Don’t see SimCity Bug? Get Banned for Life?

SimCity 2013 EarthquakeI want everyone to read this statement. I want everyone to read the implications of this statement. I want YOU to read what EA has written to YOU, as a SimCity Beta Tester.

“It is understood and agreed that, as part of your participation in the Beta Program, it is your responsibility to report all known bugs, abuse of “bugs”, “undocumented features”, or defects and problems related to the Game and Beta Software to EA as soon as they are found (“Bugs”). If you know about a Bug or have heard about a Bug and fail to report the Bug to EA, we reserve the right to treat you no differently from someone who abuses the Bug. You acknowledge that EA reserves the right to lock anyone caught abusing a Bug out of all EA products.

Excuse me? Wow, who put EA’s britches in a bunch. I am absolutely dismayed and moral outrage at this statement. SimCity fans are putting in countless hours of their time, without pay, to help perfect a game that EA created. Instead of congratulating and rewarding their efforts, we are threatened. We as fans are not valued for our beta testing efforts. I would almost equate this with forced labor. Slavery.

I want to point out there are several issues with this above statement. It is primarily subjective. Remember, EA reserves its right to be, prosecutor, defense, judge, and jury. The above statement reeks horribly of “guilty until proven innocent”. I shall explain why.

I do beta testing and quality assurance testing for a software company on my spare time. I do it as a courtesy because as a customer, I need stable, well polished software. I have volunteered my time consistently for the past five years with this company because I am a firm believer of their product. In the past five years, there has been three major releases which I have been a part of.

Problem 1: What constitutes as “abuse of a bug?”

As a “beta tester” or “quality assurance”, part of the process of identifying a bug is the ability to “repeat.” A bug is simply not a bug until you can repeat it. How else do you allow developers to find a bug?

Beta Tester: ‘I think that’s a bug.’
Developer:  ‘Where did you see the bug.’
Beta Tester: ‘Well, I saw it here, but then it wasn’t there when I went back.’
Developer: ‘Well, you must be seeing things.’

Cleary one significant issue is what the definition of ‘abuse’ of a bug? Part of the process includes being able to repeat it. To repeat it, one must look the bug. To prove it is a bug, one must abuse a bug. Oops? Let’s say you’re in the process of identifying the bug in certain conditions. Remember, we are using a state of the art brand new “Glassbox” engine. Video games are complex. Glassbox makes it even more complex. Sometimes a bug may only occur during a certain set of triggers. While it appears we are trying to “abuse” the bug, we may very well be trying to identify the exact set of conditions that trigger a bug.

Problem 2: We’re not game developers of SimCity (2013) or Glassbox Engine.

We are end users. We are gamers. We have a finite understanding of what is expected behavior, and what is unexpected behavior. Remember we as users are seeing SimCity for the first time. We are dealing with new technologies (Glassbox Engine) we have never seen before.

We have never sat in on any development meetings. We have never seen the concepts, the production ideas, the storyboards or the planning phases. Therefore, how the @#$#@% does one have a reference of what constitutes a bug? As far as a user is concerned, it very well could be expected game play. Are we willing to risk EA throwing the book at us because they feel we’re abusing a bug while we believe it’s fair gameplay?

Problem 3: Knowing or Hearing about a Bug – What’s the benchmark?

I’m curious what constitutes as knowing or hearing a bug? Hearsay? Replying to a thread where a bug on a third-party forum but not on a EA Forum? My biggest problem with this concept of “knowing or hearing” about a big is simple: It is guilt by association. One can simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time. One could simply be part of a community with absolutely no involvement in “bug exploitation.” Essentially, this has the potential to become a witch hunt. False accusations. Jealous, raged based reporting. It’s subjective. It’s dangerous. It sets a dangerous precedent.


EA, that rule is overly broad. You’re going to get backlash. You’re just pissing people off. Last but not least, you’re just asking for one big kicking in the shins. People will not be motivated to report bugs. In fact, they would not even be motivated to even touch the game. No one makes perfect, bug free games. Especially you EA.

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