Wednesday 5 November 2014 – Lunchtime Seminar with Dr Ruth Deller (Media & Communications, SHU)

Title: What is this Sims 4? PR, Promotion and Play during the launch of a new PC game
Speaker: Dr Ruth Deller (Media & Communications, SHU)

Dr Ruth Deller is a Principal Lecturer in Media and Programme Leader for Undergraduate Communications (Journalism, Media, PR, eComms). Her research interests are varied and she has published on topics including fan and audience studies, religion in the media, representations of gender and social media cultures. She has a particular interest in the way media audiences, producers and ‘texts’ interact with one another.

The Sims 4 (TS4), the latest in the Electronic Arts (EA)/Maxis PC gaming franchise, was released in September 2014 to a muted response from both critics and fans. In this paper I look at both fan expectations of, and reactions to, this game (including survey data from almost 800 respondents) and the way Electronic Arts has attempted to both promote the game before its release and respond to the negative feedback from fans and critics since its lukewarm reception.
Before the game’s release, fan speculation was highly negative, with users expressing anxiety about the lack of content in official promotional footage and rumours circulating about missing features present in previous versions of the franchise. This, coupled with persistent rumours about chaos behind the scenes, led several commenters to suspect the game was still in development as of summer 2014. Most criticism centred on EA – Consumerist’s ‘worst company in America’ in 2012 and 2013 – with gamers claiming the company was pursuing profit at the expense of user experience, citing examples of previous ‘failed’ launches such as SimCity and Battlefield 4 (both 2013) as evidence the company is out of touch with its audience.

Since The Sims 4’s release and poor reception, EA has attempted to minimise damage to the franchise’s reputation by offering patches that provide new content for the game for free rather than for payment as users speculated would happen. I explore how far this exercise is proving successful as a PR strategy to both persuade players to purchase the new game and minimise the damage to the fraught relationship between production company and audience.

1.00PM – 2.00PM
CANTOR 9020a

All SHU staff and students are welcome to attend the C3RI Lunchtime Research Seminars. If you are from outside of the University and would like to attend a seminar, please email CCRC Administrator, Rachel Finch (R [dot] Finch [at] shu [dot] ac [dot] uk) to arrange for entry.