Friday Filler – EA Confidential – From a Corporate Perspective

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.

75 responses to “Friday Filler – EA Confidential – From a Corporate Perspective

  1. Irene García Muelas

    Thanks for keeping us posted… in an entertaining way 🙂

  2. Patric, I love the stories and pictures of your Jake! One of my favorite quotes is, “Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for getting old.” It is so true! My grands have especially been a blessing during this pandemic. I’m sorry about Deb’s father. Glad you got lots of love from Jake! 🥰

  3. Thanks for the completion of the riveting tale, Patric. Poor EA Bob and his yearning to keep this all alive for us. I will miss this game, when they pull the plug. Since I know you are reading, thank you EA Bob for everything. My family knows I play everyday. This is my only vice in life. I will miss it. Have a good day everyone and stay safe out there!

  4. Finally had to store Krusty Burger to free up Wiggum and most everyone else from the “stuck” Summer games task, for Wiggum to compete daily task. Was fun though collecting “stuck” task and collecting again and again…

    BTW did anyone else experience mobile game termination with the Archie’s short-lived game? It had Betty and Jughead and everyone else but didn’t last long some years ago.

    I hope the bean counters find a way to justify maintaining TSTO! Accountants can ruin anything in business or for fun if it doesn’t generate enough revenue. Bean counters negatively affect jobs security and entertainment for not earning more. How greedy must we be to inflate the bottom line? When will it ever be enough…

  5. Wait if it’s just a handful of folks keeping this alive, why can’t they do whatever they want? Bring forth the characters people have been asking for, get the giant toilet into the game, make a NPC of the addicts admin etc. ?
    What is stopping there creativity and the desires of the addicts (within reason) ??
    (I understand time, and the other server… but I don’t know, I wanna stay hopeful that the game before it doesn’t update anymore has an update that lets us access all past content (premium and freemium) and (I know it’s a long shot) to add or repell the snow; which will be hard to switch back and forth without glitches …
    Ugh glitches..
    Is it too soon to hyperventilate ?

  6. This is interesting as usual Patric. If this game is on its last leg as it appears to be and may be riding off into the sunset sooner rather than later, will we be able to play the game as it sits at the kill switch or will it be removed all together? I would love to collect income and donuts to the maximum as well as redesign my town even without new material. The last game I was playing when the kill switch hit gave us a window in which we could play. When that timer ran out, the game disappeared. Will this be the same for this game?

  7. Is there going to be “The Simpsons” slots/gambling app now?

    Or a new “The Simpsons” Console game?

    How long can “Bob” and friends carry on or pass the metaphorical torch for?

  8. Here in Canada we have the African Lion Safari park. Same deal as Six Flags. Giraffe came up to the car. “Ah so cool, amazing” Until it either coughed or sneezed 2 lbs of mucus all over me, kids and the car. When I had the car cleaned the guy didn’t buy that story according to his body language. Not sure what he was thinking..

  9. Like I’ve said…great yarn. Thanks for the interesting, well written, long winded story. The only thing that really matters are if item limits will be increased and will we get more land? Any useful information about that????

    • There are answers…but, I don’t think you’l like them.

      • I wasn’t expecting, but hoping. I did a little research after you warned of people wanting to come to northern Maine after all the praise I gave it. Housing sales are said to be increasing to out of staters, a lot of times site unseen, or strictly virtual. Aroostook County Maine, one of the largest in the country by area…2 active cases. Come breathe fresh air, go for a hike, bike ride. Go fish or hunt, or ride or hundreds of miles of trails via atv or snowmobile. Come ski…or ice fish. Small personalized schools, no violence. Guns in trucks, cars, homes, and never any shootings unless it’s a moose, bear, rabbit, cartridge. No pollution or traffic. 200 grand will practically get you a mansion here…with land. And I almost forgot…Legal marijuana…plentiful and cheap..and we are great farmers. Did I mention virtually no covid….Oh I started rambling…must be my medicine. I think I’ll go sit on the porch swing and watch the birds at the feeders..

        • Golf? What about golf? More than four months a year?

          • Limited golf…this is true. We do have a unique course that has holes in Canada and the U.S. people on either side can’t play all holes until border is opened. That’s what’s hurting small businesses here. People from Canada come over to get gas/milk/chicken…as well as luxury items. We in return also do a lot of shopping in Canada..where our 100$ turns into 130$ Canadian in a five minute drive..and you can split receipts with the number of people in the vehicle, so no one pays duty taxes…

            • BUILD A WALL!!! (kidding) This is the micro version of a Global economy at its best!

              • Build a wall?…No way..I’m promoting Maine. No wall…come one come all!! You know the slogan..”Maine…the way life should be”. We do have some tough winter..nothing too bad. We never have to worry about flooding, tornadoes, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, or any natural disaster…none. but yes..we do get some snow, so bring some skis, or snowshoes for Winter…or just stay inside.

        • Beimg a home-grown Mainiac, I must say, “Shut the heck up!” We are FINALLY in the “green” with this pandemic, and , at this time, DO NOT WANT ANY OUTSIDERS HERE!!” So, ppl, stay where you are. Maine may be beautiful, but it’s a harsh climate, not made for all. Especially now. It’ll be there for all to see when this thing is under control. Thank you.

          • I see a future where all states have borders…and each state has its own set of mask standards…and we are “locked in” to our home states… and…NAH!

            People are going to do what people are going to do. It is going to be interesting for sure. But, locking down states isn’t the answer.

          • I take it you’re not in the tourism either, but Maine should be promoted. It isn’t regulations that keeps maine safe, it’s the lack of people and the space in between the people. Promoting Maine this way won’t increase our chances of getting the

            • Funny. I’ve been a bartender for almost 30 years. Worked in ME, FL, AZ, AL. All but AL have been tourism spots.

          • Loading the car and on my way within the hour. You down easters are funny!

  10. Seems to me EA wanted to cut ties to TSTO by making donut farming so Easy. My husband, who was on the ground floor of Activision and a PM for years at MS explained that developers and programmers really want to be on the edge of all things new. They grow bored quickly and don’t want talk about some project they’ve been on since 2010. We Addicts owe a huge debt of gratitude to NotBob for keeping this labor of love afloat. I feel bad for all my previous Bob/era criticisms, especially knowing he read these columns and was powerless to fix our issues.
    Maybe it’s not what it was, but it’s not his fault. It’s here. It is what it is- and we Thank You NotBob!

  11. Hey man, I think you might mean me by the pinhead from the British Contingent… I’ve had time to reflect and just want to reassure you I don’t have any negativity towards you. I respect the work you do on this site and for the tapped out community. I was just surprised you tossed a lemon drink in ‘Bob’s’ face, and seemed so casual about it in your last posting. I’m not sure if this is all real with ‘Bob’ (it’s hard to know what is and isn’t these days sadly) ..but you give a lot of evidence to suggest ‘Bob’ is indeed a developer, and more so, the fundamental guy at EA working on this game. It therefore surprised me to hear you tossed a drink in his face and just write about it like it’s normal lol. I don’t wanna drag all this up again. I was just worried at the time that might have ramifications but reading your follow up – I guess it won’t. I am British as you say (how did you know that??).. and throwing a drink in someone’s face in the UK would be a highly provocative act so I guess it just surprised me how casual the situation ended up being.. Anyways… I do respect what you do. Please no more throwing lemon drops though 😉

    • Well…as your email has a .uk in it, I didn’t need to do much sleuthing. In addition, there has been a contingent of Brits who have been “Anti-Patric” since the very first days of blogging here…because I replaced someone who “shall not be mentioned.”

      I continue to be perplexed by “literalists,” but you will catch my point in next week’s installment.

      As far as the drink throwing…there is a very, very, very long tradition of people tossing drinks into other’s faces in entertainment…most notably, if this clip is any indication, from BRITS.

      • You got me there – the uk email is a bit of a giveaway! I had no idea about the history there with you and Brits, but thanks for explaining.

        I only took offense the lemon drop part. And I stand by that. Your right, you see drink throwing in comedies / entertainment all the time.. but in real life, doing that will only upset or anger someone. It’s just a no go surely? In the uk it wouldn’t go down very well that’s for sure.

        But maybe I am taking this too literally? I’m reading your posts at face value dude I don’t know if your being ironic in them. You could all be doing this in satire and it’s going over my head?

        Anyways, I don’t want no negativity dude honestly.. we’re all here for one reason and that’s we love the game. Thats I suppose why I commented. I admire and appreciate your work. Please no more drink throwing or name calling on poor ‘Bob’ though he honestly sounds like he is on our side and really doesn’t deserve it ✌️ x

        • Like I said…wait until next week. All is well…drinks or no drinks.

          • Ok dude I’ll check it out, and sorry in advance if I’ve gotten this all wrong. Peace and love.

          • As another Brit all I would say is never take Patric to literally, Alissa had already hinted not to read to much into Bob’s ” story “.

            • She has more than hinted. Every good tale has enough truth in it, to make it believable…without being so fact ridden, as to be boring. “Bob” agrees.

  12. EA not being profitable with Mobile Game Apps is their own fault (ie you lure players in with new content instead of stop bringing new content and / or don’t update the App – you do everything to retain paying players OR you lose paying players!), but that hasn’t stopped EA from milking the teet off of –

    Plants vs Zombies
    (4 different Game Apps)
    The Sims
    (3 – including a Sim City)
    Star Wars w/Lucas Films under Disney
    (4 different Game Apps)
    (EA lost MLB)
    Need For Speed / Real Racing
    (4 different Game Apps)

    If EA is truly hurting? blame the pandemic Economy …. but definitely blame themselves (and the toxic culture of the Gaming Industry!) I feel sorry for EA Bob, but at the same time? He knows that Long Time Tappers are not happy with the direction the TSTO Game App is going …. we are going to complain ’til there are improvements (and we’re not buying 🍩’s anymore!)

    This 32nd Season is probably the last for The Simpsons on 📺 (Team Disney will want a 🎥 in the Cinemas post covid-19 to carry on the intellectual property as soon as they can), probably the last of any contractual agreements between FOX & EA (so there isn’t much to expect than whatever comes our way Event wise) and EA Bob truly sounds like he needs to go work elsewhere.

    We’ve talked before about what other Mobile Game Apps to become Addicted to when TSTO ends, might as well keep sharing …. and most important? Stay Safe during this pandemic, please (live long so that you can enjoy time with the next generation). ☺️

    • I think that the whole “Mobile Gaming” bit has seen it’s best days. The revenue from console/computer gaming is simply huge in comparison. When you look at those numbers…take into account that EA does close to 40 mobile games, and the TOTAL take is paltry in comparison.

  13. Thanks for all this info. We all think that The Simpson’s is great or we wouldn’t still be here caring about it coming back to life with more vigor.
    I enjoy you info and your writing. May The Simpson’s game live on!!!

  14. PS…luv the family pics!
    And the view from your deck is gorgeous!🌸🌸🌸🌸

    • That’s my view from the front porch. Where I yell at the Turkeys and the people who let their dogs do their business in our flowers.

      And thanks…Jake is precious!

  15. Ok dont laugh…how much of this is true? I mean if Bob gets salty enough or if he gets busted the game will be gone? Or is this fiction, except for the market reports?
    Look, my kids have been home since mid March, cut me a little slack. Lol

  16. Hi. That was interesting and made a bit of sense 👍. As someone who’s been playing our little game for over 7 years (how many taps is that??) it’s become just a Normal part of life. Which is a good thing to have in these weird times. Keep writing an we’ll keep reading and playing

  17. “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.“

    I hope that, by the time Jake grows up, this kind of “unconscious bias”/stereotyping will have gone the way of the dodo bird!

    (Although, to be fair, I’m guilty of my own unconscious biases too… The other day, when I heard the news story about the judge’s son who was shot and killed and the husband who was also shot, my brain went first to thinking that the judge was in a same-sex marriage before it even dawned on me that the judge was a woman. The fact that the idea that the judge was a gay man came to me before the idea that she was female, despite the fact that same-sex marriages are a far more recent phenomenon than female judges (who I even see on TV all the time!) just goes to show how deeply ingrained into our subconscious gender stereotyping is, at least for those of us who are, say, of Baby Boomer age.)

    • Excellent job of transference. I am her father. I have watched a lifetime of bias for my FIVE beautiful, whip-smart daughters, force them to always “be more,” knowing that they are ironically pre-judged.

      I am married to a beautiful, natural blonde…who graduated high school in three years, college in three years, and has three graduate degrees. So……your silly lecture is just a tad bit misplaced.

      The “protagonist” in this story is one who was smitten by her beauty…but “schooled” by her business acumen. But, gosh……thanks for your insight.

      But to your point…yes…we are all biased in some way. Perception is rarely reality.

    • 🌈Well, plenty fine analysis & progressive discussion…
      Speaking of which, while we’re finally amidst another round of ‘social correction /elevation’ of what essentially should have all been squared away in short order, decades ago… We also really need to do away with the highly inaccurate term ‘racism’…
      There is only 1 race, which is of course the HUMAN Race👌🏼
      Our only actual differences are gender and ETHNICITY, along with cultural and religious beliefs. It’s not just semantics, & quite a proper elevation of human progress in using the accurate terms of Ethnicist & Ethnicism in properly educating & overcoming our ongoing dilemmas☯️

      • One can hope. It is becoming clear that working together, rather than isolationism, is going to have to be the answer. I have often thought that the only thing that would truly bring people of all races, religions, and political persuasions together, would be an alien invasion from another planet. This is about as close as you can get…for sure.

  18. Sorry but kinda lost interest after Bob episode number 2, a bit like playing the game these days, the only pleasure I get from the game is when I look at what I have designed and remember when I did it and how things used to be.

    I suppose now that the truth is out someone higher up will get wind and execute the delete all button.

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