Thank Grog It’s Firday!
Well…I’m back home. It’s been three weeks of full Jake immersion…three glorious weeks of living the life of a 2-year-old with endless energy and endless appetites for “new.” It feels like 3 months. We were actually that busy from morning til night. We did the things that you can still do safely in public…which isn’t much…but, every day was filled with smiles, giggles, “wrasslin’,” more viewings of “Dinosaur Train,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” and about a gazillion different audio and video versions of “Baby Shark.” Every minute a treasure.
But more on that later…
Time to dive back into getting more answers about TSTO…this time continuing in “Bob’s Own Words,” but also using some of the EA’s own “Corporate Input,” regarding the nature of their decisions. It’s dicey stuff, folks…but we do get closer to the truth. Closer…
As a number of you have figured out, there is simply no way that “Bob” could have pulled this off without help from some others. In fact, unless we break down some of the “who, what, where,” of how this game is still alive, after EA let it die (or thought they let it die), it doesn’t make much sense. In all honesty, even after I heard the whole story, I still had a lot of questions.
But, the primary question I had for Bob, was “Why? Why would you go through all of this?”
Bob replied with a smirk on his face, (there seems to be a lot of smirking), “Why are you still blogging about the game after more than 7 years?”
He had me there. Why indeed?
“It’s the people, you crazy old dude!” Bob shouted…then winced, thinking that I was going to toss another Lemon Drop in his face. But the fact is, his reply froze me in place…the smirk melting from my own face…while a cascade of reader screen names rolled past me like the credit roll on the “World’s Biggest Virtual Choir.”
“The people…the community…right…you’re right…damn you...”(I’m not sure why I added the curse at the end, but it just felt more dramatic, and this was certainly a dramatic moment).
“It’s why the Big Guy still does the main screens…even though he doesn’t take a nickel for them,” “Bob” murmured. “He is loyal to the fans…even though the corporate weasels aren’t. He could have just cashed his Disney check and blown us all off. But, he didn’t. Even after I had to move to the hidey hole.”
My mind was spinning. I did remember when we met last year, Matt’s eyes widening in happy recognition when I asked him about the game. But, I also was shocked that he didn’t seem to know that much about “The Grandfather of All Lulls” in the game last year. The confused look on my face triggered a torrent of words from “Bob.” It was like he needed to come clean…to make someone else understand…someone who felt the same way about the game and our community as he did.
“Sit down and listen. Over there…out of Lemon Drop throwing distance,” “Bob” demanded. I stood motionless…
”DAD! Sit down! I want to hear this too!” Ali chided. “Yeah…”Ryan parroted.
“Greta” (still not her real name) smiled…and silently moved toward the kitchen to refresh our Lemon Drops. Everyone sensed that this was going to be good!
“Get out your phone…and do a Goog on EA’s last annual financial report.” “Bob” barked. “I’ll wait.”
I surprised him by having the link bookmarked, as I regularly check the Quarterly and Annual numbers for “The Mother Ship” (my nickname for EA).
“Look at the numbers…look for the income categories…look at how little they make on Mobile Gaming…” he murmured. “Do you blame them for moving staff? I wasn’t really surprised.”
“But, from what I hear, the real reason for the downsize, was that they got left out of the Disney Bucks, when everyone thought Disney was going to buy “everything Simpsons” when they got Fox. There was a lot of bitterness in the building, because we thought the production team was going to get “Mouse Ears” and become part of Disney. But nooooooooooo….nothing……and BOOM! We’re all shifted over to Sims.”
”Yeah, but EA and Fox only had a really loose ownership deal with Gracie, so…”I started.
“No shirt Sherlock!” “Bob” screamed and tossed his Lemon Drop at me…but mostly just dribbling a couple of swallows worth over his own shoes. “The accounting guys, along with upper management just kind of forgot about it. They moved so fast, they thought that each side had given the “kill and delete” order, but nobody really did. There just wasn’t anyone working on it.”
”What…but…how…there are still donuts being sold…money collected…and art…there is still art…and Matt…the main screen shots…” I was admittedly stammering at this point.
“Yeah…so now maybe you are starting to realize that you owe me an apology…this wasn’t as easy as you thought…it took a lot of recruiting…and way too much time in the hidey hole. It’s been a really long year…and all you do is whine,” “Bob” said, his voice weakening with emotion.
“So…who all is involved in this? There are so many moving parts…” I asked, virtually smirkless.
“Yeah…there’s Ed (not his real name) in accounting, Ted (not his real name) the security guy, Pablo (clearly not his real name) the art guy, and Matt (his real name). It’s not easy…but, we have a system now,” he stated as if it was common knowledge and not the actual “HOLYFREAKINSHIRT” moment that made everyone sit silently, staring, Lemon Drops in hand, waiting for someone to speak.
I was really surprised when it was Ali (her real name) who broke the silence. “How are you getting all of this through accounting, without them realizing the game is still online? There has to be project managers and people monitoring the server loads…”
We all sat mutely. Even “Bob.” To look at her, you would never expect this cute, petite, blue-eyed blonde, in perfectly matched, designer casual wear to even begin to understand this stuff. Even as her Dad, it is amazing to me that she has become a bit of corporate maven in the world of international buying…first for GAP Inc. and now for an international eye-wear company. Of COURSE she would understand the corporate ebb and flow of transactional online commerce. Games, clothes, eye-wear…it’s all just product. Click a button, and the transaction throws everything in motion, seamlessly….and is instantly entered onto a financial report. Unless it isn’t.
And that’s where Ed came in.
“Bob” understood that while it’s easy to lose a programmer or two, because they often bounce team members around, the accountants know where every nickel resides…every donut…every penny. Unless the transaction doesn’t hit the spreadsheet.
Which since mid-2019, it hasn’t.
OK…so this is where Bob’s story steers onto shaky ground. Where the efforts of a few to “do the right thing” (keep the game alive) required them to “walk the line between right and wrong,” knowing that the longer they continued, the better the chances of being exposed increased.
But, luckily, as it turns out…they had the help from “an owner.” What an owner does with something he owns, is protected by basic rights, mostly. But, let’s face it…when you are dealing with something as complicated as this, it’s the “mostly” that starts to become the “norm.” (And no…none of the people involved are really named Norm).
Before I continue, I want to take the onus of all decisions madeabout TSTO, off of EA. For all practical purposes, their reports are correct. There is no bookkeeping shenanigans going on. Mobile gaming income is barely a speed bump in their overall income. Look at the numbers. NO…really…look at the numbers! Mobile gaming is more a small pebble, next to a speed bump, on a vast, huge pile of asphalt (and in the case of EA corporate, emphasis on the asp).
Do you see any mention of TSTO? It used to be front and center on their site. Not now.
And if you go to one of the sites that tracks Gaming Revenue…you used to see TSTO in the top 5, 10, or at least top 20. However…these days, even if you go to the lowest grossing games out there…There is NO TSTO posting any revenue.
Go ahead…do your own Goog…see what you can find.
So…when you look at the numbers like a corporate stockholder, who is only looking for bottom line profit, it looks different. Really different…as in “why would you keep the game alive?” Who could blame them?
“Bob.” That’s who. “Bob” could blame them.
And he did. When they moved him off of TSTO and onto the Sims team…but then just left the game in suspended animation (pun intended), without giving the readers any answers, “Bob” started putting his plan in action. It was pretty straightforward…and simple. Maybe too simple. Which is how “mostly” always starts. And it was, “mostly” easy. And “mostly” ethical.
And I would continue…but I am MOSTLY Out of Space again. LORD KNOWS I don’t want any “professional bloggers” attacking me for writing too much about nothing…or some pinhead from the “British Contingent” writing about how I should be banned for tossing Lemon Drops. Why give them more fuel?
So…instead…I’ll finish once again, with a bit more Jake. Who was the best little guy ever for his “Boopah” and his grandma…helping us to relax, forget about trolls, politics, and the passing of Deb’s Dad last week.
We should all be so lucky to have a Jake. If I could package this kid’s attitude and smile…I’d be rich. But, instead…I’m happy to be “wealthy with happiness” when I am around him.
Midweek…we took a “Safe Covid Outing” to the drive thru Zoo at Six Flags…and got a VERY close up visit from a giraffe!
Jake…beating the 96 degree/80% humidity heat…by practicing his “syringe squirting” on Boopah!
Getting this kid started early…a future running back, or rugby flyhalf?
And finally…on the way to the airport to drop off Boopah and Grandma…the final version of “Baby Shark” (this was somewhere around the 100th time on our visit)
And this morning…after coming home…sitting on our front porch…thankful for the basic beauty of nature… so, much better than screen time.