Trouble In SimCity – Disgruntled Denizens Of The Digital Metropolis Rebel
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
After a ten-year hiatus, Electronic Arts (EA) released a newly updated version of its classic city-building game SimCity this week. Fans of the game were no doubt excited about the release, though for many, their enthusiasm has waned in the past few days. On Tuesday, EA’s servers began to buckle beneath the demand of all those waiting to download the game. Now, even those who were able to buy and download the game are unable to play thanks to ongoing server issues. Electronic Arts has admitted these issues and promises that a fix is on the way.
“We are hitting a number of problems with our server architecture which has seen players encountering bugs and long wait times to enter servers,” wrote EA senior producer Kip Katsarellis in forum post on Wednesday.
“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.”
Katsarellis says they’ll be launching even more servers this week to handle the excess load as well as focusing on bug reports sent in by gamers. As of Wednesday, Katsarellis had claimed that EA had already pushed out “several” updates to resolve any issues.
These overloaded servers aren’t just preventing gamers from buying the game, however. EA made a bold (and now controversial) decision to require an Internet connection for all gameplay. With these server issues, many have been unable to launch the game successfully even after they’ve paid for it.
To play the newly updated SimCity, gamers must first log in to EA’s Origin platform. By keeping the game in the cloud, EA is able to store vast amounts of game data centrally and thus give gamers the ability to play SimCity anywhere on other PCs.
Of course, the downside to any cloud-based offering is that when the cloud goes down, everything goes down.
This is a sticking point for many gamers who either have a slow Internet connection or don’t like the idea of having to connect to servers to play SimCity. One particularly peeved player, Ryan Lashley, has even started an online petition at Change.org asking EA to “Remove ‘Always Online’ DRM from SimCity and future games.”
“When I, And millions of other people, buy a game that has a single-player experience. We expect it to work regardless of our connectivity to the internet, or quality of our connection [sic],” read the opening sentence fragments of the online petition.
“EA has made this impossible, so many people with an unstable connection will not even be able to play the game in the first place, let alone anyone who wants to play on the go/with no internet connection.”
At the time of this writing, the petition has already accrued 30,000 signatures. Gamers are also expressing their impatience with the game on Amazon.com. So many people have left poor reviews that Amazon has issued their own dreaded warning to any would-be buyers of the new SimCity.
“Many customers are having issues connecting to the “SimCity” servers. EA is actively working to resolve these issues, but at this time we do not know when the issue will be fixed,” reads the Amazon warning, pointing customers to EA’s help site.
Late in the evening of March 7, problems with EA’s servers reached such a critical level that Amazon even went so far as to suspend sales of the downloadable version of the game for a few hours. Currently, more than 1,000 Amazon customers have left 1-star reviews for the game, with most people complaining about the server crash and the game’s always-online requirement.
Despite these issues, the excitement for the game hasn’t died out altogether. Katsarellis claims that gamers have already built 38 million buildings and nearly seven and a half million kilometers of roads in the game in a single 24-hour period.