Free Sims 3 Downloads | The Failure of the Sims 3 Store
With the launch of The Sims 3, EA entered a new realm of player / producer interaction. No longer would they have to spend every minute of every day combating piracy, instead they would provide a basic game pack to players who would then register online and be eligible to download a new town as well as enjoy 1000 points worth of goodies from the Sims store.
It seemed like an excellent, win -win situation. No longer would players have to wait for 'stuff packs' to be released as they had done in previous years, they could download content as they pleased from the sims store. There would also be a free area, the exchange, where players could swap content.
The release date came, The Sims 3 launched, and EA's world quickly crumbled. Sims veterans were fairly outraged to discover the sparse amount of content that came with the base game, a base game that nevertheless cost full retail price. To make matters worse, when registering online, they discovered that the sort of content that used to be included in the game was now sitting in the store.
Accusations that EA had stripped the game to make people buy content in the store began to fly, fueled by the outrage generated when players discovered that in order to get the “full set” of available sims content, they would have to pay out over two hundred dollars on top of the price of the game.
A thread was started on the official EA forums asking for the store to be removed or the prices to be made much more reasonable. As it stands, EA seems to think that a barely updated piece of Sims 2 furniture is worth a whopping USD $2. Even new players to the game noted the pricing with dismay. At present time, several months after the initial release, and just a month or so away from the release of the first expansion pack World Adventures, tensions are still running quietly high.
There are fears that World Adventures will also be stripped down and that players will be forced to buy the content to match the expansion separately from the store. As I write, that thread that was started months ago now has over 140 pages and counting, without so much as a response from EA.
It seems as if EA has its players over a barrel. But there is a release valve which I suspect is stopping die hard Sims fans from seriously getting overtly worked up with their complaints, and that is the fact that every single set and piece of clothing available on The Sims 3 store has now been pirated and torrented.
In creating the store, EA set out to curb piracy by providing member value. Unfortunately, greed got the better of them and instead of creating a tight knit community of loyal consumers, they alienated customers by charging ridiculously high prices for things of very little value (twenty bucks for a few pictures of tables, chairs, a couple of banners and a end table can hardly seem reasonable to anyone, can it?) and they have created an environment in which piracy is, in fact, actively encouraged.
Will EA change the game plan? It depends on whether or not the store maintains whatever critical mass it needs to maintain to be profitable. Obviously some people with more money than sense are patronizing the place, however in tough times, even those who blow their noses in hundred dollar bills soon get tired of being scammed.
In an even more mystifying move, EA seems to be purposely antagonizing its customer base. In a recent promotion, newcomers to the sims store buying sim credits for the first time were able to download a free clock. Existing customers could not. This sparked a furore amongst the statistically few people who actually gave EA money.
The only reasonable explanation for this behavior? Someone at EA has the 'Mean Spirited' trait ingrained very strongly. God help EA if they continue to behave this way, Sims fans have a tendency to get pretty stroppy when they feel their favorite game is being messed with.
If you're listening, EA, the solutions to the problem are simple:
- Lower store prices by 50% or more. (75% would be reasonable.)
- Ensure that store content really is 'additional' content, not content that should have been in the game. If players only have a choice of a few samey looking hairstyles, then EA has no business trying to sell them the variety that they had been expecting to find in game.
- Avoid the impression that content has simply been culled from the game and put in the store by not releasing content for purchase the same day you release the product. When you do that, consumers get mad that they just paid $50 bucks for a game when half the content is being held to ransom online.
- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, treat your customers like sentient beings, not mindless cattle who will shell out for whatever shiny trinkets you hold in front of their noses. The outrage over the store isn't just outrage over your greed, which is pretty darn excessive, it's outrage that you're treating us all as if we're stupid enough to believe that a picture of a clock is worth any more than a few cents. We know that you're selling the same picture over and over again to a potential base of 7 million customers. If only 20% of your customer base bought the silly clock at 5 cents, you'd still make $70,000 from it. Yet you try to sell it for five times that amount. Quit being horrible misers, and people might actually shop at your store instead of baying for its blood.