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SimCity's Launch Isn't Going So Well

Electronic Arts is turning off "non-critical gameplay features" to try and ease server load.

UPDATE: We've noticed Amazon has stopped selling the digital version of SimCity, thanks to a tip from a Giant Bomb user. The listing for SimCity says it's "currently unavailable" and the retailer does not know "when of if this item will be available again."

"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. Please visit https://help.ea.com/en/simcity/simcity for more information."

I asked Amazon customer service about it, and was told it's "not currently available due to the issues on connecting to the SimCity servers" and the retailer was "not completely sure when this is going to be restored."

The launch of SimCity has not gone well, and it continues to not go well. It’s going so poorly, in fact, that Electronic Arts and Maxis are going to be turning off “non-critical gameplay features" to try and make it better.

This move was announced by a SimCity community manager on the game’s message boards. These “non-critical gameplay features” include leaderboards, achievements, and region filters.

According to the patch notes for version 1.2, however, the company has now disabled “cheetah” speed, which is now the same as “llama” speed. An official reason wasn’t given in the patch notes, but it’s not hard to imagine the detailed simulations in each city, which must inevitably sync with the game’s servers, is causing a headache for players building cities really quickly.

“We will continue to let you know as we have more information,” said the company. “We know it has been said before, but we do appreciate your patience as we complete this latest update. Getting you playing is our absolute highest priority.”

That’s probably true, but it doesn’t ease the pain of players who have paid money for SimCity, and can’t play the game. We know there will be launch issues in the first 24 hours of a game’s release, maybe even a little longer, but this is unacceptable. Too bad, since the game is supposedly pretty cool!

Make sure to let us know what your experience is like in the comments.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
359 Comments
Posted by BagronkeN
Posted by Phatmac

I haven't played it but I've heard some horror stories about it. Sucks for Maxis and customers. EA has to step their game up quickly.

Posted by Fattony12000

Since I'm dirt poor, all of this (very sad) information bodes well for a slashing in price, at some point. Which is good for me...kind of? Mod support added in over the next few months will sweeten the deal too. Overall, I'm not happy about having to think about a new SimCity game in 2013 like this. Not like this.

Edited by JukeBoxJosh

I wonder if this is going to happen again when (if?) the Mac version comes out.

Posted by Shingro

If even Blizzard had problems with Diablo 3 with the talent they got, EA doesn't have a prayer. =P

Posted by iAmJohn

PC GAMING

More like a new game in a popular, beloved franchise that got a lot of really good pre-release hype and is destroying the servers because so many people want to play it. That's not exclusive to PC gaming, otherwise Xbox Live wouldn't have been brought to its knees every time a new Call of Duty came out for years.

Edited by megalowho

Maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of the end of publishers going 'fuck those extra servers and manpower for the launch load, it's just going to be a waste of money when it dies down in a week and this all blows over.' That attitude is not acceptable and unfair to the most loyal paying customers that are willing to buy your product as soon as it's available. If it costs $60, it needs to work.

Probably not though.

Edited by KaosAngel

Too bad the game is still selling in droves.

EA has their money.

Edited by clydesdale4437

My working conspiracy theory is that they're trying to fix these problems by adding the absolute minimum number of new servers since they don't want to have to sink cost into a bunch of hardware that'll be unnecessary when traffic cools to post launch levels. Just my guess.

I love the game when it's working though, and in two weeks I suspect everything will be fine. Good thing I'm nocturnal right now so I can play in the off-peak hours of 1-5am.

Posted by KoolAid

From what I've heard about the new Simcity, Cities XL 2012 is like this Simcity... only the cities are huge. Extra large if you will. And it works. I've been working on a city for a few days and have only filled up about an 8th of the map they gave me.

So maybe play that?

Edited by DaddyCabinet

This is probably going to be the last time I preorder a game or buy any game put out by ea. There are plenty of other games out their to play.

Edited by squigiliwams

Not to beat a dead horse, but just imagine how much less EC2 compute power they'd have to buy if ONLY THE MULTIPLAYER CITIES WERE ONLINE.

Assholes. I want to like this damn game so much, but EA'd.

Edited by CurtMan2k7

People without Comcast/Fios are bitches.. i can download 8gbits/sec but i have to suffer because U-Verse and Dish, etc can't keep up...#WTFEA

edit: ALSO #EA has Doubled and Tripled the servers per real world regions, and still there is a chugalug at peak times, if i learned anything in History your supposed to learn from other peoples mistakes not commit them again and again and again...I Just hope this isn't like the PSN Crash where i lost most of my friends because people sold their systems...Sad Day when SkyNet finally decides to kill us....JK or AM I...

Posted by GinjaAssassin

I had a crazy bug this afternoon where I tried to resume a city but it thought that I was another player trying to access the city and I was unable to do anything. A reboot seemed to fix it but that was kind of scary.

Every time I exit the game I am REALLY nervous about whether or not the game has saved. This is probably the worst implementation of cloud saving to date. I would much rather have even a tiny dialog box come up and say "Saving" instead of something in the background more akin to "uh...yeah....I think it worked...whatever."

Posted by rmanthorp

@lokally2 said:

Literally unplayable - 8/10, Polygon.

Ohhahahahah. That got me!

Moderator
Edited by isomeri

After 5 hours of waiting I finally got to play for 2 hours this evening and had a blast. And when I signed out I saw a glimpse of a popup which said something about not being able to sync with servers. So I'm not all that optimistic that I'll be able to continue from where I left off.

Posted by Nictel

Wow this seems major. I wonder if this is going to have consequences.

Posted by FreakGirl

Not going to get this. Might re-install Sim City 4, though :D

Posted by Murph

Don't have any experience with the game, preordered and have yet to actually get a game going.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

I haven't spent a dime on this game, and it is already super entertaining and addicting.

Edited by brandonleedy

Wow, so now they're disabling "non-critical" game features? If I was a reviewer at a publication that claimed they were reviewing games "live" and "as a service" I'd probably go and lower that score again... cause this game is barely functional and now barely on sale.

I have friends who pre-ordered and haven't been able to play it yet. A few got refunds, but only ONE of them managed to play a little bit today after intermittent connections and the game forgetting his progress. I mean come on, it's ridiculous to launch a game like this.

Posted by sirdesmond

I was able to play well on launch day but yesterday and today it's basically been broken to the point I can never even get in my cities. Oh well...

Posted by Senate4242

I am certainly having buyers remorse. Small cities, forced "multiplayer", need to be online to play. Can you even return a digitally purchased game?

I don't normally buy games blind, but shit I thought how could you mess up SimCity? Now I know.

Posted by Zirilius

2013's Diablo 3

Posted by KaosAngel

Cities XL 2012 any good?

Edited by MonkeyKing1969

So when all gamers said, "Always connected is a BAD idea..." we were right. Just as we were right with other 'always connected' games. You can't herd cats EA!!!

The solutions is to make gamers 'want' to connect, to make us want to join a region or put our toe in multiplayer of a game like SimCity. Force is never a good solution, because when you entice you make it the gamers choice and they feel better for having a choice.

Posted by shatteringlast
Posted by SubTact

EA + Anything to do with servers run by them, always has me worried. I guess I'll keep waiting to cop this one and play my copy of SimCity 2000 from GoG.

The thought also occurred to me, removing the Cheetah game speed option, could tangentially turn into a new Micro Transaction option for EA to toss in future games people pay full price for. I certainly would not put it past them considering their track record on all fronts.

Edited by Atary77

I just find this whole mess fucking hilarious. Publishers and developers alike need to realise that this whole perpetual connection requirement is absurd and should never be forced onto consumers this way.

Posted by Jayzilla

Hey game makers! Here's a hot tip: If your game does not need to be connected to the internet to play; i.e. it has single player features, DON'T MAKE IT HAVE TO BE CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET! Or do. I don't care, because I won't buy your game if it has to be connected to the internet to play it(single player experiences of course).

Posted by TheVideoHustler

Isn't this how the Diablo 3 launch went?

Posted by xMrSunshine

Hey guys hey hey hey you know what's a good idea?

Always online video games.

Guys?

Posted by fisk0

Cities XL 2012 any good?

I've heard varying things about it. Quite a lot of negative stuff, kinda sad they didn't delve more into it during the stream, where they just mentioned it exists.

Unless you find out more positive stuff about it, I'd probably recommend SimCity 4 on Steam (not entirely stable on Windows 7/8, and doesn't support widescreen resolutions, but it runs well in XP compatibility mode and has both the region system and the ability to build massive cities) or the classic SimCity 2000 on GOG.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

First they require Windows 95 for the Mech Warrior 2: Ghost Bear's Legacy addon, and now this!

Posted by Zeg

You know, I was actually looking on the bright side, with the tiniest optimism, that having to wait until the 8th for the UK release would mean EA would have got through the day 1 server deaths and by the time I'd be playing it would be smooth.

Of course my game is still about 12 hours away, going by the time my mail usually arrives, but I think the last remaining hope is slipping away quite fast. Maybe I'll be one of the lucky few who don't seem to be having too many problems regardless.

Posted by ouvintes

Bought it yesterday, but couldn't "claim a city", haven't even played the tutorial yet, but I admit I haven't tried too much. Will wait a week or so, should be better then (I hope).

This is really sad, I bet the people who worked on this for years are pretty down right now. It's not their fault this happened. We all know whose fault it is.

Makes me realize that launch dates for these "always-online" games just mean that you have to add a week to that launch date to consider playing it.

"Always online" is the result of a business decision, it won't go away. But they can't afford for this to be the scenario on every launch. I wonder if publishers could do it differently in the future, where folks would be able to play offline at first and patches with the online requirement would be applied gradually to accounts so that server structure could handle it. If that was clear when I was buying the game, I wouldn't mind it as much. Not sure if that could even be done.

Posted by fisk0

First they require Windows 95 for the Mech Warrior 2: Ghost Bear's Legacy addon, and now this!

I'm pretty sure MechWarrior was Activision, not EA.

Posted by reelife

@freakgirl:I did, don't forget to patch it if your PC rig is more advanced now, than when Sim City 4 was released.

Posted by Krakn3Dfx

@fisk0 said:

@krakn3dfx said:

First they require Windows 95 for the Mech Warrior 2: Ghost Bear's Legacy addon, and now this!

I'm pretty sure MechWarrior was Activision, not EA.

I meant "The Man".

Well, that's what I mean now. "The Man".

Posted by Droop

Needed to contact EA for a non SimCity related issue, and the waiting time was +60 minutes. All their servers and indians tech support must be melting.

Posted by usgrovers

What surprises me most about the launch is that people are surprised this is happening. This game is essentially an MMO version of SimCity and we all know how reliable MMO launches are.

Edited by Krakn3Dfx

Not going to get this. Might re-install Sim City 4, though :D

I already did, and yeah, it's still awesome.

Edited by SilverTorch1

People who bought this game and expected there to be 0 problems on launch are fools. Even Blizzard couldn't pull it off.

Edited by Brandino

Just sunk about 6 hours into it without realizing, filled up my city and went bankrupt. But man 6 hour gaming session haven't done that in a while. Disconnected from the servers a few times, but didn't lose saves and it just reconnects like a minute later, it doesn't kick you out the game which was something I was scared of. Going to create a crime ridden las vegas tonight and early into the morning.

About 2 hours in my headset ran out of batteries, I didn't change them and just spent the next 4 hours playing the game with no sound, just in this zen state of building.

I'm glad you have been able to enjoy it. I haven't even been able to get into a game since launch. 3 Days and i have logged 0 minutes because it's a broken mess. Luckily Amazon refunded me and i uninstalled origin. Done with EA until they get their shit together.

Edited by BlazeHedgehog

I would really like it if Sim City is the straw that broke the camel's back with regards to deeply-integrated always-on internet DRM

As opposed to something they recover from and continue to "improve"

I mean, surely this is approaching "Ubisoft renounces Starforce because it's damaging people's PCs" levels of screw up, right?

Posted by Elyhaym

I am certainly having buyers remorse. Small cities, forced "multiplayer", need to be online to play. Can you even return a digitally purchased game?

I don't normally buy games blind, but shit I thought how could you mess up SimCity? Now I know.

This times ten. I rarely buy a game blind and I had the utmost of confidence right up until a few days before launch. Then I discovered the miniscule size of cities and a creeping sense of dread began.

Fast forward a few days and here I am, flooded with buyers remorse.

Edited by Willtron

This, to a degree, was of course, expected to happen. Or, at least, I would assume people would know this would happen. It's just one of the caveats of an always-online game. And to be honest, I'm glad it happened. A fucking stupid design philosophy has blown up in EA's face. This isn't even about DRM issue bullshit. The always-online feature really, to me, changed what SimCity became. Cities became much smaller, and the way people play this game a lot of the time (at "cheetah" speed) isn't viable because of how the game runs. And that wouldn't be a problem if you didn't always have to be online. If you could play this game offline, you wouldn't need to connect to a server, and your game would be fine.

So, yeah, fuck you, EA. Your servers going to shit is proof that this always-online design philosophy was bad from the start. I wanted to like this game, but it just isn't what I want out of SimCity. And even when the servers get fixed, it still won't be.

Edited by Clonedzero

eh, just hold off on buying it for a couple weeks till they smooth over the servers, you'll probably be able to get it for cheap then too.

Posted by mavs

@fisk0 said:

@kaosangel said:

Cities XL 2012 any good?

I've heard varying things about it. Quite a lot of negative stuff, kinda sad they didn't delve more into it during the stream, where they just mentioned it exists.

Unless you find out more positive stuff about it, I'd probably recommend SimCity 4 on Steam (not entirely stable on Windows 7/8, and doesn't support widescreen resolutions, but it runs well in XP compatibility mode and has both the region system and the ability to build massive cities) or the classic SimCity 2000 on GOG.

Custom resolutions are easy to add in SC4, but if you go higher than 1680x1050 there will be minor problems.