Gamers Line Up To Play SimCity…

By John Walker on March 5th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

Hey, want to play the freshly US-released SimCity? Well, stand in line. As Total Biscuit reveals (video below), there are already 30 minute queues. And this is just for those who’ve stayed up past midnight to be able to play. In just one country.

I note with some pride that my “oceans” notion for criticising release dates seems to have entered the vernacular. So it is that EA have astonishingly released this DRM-riddled, online-only, server-based game with a three day delay for Europe. Yet keeping the numbers lower doesn’t seem to have helped with some of the servers. So why is that a problem? Because despite the game being saved on that oh-so ethereal cloud, your cities are still server-specific. Want to play that city? Sit in the queue for that server.

Remember how SimCity 2000 was this game you could play on your laptop, or PC, anywhere, any time? Remember how you could just enjoy huge amounts of time with what is surely one of the best games ever made whenever and however you wanted? Not any more! And at this point we’re only just beginning to see the issues arising from this online entangling. Softpedia say that it’s taking up to three hours for the game to unlock due to server struggles. Kotaku are reporting that neighbouring cities can ruin your game. And Ars Technica discussing how many ways the game has let them down.

Reviews are scarce, since thankfully most sites recognised that reviewing either in EA’s offices, or via EA’s very quiet test server, wouldn’t have been at all useful for readers, as the version they’d play wouldn’t represent the released version. In the UK we’ve not even been offered a way to review ahead of launch, nor – impressively – offered access to the US released version. So a review from us will come some time next week, we’re afraid.

Here’s Total Biscuit getting pretty fed up of waiting in line:

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294 Comments »

  1. Squirrelfanatic says:

    O brave new world, etc. .

    • Muzman says:

      I quite enjoyed his line; “in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only DRM”

    • yurusei says:

      Is that the menu music playing in the background? I hope it’s not, because what’s the point of paying a sum for music that was recycled?

      Every SimCity iteration had impressive music, I was expecting SC5 to at least carry that as well.

    • Bhazor says:

      “These features will enhance the single player experience”

    • Groove says:

      At least GoG still has 2000, and it’s still great.

      This doesn’t excuse this version being rubbish, just pointing to the joy and importantce of DRM free gaming.

      • Love Albatross says:

        Holy shit, I had no idea GoG had SC2000. I love you.

        That music…the beautiful MIDI soundtrack is forever imprinted on my brain.

    • Zogtee says:

      Always-on DRM and stamp-sized cities means I’m not buying this. I swear EA wont be happy until they’ve killed gaming altogether.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        EA’s ideal world of gaming is an always on connection to your wallet. No game, just a constant feed of money from you to them.

      • Arkh says:

        I’m with you, my fellow gamer.

        But there’s still hope, maybe a DRM-free version will be *cough* informally *cough* launched.

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      I came to this comment section for the cynics – and was not disappointed. This is nonsense and I honestly feel we should complain about it until we fall over.

      (No sarcasm.)

      • Kamos says:

        There were a lot of people saying the same thing when the queues started forming up. “It is just a game!”, “some people just have no patience”, “entitled”, “so much rage for so little”, etc.

        The thing is, what is the point of having a preorder for a game if when it launches, you can’t play it? Also, if 1) you know something isn’t going to work, 2) you could engineer a solution, 3) you don’t, isn’t it correct to think that you just don’t give a fuck? EA has admitted that they should have allowed preloads, they just didn’t.

        Yes, ultimately it is just a game. But these AAA publishers / developers keep designing their software to fail and people should indeed be mad about it.

        • The Random One says:

          Yeah, when the developers want you to shell out umpteen hundred pounds for the ultimate collector’s edition of a game that isn’t out yet they don’t mind you spending that much on it, but when they fuck up these things suddenly it’s just a game and you’re too entitled and should have patience.

          Fortunately I’m not entitled and I have patience, so I almost never buy a game unless it’s either a year old or over 75% off.

        • sinister agent says:

          I’d quite like to take a year off to track down people who say things like that, so that whenever they spend money, I can barge in front of them and take whatever they bought and hold it aloft, kicking them whenever they approach, and then explaining that their problem is that they’re impatient and entitled and raaaage lol.

          It’d probably get boring quite fast though. Also I’m quite short, so I don’t think it would really work.

    • Machinations says:

      EA is going to continue to bleed money until they realize – shock, horror – gamers dont want microtransactions in everything, and the ‘new’ development model, of making everything shiny, ‘social’ and dumbed-down is actually alienating their once-core market.

      I wouldnt play this if you gave it to me – well, maybe for 5 minutes to confirm my suspicions that this game is utter trash – then on to greener pastures.

      Surprisingly, I am able to avoid EA mostly – they simply have little I *must* have. I have BF3, but I wont buy a single other game from them, or use Origin for anything but glorified, clunky BF3 launcher.

      • Kamos says:

        One thing history can tell us is that they aren’t really that concerned about alienating their core market if they see some other potential market they could go after instead. If they are going with micro-transactions, it is because they expect it will be more profitable…

        EA hasn’t really “had a soul” (in the sense that they’d forgo profit for something they think is awesome) for… I can’t even remember.

        edit: grammar fail

    • neonordnance says:

      I guess the thing that really fucks me off is that Metacritic already has a bunch of reviews up. I understand why a lesser-known publication would want to review it early, but there is NO conceivable reason why a game which obviously has serious flaws should be polling at 91 overall.

      http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/simcity

      Those 90+ reviews are like a list of poor choices.

      • Arkh says:

        How the fuck Eurogamer Sweden already has a review of it? Playing it on EA special server?

        And it’s funny to see the difference. Review score = 91
        User score = 3.3

      • skittles says:

        Although I think that yes this situation is a giant smelly turd delivered to us on EAs part. Does that really stop a high score from being correct? These are launch issues, and issues that should not recur nor exist past these first few weeks. Should a game be eternally judged for problems that are only temporary? Perhaps, perhaps not. The reviews on Metacritic are based on a version of the game we don’t have yet, but that doesn’t mean that they are incorrect nor that we will not get that version.

        That said online DRM should burn.

  2. Borklund says:

    Cancelled my pre-order.

    Regions are entirely preset, towns are not bigger than in beta and there seems to be a lot of bugs. Basically, closed beta 2 seems to be the release candidate.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Most likely. Given the short window of time, beta 2 was a server load test only. To see how well servers are handling stress, and allow for a smooth launch day.

      Ok, that did not go as planned, admittedly, but that was most likely the wish.

    • Domino says:

      After seeing this mess I am glad to say I stuck to my guns about not pre-ordering and waiting for a sale, as much as I would wanted to play this game for something on the side – I see no point in paying to wait to play a game I own, yes you may argue it’s release blahdy blah but at the same time the DRM for a game like this is unnecessary regardless of ‘leaderboards’ as ‘multiplayer’ isn’t even that as you are never connected to the same city as the game is asynchronous.

      I’ll just head back to playing Anno no loss for me, but I fear Simcity will turn into a the mentality of COD where people will just buy it regardless of quality, DRM and micro-transactions etc.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Anyone who preordered SimCity is, frankly, an idiot. Foresight is a talent not many people have, and those who didn’t see this mess coming after the opening-day disaster that was D*ablo III deserve to get fleeced.

        Count yourself among the more levelheaded.

      • Arkh says:

        Of course there will be people pre ordering and playing. There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance in the gaming community. They will call you entitled, hater and every buzzword they can think of to justify their purchase to themselves.

    • reggiep says:

      You mean RTM, not RC.

  3. Leaufai says:

    A part of me wants this game to work out, since SimCity is one of my favorite game series ever, but another part wants this whole thing to blow up in EA’s face so that they might learn.

    • Koojav says:

      Same here but I’ve been told to try Anno 2070 since it’s apparently similar to SimCity. Did anyone play that?

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        Anno 2070 is great, definitely try it.

        • Strabo says:

          But doesn’t it also feature the Always-On DRM called U-Play? Or was this patched out? I definitely remember being very annoyed with it at launch.

          • HadToLogin says:

            Uplay is Ubisoft’s Steam. Nothing more, much less.

          • Hahaha says:

            It did have some bs online required stuff, no idea if it still does. Just helps to enforce the fact that gamers are on the whole complete sheep who will just flow each other.

          • Silva says:

            Ubisoft’s been steadily rolling their DRM back and even back when Anno 2070 launched there were offline options.

            You do still have to run Uplay briefly before starting the game but it’s not as intrusive as other things like GFWL.

            Anno is one of my favorite series and it is totally worth it. You should think about getting it. There’s a DLC (STAY WITH ME FOR A MOMENT!) that adds a TON of content and is about $15. Like a mini expansion. Very good value and it goes on sale fairly often on Steam.

          • syndicatedragon says:

            AFAIK, you have to be online and logged into Uplay to use online “perks” which include some essential buildings.

          • MacTheGeek says:

            Two questions:

            1) Doesn’t Anno still have that ridiculous three-install limit, even with UPlay attached?

            2) Has Ubisoft said anything about what will happen to those “online-only features” when they decide to take the servers down?

      • Sheng-ji says:

        Anno is brilliant, lots of simple systems interlock to make a monster of a complex machine. I highly recommend if sim city is your kind of game!

      • HallowedError says:

        Picked it up for on a great sale and I am not dissappointed. It reminds me a lot of Zues: Masters of Olympus which is also an awesome game. Definitely worth looking at.

        • BTAxis says:

          I still rate Zeus over Anno though. My problem with Anno is that it starts out just fine and dandy, and then I get bogged down building more and more basic resource generating infrastructure to accommodate the growing population. At times if feels as if each house needs one farm of each type to stay happy.

      • evilsooty999 says:

        A brilliant, highly complicated, addictive game that does not hold your hand in anyway and it looks brilliant to boot (personally, I think the graphics are better than Sim City’s – the amount of detail is astonishing when you zoom in).

        It’s co-developed by Bluebyte, the people who made the Settlers. I can completely lose myself managing my various islands (all on the same map) for hours. I was looking forward to Sim City, but the small city size put me off and the likes of Anno 2070 and The Settlers 7 have set the bar quite high.

      • Lemming says:

        Be warned it operates through Uplay, and it does have its problems asking you to do things in very specific ways during the missions. Not much room for deviation. Looks pretty, though.

        • evilsooty999 says:

          Yes, I should have mentioned it has its own form of DRM called Uplay and the servers can have issues sometimes and you are unable to logon. There is in an offline mode though.

          The missions are quite linear, but there is a sandbox mode where you can do what you want.

      • ThePoark says:

        Anno 2070 stands as my official new favorite game. I’m a big fan of other games in the series as well, but I feel like 2070 adds a lovely twist on their previous forumula that makes it even more interesting.

        The amount of depth and polish is impressive; I am still finding little features and things that I didn’t know the game had, and I have over 200 hours clocked. It is a builder, but not quite like SimCity, so I’m not sure if the experience is analogous. Anno has deep, economy-driven gameplay with focuses on trading and setting up production chains of goods, resources and materials that citizens need in order to advance to the next tier (imagine SimCity meets Settlers, another game series developed by BlueByte and highly recommended). This advancement brings not only higher income (increased taxes for satisfying the population of higher “castes”), but will further the requirements through additional tiers of advancement allowing you access to more technologies.

        On top of this, there are three (3) different factions that have their own play styles — two primary/competing factions (related to the game’s topical theme), and a third faction which players build up to unlocking throughout the course of the game, which furthers strategy even more. Want the best of both worlds? Play both factions at the same time; satisfy the needs of diverse citizens and get access to technological strengths of both sides! The Deep Ocean expansion gives the third faction (The Techs) even deeper gameplay with more advancement opportunities, and focuses on further developing the undersea opportunities.

        I found the campaign very enjoyable, and recommend completing it (does a great job of slowly introducing game concepts), but I feel the game really shines in playing Continuous mode in co-op with a friend (or more). The game is complex enough that playing co-op makes perfect sense, allowing you and your teammate(s) to split up tasks to help stabilize production chains to improve your economy.

        Teamwork will be key if you want to ensure that your income balance stays positive. As an example, I recently introduced my girlfriend to the game (she’s not a solid gamer); we’re on our third co-op game, our first with the Deep Ocean expansion, and our current save file clocks in at 23 hours playtime, and we’re not very near the highest tier citizens yet. My girlfriend loves this game; it’s her favorite that we’ve played, and she historically preferred simpler games, or those in a different genre before playing Anno 2070.

      • E_FD says:

        I don’t know about 2070, but I played Anno 1404, and while it’s a strong game, I got it because I was sold on the idea of it being a Sim City-like pure building game, only for it to turn out that a significant portion of the game was about competing with rival computer-controlled characters in order to secure resources and such.

      • mwoody says:

        *snort* Oh my god, it’s gotten that bad? We’re using Anno 2070 as an alternative to select to combat DRM? Time was, it got the same backlash this article puts forth.

        I shudder to think what new monstrosities they’ll invent to make us pine for the days of this SimCity.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          I bought it the day they changed their DRM to a one time activation, which I think is perfectly reasonable.

          • MacGuffin says:

            I had no idea they changed their DRM, I wasn’t buying it because the Steam store page still says this: “3rd-party DRM: Solidshield Tages SAS – 3 machine activation limit”
            Somebody please tell them to change their store page to correctly describe their updated DRM, they are probably still losing sales over that terrible Tages fiasco.

      • Jimbo says:

        The Anno games are good in their own right, but I wouldn’t recommend them as a close alternative to SimCity. I don’t think they scratch the same itch.

        I always consider the SimCity games to be more ‘organic’ (for want of a better word) than other similar games. It’s more city-gardening than city-building. That’s the distinction that most games copying it tend to miss.

    • BTAxis says:

      EA? Learn? You are such an optimist.

    • c-Row says:

      The problem is that ‘learn’ for them means ‘oh, nobody bought SC5, seems like the genre is dead’. Because it can’t be a quality issue of course.

    • Curry the Great says:

      EA? Learn? Hah! We just see the results of suits making abstract business decisions for short-term profit, like we have in so many a game. They don’t connect these dots though, unless they somehow make significantly less money. Then odds are they’ll still blame it on something else than themselves.

    • Humanji says:

      Learn what, though? This isn’t a problem with the always on drm. It’s a problem with the servers not being able to take the day one stress of people wanting to download and play the game. It happens all the time. Hell, it took me longer to install Half-Life 2 than to play through it because Steam wouldn’t work.

      After a day or two, things will normalise and then we’ll be able to see how the game handles it’s servers. It’s cheaper for companies to have a rocky start like this, than to pay a fortune for temporary server upgrades. People should have been expecting this, as it always has and always will happen.

      • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

        This isn’t a problem with the always on drm. It’s a problem with the servers not being able to take the day one stress of people wanting to download and play the game.

        Which is only a problem because EA decided to put an always-online requirement in the game.

        It’s cheaper for companies to have a rocky start like this, than to pay a fortune for temporary server upgrades. People should have been expecting this, as it always has and always will happen.

        We were all expecting it—why do you think many review sites have held back their verdict until they’d seen the real world server situation? On the flip side of your argument, EA should have expected hordes of rightfully angry gamers who are unable to play the game that they paid £45 for. And the bad press they get as a result.

        • Humanji says:

          Always on DRM and the day one server stress are two separate problems, not the same one. Many games have trouble on the first day and people soon forget about it. Guild Wars and World of Warcraft both had terrible starts. This is nothing new and as I said, it’s cheaper to let things fall apart than to pay a fortune for temporary server upgrades.

          And if people were expecting this, then why does this article exist? Why are so many people all over the net acting like it’s the end of the world because expected server problems happened as expected?

          • GSGregory says:

            For the simple fact that people want to be able to play their games when and where they want. Always online drm is taking a step back from the atari and home game system where you now rely on an external force to be able to play the game you own.

          • Aninhumer says:

            They are not even remotely separate problems. The sever stress stopping people being able to play is a direct consequence of the always on DRM. If there was no DRM, everyone who bought the game would be happily playing now with no difficulties.

            And just because people expected it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck, and shouldn’t be reported as a failure.

          • malkav11 says:

            Well, they’re not separate problems, per se – the server issues are a direct consequence of the always-on DRM – but the former will eventually go away or at least be no more than intermittent, whereas the always-on DRM will always be a breathtakingly terrible idea that no one should have rewarded with money.

            The idea that people are willing to accept a totally arbitrary and crippling server-based design for a singleplayer game but get fussed when golly gee, a server-based game can’t handle launch loads is mind-boggling. (That said, I assume RPS is running this article in the spirit of pointing out one of the many reasons the DRM is terrible rather than because they think it’s okay and the server issues are terrible.)

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        People were totally expecting this, which is why everyone decried the always on DRM. Because this IS a result of always on DRM… because if it was one-time-activation you wouldn’t have to worry about this happening.

        • Humanji says:

          Half-life 2 was a one time activation and that didn’t work for days.

          • Meusli says:

            Well, it was a first, of sorts, that happened 9 years ago now. If we can not learn from stuff that happened 9 friggin years ago then we should not be subject to it now.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            maybe Steam didn’t. But that was when we used tin cans with string for the internet. And once it was activated, no more calling home.

          • Humanji says:

            @Meusli, as I said above, no company in the games industry has learned. It happens every single time. But because it’s EA’s turn this time, people are over-reacting.

          • Kapouille says:

            @Humanji, fair enough, but EA’s turn has been pretty long. It started 7 years ago with a service named EAOnline and has been a long gradual slide into DRM/microtransaction mayhem. There’s no sign of them turning around either. (It took Ubi Soft much shorter to realise how bad their image was, but then I guess they’re a bit smaller and can’t shrug off the bad PR)

          • Consumatopia says:

            No, not every game has always-on DRM, and not every game with one-time DRM has network problems on launch day. So, other developers and publishers have, indeed, learned from the mistakes of those embracing always-on DRM, which is the problem here, no matter how many times you deny it.

  4. Meat Circus says:

    What kind of fucking idiot buys a game with always-on DRM?

    • Uthred says:

      Litearally millions

      • bfandreas says:

        I also don’t buy the “we need to handle computations on our side” argument. I can’t see why an i3 shouldn’t be able to handle the full load. And even if it weren’t it wouldn’t be sucha problem.

        10 years ago I used to play GalCiv on my company notebook. That’s what you do when you get bored in a hotel and are not given to drink yourself into oblivion. That notebook couldn’t really handle huge maps and full details. So I looked for a happy medium. Smaller maps, less graphical fidelity. Job done.

        Same goes for Railroad Tycoon 2, Dungeon Keeper 2 and other games.

        I do call BS on EA saying they need to offload stuff. There is no functional nesessity for it. Same goes for city sizes and other assorted BS.
        I could live with D3 not having an offline mode since I always played D2 on BNet and knew what to expect. But not learning a lesson from ActiBlizz being sued in Korea for their miserable launch and doig exactly the same thing is really idiotic. If you have a massive launch and have generated huge interest then oversubscribing at launch is a no-no. Rather dismantle servers you don’t need in half a year.

    • Apocalypse says:

      Hey, someone even recommend Anno, another prime example of always-on DRM-Bullshit.

      • Kinth says:

        Anno has an offline mode.

        • Bhazor says:

          It still had always on bullshit though.

          Tropico 4 on the other hand is the real Citybuilder people should be cheering.

          • Kinth says:

            You mean Tropico 3.1?

            “Hey guys we made some DLC for Tropico 3″

            “Really? let’s call it Tropico 4 and release it as a full game, surely no one will notice!”

          • Acorino says:

            same thing happened with Patrician 3 internationally.

          • Wisq says:

            Indeed. Tropico 4 was actually a step back in several ways. Tropico 3 remains the best in the series as far as I’m concerned.

        • Meusli says:

          I am sure you don’t get access to certain parts/functions of the game when offline, that or it was another Anno game. I don’t know or care as I skip Anno games when they pulled this stunt.

          • Lacero says:

            I believe there are powerups for the ARC that don’t work in offline mode. I’ve not bought the game because of it so ‘m not certain. I know the’re some parts disabled when you’re offline though.

    • Nathan says:

      Sorry, but I will. I’m not ideologically opposed to the idea of always-on DRM, Sim City just has to offer me £40 of entertainment in exchange for the £40 that I pay for it.

    • Humanji says:

      Anyone who wants to play an MMO?

  5. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    It’s not as if it’s cheap, either. £45. Thanks I’ll pass.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      Plus it will happily let you pay £45 (£65 for the ‘full game’) whilst declaring that the game is ‘Coming March 5th!’. Erm, if I’m paying Sterling then I’m in the UK – you’ll have my money, I won’t have the game on March 5th.

      Right up the bum.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        I’m all in for bashing EA, but I feel the need to clarify. Origin doesn’t take the money from your account till release day. So, (although I shudder to say it) It’s better than steam in that regard.

        Also, buying in the UK is quite expensive. I got my copy (from Origin) in India for £12.

        • Edgar the Peaceful says:

          Ok – they won’t have my money on the 5th March then, but they still declare, as you happily go through the ordering process that the game is ‘Coming 5th March’, when it isn’t.

      • ecat says:

        45 quid for the ‘starter pack’, £65 for the full game!

        Are they out of their fucking minds?

        • Nathan says:

          Isn’t the content in the Special Edition similar to the content that was sold in the SC2000/3000 expansion packs? (Nation specific city tiles etc.)

    • Hoaxfish says:

      don’t forget the DLC opportunities coming. I think they’ve announced “London” or something.

  6. Shadrach says:

    Sweet, another game I don’t need to waste time on.

    They never learn do they…

  7. Rao Dao Zao says:

    This just goes to show that always-online is SIMply unacceptable.

  8. AshRolls says:

    I read Polygon’s ‘review’ and in comparison to Ars Technica’s initial impressions it reads like a gushing advertorial fluff piece. Polygon has been way off the mark for a few games, I don’t really trust their reviews any more, though they do have some interesting commentary.

  9. Meat Circus says:

    I see Polygon has taken two months to go from “a new sort of game site” to “just like all the rest and really fucking dumb”.

    A little bit faster than I expected, TBH.

    • RaveTurned says:

      Everyone makes mistakes, especially starting out. Looks like they’ve burned themselves with their SC review, but maybe wait and see if they make a habit of it before writing them off.

      • moocow says:

        How is them giving SimCity a good review (like a fair few other sites) burning themselves?

        I understand plenty of people are going to dislike the game, but it’s not an objective clusterfuck (philosophical discussions of always-on aside), and clearly some people are enjoying the game despite the limitations.

        But apparently because their reviewer disagrees with the prevailing wisdom of… one Ars Technica non-review AIM conversation, they’re suddenly dumb.

        • Meat Circus says:

          The only reviews so far are from those who corruptly reviewed the game on EA PR’s terms. Basically, it’s a who’s who of dodgy lazy journo scum to avoid.

          Polygon *claimed* they were going to be better than that. Clearly, they’re not.

          • Bhazor says:

            Good to see Eurogamer (Sweden) has given it a perfect score 100%.
            Rob Florence must be spinning in his chair.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Hang on a minute, plenty of people have had review copies at home (Press Beta build), I have a review copy right here in my very own home and I’m not even covering the damn thing (It’s a pretty good game, the business model sucks, the always online is a problem for many and the maps are too small). Just because RPS have been shitlisted for whatever reason doesn’t mean that all reviewers have.

            If you want, I could see if I can work out if they were online while EA offices were closed?

          • Kamos says:

            @Sheng-ji

            Even so, doesn’t that connect to test servers that are not the same that “regular people” use to play the game?

        • RaveTurned says:

          Well, first they made a big fuss about not reviewing it in EA’s controlled press environment, then after EA spoke to them they decided they would do (at least using the private press servers, no other details were released).

          Then when the review came, it had a box-out on “always online”, where where they said: the online worked really well except when it didn’t, server inavailability caused a handful of false starts but the game ran without problems, the game drops you back to the launch screen if you lose your connection, the private server mode worked once out of nine tries, and that the reviewer had to replace his router to get the game to work reliably.

          Even with all of the above, they gave the game a glowing 9.5 out of 10. Some readers have questioned this logic. Loudly.

          • nindustrial says:

            Fair, but I think it’s more important that the always-online was discussed in such a way. People can disagree about numbers. I think they’re relatively useless. But apparently the fun of the game overcame the crap of the always on-line in the reviewers mind. People are free to disagree, but the review didn’t give it a 9.5 without mentioning potential server problems. Ultimately, it’s a philosophical difference. If you believe that the drm and related functionality of the game is inherently intertwined with the quality of the game and should be reflected in the score, more power to you. Another position can validly posit that the score should reflect only the game mechanics/presentation, and not the reliability of the backend. However, if the complaint is with the mere fact that SC requires always-online in and of itself, and that the game should be punished from a score perspective because of problems inherent to the launch of an online game, well that’s a little dishonest. Should WOW have received lower scores when login queues were long upon launch? Feel free to argue that SC would be better of not being an online game, but you’ve got to recognize the distinctions.

    • Bhazor says:

      That comment thread is painful.
      Just look at how many people are defending this shit. In particular the phrase “The reviewer didn’t mention the DRM so that means it isn’t a problem”

      This isn’t fanboyism, this is god damn conditioning.

      • Teovald says:

        Reading or even worse commenting on sites like The Verge or Polygon makes you lose faith in humanity. There are maybe 5 % of very interesting comments and a swarm of fanboys that populate the rest.

    • Teovald says:

      I don’t usually check Polygon, I was surprised by their dithyrambic review of Sim City.
      It is The Verge sister site though, so that’s not really surprising. The writing of this tech site is pretty good, but there are virtually no articles that qualify as journalism, only press release or snow balling rumours.
      Some of their pieces are pretty good reads, the quality of their videos is amazing ; check for example the Nexus 4 presentation with interviews of the design team, or the recent Google Glass article but I often wonder if the Verge redactors really created it or if it comes directly from the different companies they are interviewing..

  10. amateurviking says:

    The Kotaku piece was an eye opener when I read it yesterday. EA have somehow managed to make a city building game with the potential for griefing. That is surely worthy of the slowest of slow hand-claps.

    We’ll always have SimCity 2000.

    • Bhazor says:

      That was something I was deeply afraid of when Cara mentioned it in her write up. Except she tried to make it sound like a good thing that you could redirect all your sewage to someone else’s town without their consent.
      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/02/07/hands-on-simcity/

      That piece really reads like a PR fluff job.
      Dismissing the DRM, praising the “way games bring people together” and talking about the visual overlays as if they’re some kind of break through that hasn’t been there since the Snes game.

      I lost a lot of faith in Cara with that article.

      • X_kot says:

        Hey, Bhazor, do you know any other songs, or is that the only tune you sing? You’ve very clearly defined your opposition to DRM, companies who use DRM, people who defend DRM, journalists who don’t decry DRM…What are you gaining by continuing this tirade? DRM and microtransaction critics are a minority and are not representative of most of the people who buy and play these games. It seems that you and others use this saw to espouse a cynical, misanthropic view that condemns companies for trying to develop new economies and consumers for having the temerity to play those games.

        Would I prefer it if always-online DRM were optional? Sure, but I prefer that over previous versions of DRM (3rd-party rootkits, CD keys, “what is the third word in the second paragraph on page 14?”). I’m actually more upset about Internet providers who maintain obsolete infrastructure – if cheap, accessible bandwidth were available for most people (and if publishers upgraded their servers to handle higher usage), only philosophical purists would object. And eventually they’ll be relegated to the same space as those who refuse to upgrade MS Word because 5.1 is the best word processor ever.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          If you’re so willing to completely ignore the myriad technical issues that online DRM can generate when compared to classic protection schemes like pass-phrases and CD keys, then there’s no hope for you when it comes to the subject of digital rights management.

          Do you know why “DRM and microtransaction critics are a minority and are not representative of most of the people who buy and play these games“? Because “most of the people” are complacent spenders that would rather not invest in the time it takes to question anti-consumer business practices.

          • X_kot says:

            You are totally correct about the technical problems inherent in online architecture – they are susceptible to anything that interferes with the connection, such as commuting or having an unreliable ISP. My starting premise is that big-budget games produced by publically traded companies must (a) feature some kind of piracy prevention and (b) allow for additional revenue streams (removing the former is a nonstarter, wheras the latter is negotiable). The other forms of DRM are either easily avoided or else viewed as too intrusive. There is no going backward with technology, so if online DRM isn’t feasible, something else must take its place. Critics uselessly rail against the whole concept rather than proposing systems that will satisfy the companies’ need to “thwart” pirates. That sort of thinking strikes me as equally lazy as not questioning corporate policies.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            a) Games don’t need some kind of piracy prevention. DRM integration is a choice made by the publishers.

            b) If publishers release well-made games that consumers are willing to buy in large quantities, they shouldn’t need to worry about additional revenue streams. When did the industry start viewing DLC pricing schemes as a suitable replacement for revenue derived from competent game development?

            Also, you seem to be implying that online DRM is somehow more immune to piracy then traditional DRM methods. How many online-DRMed games can actually claim the title “Never Been Cracked”? Not very many.

            Once a reliable, independently verified study proves that piracy is actually having an adverse affect on the games industry, they might finally have a valid reason for shoving increasingly extreme forms of DRM down consumers’ throats. For now, modern DRM is simply used as an excuse for publishers and developers to maintain a dictatorial claim of control over the products they sell to the public.

          • X_kot says:

            Skittle, would it help if I said that I don’t disagree with any of your points? I also quoted the word thwart in my post to suggest that these features don’t actually have a proven means of preventing piracy. But, they’re necessary to convince shareholders to invest in bigger and bigger titles. The truth of the matter is irrelevant – it’s the perception that is important. Piracy is perceived to be a threat to profits by people who don’t care about what products a corporation makes so long as it brings dividends.

            If you support revising the AAA publishing environment, I’m all for it, but the landscape will look very different, and a lot of people will lose jobs. It’s hard to convince the executives that they should make huge changes to how they conduct business without showing how they benefit. So far, they’ve come up with “online DRM with enough calculations done server-side to prevent functional piracy.” Can they do better? Yes. Have they done worse? Hell yes.

          • Bhazor says:

            “People will lose jobs”

            You make that sound like a bad thing. It’s like saying Sadam should have stayed in power otherwise his secret police would lose their jobs.
            Staff working for big publishers are treated appallingly. Look at the LA Noire team or Treyarch’s prolonged court battle just to get their royalties after making a $Billion game.
            60 hour weeks, 3 months of crunch time, studios shut down and reshuffled at random.
            The dinosaurs of publishing deserve to die when they continue to treat their employees like crap. Smaller publishers may not pay as well but they also don’t decide to shut your studio down because you didn’t manage to sell 5 million copies in the first month.

            Regardless of whether their game is a success or failure they’ll still lose their job when someone in the board room decides

            When EA dies we’ll see a flood of talented people let loose to start new teams, join existing teams or break new ground.

        • Machinations says:

          “DRM and microtransaction critics are a minority and are not representative of most of the people who buy and play these games”

          Please do not present your opinion as fact. I find it irritating. Some microtransactions are tolerated by the ‘core’ gaming market, and certainly by children, the immature and ‘casual’ gamers, but to make it sounds as though ‘Always Online’ DRM is mainstream or considered acceptable generally is one giant falsehood.

          To the poster above; these ‘big box’ publishers are going to lose a lot of money very quickly if they think they can force Always Online DRM down consumers throats. If you have not noticed, a rather thriving indie game industry has sprung up from whole cloth, nearly overnight.

          There are plenty of reasonable piracy countermeasures – Steam, for example, which strikes a happy balance between corporate needs, and consumer needs. Then there are greedy, ill-conceived, moronic schemes drawn up by accounting nerds looking to see how many extra pennies they can pinch.

          The pointy-heads in charge ought to take note. Gaming has matured, the people playing games make more money and are mostly adults. If you want that money, you don’t piss on the consumer and tell him oh-so-politely that it is raining.

          Also – misanthropy? Really, X_cot, pull up some more 5 dollar words. It does not help your argument – which in essence is that we should shut up and like moronic publishers shitting all over beloved franchises.

          • X_kot says:

            Mmm, I do love me some acerbic name-calling. I have no beef with the indie scene – they put out excellent titles that I enjoy a lot. They also only typically employ only a handful of people, and their development costs are often paid out-of-pocket. When production scales upward of several hundred people, each of which is earning a salary and benefits; when marketing, licensing, and administrative costs go into the hundreds of thousands; and when the corporate entity producing this work is beholden to investors, the logistics and political landscape change dramatically. Yeah, this is elementary stuff you already know, but indie vs AAA is not apples to apples.

            My point here is to say that rabble rousing about DRM is not going to win you any change; you have to come up with a compelling argument that will convince the suits and the money to change their ways. You’re not winning any support by dismissing “children, the immature and ‘casual’” gamers and treating them like sheep – I would call that misanthropic.

          • Machinations says:

            I did’nt insult you; you would be well aware if I had. I did make the generalization that people who don’t care about always online DRM are either: children, ‘casual’ players, or immature.

            However, you said: “It seems that you and others use this saw to espouse a cynical, misanthropic view that condemns companies for trying to develop new economies ”

            You used the word misanthropic to describe complaints about SimCity and always-online DRM. Essentially, you were waving your hand around to dismiss all criticism of the game or EA’s business practices.

            Don’t tell people they are being rude or otherwise are wrong for daring to voice their concerns about the direction the industry is being steered by some EA executives on a site about video games.

            If you want to complain about us poor peons, you go right ahead, do so on the private message boards of the internal EA intranet, thanks.

            You and the rest of the suits can have a hearty laugh about people expecting value for money and not wanting to be treated like criminals; for wanting to play the game when they want not when EA decides that it is ok; or – most critically – for wanting to opt out of having people like YOU for neighbours in their single-player game.

            Have a nice day.

          • X_kot says:

            I’m glad we can have a civil discussion. I didn’t take offense to your words about me but more about your characterization of other people. I should elaborate on my usage of “misanthropic”: reading the comments here and elsewhere gives the impression of a schadenfreude circle-jerk regarding the launch-day issues. One commenter says, “Anyone who preordered SimCity is, frankly, an idiot, ” and another “To everyone who manages to convince themselves to pay for this game..ahem..F*CK YOU!” Do you not agree how hateful those comments are? How arrogant they sound? Yeah, yeah, irony and anger are very hip and all, but the righteous tone is very offputting. EA totally needed to provide better launch-day support, very true, but that is an indictment of their managerial process, not DRM.

            And I’ll have you know that I’m an excellent neighbor in SimCity. :D

          • Bhazor says:

            The game is unplayable for a huge number of people purely because of the DRM it uses.
            What part of this is not getting through to you?

            I sincerely hope EA suffers for this. Paying millions for servers, losing tens of thousands of customers and potentially millions of return customers.

            Every other developer is perfectly happy selling DRM free through Gamersgate or using Steamworks. This example of always on DRM is currently a one off that is dangerously close to being a trend. First Assassin Creed 2 (which was broken) then Dablo 3 (which was broken on release) and now SimCity (which is broken now).

            And you are defending it. Well done you.

        • Bhazor says:

          … I literally don’t know how to respond to that.

          You are defending always online DRM. In a single player game.

          Wow.

      • Shooop says:

        That really was the worst thing I’ve seen posted on RPS to date.

        It started with a hackneyed “I’m going to go into this trying to hate it as much as possible” and ended up reading like a press release from EA.

        She later however gave us the absolutely brilliant Q and A about bondage with a promoter for Crysis 3.

      • pertusaria says:

        I dunno, Cara also likes DOTA. Maybe she just enjoys the possibility of griefing / being griefed more than you (or I) do? I can see how it could be fun if you can play with a bunch of friends, in the same way as Solium Infernum or Magicka, as long as you all go in with the same understanding that you’re not going to play nice. I’m not sure that it’s possible to ensure that you and your friends end up in the same region in Sim City, mind, so I’m not advocating it.

        I did find the article a bit weird, but I don’t know what any reviewer was supposed to make out of the very limited slice of game they were allowed to see. She has drawn attention to the strangeness of game previews with that and the Crysis piece, so I think it’s a net win.

        • Bhazor says:

          Sorry but the whole thing reads like a fluff piece.

          What particularly irked me was all the praise she slavered on the info-graphics system despite it being functionally identical to the system that has been used since the original Snes game. Or the way she talked about the glass box engine as if it was some brain scrambling new feature when it’s been in every Tropico game and every Tilted Mill game. Heck, the Rush Hour add-on for Sim City 4 had the ability to display all the traffic patterns and commuting routes.

          I also didn’t like her Crysis interview, or at least the part when it went “ooooooh so naughty”. It just reminded me too much like some terrible comedian trying to be edgy by talking about bums on a prime time tv show.
          Maybe I’m just not a fan of Cara.

  11. cpugeek13 says:

    If this game was being published by anyone other than EA, it would be a day-one, full price purchase for me. Seriously, this game looks incredible, but its faults take away so much from its value, I think. EA has to stop tacking on silly DRM (or multiplayer as they like to call it) to games where it doesn’t belong.

    • Kamos says:

      Come on. Tacking stuff where it doesn’t belong is all those Big publishers do. Like all that first-personery in my isometric games.

  12. Alexspeed says:

    There is a possible alternative on Kickstarter:
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1584821767/civitas-plan-develop-and-manage-the-city-of-your-d

    Not too much info there yet tough it looks promising.

  13. bigjig says:

    Totally didn’t see this coming from a mile away. /sigh

  14. Theodoric says:

    Well, it was bound to have launching problems; server capacity is always insufficient at launch (no matter the game), Origin just doesn’t have the capacity to ‘validate’ everyone’s game (because simply unlocking wouldn’t give them enough control), as seen in every Origin release the past few months, and EA chose to disallow preloads in order to, again, have more control over who plays when. It’s all a bit silly.

    The thing is, these are all launch problems. We’ll simply have to see if this will still be a problem in a week. At the risk of sounding fanboy-ish (I really liked the beta, so shoot me), I hope that will be taken into account as well.

    • wodin says:

      The thing is if it didn’t have always on need to connect bullshit people would be able to play and it wouldn’t have this problem.

    • Prime says:

      First, we shouldn’t be forgiving EA for ruining a defiantly singleplayer game experience with their online bullcrap. Secondly, these are launch problems that EA should have been able to anticipate. As Total Biscuit said, they’re supposed to be able to judge server requirements going by the number of Pre-orders. They haven’t.

      This is piss-poor performance from a company that is rapidly making themselves irrelevant, or at the very least is alienating gamers so often and so consistently that they are helping the Indie/Kickstarter side of gaming to flourish at their own expense.

      • Nathan says:

        Should they? Most online games don’t project their server requirements based on launch weekend use, because they’ll end up with a huge amount of spare expensive capacity after just a week. Of course you could argue that they’d have some more good will if they absorbed that cost, but that sounds like it could be a pretty high cost.

        • Zephro says:

          You don’t use fixed resources unless you’re an utter numpty. You use clusters or the cloud to distribute it efficiently.

          So it’s a really minimal cost.

          • dreadpirateryu says:

            Man, according to your (Server Engineer) logic, deploying mass servers for a huge, complicated game that (apparently) takes some of the load of calculating things off of people’s computer must be easy! Just spin up a couple clouds and BAM, instant, easy deploy that can be scaled down in the future. No problem, right?

            …oh wait, except it is. Because no one in the history of ever has actually gotten a massive deployment of something like this right. Not even Blizzard, who deal with millions of people on a daily basis. Nothing is, ever, EVER, simple to just “scale up”. Problems will show up that you never thought of once you get 1 million+ people hammering the server. Maybe at some point in the future we /might/ figure out technology that can help this problem, but it will happen to everyone until that time.

            And no, I’m not an EA fanboy, a Sim City fanboy, defending the always-on DRM, network decisions, whatever. I haven’t even played the game. I’m merely being realistic about the problems that come with having millions of people hammer servers at the same time.

          • Zephro says:

            Yeah because Games are the only industry that have ever run large scalable systems. Companies roll out large server based applications on a daily basis with minimal fuss.
            Nobody having managed it before within the gaming space is not an excuse for poor engineering, which is what this is, and the techniques for dealing with it have existed since the 90s.

            Even if it is somehow “impossible”, which is utter bollocks, that’s just reason to NOT USE ALWAYS ON DRM.

            I’ve worked on systems that can cope with ~100K simultaneous connections, they fired up new server instances in the cloud to cope with extra demand, we simulated massive load on the system BEFORE releasing it. It’s basic and standard practice. It’s simple to scale up if you design it to be scaled up. It’s virtually impossible if you don’t actually design or plan it that way but they had plenty of time and knew the kinds of load.

            They knew from the pre-orders the numbers they’d get so frankly they are idiots, so are Blizzard, so are Ubisoft. Though i’ll bet a fiver that the business pricks who came up with the business model demanded it was done on a shoe string.

          • Milky1985 says:

            “Problems will show up that you never thought of once you get 1 million+ people hammering the server.”

            Which is something that can be tested and simulated if you bother to do it, which I guess they didn’t.

            If you make your system un-scalable you are setting yourself up for issues in the future, it is as simple as that (they will have the same issue when they have to scale down), it should be simple to handle the launch crowd, use systems like amazon and other cloud providers as temporary power for the rush, the rush always dies down and then if demands is higher than you expected, you get new proper servers, lower you retired some.

            Its only bad when companies try to save money by doing it on a shoestring, or skip the simulation side of it and do less testing. Companies handling financials services start up big systems all the time, they don’t screw up as much, because they don’t cut corners like game makers do.

          • Batolemaeus says:

            Oh for crying out loud dreadpirateryu, this is exactly the problem the highly virtualized environments (also called “cloud”) were made for. Spinning up a few or a few dozen nodes to meet changing demands is what sites and services everywhere already use. There have been MMOs built using elastic clouds..

          • Machinations says:

            “Man, according to your (Server Engineer) logic, deploying mass servers for a huge, complicated game that (apparently) takes some of the load of calculating things off of people’s computer must be easy!”

            Well, I am an enterprise infrastructre architect and I can tell you, having worked with services with global distribution, massive userbase and obscene transaction volume, that this is not exactly rocket science. We have been doing this for decades.

            Also, a little note – people have unplugged from the servers to test this whole ‘logic running on the servers’ theory. Turns out, while the game complains, it runs like nothing has happened for 20 minutes. So, basically, Maxis has bullshitted you and you have bought it hook line and sinker.

          • Kamos says:

            It is one thing to be constrained by resources, it is another thing entirely to design something to fail. EA could have done a lot prevent this and they chose not to. They didn’t even preload the game.

            It is hard not to be amused by people saying they have no problem with this because they are “paying money for entertainment, and as long as they’re entertained, it is all fine”. No matter if they are creating problems that didn’t exist, for the benefit of no one but themselves.

            I wonder if they’d defend and applaud such incompetence with their cars. Imagine that – a car designed to turn off its engine as soon as it met a small bump in the road, a deliberate choice to create some sort of safeguard for the automaker. “As long as it takes me from home to work, it is all fine!” Well derpity derpity derp. Here is your complimentary dunce cap.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          That’s the same line of reasoning Valve use every time they have a massive seasonal sale, and it inevitably bites them in the ass. Or to be more accurate, it bites their customers in the ass.

    • Zephro says:

      I’m a Server engineer and that is not fucking forgiveable for a company with EA’s budget.

  15. Smuggins says:

    No one could have predicted this kind of disastrous launch… oh wait.

  16. RedViv says:

    The news, the situation, the comments, everything as expected. Yay.

  17. GeminiathXL says:

    tl;dr:

    2013: If a game is not perfect, the game must die. Especially if its published by EA.

    Seriously, you lot are so tiring. I wonder when gaming became bitching about anything other than the game itself.

    • wearedevo says:

      Nice try, Riccitiello.

    • Smuggins says:

      It’s more than the game “not being perfect” it’s about people being unable to play a game they paid the equivalent of £45 for, a single player game no less, because of server problems.

      • GeminiathXL says:

        Whatever. People keep finding things to complain about. If the launch was perfect, then it would be…the menu! OMG the menu suuuuuucks!

        :P.

        • Retorrent says:

          Yep because its wrong to complain about spending $60 on a game you can’t download on launch day and then when you do you have to wait 30min just to ATTEMPT to log in and fail only to have to wait another 30min.

          • FhnuZoag says:

            Just pretend that launch day is a week from now. You don’t have to play on launch day.

        • RaveTurned says:

          If the menu was so bad it prevented you from launching the game proper then yes, yes it would suck.

          • Bhazor says:

            That actually happened with Dragon Age: Origins.

            Essentially a patch updated the game but didn’t update the launcher so the “Launch Game” button linked to a file that no longer existed. Unfortunately there was no way to launch the game without using the launcher.
            At least not legally.
            http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?2155-Alright-whose-arse-should-I-kick

            Yep, I had to literally pirate my own damn game in order to play it.
            Well done EA.

          • benkc says:

            And of course there was the issue with From Dust when it first released, where menus just wouldn’t draw at all. That made it rather hard to start playing.

        • Prime says:

          …like you complaining about people complaining? If you just want to talk about the game itself please explain what’s stopping you from doing so?

          At least we’re complaining about the game. You’re just attacking your fellow commenters. Jerk.

        • Machinations says:

          The only thing more absurd than posting to a comments thread complaining about people giving their opinion is posting to a thread complaining about people complaining in the thread.

          So, I am a massive hypocrite, but honestly – if your strategy in life when faced with decisions you disagree with is to sit down and shut up, I am sorry for you. Unfortunately, a passive consumer base is a big problem with gaming – children and casuals (and devoted fan-children) will accept disgusting rip-offs because ‘its shiny’.

          We need to educate the publishers if they dont respect the informed gaming consumer, they can fuck off and drop into bankruptcy. Alternatively they can, you know, produce good games and get rich and have good times and high fives. Sadly, they think we are stupid.

          • InternetBatman says:

            This is pretty much everything I want to say. The only thing more annoying is “in before” posts.

      • Hurracane says:

        It’s not a single-player game though… It’s a Multi-Player game from a Single-Player franchise.. People need to stop being stupid and realise that they made it online for both ‘social’ and ‘piracy’ reasons..

        If you don’t like the new SimCity, then so be it, but there is no need to keep bashing a game that is actually fun, despite it’s extremely small maps and always online shit.

        • X_kot says:

          Hey, hey, no being level-headed about this! You either pick up a pitchfork or GTFO!

        • Machinations says:

          There is every god-damn reason to complain about something like this. If you do not, other people get suckered into buying the game. The more people are aware of the bullshit that is Sim Ville Online, the more it impacts profitability, the more likely some EA asshat loses his job over idiotic projections.

          Also, the less likely EA suits think always online is a Good Idea (TM)

          It is not a good game, its the rape of an established franchise. They should have used a different name, but they wanted to cash in on the brand recognition. Its going to bite them in the ass – big time.

        • Kamos says:

          Yes, everyone! Stop complaining! Baaaaaah! If you feel insulted by the way EA thinks a consumer should be treated in this brave new world, you should definitely stop complaining! Baaaaaaah!

        • Arkh says:

          Yes, DRM is the future! Always online is the future! Adapt or die!

    • drewski says:

      Yes, how dare anybody criticise a 30 minute cooldown *login screen*.

      • GeminiathXL says:

        Tune in again next week, when we all crap on SC2s expansion release!

        Hihiii.

        • Retorrent says:

          Yeah but unlike this mess, you can predownload HoT and avoid the problems that EA had with origin and most people playing SC2 already played the first one so Blizz has a good idea of how much return traffic is going to be coming there way.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Then again, if they stopped, you wouldn’t have anything to say. I take your presence here as a sign of appreciation for the content.

    • Joshua says:

      We are bitching about the game itself! It won’t work!

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      Can we get the EA apologists out of here? This incident sucks and people are going to rant about it. Even if we didn’t pay for the game we are all (well those who aren’t gobshite apologists) happy to rant because we’d like to see this practice changed (good luck)

    • Kamos says:

      “Seriously, you lot are so tiring. I wonder when gaming became bitching about anything other than the game itself.”

      Answering your question, I think it was around the same time when game publishers decided it was OK to take decades of research on how to create software that works and threw it out the window. For instance, researchers spent all this time making sure small hiccups wouldn’t crash an online application, right? But then EA decided “fuck that, lets just make an application that crashes!” since people like you don’t really give a fuck if a game you paid for is even playable. Well done, you!

  18. mrmalodor says:

    Ahahahaha. Told you so, idiots. Have fun with your brick.

  19. maximiZe says:

    Hilarious.

  20. Jack-Dandy says:

    This is what should happen to whoever buys EA games.

  21. Retorrent says:

    Hate to be part of the told you so crowd, but most places when they do server launches try to do it with the minimum amount possible to try to control cost. Its horse shit and it happens all the time.

    I set up large server farms as an outside consultant and I will often have this conversation: “Ok to handle the load and traffic you are going to expect you will need about 24 servers with this config.” (Corporate asshole who knows nothing about networking): “What that’s too many! We only need 13 with the cheapest config” So on launch day when the shit hits the fan here they are scrambling to get more servers online and you get a lot of pissed off people.

    And honestly how fucking hard would it be to let those who preorder to preload early? I mean what is the dam point of preordering only to get saddled in the cluster fuck when their servers can’t handle the ass pounding. I tell you don’t regret canceling my preorder now.

  22. ChromeBallz says:

    This mess makes me want to reinstall SimCity 4 and play a proper SimCity game.

    Why is it so hard to just iterate on SimCity 4? That game with the glassbox engine thing would have been marvelous.

    • TC-27 says:

      Also worth noting that the Cities XL games are very good (though you do need a hefty rig).

    • moocow says:

      See this is the thing, many of the major complaints about this game (aside from DRM) are *because* of the glassbox engine.

      The small city sizes, and region-based play instead are exactly because the glassbox engine can’t cope with massive cities on the scale of SimCity 4. Likewise many of the other omissions and changes are to make it practical with glassbox.

      The only omission I think isn’t really excused by it is terraforming, which seems like a development priority choice rather than anything else.

      • mrmalodor says:

        I am 99% certain that Glassbox CAN cope with much much larger cities and so can our PCs. The reason that everything is so small and limited is because large stuff takes more space on the server and more bandwidth to send data to users.

        • moocow says:

          I really doubt server space and bandwidth are an issue, you’re talking about negligible incremental costs with a bigger city.

          Whereas in terms of computational intensity, watch videos with people who have built up cities go into full-speed mode and frames drop all over the place.

          • sharkh20 says:

            As someone who has been playing it for the last few hours and has a city with no room left, I have had no fps spikes or drops and I could really use more space to build.

  23. DonJefe says:

    Oh, damn you, EA and Maxis! The beta seemed so promising, and you still managed to fuck it up with greed. Tools.

  24. TC-27 says:

    Un-fuckingbelivable and yet everyone saw it coming.

    Not getting a penny out of me until I hear these issues are resolved and even then the gameplays going to have to be prety fucking good to make me agree to use a game with his online DRM bullshit,

  25. pakoito says:

    Just one small nitpick: they know the preorders number, but they don’t have to setup their server structure around that number, and rather the amount of expected players in any normal day. That’s why launch days suck, everyone wants to play the game, yet the servers were stress-tested for a fraction of that.

    If the game continues to have a constant amount of players bigger than their expectations then they’ll invest in more server slots.

    tl;dr Don’t try to play on launch week.

    • maximiZe says:

      So this is officially an MMO now?

      • pakoito says:

        It’s remote-server based so yes. The *gameplay* may be singleplayer oriented but the structure is MMO.

        • maximiZe says:

          You’re right and my question was rhetorical, I’m just flabbergasted that there are people who think “Don’t try to play on launch week” is good advice in the face of such a huge blunder.

          • pakoito says:

            It was just a nitpick from TB’s opinion, I dislike how journos often make mistakes, assume things and pass opinion as fact. Everything else was pretty much spot on.

          • maximiZe says:

            Alright then, I agree with that.

          • Bhazor says:

            I agree Total Biscuit shouldn’t be complaining about not being able to play the game just because he can’t play the game.

            What a jerk.

        • Machinations says:

          So – should they not have called it Sim City Online?

          But – oh right, less people would have bought it then, it being clearer and all.

    • The Dark One says:

      There’s a small window during which a game gets most of its sales, especially if it’s an EA product that ignores the Valve approach to pricing. If bad word of mouth during the the first couple of days puts a damper on the game’s perceived quality, it could seriously impact a its profitability.

      Not to mention that services like Amazon’s EC2 are rendering the ‘gauge for average use, not day-one use’ arguments completely irrelevant.

      • pakoito says:

        Well, you tell that to EA. I bet they like to have their servers in the basement instead. Management and marketing are usually not technical-savvy.

        • Nathan says:

          There are plenty of legitimate reasons to not use EC2, which is usually pound per pound more expensive than using your own services if you’re anticipating sustained, high volume use.

          • pakoito says:

            I’m professionally interested in that statement. Do you have numbers to back it up?

          • Nathan says:

            Well, of course YMMV and different use cases can make a better business case one way or the other, but articles such as this this and this aren’t atypical.

          • MacTheGeek says:

            I’d like to see numbers, too.

            If the argument is limited strictly to high-volume and long-term, then I could see a general argument that self-ownership is cheaper; but “Launch Week” only meets one of those criteria.

            From a layman’s perspective (read: generic knowledge and no numbers to crunch), it seems like a no-brainer to rent additional server space temporarily to work around a huge spike in traffic. But then, it also seems like a no-brainer to blunt that spike by allowing preloads a couple days early, and separating the download traffic from the game traffic.

    • D3xter says:

      Saying that Sim City (or Di.ablo 3 for that matter) is an MMO is bullshit and disingenuous, since the features and the requirements thereof deign if a game should carry the “MMO” brand and not marketing buzzwords.

      Massive –> more than 128 people (often much more) and persistent, Battlefield had 64×64 player maps and soldier persistency mechanics and it’s still “only” a Multiplayer game (and also always had its SinglePlayer part in being able to play against Bots)

      Multiplayer –> Should be a little more than a few values you could unmarshal/marshal from/into a simple file, you play alone in Sim City, there isn’t even a “Co-Op” 2-player city building feature or anything like that as far as I know

      Regions and sharing/trading resources aren’t a new thing, see Sim City 4 from 2003: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SimCity_4#Regional_gameplay
      As far as I know there were even people playing it in “Multiplayer” that way by simply synching a few of the State-files, see here: http://community.simtropolis.com/topic/40240-simcity-4-multiplayer-mode/

      There’s also a big difference between “Synchronous Multiplayer Games” (you know where people run around with each other and states are updated instantaneously to transmit the new positional data based on ping latency from clients to server and “Asynchronous Multiplayer Games” like Sim City where you can play all by your lonesome, building your city not much minding what other people do, even if they are Offline at the moment and then they get to see what you did when they log in next and get to do the same.

      Online –> Yep, forced Online DRM, because EA.

      Nope, still a SinglePlayer game (that could make use of an Optional Multiplayer Mode which would only need to synch State files with a master server every time in a period of X hours/minutes or even multiple days, no need to be Always Online for it) with added Always-Online DRM on top of it to protect their Microtransactions and likely to protect themselves from piracy.

  26. Artista says:

    It’s just like a real city.

  27. Lemming says:

    If I mention a certain Blizzard game ending in 3, I keep getting marked as spam in this thread ¬_¬

  28. sophof says:

    Love TB being grumpy about these things. Spread the word my man! The sad thing about all this is that without this nonsense I would’ve bought sim city already. But I assume EA (and Blizzard btw, still haven’t played D3) is feeling very proud about their anti-piracy-scheme that is only costing them paying customers and shit-loads of money in bandwidth and servers.

  29. Safilpope says:

    So its back to Sim City 4 then…

  30. drewski says:

    I’ll just wait until it goes F2P, I think.

    It’s an MMO right?

  31. Muzman says:

    The TB review video is interesting also. It sounds quite reminiscent of Spore actually. They didn’t really blow the doors off with this one; expanding in some areas and shrinking in others, resting on widgetty coolness and the ‘community component’ instead of making the city sim to end them all (and then seemingly planning on just making a platform for endless addons to maintain interest)

  32. gravity_spoon says:

    I read PC Gamer’s preview on this last night and the comments on it. Almost everyone was screaming “Who cares about always-online DRM. Let’s buy this. It is awesome looking”. And then I sighed and said to myself that we probably deserve the shit we’re getting from companies like EA. Always online is a failure till the developer/publisher themselves ensure that their servers can handle any amount of load from the second of the launch to the day servers are killed off AND if there lies a perfect internet infrastructure in every possible person’s home who can buy/can afford to buy a game. Even though the former is kinda possible but the latter one I doubt I’l see in my life time

  33. P7uen says:

    I was in the middle of the tutorial on the AUS server and it was taking yonks to load, so I loaded up RPS to have a read, only for the real reason to be revealed.

    I only found out it was on sale today, and got it immediately, without consideration.

    I am a sucker.

    • P7uen says:

      Note, I didn’t have any error or anything, just the normal loading screen until I restarted after reading this, and only then was told the server was busy when I loaded it back up (it also means I can’t finish the tutorial apparently).

      Waited a few mins and now I’m back in and started a new city. Disconcerting.

  34. Filden says:

    Sympathies to anyone having problems, but for me the game downloaded quickly, and ran without issue or waiting queue. I set up a private region so as not to have any unwanted player intrusions or ill effects on my city except from my friend who is also playing without issue, and the game is proving to be a completely enthralling ant farm experience. The music is exquisite, and while I could fill up the available space rapidly if I wanted to ignore the needs of my population and build a slum town, I’m finding much to fill my attention in the single quadrant of my controlled expansion. I do have a regrettable slum area that I’m trying to improve with some landscaping. Unfortunately, my population are a bunch of thieving scum at the moment.

    EA is the devil, but I’m having a wonderful time that I anticipate will last for weeks at the least.

    *runs away*

    • RedViv says:

      *points finger*

      Eeeeeeeeeeh!

      • Filden says:

        I know. It’s not enough that I’m playing a wonderful game, but I’ve been playing it for over 7 hours, uninterrupted by issue, lag, or defect. Frankly, I make myself sick. I’d like to issue an apology to all of the RPS readership, and the gaming public in general for nearly single-handedly ruining games for everyone.

        Ooh! I can afford a new school wing ! Finally. I was mesmerized by watching globs of human waste pumping to my backwaters, and didn’t notice. Perhaps I can finally start educating some of the hordes of illiterate criminals stealing everything not bolted down.

        I mean, bad Filden, bad…

        • RedViv says:

          Well, the screeching Fun Snatchers seemed to not be attracted either way. Off you go. I’ll sit around building an Empire out of Norrland in CK2, while the SimCity copies are swimming across the big big ocean in mighty swarms.

    • sophof says:

      Well, if the game didn’t look like fun, there wouldn’t really have been a problem, not buying it would’ve been easy. It is up to everyone to make their own decisions, but as a generic consumer we should not be surprised when this bites us in the ass in a while. You can almost feel them pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable.

      I will probably buy this if a bunch of my friends get it, so I at least get something out of the ‘multiplayer’ but as a paying customer we shouldn’t really have to deal with such nonsense imo.

      • Filden says:

        Well, I’ll exercise my considerable power to control the industry and bring EA to its knees next month. After all, for the past decade I’ve not been buying MMOs, free to play Freemium games, games designed for mobile devices and ported to PC, games with day one DLC, Mass Effect 3, the EA Madden games as a protest against their innovation-killing monopoly on licensed American NFL games, games from Origin, or any games that have overly aggressive DRM, all on principle.

        And nobody’s making those things anymore, right?

        This is the one I get for all the past sacrifices. This is the battle that EA wins, my Achilles’ heel. It’s an online game. Granted, fans of the series have every precedent to expect that a game with this title would not be an online game, but no one begrudges an mmo its online nature and finite lifespan. The way I see it, if it does prove to have a finite lifespan, all the more reason to play it while it’s around. It’s such a lovely experience. It’s not SimCity 4, it’s something different, something unique, and in my opinion, something slightly better.

        Or, you know, because I’m a terrible person, but whatever. I mentioned how nice the music is, yes? If I have to sell out, at least I get this in return.

        • Vorphalack says:

          I hope you don’t actually believe people boycott DRM, always online, micro-transactions, overpriced DLC and shitty ports out of some misguided belief that they will change the industry, or bring publishing giants to their knees. It is simply a matter of principal, and i’m sorry to say that if you don’t stand up for your principles then you don’t have any principles. The only person you disappoint is yourself.

          • Filden says:

            I’m enjoying the game, and not disappointed by my decision. Sorry. If that makes me unprincipled in your eyes over a matter of personal entertainment, rather than, say, something actually important, so be it.

          • Vorphalack says:

            It is not my opinion that you are unprincipled, you are factually unprincipled.

          • Lamb Chop says:

            Factually, all we know is that he decided to buy the game and you presumably did not. From a standpoint of principles, it’s likely that there are competing principles at work:
            1. I should show my appreciation to the creators of art that I find value in.
            2. I should not reward greedy, selfish behavior, especially on the part of corporate entities.

            I have no doubt that both of you hold each of these (factually contingent) principles to be true. Now, there could be a difference in how you weigh or choose between these principles to decide action. Or it could be that you perceive the facts or your respective subjective experiences differently.

            Whatever the case is, don’t mistake your own valuation of principles as fact. There may be a transcendental justification for a universal principle that justifies boycotting an always-online experience, but I haven’t seen Kant hanging out in this comments thread, so we’ll just have to reserve our judgment on that one.

          • Vorphalack says:

            ”This is the one I get for all the past sacrifices. This is the battle that EA wins, my Achilles’ heel.”

            You don’t get to disprove of the worst practices of the big publishers, claiming to alter your consumer habits out of principal, then come out with something like that quote and maintain personal integrity. It would be like me still calling myself an ex-smoker while getting a few smokes in at social events. Either you stick to your principal, or you don’t have a principal. You don’t need to name drop famous thinkers to follow that logic.

          • Fild3n says:

            @Vorphalack

            I’m not sure if you’re responding to me with that quote or not, but I didn’t “namedrop” Achilles because he was a famous thinker. Achilles was a walking murder engine, with great pecs, and an unfortunate personal weakness that his enemies exploited to his doom. Some of those things also apply to me (hint: it’s two out of three).

            The point wasn’t to try and justify me as principled in the case (although I am acting according to agendas that may not be apparent, but won’t explain here), but to acknowledge my own human weakness and limitations.

        • Bhazor says:

          It isn’t an online game. It’s a single player game with online DRM.

          You just said that you can turn off other players. You are playing a single player game.

          With online DRM.

          • Filden says:

            Well, not to get into semantics, but you can usually opt of of PVP in most MMOs one way or another, and I generally solo’d my way through most MMOs I played. I’m not saying the game is an mmo, but it was clearly designed around the idea of interacting with other players, for better or worse, though it doesn’t preclude a purely single player experience. But like most MMOs, if you do so, you’re probably missing another dimension the game has to offer.

            Sure there are distinctions to be made. If you choose to see it as a single player game with always on DRM you can do so. But I prefer to think of this as an online game with superior options for catering to solo play. Or possibly as unicorn covered in fluffly pink down, that eats the hours of my life from my hands, and gently licks my palms. That’s only because I have an appalling habit of using what meager wit I have to find a way to enjoy things, rather than take every opportunity to be angry about everything, because the world offers far more opportunity for the latter than the former.

            I’m a big fan of builder sim/god games, and not a single one of those from Dungeon Keeper, to SimCity 4, to Dwarf Fortress has ever been everything that I might have wanted it to be (or wanted it not to be). Games like these are notorious for falling short some place or another, while still delivering a rare and remarkable experience from what they do well. I see no difference here, and if I get even a couple weeks of enjoyment out of it (I predict more), it’s still a much better value than most other entertainment options.

            I fully support everyone’s right to exercise their own judgement in these matters, and to do what makes them happy. This game makes me happy, and I think it’s remarkable, online or no.

        • sophof says:

          I think you missed my point, which is that mentioning that the game is pretty great is not very relevant to the discussion, because if it wasn’t we would most likely not be discussing this stuff. Also, I think you are overreacting a little, I was thought I was being quite nice tbh.

          I am sure you understand the principle of not buying a game because it has too much DRM, you are deliberately being obtuse. Buying it does not make you a bad person, but it does tell EA that you are ok with it. That’s probably not true, but that doesn’t matter, EA is dying for an excuse to put this in everything ever.

          In the end it is delaying instant gratification for a possible payoff in the end, it is hardly a surprise that most people go for the instant gratification, most people do that already when the payoff is ensured.

        • Machinations says:

          Hey Filden, thanks for the sanctimony. I can see you are very self-satisfied. Congratulations on advertising how ‘different’ and ‘intelligent’ you are. I honestly don’t see why you felt the need to post this, other than to showcase your smug sense of superiority and lack of self-restraint and principles.

  35. j3w3l says:

    aaaawwwwwwww..but you were the chosen one

    ok, learnt my lesson this time

  36. mildante says:

    This is no buy. Limited space, cities max out at aprox 200k population, no subways, drm bullshit.

  37. boe2 says:

    Why would you buy this?
    STOP ENCOURAGING THIS, RAAAAAH *jumps of cliff*

    Seriously though, how could you NOT see this coming?

  38. E_FD says:

    I don’t know whether I should laugh that this game really is hitting every single problem that people predicted it would when the always-online nonsense was announced, or lament that if this game fails, it’s not going to mean less idiotic DRM so much as no more Sim City games.

  39. HighlordKiwi says:

    I had quite a bit of fun with CitiesXL if people are looking for a SimCity alternative.

    Quite similar really and it had a system for trading between cities… 2 years ago… and you could do it offline between your own cities.

  40. MOKKA says:

    The saddest thing about stories like these is that they make me care less and less about games and developers I used to like.

  41. ZephaniahGrey says:

    SimCity was one of my all time favorite series ever since childhood, yet I’ve been presented by a multitude of reasons to abandon it BY IT’S OWN CREATORS. Good job EA. May you burn in hell.

  42. Solidstate89 says:

    Welp, looks like I’m sticking with Sim City 4 for the foreseeable future.

  43. mrpier says:

    Ah, no sale to me then.

  44. naetharu says:

    I actually love the idea of multiplayer in this game. Being able to join up with my friends and co-build a region sounds really good fun and it is one of the aspects that I am looking forward to the most. I appreciate the worries that people have, but they have been very clear from day one that this is not a single player game any more. It is, in effect, Sim City Online.

    I can appreciate, however, the worries that people have when it comes to no option for an offline mode. I guess that they are trying to crack down on pirate copies. Alas I fear that if the server-side calculations can be got around there is every chance that this will be one of the most pirated games since it will be the only way that people can play without the stupid DRM getting in the way.

    In short, I love the multiplayer idea, I hate the Origin implementation of it.

  45. elevown says:

    What is the best sim city game then if i wanted to get one? I played the origional, but none since – this looks bad with all the online elements so – sim city 4? sim city 2000? I’ve heard those are good?

    • Bhazor says:

      Sim City 2000 has aged horribly in my opinion but Sim City 3000 is essentially an update of it that greatly improved the interface and engine.
      Sim City 4 is pretty much a complete break from the previous games. *Much* harder but perhaps more rewarding.

      So I’d say say go with Sim City 3000 and then go on to Sim City 4 once you understand the basics.

      Personally I still prefer 3000 but that might just be because it was my first.

  46. Drake Sigar says:

    Think I’ll buy this game. Then, I will hug some snakes. Yes – I will hug and kiss some poisonous snakes!

  47. Milky1985 says:

    Its a shame EA insisted on the 3 day delay, I was going to risk getting Sim City as a bit of a relax before bed game, knowing that it would start with issues but should sort itself out quickly.

    30 minutes however for a SP is BS, also the kotaku guys city becoming inaccessible for no reason. makes me think that they have file corruption as well to deal with (no backups cause the cloud is perfect right guys)

    How long before the first city is deleted because someone made it look like a penis, even tho its your city so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to you just know it will happen, because lets face it, now you can make circular roads you know that people will make that shape :p

    if it was released today in the UK it would have already been shipped, as it is , its just been canceled, your loss EA, i mean its cause the net has oceans right? Or doesn’t it , i can’t remember now.

  48. slerbal says:

    This was completely expected, but I think it is masking the real loss here.

    Sooner or later EA will shut down the servers and then all the time, energy and interest you have invested in this game will be gone forever even if you are not done playing it. There is no scope for a nostalgic return to SimCity in 10 year (if EA don’t think it is a big enough success they will pull the plug within 2 years) time because it won’t be there. Sure you will lose your investment in money (massive original price + dlcs + microtransactions) but for me the real loss is the memories and the experiences.

    You will never see SimCity brought back to life like System Shock 2, no matter how many fans it has. Being profitable and having fans did not save City of Heroes and it won’t save this. It is the single biggest fact that makes me very unwilling to invest time in MMOs (and don’t let anyone fool you – this is an MMO).

    So even if it were the best SimCity ever (and personally I don’t think it will be), I will never be playing this.

    That is why I will never play a single player game that is always online

  49. derbefrier says:

    I will buy it just not asap. It’s an online game so its gonna have issues as they all do. If I wait a few weeks none of this will matter amd the game will be perfectly playable.

  50. CJ says:

    Sim City 4 Deluxe is only £9.99 on Steam. Just purchased.

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