesn't rise to the level of "mid-tier" - they are definitely less Relevant (at least in the united States) than the mid-50 media outlets, and don't even compare to something like the Top Tier (NYT, WSJ, Tribute, LA Times).

For example, from HN Search:

Results 1-10 of 493 for http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Results 1-10 of 12,273 for nytimes.com


So, my gut feeling says you're right, but your methodology here is wrong: HN aggressively encourages sharing the original story, cutting out any intermediates. HP, for all their reach in making stories go viral, don't actually produce a lot of original content. When something is on NYT, it is generally original.


Doesn't really matter how many stories. Matters how many see them and who the people who see them are. If your target market is PC gamers, a viral story from an online site could hit your target audience right where most of them will notice it. Last time I read a times article was when Tesla revealed their stories are fake.


Can you expand on the burn thing for those of us who don't know much about pr? Is it just because hard hitting journalists don't like to be second?


Pretty much.

All journalists don't like to be second, but most don't get a say (they work in quantity not quality).

Journalists need exclusives, just re-hashing an existing story doesn't offer a compelling reason to the reader to choose your news outlet.

So the top-tier outlets will only want to spend their column inches and reader attention on the stories that give a compelling reason for them to continue returning... that is, exclusive stories and additional depth into breaking news.


To expand on it a little,

People are naturally averse to being redundant when they're conscious of it. If the work has been done, why repeat? As a writer, I dislike writing things that have been written: if I don't have something new to say, why say it?

(There are good reasons to repeat, e.g. practice, but that doesn't apply here.)


Silence is a great tool, especially initially.

Many places that feel that they need to "do something" end up speaking before they really understand what is going on. So you have the bigger risk of either making content-free statements that everyone sees through, or worse making incorrect statement that feed that flames that your organization is incompetent.


If you lie in such a crude fashion and get caught, then screw anyone giving you tips how to cover it up. Let's not even fantasize about hacker ethics; just get some ethics period.


I immediately thought of the more serious/alarming crisis PR botch-jobs of late: the Toyota brake-sticking crisis and the Sony Entertainment account info hack.

I don't think silence would work in either of these cases, but perhaps 'burning' would?


I can't speak to the media/publishing side of things, but personally I stopped talking about SimCity because I stopped playing it.

Looking back at the whole fiasco, I'm positive that the always-online requirement and server overload will forever define the game, but there was a much bigger problem lurking below that issue, which is that the game sucks anyway even if you disregard the early technical issues and the politics around "always-on".

It is, IMO, by far the least fun Maxis "Sim" game I've ever played, and that holds even if you include Spore.


I concur absolutely with you - I am the worlds great sim fan, and I've lost countless thousands of hours watching my little guys (and gals) run around in Stronghold, Settlers 7, and Caesar 3. I also got a lot of fun in previous Sim City games.

The Latest SimCity got about 6 hours out of me, before I just went, "meah." - I didn't really get the same sense of progress, or emergent features, or ownership of the process and events that I get from other sims.

But - EA scammed me out of the $60 before I discovered that the game actually sucked, so - maybe it wasn't such a bad strategy on their part after all. But, with that said - this approach (hyping a game, limiting its playtesting, not providing extensive reviewer copies) - only works so many times before people start to get wise to your ways...


> But - EA scammed me out of the $60 before...

Chargeback if you can't get a refund (like me, I bought on Origin). I called up Amex, identified the charge, told them EA misrepresented the product, and a day later I had a credit on my statement. Took three minutes.


Same here. I explained they failed on digital delivery of a service. I also told the rep that the company had threatened me and other customers with a refusal of service if any such chargebacks were attempted.

I may have been willing to wait out the launch fiasco, but when EA reps explained to me and others that our Origin account would be BANNED if we issued any chargebacks...that was the last straw for me.

I'm sort of hoping EA does ban my account. I'm sure my AG would love to hear about how they no longer provide me access to games I purchased in the past but they now no longer think I should be allowed to use.


I'm guessing their TOU covers this, and that the AG won't be able to do jack about it.


There's a big difference between what's in a contract (and I'm not sure TOU even count as contracts, even though they may call themselves such) and what's actually considered "binding". IANAL but as I understand it, the more unilateral a contract is (see just about any TOU) the more likely it is to be thrown out.


I'm aware of that, but this kind of provision (chargebacks cancel access to service) have been around for quite some time. I think I'd have heard about it if they'd been challenged successfully.


A conglomerate refusing their customers as a retaliation for exercising their rights to consumer protection is exactly why we have class action lawsuits in the first place (I think). The TOU may have clauses in there that reserve their right to cancel your Origin account, but I think the situation gets murky when you prevent paying customers from using products they may have purchased at brick & mortar retailers, etc.

Someone, someday, is going to challenge this. Its one of the many unanswered legal questions we have with licensing and ownership rights.


I'd assume the sort of organization that would write in a chargeback=cancel policy would also work strenuously to avoid an actual test of that policy in the courts...


EA made it quite clear if you were to do a chargeback they would cancel your Origin account. Fine if you only have SimCity on there but you could end up losing a lot more than $60 if you had a few of their games via Origin.


If I were in that situation, this by itself would be enough to make me do a chargeback.

Possibly over-reacting, but I hate it when people use underhanded tactics like this, and I'd be ok with losing my other games just to spite them.

Sadly, I don't own any EA games, so I can't do this.


Nice. Blackmailing your customers.


I smell a class action lawsuit.


Personally, I burnt out after Molyneux's Black & White, but recently GoG.com helped me rediscover the classics. If you don't care about fancy 3D graphics, the fun/buck is hard to beat.


Yes! I ended up spending 3x a much time in the last two months with Empire Earth, Gold Edition, than I did with SimCity. My major challenge is armwrestling with compatibility modes/video drivers to get the older games playing. I couldn't get EE running on either Windows 7, or my VMware instances of Windows XP, so I finally ended up installing it on my work system (A Dell Precision 650, still running windows XP) - Works Great.


Are you referring to the GOG.com versions, or originals? GOG will actually fix the games so they work in newer windows versions[1] For games where that's not feasible (older DOS games, for example), they wrap it a small GUI config and some sane defaults for dosbox.

I've actually taken to buying games I bought in the past (and in some cases still own the media for) specifically because it's supported better, and their digital game shelf allows me to download and install what I want, when I want (and it's cheap, I'll pick up 4-5 games for less than $3 a piece on their weekly sales). They've definitely made a fan of me.

[1]: http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/11/26/gog-com-announces-windows-...


I'm referring to the GoG games - they provide ridiculously good tech support for $6-$10 games, and I would be more than happy to pay $30-$40 to get wrappers for the games I really love, like AoE - but, as it turns out, sometimes it's cheaper (all things considered) to just buy a Circa 2000 Windows XP system, with 2000 era video cards, and drivers, than to try and get some of the GoG games working on a Circa 2010 non-mainstream system.

I'm a huge GoG fan.


<strikethrough> TESTING </strikethrough>


Test --test--

test __test__ test _test_ test +test+

testing -test-

<b>testing</b>


Test --test--

testing -test-

<b>testing</b>


Agreed. Bought it after they started offering a second game for free. I know that the only thing I kept thinking of when playing it was "I wish this were SC4000".

Really I would have been happy as a clam with something like SC4000, with curved roads, mixed-use zoning and an enhanced transport system. Gladly would have paid $60 for it.

The new SimCity completely failed to capture the "perfect garden" feeling that the previous Sim Cities managed to capture. Growing a city was like growing a garden, zoning was planting seeds.

The new one is just some set of administration abstractions over a social simulation. It just doesn't feel like SimCity, it feels like some totally different game.


Agreed, I really wanted to play the game when it first came out, but then the botched launch & DRM waned my interested. Then the reviews started coming in about how the game wasn't fun and quite limited that I've written it completely off.

So now I don't care, I'm not going to purchase the game.


Completely agree. I went away on holiday for a week, before I was playing it every day, when I came back I didn't even think about it until now (4 weeks later).

This game just didn't have the longevity of the previous games.. I found I outgrew my city areas quite quickly, multiplayer was completely broken (whenever I clicked to join a game, all the lots were already full, I could never find a region with a free city. So I start my own region and nobody ever joins!) and even when I had a full region to myself, which is what I wanted all along, I could only ever link up 4 cities out of 16 because of how the Highways interconnect.

On reflection, I think one of the main problems was actually that the game was too easy! Plop in a Coal mine and a Trade depot and you could be making millions without ever plopping a house.

I'm just looking forward to GTA5 now... they've delayed the launch for 4 months to get it exactly right. Perhaps EA should look to Rockstar to see how to manager a cult game franchise properly... Attention to detail!


I disagree. Best game ever actually and I will probably never get tired of it.


When I was a kid my mother "decided" I was allergic to milk, and so I wasn't allowed to drink any. Milk ended up being one of my favourite things, in no small part because it wasn't something I could have whenever I wanted.

Maybe it's the same here :) Because you can only sometimes play it you feel compelled to because who knows when it might go down again?

Just a thought.


That's not "silence", that's the power of the "2 week give-a-damn limit". In today's society we're overwhelmed with constantly breaking news from all over the world. People tend to forget about things after about 2 weeks. There's just so many new things to care about that it's impossible to not move on from old news. Especially when it's just about a game. I'm sure gamers will keep the Sim City fiasco in the back of their minds and pirate later games published by EA but for now, we're really just tired of hearing about old news.

Same thing happened with the whole "WarZ" fiasco. That team had false advertising on Steam, a glitched game released, artwork from the walking dead was stolen, bug reporters banned from the forums and censored. It was a lot worse than SimCity, yet 2 weeks later we just stopped caring. It's a shitty game, moving on, lets focus on something more important, like plastic in our oceans.


There's just so many new things to care about that it's impossible to not move on from old news. Especially when it's just about a game. I'm sure gamers will keep the Sim City fiasco in the back of their minds and pirate later games published by EA but for now, we're really just tired of hearing about old news.

Yeah, I think this about sums it up. When it comes down to it, all that happened is that a company made a bad game. Companies have been doing this for many years and will continue to do so for as long as the medium exists.

If anything, this whole SimCity fiasco has made me less of a fan of RPS in general. It felt like half their site was dedicated to bad-mouthing the game and EA for the first week or so after release. And, of course, they need to throw out a piece like this after a while to generate page views and remind us how terribly angry we should be that such a tragedy could have been allowed to happen.


You misrepresent what happened severely. It isn't the case that this is simply about a bad game. This is about a game which didn't work for the people buying it. Which got great previews and reviews(!) before the issues with their servers arised. And which wasn't even a good game, because it was fundamentally flawed, which at the beginning remained undiscovered.

Furthermore, this is not even about the game at all. It is about the crisis management of EA/Maxis, who simply lied (I doesn't care whether she lied or not, in effect it was a lie) when claiming that the Always-On-DRM, which prevented people from playing the game, was necessary to run the game at all because of server-side calculations.

I think RPS is right to make a story out of this fact. Companies who get away lying their customers and the press should feel consequences of this. All too often, and in EAs case this seems to me especially true, companies who behave unethical create a growing mass of disgruntled players not respecting, and not buying from, that company anymore, which the company can ignore for quite a while when focusing only on quarterly results (and given the arrival of new players all the time), until the negative image becomes so overwhelming that their customer-base collapses.


You misrepresent what happened severely.

Whatever you need to tell yourself in order to maintain the level of anger you desire.

Nothing I saw from EA seemed out of the ordinary for a company trying to sell the game they made. Unless you expect companies to only promote games that meet certain quality standards when they are released.

I mean, look at Aliens: Colonial Marines. From my perspective, it was in much worse shape than SimCity upon release, and I don't see RPS coming out with stories about how the game has disappeared from the limelight.

Honestly, I feel like people got so angry about SimCity to deflect their own responsibility for the purchasing decision they made. No one forces people to buy games on release day, and everyone should know that the smartest thing to do is to sit on a new game for at least a couple of days to let any issues arise. That's the responsible thing to do as a customer, and obviously it was something many people chose not to do.


> No one forces people to buy games on release day, and everyone should know that the smartest thing to do is to sit on a new game for at least a couple of days to let any issues arise.

If that were true, no one would buy anything ever.


> > the smartest thing to do is to sit on a new game for at least a couple of days to let any issues arise.

> If that were true, no one would buy anything ever.

Your comment only makes sense if you assume that everyone always does the smartest thing -- which seems not to be the case.


Actually, it makes sense if you include the context that I quoted. Namely the "everyone should know" bit.


>Honestly, I feel like people got so angry about SimCity to deflect their own responsibility for the purchasing decision they made.

Honestly, I even agree with that partly. But note that I didn't buy the game. I still feel that this is wrong behaviour from EA/Maxis.


Do you expect me to use a valid credit card when I pay? Because I expect a game that works as well.


No. I validate the credit card before completing the transaction. Maybe you should check whether the game is terrible before you buy it.


If "you" didn't lie to some reviewers and pay others I'd be able to.

This isn't a case of a game that doesn't age well, the thing just didn't work. Even after fixing the servers it's still defective by design. Worse, EA deliberately lied about this and their coordinated responses show widespread and high-level involvement.

Anyways, thank your lucky stars I can chargeback, it's a lot cheaper for you than any of the other (all legal) things I'd do to get back at someone who knowingly sold me a defective product. Hiring a PI isn't that expensive...


I blame the over-reliance of the journalism profession on PR to get stories. Few bother to do their research nowadays and access to celebrities, company spokespeople and officials are prised more than actually useful information. You can see it in also in politics, science reporting.

RPS actually looks pretty good with this - maybe the web can provide a solution to this question? PR and paid publications are ultimately boring, even with the best efforts put in by professionals. If opinion and reporting find a better way of getting monetised on the Internet we may see solution for the boring, corrupt and uninformative media we have today.


Yeah, I dislike the websites' reliance on PR, too. Some of the stories are so obviously copy pasted from the press release. For example when Intel launches a PR with a headline like "Intel Launches Amazing New Chip", 90% of the tech sites out there are like "Intel Launches Awesome New Chip" or something along those lines, and then proceed to basically rewrite's Intel press release. No critical thinking involved. They do this with many other stories, too, especially the ones they don't understand that much. They basically become a distribution service for their press releases.


While the story went away, did the problem for the company? I personally didn't buy SimCity and I know several people that didn't because of what was up in arms at the time.

To me the damage is done. I won't bother complaining or yelling. I just won't pay $80 and if certain organisations keep associating themselves with poor releases/games why would anyone keep handing over their money.

Especially when you're releasing something like the next SimCity sequel which plays on older gamers' nostalgia, why would people pay for SimCity 2 in a years time if they remember how poorly this one was sent out into the wild?


I didnt buy it either and I haven't bought any EA games since Origin started. I figure there are a lot of other games out there from businesses I'd rather support.

I am confused by people that post on forums and get outraged then buy the games anyway.


Same here - decided to save my money. I'd probably have waited for the Mac version anyway (which comes out next month) but there were enough gameplay complaints to convince me it wasn't worth the premium price they were charging. It the price ever falls considerably, maybe I'll re-consider.


That might simply related to the fact the SimCity is a failed game, people stopped playing it and moved on.

There are bigger news to run.


This reminds me of the Instagram TOS fiasco. Instagram essentially was burned very badly by doing the right thing, i.e. by being extraordinarily forthright about changing their terms. Usually TOS provide the company the ability to change their terms without any notice whatsoever; we are somewhat unreasonably expected to regularly check back ourselves and try to find changes. Instagram tried to do right by their users by clearly communicating upcoming and significant changes that would affect their users, and the Internet collectively and unilaterally sh*t the bed. I remember thinking they were crazy for doing that, because it was obvious exactly how it would play out.

Sometimes doing the right thing is the wrong thing. Unfortunately sometimes silence is golden.


Instagram was burned for telling a story about their ToS which didn't match what they wanted to claim and then tried a classic non-apology apology rather than admitting overreach. If the new ToS had only claimed what they said they wanted this never would have blown up.


I'm quite glad the story went away. Some company released a crappy product and people got angry. Why? Just don't buy it.

It's not as if EA has redeemed themselves in any way. SimCity still has a 1.9 score on Metacritic. The public still agrees this game is a failure and their sales will reflect that.


A number of reasons:

1) People pre-ordered, but didn't find out about the crippling problems until after installing it. By that time, they'd opened it. People are used to servers being overwhelmed for a few hours right on launch day. After that's passed and the problem persists, the whole thing is too late.

2) EA was refusing refunds of digital downloads. [1]

3) Even if you subscribed to their crap and waited for them to fix it, the game still exhibited crippling flaws which they refused or took ages to address, for example with the game's pathfinding system [2].

I am sure there were other issues that people faced but not being someone who actually fell in to the Simcity trap, I didn't follow it any more closely.

In short, the whole 'just don't buy it' attitude does not work as it's a naive view that completely ignores several key parts of the puzzle. Importantly, those key parts of the puzzle all involve the power resting in EA's hands where the consumers have little leverage to affect change. EA already had their money and had disclaimers on not needing to offer refunds, so the approach of shut up and let the problem go away was fine for them.

[1] https://help.ea.com/article/returns-and-cancellations [2] http://games.on.net/2013/03/maxis-to-address-simcity-pathfin...


In a sane market, people would learn not to preorder after something like that.

Nut games isn't a sne market. Most people with experience on it move away.


A glib remark of "Just don't buy it", simply won't cut it. This attitude is harmful, both to consumers and to developers/producers, and to a lesser degree, peoples health.

First off, it harms consumers to not get what they pay for. This is simply wrong.

Second off, it harms developers and producers because people view software purchases as high risk. Ever wondered why people dwell on buying a $3 app, but can impulse buy a phone for $300? If the phone is broken, you go back to the buyer and get it replaced. If the phone is unusable in term of user-interface, you replace it with a different phone/model or return it to the shop (EU law enabled this option by law most of the time). In one sentence, the producer is responsible so the consumer view it as low risk. With software, if won't start, is buggy or simply won't fulfill the intended task, the consumer is to blame for doing a bad purchase. The consumer see this as high risk. Thus, risk aversion goes into affect. If you are in the business of software development, you do not want this.

Last, if the producers of software is never hold responsible for their product, that attitude creeps over to critical systems like medical instruments and airplane computers. If faults or security problems is viewed as the consumers problem, then the quality and trust in critical system goes down.


>A glib remark of "Just don't buy it", simply won't cut it. This attitude is harmful, both to consumers and to developers/producers, and to a lesser degree, peoples health.

There are many mediocre games out there. I bought a few over the years. Sometimes you get a bad game, it goes with the territory. I agree it's ok to voice your opinions and stick it to a bad developer on forums, but does the SimCity fiasco really needs to be talked about weeks after release? It's just a bad game, at the end of the day, what more is there to be said?

//

EA didn't get my money. I was never going to buy SimCity because it isn't my type of game, but even I knew ahead of time of its always-online component.


The reaction is good. I don't know for how long is suitable, but I would lean towards a similar time as if a physical object share its characteristics, for how long should the iphone map mess still be mentioned in polite discussion? What if the whole phone was also complete unusable (disabled) for a week after the release, and then had its features cut down for people who had already bought it. What if apple refused refunds? What if the issues was all brought because of a more intrusive DRM, intentionally put there to prevent people from copying content out of the phone.

What would a suitable time frame be when such a thing should no longer be discussed? I don't know, but I suspect it would still be mentioned years later. I also suspect that no other phone manufacturer would dare to put similar DRM in a phone because of it. We are not there yet with software, but I personally would encourage such outcry when ever it happen.


In other industries, when you get a defective product you return it. Why do we allow videogames some special immunity from this?


It's a defence against "buy it, install it, return it, keep playing installed version." For games with heavy DRM this doesn't make sense, though.


While I understand the fear of that, I can go to the store and see hundred of food products that has a "if not completely satisfied, send the package back with a recite and get 100% of the money back". People could buy it, eat the food, and then return the package to get the money back.

Have anyone heard of a food producer that gone bankrupt because of their 100% satisfaction guarantee? To my understanding, the amount of people who would go through such policy and send back the package is so extreme few that the numbers get lost in the sale statistic.


It's not just that the company released a crappy product - it's that they also "didn't tell the truth" about it. Their Always-On DRM was explained at varying times as either (A) Part of the compute process (untrue), or (B) Part of their MMO strategy - which given the almost complete lack of socialization in the game, makes no sense whatsoever.

Should they be held accountable for their words/actions?


>The public still agrees this game is a failure and their sales will reflect that.

The surprising thing is it's actually doing pretty well: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/bestsellers/videogames/676456011/

Maybe it's the old, 'there's no such thing as bad publicity' coming true.


I think the simpler alternative is that it's just not a very interesting story. A game company trying to cover their asses for a bad launch of an unpopular design lied their asses off. So what? They seem to have got the server issues under control now, and people are enjoying the game, so it's no longer got the power of public anger behind it.


Maybe it just wasn't a very intetresting story. Gamers had to wait a couple of days for EA to fix their servers. Not very shocking at all.


The issue was more the fact that they had Always On DRM built into the game, and didn't tell the full truth about what it was there for.


You mean like every game on Steam.


Has Steam ever claimed that their DRM (where it's used) is either for (A) Offline compute, or (B) MMO use?

Personally, it's not so much the DRM that EA has infected their latest games with, or not even so much that it requires a constant internet connection (though, Sim City was one of the great play-alone games left) - but that they've been too cowardly too just come out and say, "Yes, we require you to be connected to the internet to play this game so that we can reduce piracy."

Lying (or not telling the truth) about this obvious situation only makes them look bad.


Many games on Steam can be played in offline modes. Maxis claimed there was extensive server-side processing that required SimCity's online connectivity, but this was proven to be an exaggeration. In addition to a lack of local saving/loading, players have been losing their cities due to processing errors.


Not all games sold on Steam use DRM.

See: http://www.gog.com/forum/general/list_of_drmfree_games_on_st...


Steam's DRM is very unobtrusive, at least in all the games I've played. I can disconnect from the internet and continue playing a launched game, or even quit and launch a new one, without it affecting the gameplay (or ability to save). So no, Steam isn't Always On DRM, at least not how I understand the term.


I think the power of silence depends on the severity of the crisis. If your product is physically harming people or cost someone a lot of money, the controversy probably isn't going away after a few weeks of silence. People will not forget about a loved one being seriously physically or financially harmed.

However, if the issue is a buggy piece of software that costs $60, that is going to be quickly forgotten. People don't have the energy to stay upset about something that in the grand scheme of things is so minor. If this is still registering on your personal radar a month later as a serious problem, consider yourself lucky.


I'd been wondering why all the news suddenly dried up. Illuminating article.


If neither silence nor the truth are options, the third best approach is to wait until there is a larger story in the industry that you can hide behind. Perhaps that was what EA was attempting, but unfortunately no larger scandals have occurred.

Being able to ride (and manipulate) news cycles is an incredibly powerful skill.


I don't think it really went away, at least for the fans at http://www.reddit.com/r/simcity. It's like a constant steady flow of hate on there, such that I actually feel bad for Maxis after reading a few posts.


This is also true for getting attacked personally on the Internet. If you're getting hit hard by say, 4chan, because they think you did something terrible or whatever, completely ignoring the personal attacks goes a long way towards stopping them.


There is an easier answer in all of this. RPS is out of news and trying to bring back to life a story that got them a lot of clicks. Other than when they are attacking someone, I don't see a lot of RPS links making the rounds.


Why did the SimCity story go away? Because the story isn't that important


Those pictures freak me out.


SILENCE WILL FALL.

I must say The Silence are a rather awesome enemy for the doctor.


I think you are wrong, those are just middle ranked PR division in EA.


The middle ranked PR division in EA is a good enemy for the doctor.


When I looked at the big hubbub about Yahoo's decision to end telecommuting, I couldn't help but think that Mayer was making the right decision by not commenting. She was hired to turn around a company in crisis, there were major problems, and she based her decision on data (seeing that many people who were supposed to work via VPN weren't even logging in according to their VPN records).

It was clearly a unique decision for a unique situation and not a comment on telecommuting in general, despite what all the screamers were screaming. Judging from various comments from alleged insiders, it was a good decision because many of the telecommuters were just loafers.

Fact is, who cares what the screamers were screaming? Would people boycott Yahoo's products because they ended telecommuting? This so cannot be compared to buying products made in sweatshops, which many people clearly did for years anyway (and still do). Would employees stop wanting to work at Yahoo? Apparently, job applications are way up, including what industry considers top tier candidates.

When you make the right decision, sometimes the best option is to stay quiet and let the truth come out naturally. Of course, OP is more about the strategy in general, not whether or not the truth comes out naturally (in fact, in OP, they cared not for truth). I'm just saying I felt throughout the whole Yahoo telecommuting thing, Mayer did the right thing. Screw the screamers. They had no idea what they were talking about and wouldn't affect Yahoo in any way anyway.


Nothing boosts the morale of a company in crisis than having a boss that rules with decrees instead of leading.


I'd love to hear a confirmed insider's view. Because I've ONLY heard good buzz about what they've been up to. Everything has been anonymous sources only (albeit many from journalists who promised anonymity), but I've yet to see any anonymous upset sources. It really seems like Yahoo's got swagger back. So I'd love to hear a confirmed insider's view.


Unfortunately, EA holds a position where they can ignore the complaints of fans. Fans of Sim City, Diablo, etc are the minority of their customers and they can treat us however they want to.

Let's face it, Madden '13 and NCAA '13 will sell way more copies than Sim City has. Why should EA give a crap about a few stories on the internet?


I would be interested to know about "why" this whole debacle happened, but much later after I actually get to play the game. I love SimCity, loved almost every single version that Maxis has released, but this latest offering got me scared. So from others out there who play the game...is it even usable at this point?


Usually I'd say pirate it, put 10 hours into it, and buy it to support the authors if you like it.

But right now, you can't play the new Simcity without shovelling dollars into EA's pocket, and reward them for producing a fundementally broken game.

You just have to decide for yourself which is more important to you. Providing feedback to bad corporate behavior by refusing to give EA your money, or your curiosity to play (and ultimately be disappointed by) a shitty sim with all depth and complexity removed in favor of "social" interaction and microtransactions (buy packs of 2 buildings for $5, i.e. http://www.amazon.com/SimCity-German-City-Online-Game/dp/B00...).

However, if you care about the future of games, please don't give EA money.


Or the story didn't have that much mileage to be begin with. After all, it's just a game, in a sea of other games.


Mostly I just stopped caring because I already knew EA was horrible, Origin sucks and people only use it when forced by EA, and SimCity is a crappy game (even independent of the DRM issues).

Bioshock: Infinite came out and was good. Other than that, I just sit and wait for Civ V's next expansion, GTA:V, etc.


When I heard all the negative press around SimCity, I became nostalgic for my childhood, and bought SimCity for iPod. I've really enjoyed playing it twice. Even though the controls are different, I picked up the knack right away.


It went away because people don't talk about new games after they are released for a couple of weeks. They whine and then most of them move on and look at other upcoming games.


It may seem shocking, but this happens throughout industries (and indeed with governments up to a point - the luxury of silence isn't always available).


I guess crisis PR is exponentially more challenging in today's social media reality. They can't just talk to a bunch of reporters to bury a story.


The Power Of Silence: Why The Linode Story Went Away


"That the claims weren't true does not provide room to conclude that [Maxis studio head Lucy] Bradshaw was 'lying' [...] such accusations don't help this discussion."

What!? Perhaps part of the reasons evil triumphs in media situations like this is that "good" white knights like the author carry water for people who, like Bradshaw, objectively make the world a worse place.

Hanlon's razor is irrelevant here. Regardless of whether Lucy is so stupid/irresponsible that she really didn't know such an essential detail of her studio's feature product or is simply a manipulative sociopath, decency dictates she be replaced.


Bradshaw, objectively make the world a worse place

I'm a huge Sim City fan and I'm really upset I'm not getting the Sim City game I wanted, but let's keep some perspective here. Bradshaw and anything that EA/Maxis says or does has absolutely no effect one way or the other on the world.


So, there is no point in them existing then.


The me the kicker was in the comments (one of the first few):

"JarinArenos says:

I browse plenty of gaming sites… but stories like this are why RPS is the only one that gets AdBlocker disabled"

LOL, this is the audience we're talking about here - people who proudly proclaim to the world how they support their causes by gasp disabling AdBlocker! I can see this guy sitting there, basking in his own self-righteousness, how he's such a good guy for allowing some ads (all of which he ignores) to be shown. And then people wonder why companies need to turn to always-online DRM for their software? Ever wondered why the world is turning SaaS-only, with all it's negatives? See it epitomized here.

PS thinking of it (and OT), isn't there an AdBlocker version that overlays ads with a white float, rather than not downloading them at all?


The world is turning SaaS-only because it's easier to do business when you have predictable monthly income, processes that are easily debuggable because they are only on your platform, and a far simpler customer support scenario (fixing one person's bug is fixing all persons' bugs). SaaS is basically wholly unrelated to blocking ads.

What should this guy do to meet your approval? Unblock and click every ad? AdBlock gives users more power to enter into agreements with websites that are respectful with their users' attention and reject websites that are not. Use a website occasionally? Add them to the whitelist. Meanwhile you never notice the scummy websites that have giant ads mid-article nor the 20-year-olds in your area trying to meet you for sex.




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