On March 5, gamers eagerly downloaded Electronic Arts's (EA) latest game, SimCity. By March 6, players were angrily posting about the game (or lack thereof) and by March 7, Amazon stopped selling it.
SimCity was highly anticipated. Early reviews heaped on praise, but what should have been a magnificent launch for EA has turned into a nightmare. The latest SimCity game will not work unless you are playing online. Games save to EA's servers automatically and friends can build up regions together. But things fell apart, either by fan overwhelming the servers or through simply mismanagement on the part of EA.
“We are hitting a number of problems with our server architecture which has seen players encountering bugs and long wait times to enter servers,” writes SimCity Senior Producer Kip Katsarelis. “This is, obviously, not the situation we wanted for our launch week and we want you to know that we are putting everything we have at resolving these issues."
So what is the problem with SimCity? Well, to start off, the long wait times for server connection have frustrated players across the Internet. Wait times of 30 minutes or more have been reported as well as saving problems. That last one, the saving problems, has had a huge effect on digital mayors. Players have reported losing hours of work and planning due to connectivity problems.
“How would you feel if you waited for the new Corvette to come out, preordered one, and when you try to drive it home with its massive V8 engine the dashboard tells you, ‘Gas Pump not connected, aborting’?” writes Amazon user Jonny. “Bottom line: Go up to a random stranger, preferably a musclehead, hand him your $60 and ask him to punch you in the face. You'll get more out of your money, and it'll be less painful to watch."
The game’s previous high ratings have slipped. Amazon users hold it at one star and the site has a notification up, warning users about the server problems. Polygon has dropped its original rating of the game, a 9.5, down to a mere 4.0.
SimCity’s always-online requirement has been seen as the root of the problem. Unlike the previous Sims games, SimCity requires the gamer to be online at all times. The need for an Internet connection is a way to promote the social connectivity of the Sims as well as a way to slowdown piracy. Users’ games are stored in the cloud, giving them access to their game anywhere, that is, if the game would work.
EA’s Maxis studio previously explained that the online requirement exists because all of the cities created in SimCity are a part of a larger region. The region shares factors like pollution, resources, and crime. In order to keep the region alive, the game must be online. However, not all fans of the game want to be a part of the region.
There was some success for the video game. According to Mr. Katsarelis, the first 24 hours of SimCity brought 38 million buildings and 7.5 million kilometers of digital road.
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