Photo: YouTube Screenshot / EA
On Monday, Electronic Arts finally unveiled SimCity for Facebook — a social version of its wildly popular SimCity franchise.This game was in development for several years under the helm of its Playfish game studio based in Shanghai, China.
Last year, it was EA CEO John Riccitiello introducing The Sims Social himself on stage.
This year, he delegated the duty to Lucy Bradshaw, head of the Maxis label covering the SimCity and The Sims games.
Not a single Playfish executive was to be seen.
Playfish just doesn’t have much juice left. The head of its latest and most anticipated project outside of SimCity fled to King.com. Its last real ace in the hole is SimCity.
To EA, and to Riccitiello, that ace in the hole is literally worth mere minutes in the shade of EA’s largest titles, like Madden and Battlefield.
The utter lack of attention to its prized studio during what is supposed to be the launch of one of its biggest social games ever is basically the final nail in Playfish’s coffin.
After paying $400 million for Playfish, it’s failed to deliver a single game that’s gone toe-to-toe with Zynga’s hits like CityVille and FarmVille without significant marketing spend.
EA has let a number of its best Playfish executives walk out the door. Playfish’s most recent departure was Catharina Mallet, who was in charge of a last-ditch-effort level game under development in Playfish’s U.K. studio.
And now, one of its largest social games ever — SimCity, in development for multiple years — was given about a tiny three-minute pitch at EA’s official press conference at E3, the largest gaming convention of the year.
(That’s compared to the dozens of minutes devoted to sequels and iterations of shooters, sports games and survival horror titles.)
EA does not get social, and it’s not clear if it ever will. And it let one of the three prized trailblazers for social gaming (along with Playdom and Zynga) die due to poor management and attrition.
It’s rather telling that even as Zynga goes through a massive loss in share value, it still has a higher market cap than Electronic Arts. (Zynga is worth $4.35 billion to EA’s $4.3 billion.)
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