SimCity Delivers a Record for EA, But It Can't Save CEO
By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated March 18, 2013.
Even as the video game industry continues struggling, some titles stand out from the pack. SimCity is one of those titles. Electronics Arts just announced that its popular franchise has sold more than 1.1 million units in the first two weeks.
With those numbers, EA is celebrating the biggest SimCity launch of all time even as overall the video game maker missed operational targets for the year. Late Monday, CEO John Riccitiello resigned, taking responsibility for the overall poor performance.
With SimCity, EA sees a bright spot. The company estimates about 54 percent of SimCity sales have been of digital versions of the game, downloaded directly to players' PCs via Origin or other digital download services.
"SimCity had a great weekend with sales strong across both North America and Europe, adding to overwhelming demand at launch that has us tracking well beyond expectations for the game," said Peter Moore, COO for EA. "SimCity is one of the storied brands in gaming, and Maxis delivered a game re-envisioned and engineered for the online age."
EA also reports that gamers have logged on to SimCity via Origin in record numbers. Specifically, 44 percent of SimCity sales to date were delivered via EA's direct-to-consumer digital download service. SimCity gamers have also helped set new records for peak concurrent users on Origin, now at 1.3 million and rising.
Here are some more numbers from the past two weeks: SimCity players have logged more than 15 million hours of online game play; more than 5.7 million original cities have been created since launch; more than 780 million buildings have been built; and SimCity mayors to date have built enough road and railroad tracks to circle the globe more than 40,000 times.
Industry Sales Declining
Michael Cai, senior vice president of games and digital at Interpret, said SimCity may be a smash hit, but he told us there's definite softness in the market -- and a few factors are driving it.
"First, we're toward the end of the console cycle and the console makers are getting ready to launch new consoles," Cai said. "Toward the end of the cycle, the excitement among the gamers reduces because the console has been out so long. Gamers know that there is going to be a new console coming out, some of the gamers might be holding off making purchases of the current generation."
According to NPD Group, both console and game sales are declining. NPD reports game sales fell from about $11 billion in 2011 to less than $9 billion in 2012. Sales of consoles in the U.S. declined 21 percent in 2012, to total about $4 billion.
Still, SimCity is riding high. The Maxis studio also continues to beef up both the core SimCity game and the online service infrastructure. In the last two weeks, they have increased server capacity by more than 400 percent, optimized server response times by 40 times, and deployed fixes to address players' direct feedback on game performance.