SimCity’s Opening Week Woes Show Signs Of A Resolution

It’s fair to say that SimCity hasn’t had a smooth opening week. The decision to design the game towards an asynchronous multiplayer experience, and to include no option to play without a constant connection to EA’s servers, have been disastrous. Hopefully the shambles that has been the opening week are soon to be behind us though.

Lucy Bradshaw, the head of Maxis, has said that crashes are down 92 per cent on day one and that the studio needs a few more days of data before they can confidently state that the game is running perfectly. There are certainly a lot more servers available now than at launch, with a plethora of new EU servers helping to spread the load. Unfortunately, those servers all exist in their own little bubble so unless you can reconnect to the server you’ve been playing on, you’ll have to pick a new one and start from scratch with your game progress, achievements and friends list.

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This weekend, EA asked some of their marketing partners to stop actively promoting the game – a sure indication that they’d massively misjudged demand. By way of apology for the issues, the publisher has also said that it will be offering anyone who has activated SimCity a free PC game from EA’s portfolio via an email that should be landing on March 18th.

I’ve been playing SimCity as much as possible all weekend and, although it’s not in a reviewable state just yet, it is incredibly compelling when it does work.

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16 Comments

  1. I do not understand why this keeps happening. Surely a company like EA must have enough game launch experience to know that whatever demand you expect, have capacity for at least double that.
    They have royally screwed themselves this time too. The always-on DRM was unpopular enough without it also failing so catastrophically.

    I am actually really interested in playing this game but after all the problems and the hideously draconian DRM, I’m just not gonna bother.

    • they always underestimate, its part of their shitty experience buying any of their games.

      The problem is, people moan about it all, then go out and buy the game. Stupidity comes to mind.

      • Indeed. While I’m sure they genuinely do have some concern about what people think and say in the support forums and the wider internet, the real driver for change is money.
        If people actually stopped buying the games, they’d have to evaluate why and make positive changes.
        Sadly there are too many entitled arseholes out there who think they should be allowed to get exactly what they want with no sacrifice.

  2. At this point, I don’t care how good the game itself might be; I will never buy it. I refuse to support EA’s decision to punish paying customers by making them jump through such a ridiculous anti-piracy hoop. Ubisoft already tried it and now they’re desperately trying to make amends with PC gamers.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate piracy as much as the next man. But this is not the way to go about it. I’ve always believed that rewarding the paying customers rather than asking them to prove themselves is the way to go about it, like Mass Effect 2’s Cerberus Network.

    • I wonder whether they’d lose less money in the long run if they just stuck with their Origin anti-piracy and lumped the lost sales, rather than ending up in the situation they’re currently in. I’m not so sure than all publicity is good publicity.

  3. The problem is that masses of people ARE still buying the game. Despite the horrendous PR backlash, constant internet opinion pieces decrying online DRM and having to give away a ‘free game’, people are still buying Sim City in droves. Until the gaming populace start voting with their wallets, EA will keep pulling sh*t like this.

    • It makes you wonder though, how many people who bought the game actually knew about the server problems beforehand? Or even knew that it required a constant internet connection?

      • But who cares now? With 98% of people being able to play without a hitch, and getting a free game to boot, will the week long furore provoke enough consumer reaction to make EA change their ways?

        Not bloody likely.

      • Again it comes back to ‘the general public’. While I believe a higher percentage of PC gamers are interested in gaming news and what goes on behind the scenes than console gamers, those of us who regularly read sites like this are still in a minority.
        Most people will buy the game, have problems, get over the problems, enjoy the game and then buy the next EA title. If the game is good it will outweigh the problems but how bad does it have to get?

        First they came for the pre-owned buyers, but I didn’t speak out as I don’t buy pre-owned.
        Then they came for people who refuse always-on DRM, but I didn’t speak out as I tolerate DRM.
        Eventually, they will come for me, and who will be left to speak out?

  4. I’m not a fan of these simulation games but watching some videos of people playing the game got me pretty interesting. However, all the server issues and the fact that it’s online only keeps me from actually buying the game. I’d consider it if they managed to enable an offline mode. Bradshaw mentioned in her interview that it would be impossible to add an offline mode without extensive reprogramming of the basic code structure but I call BS on that.

  5. Considering EA created the whole online pass thing and used the whole “it pays for maintaining the servers” argument, they have some of the most consistently worst servers I’ve experienced.

    • Don’t forget that they’re also one of the first to switch servers off. Lots of people still play older simcity games over ten years after they release. Somehow I doubt the same will be said for this one.

      • Yep, its funny as I’ve been playing some old 360 games recently and theres still servers up for 2006 releases! Yet EA shut servers down after a year sometimes.

  6. Still going to give it a few weeks before i try to play it again.

  7. I got the game on Saturday and have played it for a good 10-12 hours over the weekend with no problems whatsoever, so I think having issues is now much less common than it was earlier in the week.

    My advice to anyone who wants to buy the game but is worried about the servers is to buy it – it’s a great game which I’ve had no problems with; and as long as you register it before Sunday you’ll get a free game as well.

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