As an avid Battlefield 3 player, I often blame a lot of that game's shortcomings on the game studio that made it, DICE. And while DICE is far from blameless, one gets the feeling after a while that EA is equally culpable. Especially when it comes to networked (multiplayer) gameplay.
After having many issues (especially connection issues) EA pulled it's iOS version of Battlefield, "Battlefield 3: Aftershock," from the iOS App Store and permanently suspended development on it. Then yesterday they announced that they pulled another game, "The Simpsons: Tapped Out," from the App Store so they could "limit the game's server capacity...and address connectivity and lag time issues."
In some respects, this is a good thing. They're addressing issues their customers are having and are working to fix things. In fact, I wish they were half so responsive to Battlefield 3 players as they seem to be with iOS gamers. But why on earth is this happening in the first place?
EA is the king-daddy of video game companies. They're the guys who do Madden. They're the guys who, when Steve Jobs wanted a game developer to show off his new iOS devices, stepped up and made the big splash. They're the video game company that every major brand - from the NFL to, well, The Simpsons - wants to work with. So why don't their technological capabilities back up the games they release?
I can't believe it's because they're incapable. While I freely acknowledge networking thousands upon thousands of iPad gamers together across the globe to play a game against each other via the Internet isn't an easy thing to do, they must know how to do it. In fact, they seem to be able to do it with smaller number of users. It's just that they can't keep up with demand.
Which means it comes down to biting off more than you can chew. They definitely couldn't meet demand with the launch of Battlefield 3 (on PC, XBOX 360 and PS3) and with this Simpsons iOS announcement, a pattern is developing. EA needs to learn that spending a bit more time and launching a game with a bullet proof user experience is more important than being first to market, or making a big splash with a big-name title that never works right.
While it sucks if you bought Battlefield 3: Aftershock thinking you were going to get a great iOS multiplayer experience, it's actually a positive thing that they scrapped it. Hopefully they focused those resources back on games that need the help. And I can only hope that in the future they invest in the infrastructure they need before they launch the great games that they make.