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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
Edited by LLJK_Jasta

I suspected this would happen and decided to wait to purchase the game. The plus side for me is, now I know how bloody tiny the city sizes are and am not interested in the game at all anymore. I admire the finite simulation the game seems to focus on, I'm just more interested in grander scale city/world building.

Posted by jakonovski

The GF bought Simcity for me as a present. I was able to play through the tutorial about 6 hours ago, after that it dc'd from the servers and hasn't been able to connect since. Not expecting it to work for at least a week.

Edited by Grimluck343

@likeassur said:

Where was this freakout when Diablo III launched?

All over the internet?

Seriously, what hole were you hiding under?

Edited by shinboy630

@dantronlesotho: I'm sorry, but that guy was being a complete dick to that customer service rep. It's not that dude's fault the game isn't up to snuff, and it's not his fault that higher up have iffy (at best) policies when it comes to returns and refunds.

Yes it sucks that he couldn't get a refund for a product that he felt was defective, but being a douche to the service rep doesn't help anyone.

Edited by Sergotron

Good looking out Amazon.

Posted by Gildermershina

Man, normally stuff like this happens, and an hour after launch some guy is going "WAH WAH WAH I WANT A REFUND I'M NEVER BUYING AN EA GAME AGAIN." and then a day after launch it's all pretty much okay, and the angry rhetoric dies down.

But this is going so badly for EA, it's almost comical. Every hour this goes on they're generating so much bad will. And for a company like EA, already drowning in bad will, it's hard to see how they ever get past that.

Not that I feel sorry for them or anything, because it is their own damn fault.

Edited by goreyfantod

This debacle should have been wholly predictable by Maxis/EA.

The game is designed to not just use but to require cloud-based servers to run, meaning the problem isn't just limited to the all-too-familiar always-on DRM requirements we've come to know and loathe.

From the Maxis SimCity website:

"The GlassBox simulation engine (via the GlassHouse cloud server environment) receives and processes each player’s city every three minutes, tracking all cities and making live updates to every player’s game worldwide."

SimCity Live Service

This is how Maxis intends to get around the potential limitations of individual users' computers, so it should not only have been factored into any calculations made about server requirements prior to launch, it should have been given more weight than virtually any other factor that Maxis/EA was accounting for.

It's as though they're completely clueless about both the requirements of their own game and the capabilities of the computers in their user base.

Posted by DantronLesotho

@shinboy630 I agree that he was a little abrupt, but come on; the guy sourced his material and the customer service rep was stonewalling him. The least the customer service rep could have done is say "hold on while I check on it" and get a manager or something. I'm sure they're outsourced.

Edited by Synekal

So, Cheetah speed and the simulation rendering is not done on a local machine but on the SimCity servers?! That's just an insane way of handling your back-end!

I love SimCity games, but the way they're handling this, I don't feel sorry for them in the least at all the refunds they're going to need to process.

I'll pick up the Mac version when it's discounted this summer.

Edited by SashimiX

I have not been able to connect a single time since buying the game. I have no idea what the game on my screen looks like as i can never get passed the "logging in" phase

Not only did I not get a refund when I called EA but the person I was talking to said he would terminate my call if i tried to ask for a supervisor.

Stay Classy EA

Posted by Abendlaender

The really sad thing about this is, that EA will now probably close Maxis, claiming that PC Games don't sell well enough...

Edited by Paulmar

First they came for the Dragon Age 2, and I did not speak out--

Because I don't care about Dragon Age.

Then they came for Mass Effect 3, and I did not speak out--

Because I don't care about Mass Effect.

Then they came for Dead Space 3, and I did not speak out--

Because I don't care for Dead Space.

Then they came for Sim City--and there was no one left to speak for it

Edited by Pozo

@abendlaender: If they didn't close Maxis after Spore, they're not going to close Maxis now.

You're forgetting a little game they're milking to death called The Sims 3. Get your $419.83 DLC bundle today!

Edited by PistolPackinPoet

Saw this coming a mile away.

Posted by Branthog

I don't care. I found the actual game, itself, to be so disappointing that even though I'm not encountering the connection and corruption issues, I regret the purchase and have no interest in playing it anymore.

Posted by Dagbiker

@paulmar said:

First they came for the Dragon Age 2, and I did not speak out--

Because I don't care about Dragon Age.

Then they came for Mass Effect 3, and I did not speak out--

Because I don't care about Mass Effect.

Then they came for Dead Space 3, and I did not speak out--

Because I don't care for Dead Space.

Then they came for Sim City--and there was no one left to speak for it

Because they signed the EULA and couldn't join my lawsuit

Posted by kavukavu
Posted by MisterCrow

The really sad thing about this is, that EA will now probably close Maxis, claiming that PC Games don't sell well enough...

That's ridiculous. The whole reason this mess is happening is because of the number of people trying to play vs the capabilities of their server infrastructure.

Posted by LucidDreams117

What a mess. Damn EA. You really couldn't see this one coming? Did you learn nothing from Diablo 3... oh wait. You did.

http://kotaku.com/5989053/

Edited by MrKlorox

@dagbiker said:
The ironic thing is... The Sim City servers are hosted by amazon.

Now THAT's funny.

Posted by Dagbiker

Good news everyone, they extended the Limited Edition to March 11th.

Posted by JazGalaxy

The really sad thing about this is, that EA will now probably close Maxis, claiming that PC Games don't sell well enough...

More likely they'll close Maxis claiming that PC games sel TOO well...

Edited by Mr48

You guys that cant play the game you paid for make me laugh. Why? Because thats what you deserve for continuing to support this terrible online single-player model by buying these games. As long as you keep paying, publishers will keep doing this. For me its simple: Online single-player = no sale. Thats how a boycott works, and you idiots with no impulse control who keeping falling for this crap deserve every bit of grief you get trying to play this game.

Posted by NekuCTR

@mrklorox said:

@dagbiker said:
The ironic thing is... The Sim City servers are hosted by amazon.

Now THAT's funny.

WHAT. THE. HELL. I didn't know things this hilarious could actually happen. Thank you sir for opening my eyes.

Posted by Aelric

Well, Whatdyaknow, always online DRM is total, unmanageable crap. Who could have seen that coming? When even a server-savvy company like blizzard has a shitty launch due to their paranoid DRM as still receive tons of hack attempts, account theft and server outages, maybe a bumbling fuckup of an organization like EA should just veer clear of that sort of thing and just make it a gameplay incentive to play with a friend instead of goddamn necessary. Didn't really work out well for Ubisoft either. I want games to succeed and I want EA to get better, but jesus christ, it's like clown university over there.

Edited by iragequit

Once again the DRM is hurting only those who purchased. Even if someone can crack the game and emulate the servers, who would care? You shouldn't bother with DRM when your game has low appeal.

My usual torrent site only has 1 torrent for Diablo 3, nobody even cares. If someone made it playable without connecting to servers then I think that has gone largely unnoticed.

Edited by Bistromath

60 dollars for a mediocre attempt at a series revival with crippling DRM.

I'm glad nowadays I only buy games a good bit after release and when they're on sale.

Edited by NekuCTR

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLYLmsEBGug

This video is too perfect. (embed isn't working for some reason.)

Posted by Brighty

@nekuctr said:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLYLmsEBGug

This video is too perfect. (embed isn't working for some reason.)

Holy shit. This has gone viral

Posted by XChairmanDrekX

Does EA not realize how awful their public image is becoming? Do they really think it's just a few angry people on the internet and no harm will come to them? They would have to be delusional to think that at this point, if you release a game to the general public charge $60 bucks for it, and many can't even play the damn thing for a week, that as a company they could move past it as if it's no big deal.

I can't believe EA couldn't have invested a little more time and money to make sure their servers worked well at launch, at this point shouldn't they be most concerned with their image? After this fiasco, I see no way they can fix it now.

Posted by Luck702

All of this for DRM. I'm pretty sure they will have lost more money to refunds and bad word of mouth than to pirates.

Posted by Levio

Normally there are tons of dudes saying "cry more" when there's no offline option. Yet when its finally time to face consequences like these, those people disappear into the shadows from whence they came. I'd gloat, but there's really nothing to gloat about.

Posted by iragequit

Every hour this goes on they're generating so much bad will. And for a company like EA, already drowning in bad will, it's hard to see how they ever get past that.

I feel like it's been 20 years of this. In the mid 90s my grandpa, an avid gamer, told me EA was a bad company who used to make good games. It turns out EA feeds off bad will, I guess. It's why the keep getting bigger.

Posted by tourgen

hopefully this translates directly into firings at EA.

Edited by Thiefsie

Don't worry - just build parks in your neighbours cities... ahaha (if you can get in)

Posted by capthavic

EA isn't so much evil as they are just amazingly stupid. Always online DRM would be bad enough if they could pull it off competently, but its the fact they can't that makes it so much worse.

Honestly i can't understand why this is so hard for (seemingly) every game company. You KNOW there is going to be a huge rush on launch day, and you KNOW how many pre orders there are and can estimate how many more will buy at launch....why is this so freaking difficult?!?

And no, I'm not expecting there to be no issues whatsoever. It just gets me how bad they seem to fumble with this shit when its not like it just snuck up on them at the last minute. Come on!

Edited by alConn

Not well, that's how it is going. When I can play the game, it's great. The problem is, there are about ten different spots where you can be bumped or disconnected and have to reboot the whole game while trying to enter your own damn city, private region or public. Frustrating is an understatement.

Edited by SuperZamrod

I'm sorry, but Patrick writes like a 5th grader. He should not be writing for this site.

Edited by Choffy

@msavo said:

9.5 out of 10, Polygon.

They updated the score to an 8, for what it's worth.

Posted by fisk0

@levio said:

Normally there are tons of dudes saying "cry more" when there's no offline option. Yet when its finally time to face consequences like these, those people disappear into the shadows from whence they came. I'd gloat, but there's really nothing to gloat about.

I'm sure they'll come back as if nothing ever happened when the next major game with always online DRM comes around, claiming it's silly to be against DRM like that because "who isn't connected 24/7 nowadays?".

Posted by m16mojo2
Posted by SquirrelWizard

I'm sorry, but Patrick writes like a 5th grader. He should not be writing for this site.

BOOOOOOOOOOOORIIIIIIIIIING

Posted by Synthballs

I've never been so happy to have a piece of shit laptop that couldn't run SimCity.

Which is sad because a week ago I REALLY REALLY wanted this game. I know in time they will iron things out.

Posted by Jimbo

They've disabled Cheetah Speed so they can bring it back as a microtransaction. Ditto Reticulating Splines.

Posted by aquacadet

Maybe I should knock on wood, but I've yet to be effected by the always on DRM at all. I played at 5pm PST on Tuesday for 5 or 6 hours. During which time I saw the "disconnected from server" error message once, but was able to keep playing and things synced perfectly when I quit later that night.

That is not to say I've been blown away by the game. My main problem with the game so far is the smaller city size, and forced multiplayer, but I can't blame design on DRM. As I said I'm sure I'm the minority so I should shut up, but I wanted to say it's not all doom and gloom.

Posted by fisk0

Always online DRM would be bad enough if they could pull it off competently, but its the fact they can't that makes it so much worse.

The thing is, nobody can. The way Internet is set up it doesn't matter if you're connected, or their server is working - there are multiple points of failure between you, and we're currently shifting away from a somewhat reliable wired network to a less reliable but mobile wireless network, because for most utilities, the ability to be connected anywhere outweights the fact that the connection is unstable, and the basic stuff people do on the internet - checking your e-mail, browsing the web or whatever doesn't need a permanent connection. Games using always online DRM don't seem to take that into account.

Posted by freakin9

So the game doesn't work, and when it does work, it's not very good. SOLD!

Edited by Deathpooky

I think everyone's overstating piracy as the cause for EA's move. It's about control and money more generally. Always online means they're assured of being able to sell all users DLC and it makes it so you have to buy their DLC for content/gameplay changes. It also by design encourages multiplayer and forces you to set up an account, which leads to you heckling your friends to play and you continuing to play (and continuing to buy DLC). SimCity is entirely designed around those ideas. Finally, it cements the move from buying a game to being a person with an account and a service.

Sure, always online with server-based processing requirements knocks out piracy. But that's only a part of the reason EA's doing it, and probably a small part at this point. Always online is more part of EA's push for digital content, control, and sweet, sweet microtransactions. That's why they're willing to take so much shit about the always online requirement and they'll keep doing it. They'll make it up on the back end.

Posted by squidraid

To be fair, I'd argue that people who honestly thought this game's launch would go smoothly were outright delusional. But past the 24 hour mark, this is getting way out of hand. They're just blatantly vindicating all of us who ragged on them for the always on DRM hour by painstaking hour.

And yeah. Disabling cheetah is the straw that broke the camel's back. I wonder how long that'll go on.