As a longtime fan of SimCity, I have not enjoyed how the changes to the newest version have turned off many fans:
Electronic Arts’ long-awaited release of SimCity on Tuesday should have been an occasion for a worldwide collective all-nighter of urban planning, a nonstop bacchanal of factory building, endless intricate min-maxing of grids of pavement. 12 a.m. Eastern Tuesday morning should have been SimCity’s finest hour.
Instead, the whole operation seized up and shit the bed. EA, a technology company with a market capitalization of over $5 billion, could not muster the online servers necessary to handle an influx of players looking to build their cities. This was entirely a problem of EA’s own making, as SimCity was not designed with an offline mode. Even if you don’t want to team up with others and join your cities together, you can’t just build your personal metropolitan layouts in peace: Every player must be constantly connected online, as a draconian step to crack down on piracy of this PC-only game.
Hey, launch hiccups happen, right? Everybody all tries to connect at once, servers get throttled, and you figure out a way to make it work. Trouble is, as of this writing EA hasn’t figured out a thing. SimCityis still totally busted. It’s difficult to log in: Nearly all of the servers are full, and when a player does find one that’s available, attempting to log in usually throws back an error. And you can’t try again until a 20-minute counter finishes ticking down…
In other words, SimCity is currently in the midst of a disaster that makes zombie attacks and nuclear meltdowns seem tame. Electronic Arts’ attempts to fix the problem have not only been unsuccessful, they’ve been making the SimCity blackout even worse, at least from a public relations standpoint: EA said Thursday that it would actually begin removing features from the game in an attempt to get it to run. At first it was non-core features like achievements and high score leaderboards. By the end of the day EA had ripped out the “Cheetah” gameplay mode, which speeds up the passage of time so you can develop your city more quickly…
In response to Wired’s request for comment, an EA spokesperson referred us to a blog post by SimCity senior producer Kip Katsarelis, who wrote that Electronic Arts would be adding new servers until the player base could be fully accommodated, and that it would prioritize stabilizing this situation before it turned the game’s features back on. She did not give a timeframe for the resolution.
It sounds like a bad situation from all that I have read. For example, check out the overwhelmingly negative reviews on Amazon. This is too bad as the pictures of the graphics I’ve seen look beautiful and some of the interactive elements between cities and within regions sound really interesting. But, I agree there should be a one-player mode so a city builder is not always dependent on other players.
In the end, I hope SimCity is redeemed. One thing that has been noticeable in the online complaints is the number of gamers who have enjoyed SimCity for years. It is not flashy, doesn’t involve violence (though you might count destroying your own city by disaster), and might even give you some insights into urban life. People want to play the game but under certain conditions.