EA Reaches Out To The Simpsons Players
Back when I started playing The Simpsons Game for PS3 I wrote about how their automatic registration of my PSN email account to EA was accompanied by an email that was a blatant attempt at phishing for registrations.
That was the last I’d heard from Electronic Arts until a couple of days ago. I got a new email asking me as a Simpsons player to give some feedback on the game. As consumers we crave the ability to give companies a piece of our mind, and this is EA so I really wanted to know if they were going to ask the right questions or just suck some marketing data out of me and run off without hearing the real problems I and others saw with the game. I was pretty surprised at what they asked.
The basics were there for their marketing department. What’s my age, what platforms do I play on regularly, and what’s my primary gaming platform. This gave me the chance to tell them that these days I find myself playing my PS3 more than my other console, the PSP, which is a plus in my book. Next up they wanted to know what games from a list did I own. It’s quite an eclectic list, not all of them were EA games, and some of them were exclusive to platforms I didn’t say I owned:
After that they asked which console version of The Simpsons I was playing, and how I had heard about it with a diverse list of choices including a game demo, magazines, television, and word of mouth. Next came the meat and potatoes of the survey. Time to rate a variety of categories in terms of satsifaction from 1 (Not) to 10 (Very). These categories were quite balanced, giving me a chance to applaud the excellent Humor category and stellar Sound Effects and Voice Acting in the game while simultaneously bashing its weakest point, the Camera. I was also happy to give a polite nod to the Collectibles which were quite fun to see as they were unlocked.
Next up was a tough question I was surprised to see: I was to rate the difficulty of four categories from very difficult to very easy with “Just Right” in the middle of the set of choices. The items to be rated included the four core aspects of the gameplay — the platforming, the puzzles, the camera, and the combat. I was probably a bit kinder to the platforming than I should have been but I dinged the camera again.
This was followed by giving satisfaction ratings for each character’s special powers, which character was my favorite, how this one compared to other Simpsons games I’ve played, and here’s an interesting one: how did “your experience playing The Simpsons Game affect your overall perception of EA”? This surprised me, and I was honest. I enjoyed a lot of things about The Simpsons and EA’s ability to pull together incredible voice talent and writing for the game and NOT make it a movie tie-in made me think better of the giant company.
EA wanted to know if I would be more or less likely to buy another Simpsons game and then they opened the floodgate with a set of text boxes asking for what I really liked, what I didn’t really like, and if there was one feature I could fix or add, what would it be? That last one was easy — the camera. I would’ve asked for more diverse collectibles that added character abilities incrementally, but without a great camera the game is losing a good chunk of its widest audience. The bigger the audience, the more buyers there are, and the more buyers there are, the more rewards earned by the voice actors, writers, and developers involved, and the more likely we are to see funny and smart games like this that are fun to play instead of frustrating.
That’s not to say that EA doesn’t know where gaming is going. They asked how often I play console games online, how interested I would be in seeing a future Simpsons game with online play, and asked me to rate myself on how much of a Simpsons fan I am. After that came movie questions — did I see The Simpsons Movie? Did I “buy or receive” it — that alone shows a marketing department has a brain, because in the past I’ve had to say “no” if I got games as a gift when they asked me if I bought something — on DVD?
Overall the survey surprised me with the kinds of information they’re collecting. Yes there were the basics of gender, race, number of games bought in the past year, platforms, and online play habits, but they also wanted to know exactly what I thought about this game. That impressed me. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see The Simpsons 2 but after all of the different video games they so successfully made fun of in the first game — including their own Simpsons games on past consoles — I don’t quite know what they could do the second time around.Tags: ea, simpsons