EA just can't (or don't want to) win / by Alice Hawke

As a gamer, I, like many others, have a strong dislike for the big gaming publishers who blatantly put profits before customers, such as EA and Activision (my thoughts on Ubisoft are for a later post as my feelings about them are rather more complex).  I do rather seem to have a penchant for burning bridges... Anyway, EA's latest 'grand gesture to the gamers' is giving away The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection until July 31st 2014, 10AM PDT, as their way of saying "we're ending support for the game". Because nothing says sensible like giving away software that you're ending support for - imagine if Microsoft gave away Windows XP.

Don't be mistaken, I'm not being ungrateful - I love The Sims 2 to the extent that it's hands-down my favorite of all the Sims games. There's so much 'DLC' (except of course back in 2004, it came on discs instead) that there isn't really anything you can't do in the game. On that topic, for example, with The Sims 2 Apartment Life Expansion Pack, you could live in any number of varied apartment buildings, with neighbors in the building. From all I could see in what I played of The Sims 3 with similar expansion packs installed, their new idea of 'apartment life' is living in a penthouse with no neighbors in the building, thus negating the entire point of living in a virtual apartment instead of a house.

As neat as some of the new mechanics introduced into The Sims 3 were, even if you were to drop £354.79 (yes, that's right) on buying all of The Sims 3 on Steam, you still wouldn't be able to do everything you can in The Sims 2 (such as run a business hands-on (as far as I know)). Harking back to Windows analogies, that's as if Microsoft were to release a successor to Windows 7 that's half-baked and unsuitable for desktops. Oh...

Once again, I'm getting off-point, but at least you can see how much I appreciate The Sims 2. Which is why I think it's a pretty nice gesture on EA's part to give it away for free, even if just for a limited amount of time. BUT, the inexplicable choices on EA's part don't end there. For some unknown reason, The Sims 2 Ultimate Collection now has SecuROM DRM, which in my eclectic experience has been one of the most frustrating DRM 'solutions' there are for 'protecting' PC games from piracy.

If EA are 1) giving the game away for free (albeit for a limited time) and 2) ending support for the game, why do they feel the need to impose horrendous DRM on consumers yet again? It's bad enough (but understandable from their point of view) that you have to use Origin (which is comparable to Steam as much as LibreOffice is to Microsoft Office) to obtain and play the Ultimate Collection - adding SecuROM protection has, in the eyes of the press, essentially negated the good will of giving the game away for free.

I really would be fascinated to know the thought processes going on at EA. That said, I'd love to know the thought processes at many billion dollar corporations making similarly inept decisions. Going back to the title of this post and the first sentence of it, the saying "too big to fail" comes to mind. While it turned out that THQ (RIP) weren't big enough to be invincible, it's fairly clear that both EA and Activision are, pretty much, too big to fail, which is presumably why they never seem to be fussed about what opinion the public, and more importantly, their customers, have of them.

Apologies for all the parentheses.