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Can EA help after the sunset?


Ryder Strong

In this final week of the game, I would like to pose the question - Could EA still play a role in preserving the TSO/EA-Land community?

Their talk of "mixed feelings" about closing down EALand is probably legitimate. Within the company there must have been people arguing in favor of keeping it going.

At this point, a full backtrack would probably happen only under the most extraordinary of circumstances. However, we may have more luck if we are able to think about more concrete, low-cost, and attainable requests.

What does EA have that we may want even after the sunset?

* They hold valuable user data

EA is the only one who has all property designs and attributes, avatars, pets, bookmarks, and -particularly important- the contact information for all subscribers. If someone has the ability to help people to reconnect (or at least to send out an e-mail pointing people to a player-operated website), it's EA.

* They have the servers and software.

The TSO/EAL Client is pretty useless without something to connect to.

EA says they have no plans to sell the code, but they could potentially decide to license it out in the future or (at least in theory) flip the switch back on for a retro 10-year reunion.

What may be easier is (as some have suggested) to release a scaled-down version to allow user-to-user connections for a single property.

* They own the rights to all the artwork, music, and avie/sim models

The fact that TSO shares so much content with its offline cousin is both a curse and a blessing, since it surely makes them more hesitant to go open source. However, as Sims Offline becomes older they may become more open to allowing not-for-profit use of the creative content (as in a tribute Flash-based game or something of the sort).

Why would they want to help us? If EA takes the long view, they could realize that helping the extended TSO/EALand community is in their best interests.

* Better relations with a great customer base

Right now EA probably thinks of EA Land as just a few hundred customers, only a fraction of them paying. However, the extended TSO/EALand community includes tens of thousands of people have passed through Sims Online (even if they moved on for different reasons). The group includes a lot of very creative and loyal people who would be ideal target cusomters for EA's future endeavors.

* Get some value out of a huge investment

EA spent millions of dollars and countless hours over six years on building and maintaining TSO/EAL. They may be agreeable to activities that let them salvage some value or at least community goodwill from it.

* Sets a good precedent for other games

By preserving some continuity for TSO, future players of other EA games will be more confident that EA won't leave their creations (characters, properties, designs, etc.) hanging should things go awry.

* A positive surprise

Expectations for EA are at something of an all-time low.

Even minor attempts to be helpful will be seen as a step up from being perceived as sweeping the game under a rug.

In brief, if we assume that keeping EA-Land going in its current state is off the table, what else would it be worthwhile to ask of EA?