SimCity Vs The People: Why Apologies Aren’t Enough

By Nathan Grayson on March 7th, 2013 at 10:00 pm.

Here’s an unpopular opinion: I think EA’s done a decent job with SimCity’s launch.

Aha! It’s also a misleading opinion, because I’m definitely not referring to the part where servers gasped and puked and died under the immense strain of North America’s unquenchable entertainment lust, recently leading to halting of sales on Amazon, among other things. It’s what happened afterward that sort of impressed me. EA responded fairly quickly (especially by its usual standards), communicated clearly what was happening, apologized profusely, went through the five stages of grief, and offered refunds to some people (not all, perplexingly) who felt like the early meteor bombardment of issues wasn’t worth waiting out. As far as disaster control goes, I’m more than willing to concede that EA’s mostly Doing It Right. But that does not – even in the slightest – change the fact that there shouldn’t have ever been a disaster in the first place.

To hear most major publishers tell it, “always online” is synonymous with “The Future.” It’s the greatest logical extension of “games as a service,” after all. And, in part, EA has offered acceptable service here. It’s owned up to what’s going on, kept players in the loop via various social media channels, and offered concrete explanations for near-comically instant server collapse like:

“Pre-Loads: We agree, pre-loads are very important, which is why we usually offer them (as we did for all of our last big releases like Crysis 3 and Dead Space 3). This didn’t come together for SimCity unfortunately, for which I again apologize.”

EA’s handling it, in other words. It’s on the case. But here’s the problem: that’s the publisher acting as a service – not the game. Which, of course, brings us to the elephant in the room: this just keeps on happening. Since time immemorial (or iMMOmorial, I guess), servers have gone toe-to-toe with day-one stampedes in much the same fashion as a turtle against an 18-wheeler: by, er, turtling. We, meanwhile, have been conditioned to react accordingly, with all manner of requisite gasps, averted gazes, and muscles clenched until they scream for reprieve. Then nature runs its course, and developers and publishers alike scramble to glue one billion bits of finely pulped turtle back together again.

Even between recent landmark crashes of the titans like Diablo III and SimCity, there’s been noticeable improvement on that front. That’s good. I’m glad that’s happening. That said, let’s be real here: it’s utterly astounding that this area – cleanup after the nuclear meltdown – is where we’re charting the most progress. Why not before everything goes kerplooey? Why does history keep repeating itself? Why do we keep starting at what’s essentially the same square one?

The cynical part of me wants to say it’s most cost-effective to weather the early storm with minimal resources and then settle into a happy rhythm after a couple rocky weeks. The flood recedes, life goes on, etc. But, whether or not that is indeed the case, the end result so far has been the same: services that are, at best, eventually functional – not good or great. And that’s no way to convince anyone you’ve got a worthwhile addition to their favorite franchise on your hands, let alone The Future.

A strong service – the kind people latch onto and ultimately demand as the norm – doesn’t just react. Its creators pay close attention, dream up intuitive new ideas, and actively seek to evolve whatever makes their underlying system preferable to the alternative (read: nothing). That’s why things like Facebook and Twitter were able to so deeply infiltrate our daily lives. That’s why iTunes and similar services made music sales viable again after peer-to-peer sharing terrified the music industry into sicking lawyers on everything with ears and a pulse. It’s why things like Spotify are supplanting them. To a lesser extent, it’s even why Steam rules PC gaming with a disarmingly gentle iron fist. The greatest weapon of a service is convenience. Once that takes the wheel, even features that are otherwise more expensive or intrusive tend to get a free pass into our hearts.

So why should we believe always online “games as a service” schemes are The Future when they can’t even get that incredibly fundamental tenet right – after years and years of allegedly trying, no less? Even setting aside the idea that features in the likes of Diablo III and SimCity arguably hurt their core experiences more than they help, the fact is, their basic functionality fails to make a compelling argument beyond “Deal with it [drops microphone, puts on sunglasses, rides away on world's smuggest eagle].” Not exactly the best first impression, huh?

As of now, I very much dislike always online requirements in games that are – based on their legacies – primarily single-player. I consider them a tremendous misstep, especially since they continue clinging to the notion that connected features are something to be shoved down my throat with all the care and subtlety of a watermelon making its journey down my gullet with the help of a sledgehammer. I want a choice, not an oppressive “take it or leave it” manifesto.

I also realize, however, that I haven’t seen a single one of these things stick their initial landings or catapult a preexisting series to new heights. And maybe it’s because they’re simply a bad fit or have been added foremost to stop piracy in its tracks, but who knows? I’d say my game time is probably weighted 70/30 in favor of single-player games, but I also understand that we live in a society that’s growing more connected by the day. And you know what? In many cases – for instance, aforementioned services like Spotify, Twitter, and even the prospect of things like Google Glass – I like that. On those fronts, the standard bearers are high-quality services that enrich my ability to communicate, learn, consume entertainment, and share things I care about with my friends on a daily basis. I’m a child of the digital age, a cyborg wannabe whose electrically humming veins cry out every time I go 20 minutes without checking Facebook. Who’s to say games can’t make something similar? Who’s to say they can’t make something better? Something that knits disparate elements of our day-to-day lives together just as seamlessly? With fun, no less?

So I don’t think I’m ready to declare this grand experiment the new Frankenstein’s monster on the block just yet. Do I want everything to be always connected forever no matter what? Of course not. And naturally, I’m still extremely worried about possibilities of server shutdowns when SimCity 2014 (or whatever they end up calling it) comes out, the hurdles always online creates for modding, and other incredibly pressing issues. But I’m also not opposed to the idea of some big-budget publishers having a go at it. Because somewhere, beneath all the baffling design decisions and gasping pieces of server wreckage, there might be an excellent evolution of a genre or game series just waiting to be unearthed.

You probably don’t agree with me. I don’t blame you. After SimCity’s initial stumble off a cliff into a nice, cushion-y pile of broken glass and shattered expectations, I barely even agree with me. That’s what happens when our only points of reference for, well, anything are achy, breaky, and half-thought-out. We eventually learn to go in expecting disaster after disaster. So far, unfortunately, we have not been wrong.

Good services just work. Sure, there’s a hiccup every once in a while, but by and large, they become nearly invisible to us. Part of the background. As if they were always there. However, so long as gaming’s variations on the theme continue to make grotesquely gelatinous slapping sounds as they bellyflop, they’ll never achieve that. So for crying out loud, everyone, get the basics right already. Because, as is, I have quite a bit of trouble declaring these things “growing pains” when I barely see any, you know, growth.

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293 Comments »

  1. mrmalodor says:

    Just fucking release the offline mode patch already, you fuckheads. You want my money? I’ll give it to you. All you have to do is RELEASE AN OFFLINE PATCH!!!!!!

    • Lemming says:

      They can’t just release an offline patch. They’ve made a rod for their own back by having the game rely on server side assets from the core. They wouldn’t be able to make an ‘offline mode’ without ripping the guts out, I’d wager.

      Also everyone should take a look at this little slice:

      http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18gs2vgs50fjijpg/original.jpg

      • JonClaw says:

        I would backcharge the hell out of EA after reading that.

        • SAM-site says:

          Which is why they’d ban the account. Backcharging exists for when credit cards are stolen, and in so doing you are declaring that someone had stolen your credit card to buy a game on that Origin account, which (and this won’t be popular) is reasonable.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            As far as I know you can put any grievance you have with a seller to the Credit Card Company and ask for a back chard. It is the sellers responsibility, not yours, to uphold the contract of purchase and fulfill their obligation. It is not up to the credit card company to confirm if they did or did not, they are there to serve YOU. Sellers can, and do, loose their credit card and debit card processing services if they get too many complaints. Perhaps EA needs a few reminders?

            This is not applicable if your credit card company does not offer that service though.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Backcharging exists to make it very easy for your bank to reverse a charge. If your bank agrees to a back charge, as long as you haven’t lied to them, you are golden.

          • ArthurBarnhouse says:

            Except that the ban isn’t at the discretion of the bank it’s at the discretion of EA. the person in the chat was pretty clear: contest the charge and you’re banned. EA can pretty much ban you for any reason. If I recall correctly, last year people were banned for forum posts and were not allowed to contest the ban through any of the customer service channels.

          • solidsquid says:

            Backcharging exists to deal with fraud, which *can* include credit cards being stolen, but also includes things like sellers not delivering their product or selling a faulty product. If you bought a monitor and it was delivered with a huge crack running across the screen you would ask for a refund. If the manufacturer refused to refund or replace it then your next stop would be to issue a chargeback, because the manufacturer has not delivered the product it said it would.

            In the case of the above chat log, the user is claiming that the problems at launch are a fault with the product, and as such they’re entitled to a refund. What EA is saying is that they’re, essentially, re-designing the product and will be able to repair it once that’s done. This doesn’t match up with the standard “refund or replacement” offer which consumers are generally legally entitled to, so the user might actually have a good case here that EA is breaking the law by refusing the refund. As such a chargeback would be a reasonable response (putting aside the risk of banning)

      • Vercinger says:

        The scumbags!

        • Wreckdum says:

          PRE-ORDERS…. LOL You get what you get. Stop buying imaginary products. Wait until the game is released. I have 0 sympathy.

          Guess what… It’s post release and I thought about buying SimCity a few weeks ago. Now it’s out. I’m not buying it. See how NOT outraged I am? =)

          Learn from your mistakes.

          EDIT: Let me reiterate. If you pre-order games, yer dumb. =D

          • Triplanetary says:

            I pre-ordered the game after playing the beta, so no, I wasn’t buying an “imaginary product.”

          • rustybroomhandle says:

            As a regular Kickstarter backer I must be dumb too. Glad I am then!

          • UmmonTL says:

            Kickstarting a project that might not happen otherwise is very different from preordering a triple-A title that will come out no matter what. Did they even offer any benefits for preorders or just the usual 5-10% off?

          • aepervius says:

            Triplanetary says: “I pre-ordered the game after playing the beta, so no, I wasn’t buying an “imaginary product.””

            You were paying for an imaginary product : you were paying with the assumption you would get the same service and the same product as during the beta, while at the same time the company was reserving the right to change the product at release, and did not offer any assurance on service level.

            You simply are not realizing that you were not buying the product you tried, you just assumed so.

            Now you now better.

      • Brosepholis says:

        You’ve made a fatal move, RICCITELLO. This comment goes viral. I’m going to tell the REDDIT POLICE on you.

      • Wowza says:

        Don’t most online retailers penalize you for chargebacks?

      • The white guar says:

        EA hired Cleverbot! You read it here first.

      • samsharp99 says:

        Ah yes – the whole ‘we’ll ban you for exercising your right to a refund’ debacle. Has happened to me in the past and still can’t use my PayPal account on Steam after a lengthy period of getting a ban revoked.

        • innociv says:

          I remember charging back my preorder for Ragnarok Online (yes, very long ago), because they bait and switch completely changed what you were to get for preordering.

          There was a huge fuss about it all over the place at the time. I charged back. Got banned.

          Oh, World of Tanks Europe, too. WoT kept recharging it.

      • Fox89 says:

        Do they actually rely on server side assets, or do they just claim they do? I know I’m being cynical but if I were trying to justify my always-online anti-piracy measure in a traditionally single player franchise and my claims that “you’ll love the multiplayer, really!” had fallen on deaf ears…

        …well in that case that’s exactly the sort of thing I’d make up.

        • Triplanetary says:

          Yes, they do rely on server side assets, but not in any way that enhances the game. For example, your cities are stored on the cloud. So even if you could play the game offline, you wouldn’t be able to access your save games. They created artificial reliance on the servers to justify it, which isn’t really any better than what you said. Fuck EA.

          • MrLebanon says:

            it *has* to be hackable… Android modders hacked LG… they had their baseband update service tied to their shitty servers with no other way to get to it… some smart modders were able to redirect the program to a local folder with the installation files, and passed this around the interwebs. If it’s just save games and whatnot it shouldn’t be too difficult to crack

      • ulix says:

        Not true (apparently).

        A commenter on Kotaku claimed that he played disconnected for 3 hours, and it wasn’t an issue.
        The only thing handled on the server side is apparently the data of what happens between regions.

        • Triplanetary says:

          Yes, you can continue to play if you’re in a city and the servers go down. The simulation takes place on your local machine. But you can’t switch to a different city, because those save games are all stored in the cloud. The city you’re currently working on will be (temporarily!) saved to your hard drive so that it can be synced with the server later, but this syncage also has a tendency to fail and cause you to lose hours of progress.

        • solidsquid says:

          You have to be connected when you start playing, but if it disconnects mid-game it will cache the save locally and upload when you re-connect. Like Triplanetery said though, this in itself has issues and can lead to entire cities disappearing if it doesn’t sync correctly

          • protospork says:

            I think his point is that the ability to play offline completely disproves EA’s lies about simulating the individual sims or traffic pathfinding (or whatever the story is is this week) on their servers.

    • Kestilla says:

      AGREED! Online modes should be opt-in. I like multiplayer, I don’t like being forced to use it at all times.

      I was getting along rather well with SimCity until they decided to take their login server down, which is odd because the server I was playing on was easy to get into and was working fine. Why this keeps happening, game launch after game launch, will always be a mystery to me.

      It’s like companies want to hemorrhage cash and ritualistically carve deep gashes into their bottom line. That said, I really appreciate the online features. I don’t appreciate both the lack of choice in playing online and the level of incompetence this shows from such a big name company. Although it is EA…

    • E_FD says:

      Don’t worry, I’m sure there’ll be an illegal, pirated version that’s completely playable offline soon enough.

      • BTAxis says:

        Considering everything the game does is handled server-side, I wouldn’t bet on it.

        • Cinek says:

          considering that all the data traffic between server and user can be intercepted – I’m sure some genrious will solve this system sooner or later.

          Assassins Creed also was suppose to be impossible to hack.
          Reality came out to be very different.

          • solidsquid says:

            It already lets you cache saves locally, so a hack to treat the local cache as if it were the server would do the trick

          • Tei says:

            Only loading and saving cities and region interactions need the server. The server can be down for 3 hours and you will only notice when you quit (the city will not save).

  2. BTAxis says:

    But what if I don’t WANT a service? What if I want a game instead?

    • mrmalodor says:

      How dare you, you entitled little brat.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        What do you think this is, the 20th Century? This is The Future, where megacorporations have rights and consumers do not. This IS Cyberpunk, here and now.

        Your games are part of cyberspace, which means they exist on corporate servers. This “internet” is just a fad that will fade away when everyone realizes how convenient closed systems are. Eventually everyone will forget what “open source” means and money will be replaced with varying kinds of virtual currency. File sharing will be made a capital offense, and those caught with hacked versions of Sim City that work offline will be gunned down in the street.

        All Hail The DMCA!

    • trjp says:

      Buy a game then – don’t demand apples from a company selling oranges…

    • Zogtee says:

      We’re going to ram it up your ass, regardless of what you think, and you’ll smile and hand over the plastic while we do so! Gamers like this sort of thing, we’ll have you know. We’re only doing it because it enhances their experience!

    • HadToLogin says:

      Should have said that those 10 years ago, when Valve released Half Life 2 – first service instead of a game…

      No, wait, that probably would be even worse, since instead of someone who have a little honour to not f-ck gamers totally (only a little) and knowledge to make whole Service-Providing work, we’d have fun with GfWL, UPlay, Origin etc.

      • MrLebanon says:

        steam has never given me a problem, not 5 years ago when i bought CS 1.6 through it, or today when i have all my games on it.

        Origin on the other hand has fucked up every purchase I’ve made on it thus far

        • WrenBoy says:

          Not once in 5 years have you seen Steams servers go down? Must be some kind of record.

          • silgidorn says:

            You can play steam games offline. You just can’t share them with friends without sharing you account. So Steam is a service (yes) that sells game. It’s not games as service per say.

          • WrenBoy says:

            How do you switch from online to offline mode when the Steam servers are down? I would really love to know.

          • jrodman says:

            Go Offline. Sometimes there’s an option for that when it starts up.
            Sure it’s rare. Maybe if you reboot hundreds of times you may see it?

        • Dark Nexus says:

          Steam had plenty of similar issues in it’s early years. There were certainly lots of “I bet the pirates are playing right now” comments for Half-Life 2.

          It’s worth remembering that it was years before Steam was as stable as it is now. Origin, Uplay, etc can see the problems Valve had and should have learned from them, but that only puts them one step ahead of where Valve started. They aren’t privy to whatever solution Valve eventually came up with to solve the problems, and we don’t know how many ideas Valve tried before they eventually figured it out.

          I’m not trying to defend Origin, Uplay, etc – despite knowing that there could be problems, they still charged head-first into this and their customers (and reputations) are paying the price. They’ve dropped the ball big time by overestimating their ability to deliver. But nor is it reasonable to expect a new service to be up to the same level of polish that a mature service like Steam has.

          • aiusepsi says:

            Quite right. It’s probably one of Valve’s major competitive advantages right now that they took their lumps in setting up an online service 10 years ago. They not only have the standing infrastructure, but they’ve got tons of experience in how to build out a big high-scale system. Anybody else is going to have really nasty growing pains while they try and replicate it.

    • Arkh says:

      Acquiring games is against these services EULAs. You’d have to be a criminal to own this kind of product in any way.

      I want a choice, not an oppressive “take it or leave it” manifesto.
      That’s why I hate exclusiveness and what Steam does – exclusive deals to integrate Steamworks. It’s on the same level as some developers do releasing a game for only a platform for a time just because they get more money.

      • MadTinkerer says:

        THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT EVEN WITH STEAMWORKS SOME GAMES CAN WORK INDEPENDENTLY OF STEAM.

        I’ve made this point before a few times, but reliance on the Steam client is optional, even for Steamworks-enabled games. How do I know this? I own over 800 games on Steam. I haven’t tested them all, but a whole bunch of them will run just fine if you exit Steam, then go to the games’ folders and run the executable directly. These are games that have achievements and certain other Steamworks features, but you don’t need Steam to run the games themselves. Some of them will notify you that they can’t detect Steam, but will run fine otherwise. I discovered this on my own just by experimenting.

        Now, yes, A LOT of games do require the Steam client to run at all. And all of the multiplayer games that use Steam (instead of GFWL or Gamespy or whatever) won’t work without the Steam Client running, for obvious reasons. But for single-player, the Steam Client is not always required, even if the game uses Steamworks. If you want achievements and such, you need the client running, obviously. But just to play the game, a whole bunch of them work just fine without it.

        • Arkh says:

          Nope, having steamworks means the game HAS to be run through Steam. That make Steam the only distributor if the developer doesn’t make a non Steam version – which most don’t do – getting us to exclusivity and why it’s bad. I don’t hate Steam, I simply don’t like always online DRM, requiring to go online to access an offline mode and exclusivity that takes away options. Dungeons of Dredmor, for example, I never bought the game because it’s Steam exclusive. Same thing for Terraria. I felt tempted to buy Dark Souls a LOT, but I couldn’t GFWL + plus virtual Steam exclusivity.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            NOPE, having Steamworks DOES NOT mean the game has to be run through Steam. For some games, yes. For others, NO, you can just run the game by itself fine. I’ve. Tested. It. Myself.

            Let’s see, I remember specifically 1000 Amps for sure, I think BEEP as well. I don’t have time to go through 800+ games right now to see which ones test positive. My point is: I’ve done it. This is not assuming or going by anyone else’s data. For a few dozen of my Steam games I did everything short of actual piracy to see whether they were DRMed or not. A bunch of them needed Steam. SOME OF THEM DID NOT.

            Therefore, as whoever was explaining Steamworks way back before it came out said, the DRM bits are optional. Steamworks has a DRM option. It is not itself, entirely, a DRM system, and you can publish games without the DRM bits while having all the other features of Steamworks.

            Just because many developer/publishers choose to make running the Steam client mandatory for their Steamworks-enabled games, does not mean the game needs Steamworks to run. You still need the client for all the Steamworks features, but some games, I repeat: SOME GAMES DO NOT require the client to play them.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            MadTinkerer, I think Arkh was referring to the fact that Steamworks games are Steam-exclusive. You need a Steam account to register them and the Steam client to install them.

          • Milky1985 says:

            No hes not, he very specifically said “Nope, having steamworks means the game HAS to be run through Steam.” meaning that he is saying it has to be RUN through steam

            Not installed, not update or anything else, he used the word run.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            I have a feeling we’re arguing semantics here. Maybe Arkh can clarify what he meant exactly?

          • Arkh says:

            I was talking about both. You need Steam to download the game and all. You are still locked by exclusivity, even if some games can be launched without Steam, although I never saw a game do this. I don’t believe Skyrim or XCOM can do this. The only hint I have of this is MadTinkerer alleged experience. Still, the original point is: exclusivity is bad in the sense you are forcing things down people’s throat, be a lot of evil or the “lesser evil”. It’s bad no matter who’s the company behind because you are always forcing costumers.

          • Brun says:

            I don’t believe Skyrim or XCOM can do this.

            Skyrim certainly can, as doing so is a requirement of using the Skyrim Script Extender (necessary for many mods).

          • barcharcraz says:

            Skyrim can not run without steam running, if you try and run TESV.exe without steam running steam will start and then launch the skyrim launcher, if you already have steam running the exe will ask steam, “is it OK if I start” and steam will say “yup” and skyrim will launch directly.

            Skyrim is actually a special case because initially it did not have any DRM or steam requirement whatsoever, it was patched in after release, and did I hear bitching then, no.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            “I was talking about both. You need Steam to download the game and all.”

            Well I’m also effectively talking about both. See: software preservation is an important issue to me. It’s the biggest reason why I support filesharing (beyond the selfish reason of it allowing me to try before I buy). Some software simply cannot be purchased anymore, for a myriad number of reasons. Despite other companies offering legitimate emulated collections of their games, it may never be possible to buy the arcade version of Double Dragon except tracking down a working physical arcade cabinet, because no one knows who has the rights to make Double Dragon games. And when the last physical Double Dragon machine dies, your only option will be filesharing.

            Incidentally, I really fucking loathe the idea that my kids will never, ever be able to enjoy City of Heroes at all, and absolutely despise server-requirements with a rage brighter than the sun.

            But I digress.

            Steam exists now. If you buy a copy of a game through Steam that doesn’t require Steam to run, it’s effectively not actually dependent on Steam at all and you can manually back it up and (presumably, though I haven’t tested it) re-copy the installed version to a future computer even if the Steam servers go down. Even more presumably, it can probably be fileshared, though unless this is the Steam-less future, that’s not something I want to try because I’d rather support developers while their products are commercially available. My point is: as far as my personal tests have gone, and I probably should do more tests, some games available to buy through steam are not actually tied to Steam in a manner which prevents anyone from using them without Steam.

            Therefore, NOT EVERY game which uses Steamworks has to be run through Steam. Some do, but some don’t (and I don’t own every game on Steam, and I definitely don’t have the space to install all of them at the same time, but I will do more tests this weekend), which means Steam is not inherently “evil”: precisely how restrictive Steam is, is a choice made by the devs/pubs on a per-game basis.

            If you buy 1000 Amps through Steam right now, I guarantee you 100% on my machine it doesn’t require Steam to run. I’m 99% confident it’ll be exactly the same on your machine. This isn’t true for everything, but it’s certainly true for 1000 Amps. Therefore Steam is not evil (in that way). ;)

    • Kamos says:

      Goddamn commie hippies, wanting to pay for games and own them.

  3. hlm2 says:

    Is this a thing that is happening? Or are you just hoping?

  4. Brun says:

    But, whether or not that is indeed the case, the end result so far has been the same: services that are, at best, eventually functional – not good or great.

    Díablo 3′s server infrastructure worked just fine for most people after the initial launch stampede. I would call that “good.”

    Ultimately the server loading issues just come down to big publishers being unwilling to rent space from someone (Amazon) for a few weeks to handle the immediate post-launch tidal wave of users. Once usage drops a bit they can downsize to their in-home servers by terminating those rental agreements.

    EDIT: And dammit, stop marking any comment I make with the word “Díablo” in it as spam.

    • Kinth says:

      I wouldn’t say they do.

      Still get lag/delays and disconnects and I still have to “pre-load” all my spells in town because the first cast of each one causes a 1-2 second stutter. I don’t even bother with hardcore, losing a HC character to lag or delay would make me want to break a lot of things.

      Not that I actually bother with D3 anymore the over reliance on AH farming made is insanely boring pretty quickly. I give it a quick check each patch and those same issues still persist for many people.

      • kael13 says:

        Seriously. What is up with that? Who made the decision to make the game load assets in that way? Truly the stupidest idea they could have come up with. Sure, it’s fine if I’m running the game on my grandmother’s toaster but I think most gamers have progressed beyond using rudimentary kitchen appliance microcontrollers to play games.

    • ScottTFrazer says:

      The renting extra capacity ignores the problem of what do you do with the client data stored there when you need to turn the servers off. There’s no current method of moving between servers, so when you have to take down the extra instances, where do your player’s cities go?

      • Zephro says:

        Well you wouldn’t hire amazon for just that. You’d base the whole thing off Amazon (or similar) which can then load balance. Or you design your own infrastructure with the ability to balance dynamically.

      • Brun says:

        You’d have to migrate that data. I don’t think storage space is their problem right now, the issue is either computational or network capacity – too many games with not enough processors or not enough pipes. Storage can be scaled (relatively) inexpensively, and you would know exactly how much to buy because you could take information from the rented servers to determine what capacity you’d need.

        • Zephro says:

          Processing power is also scalable and dynamic if you design it correctly. Processing and data ought to be decoupled so that they are independent of one another.

          • Brun says:

            Processing power does not scale as inexpensively as storage, especially in the server world. Increasing your processing power means doing one of two things – buying more powerful servers, or buying more servers – both of which are expensive. Increasing storage capacity just means buying extra HDDs and sticking them into empty slots on your NAS.

          • Zephro says:

            Unless you hire out cloud resources, or unless your server capacity is designed for flexibility.

            Also any self respecting server would use databases which needs processing power, you don’t just add HDD.

      • Triplanetary says:

        Each of those “servers” listed on the SimCity launcher don’t represent a single physical server. So renting temporary server capacity doesn’t present any problems just because you can’t migrate city data between nodes. We’re not talking about creating a “NA East 3 through 100″ and then turning them off in a few weeks. We’re talking about adding more server capacity to the existing nodes.

      • Stickman says:

        If they admitted that they had cloud server technology, they would have a harder time justifying shutting down the servers for old games when a new version came out…

    • Mule says:

      This is exactly the reason why I have been shaking my head at all these excuses companies like EA makes. Ten years ago there was a major investment involved in adding server capacity that likely did not make a lot of sense to bean-counters when looking at the bottom-line of an online game launch.

      Sure more people would be playing a new game the first few weeks and the required capacity is X to make it smooth, but after a few weeks time the required capacity would be more like 50% of X. Is it right for them to go cheap and only deploy 50% of X in server capacity? No. Can I understand why they would? Yes.

      In 2013 however EA could EASILY purchase Infrastructure as a Service from one of many providers including Amazon which will automatically scale with the demand within moments. They would merely pay a small fee for the processing power, and yes, the fee is SMALL by comparison to deploying their own shiny new servers. Then when the initial rush dies down they shift all capacity onto their own capable servers and all is well. When new people try and get in on the game, the server capacity stretches dynamically with the need. There are more servers when more servers are needed. This is the reality of today’s tech that is out there.

      I am shocked in fact that a company like EA with a huge number of online games does not have their own private “Cloud” setup in their own server infrastructure that can lease server time to different products when needed. A server cloud that, when it isn’t handling requests from Battlefield 3, can shift some power over to the new Simcity launch, or processing deadspace transactions, or helping deliver a new origin update.

      If they did have their own private cloud (this is a thing, trust me) to do this, they might actually be a step or two closer to what this article is getting at, actually offering their “Software as a service” as an actual “Service” that is always on and available. The term “SaaS” is actually one type of “Cloud” that is out there. Google’s Gmail service is an example of it. Why can’t game companies do this right?

      Their lack of planning is fairly inexcusable, this stuff isn’t even that “new” of a technology.

      • Zephro says:

        This. It baffles me that the data is tied to particular server instances, utterly.

      • Brun says:

        Despite what the tech press may have you believe the modern “cloud” as we know it has only really caught on in the past two or three years. The magnitude of the changes you suggest would be enormous, as would the expense. It’s not surprising to me that it hasn’t been done yet – major corporations rarely run on the bleeding edge of IT or computing technology (except where absolutely needed), even those that deal with that technology every day. I imagine that when the time comes for them to refresh their server assets they’ll look into reconfiguring their architecture to a proprietary cloud.

        • Zephro says:

          It’s been a mature technology since the early ’00s. People like Amazon, Apple, Spotify, Facebook, Google use it as standard and have done since they started. IBM have been doing it for fucking ages.

          It’s still not standard in the games industry, but that’s just idiocy.

        • solidsquid says:

          Cloud computing in the sense of being able to hire server space from another company like Amazon is fairly new, but the system that Amazon uses to power that is old as the hills (well, the digital ones anyway). It’s exactly the same system that web hosts use to create virtual dedicated servers, just on a much larger scale. There’s no reason EA couldn’t have set something like this up to run their servers a long time ago, or at the very least have started moving newer games to work with this kind of system so that, as they close game servers, those old servers can be added to the farm for newer games

      • Triplanetary says:

        I think there’s some misunderstanding here. EA *is* renting server capacity from Amazon. A buddy of mine pinged his SC connection and it returned an Amazon EC2 address.

        So clearly the bottleneck is elsewhere. I’m not excusing EA. But still, I don’t think it’s as simple as “add more servers.”

        • Zephro says:

          No it just means they’ve designed their AWS infrastructure badly.

          • Triplanetary says:

            Certainly. I think a case can be made that SC’s netcode is sufficiently awful that no amount of extra server capacity will relieve certain bottlenecks.

    • RedWurm says:

      I tried d3 again a few months ago and still got errors – after about an hour of play on average – that completely shafted my internet connection for 15 minutes unless I rebooted my router. It’s the only game that has ever done that to me, and I never found any information on how I might fix it.

      And I played d2 mostly singleplayer – which I now can’t do for too long – and with mods – which are right out. So I get a system that doesn’t work for me and, even if it did, offers a more restricted experience.

    • Sheng-ji says:

      “works just fine” is not good, it’s average.

  5. guygodbois00 says:

    Electronic Arts, SimCity, hahahahahaha… ouuuhhh.

  6. JonClaw says:

    Good time to leave this little gem here:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1584821767/civitas-plan-develop-and-manage-the-city-of-your-d

    As for SC, I’m already pushing for a refund from Gamersgate (though I’m not hopeful).

    • trjp says:

      On what basis do you want a refund, exactly?

      I mean there’s an argument that any game you buy which doesn’t “work” should be refunded – but did you buy this game just to play it today or tomorrow or were you going to play it next week (I mean I realise some people won’t actually play a game longer than that but I have to ask!!)

      • JonClaw says:

        EA recently disabled the fastest game speed.

        I don’t see temporarily disabling a distinct part of the game as a fix, more like legitimate customers being shafted of their valuable time because the developers didn’t prepare for the amount of players from the get-go.

      • Kinth says:

        It’s more the principal.

        It’s all fine and well saying oh you can play it next week but that isn’t the point. While SimCity may be the sort of game you like, by buying it you are supporting the always-on method. SimCity is a decent game from a flagship brand unfortunately EA know this and that is why they are using it to test the waters with Always-on.

        These errors never truly go away either. D3 is still plagued by lag and random disconnects amongst other issues. Disconnect in SimCity and lose all your progress since your last auto save.

        Sure they shouldn’t have pre-purchased it in the first place but getting a refund is better than just supporting something you don’t agree with.

        I love SimCity games and what I played in beta of this game was decent enough to buy. I’m not going to buy it though because I don’t want a future of this always on shite and the only way to stop that is to vote with our wallets.

      • Bhazor says:

        How dare he try to play the game he just bought.
        What a jerk.

        • Kestilla says:

          Maybe people should watch what they’re buying instead of falling into the ‘throw money at everything with an essentially appealing core idea at its foundation rather than those select items with a proven excellence to their execution which SimCity, by having such egregious post-launch server errors, has proven to lack’ trap. The marketplace is built on top of impulse / uninformed / impatient purchases, it is also a very effective stupidity tax, a game of Satisfaction Roulette fueled by people who have entirely too much money to launch in every direction and then cry when it turns out the minutes they used to drool over a hyped up mental image could have been better spent researching what they were buying. Consumers should be more responsible for the consequences of spending on an idea rather than reality of what is being sold. It’s inexcusable for a company to launch a broken product and expect people to pay for it, but for those people who do by it, they should either know what they’re getting into or suck it up and learn from their mistake.

          But you know they’ll just repeat it again and again, because accountability is dead on both sides of the aisle.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            “accountability is dead on both sides of the aisle”

            That precisely sums up the present state of the games industry.

      • solidsquid says:

        If he can’t play it until next week/month/whatever, why not get a refund now and re-purchase it then? If EA isn’t able to get the game running until then, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for your money back and then come back once they actually have things working

    • Lemming says:

      Does that have to go in every Simcity thread, FFS? There is no way to know if that game is going to be any better. No DRM yay! What if this unproven game turns out to be shit?

      it would make more sense to link to existing city-building games that people can play right now, not a year from now.

      Allow me:

      http://store.steampowered.com/app/24780/

      • JonClaw says:

        I’d rather risk $15 than $60, but thank you for linking SC4.

      • Kestilla says:

        I played on the Oceanic server. It is pretty satisfying when it works. When it works… You turn on Origin, then you turn on the game. It takes forever to authenticate, then you actually get in! And then after playing on your city for a moment the game crashes and you lose your progress because the server is spotty.

        So you repeat your first steps and then notice the top left corner is blinking, lost connection, regained connection, lost connection. It works best in early morning CST, with no problems to speak of, mostly because everybody is in bed. Afternoon is when it all explodes.

        I played in a region by myself and built up a couple cities which play off each other, you can see regional demand for services and zone types and local demand, you can watch the resources like power and water move between your cities in real time, traffic is more realistic and awesome than ever, criminals in your city are individuals who are sought out by the cops and driven to the jail. You can watch them leave the scene of the crime, the business he robs becomes afraid and may close down leaving an abandoned building. This same level of detail applies to almost everything, including people getting picked up in your city by the neighboring city’s hospital if you lack the capacity. It is very, very intriguing. It’s just interrupted a hell of a lot for no good reason.

      • solidsquid says:

        There’s also Anno 2070, which is a bit more expensive. Used to use always online but apparently they’ve shut down the authentication servers and updated the client so you can play it without needing a connection outside the usual Steam based system

        http://store.steampowered.com/app/48240/

    • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

      Somebody in RPS Steam chat was recently saying, “What’s the point in voting with your wallet over DRM as people will buy the game anyway, and it won’t have the impact of hurting the company?”

      That’s the wrong way to go about it. If you hate EA and want ‘em to burn good for you (I’ll be honest, I’d laugh) but that’s not the point of ‘voting with your wallet’ here. What it can do is divert funds to things you do want to see made, and then it doesn’t matter two shits what crap EA want to churn out because you don’t need to bother with them – you’ve got fun games.

      I’ve not looked at Civitas so I wouldn’t be able to recommend it (as if anyone was waiting for my recommendation), but… Yeah. If the new SimCity stinks of shit to you, forget it, forget EA and go fund something that won’t.

      • Caiman says:

        I will be voting with my wallet, and not just with SimCity. Any online-only single player game will be “left on the shelf” as it were, philosophically because I detest these dishonest business practices, and realistically because my internet just isn’t up to scratch. Internet services may be getting better in some countries, but there’s increasing dichotomy between internet quality across the world, and that’s outside my control (although I can be smart and not buy games that need it). It’s also affected my desire to pre-order anything – no more. There are too many great games being released on PC, many of them indie, to be concerned about waiting an extra few days to see whether an anticipated game is worth buying. It’s why I can refuse to buy any more EA games unless reviewers and public opinion agree that it’s great, why I can avoid buying any more Gearbox games after their repellent recent example with A:CM, and why I will no longer day-one any Blizzard games because how the mighty have fallen. Instead I will continue with my ever-expanding backlog of fantastic older games and new indie and mainstream games from the large number of developers who give a shit about games and their customers.

      • hitnrun says:

        A US political humorist the generation before last mocked as the pinnacle of adolescent narcissism the notion that “I vote and vote but nothing ever changes!”

        You’re one person. Your purchase counts for one purchase. If you don’t buy the game, it does matter – to the tune of $60. That’s $60 EA doesn’t get. Would you like $60? I would like $60. It doesn’t *not* matter – it just matters less than a fantasy an adolescent might have about their personal importance.

        I understand there are people who bought this game early despite the DRM and are now angry because they routinely make poor decisions, but if your reason for buying the game is that “it won’t matter,” you deserve much less sympathy than even those people.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          Look, stop blaming the customers, this is poison.

          I ran my own business, successfully for many years before being offered the job I do now. I found it scary how easy it was to earn peoples trust and even to this day I have a group of old customers who almost literally worship my every word. If I were a conman, which I am most certainly not, I could have fleeced those people for everything they were worth, legally too.

          Now you may sit all smug and mighty behind your keyboard, walking tall in the knowledge that you are better than these people, it will never happen to you and if they put in a bit of research and effort, they too would be able to see the problem in advance just like you can.

          Just wait till your car breaks down, and the guy in the garage decided to take you for a few hundred dollars more, or the lawyer you hired to write a legal document overcharges you, or the taxi driver at your holiday destination takes the scenic route.

          We all get stung, hundreds of times in our lives. Don’t blame consumers, blame the people who think this is acceptable behaviour. I’m sick of this attitude.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        “What’s the point of jumping in a life raft when the Titanic is sinking anyway”.
        Yeah, it’s my wallet. I’m not holding off from Simcity 5 to hurt EA, I’m holding off because a purchase would hurt ME and my wallet. Why? Because I’d be stressed loosing all my saves (Hugs Sim 4 saves, backed up and 4ever ;) ). I’d be stressed from disconnects (hugs autosave and a stable computer). I’d be stressed from delays in playing a game I paid for (hugs instantly accessible games on PC, Steam mainly but not always included). Again, I like services that work for me (Steam) or games that just are (no DRM). Why waste my money on a game that neither is or works?

      • Arkh says:

        I don’t get it, why people would complain about DRM using Steam, basically a kind of DRM and a way of offering games as a service?

        • Odeskypher says:

          Steam may be DRM, but it actually provides the customer with a working, usable service in return. All your games in one place, updated automatically, convenience, regular sales, offline mode.

          I don’t mind the DRM aspect of Steam because I’m not constantly being shut out of my games. I can go offline if I wish to, but I don’t really have the need to as the service is providing for 100% of the time I use Steam. Obviously I can’t speak for other users having issues.

    • UberMonkey says:

      I’m going to be honest, that project looks severely sketchy. All of the screenshots could easily be put together in literally any rendering engine (or even modeling software) in a matter of hours. I see no signs of any functional game there. Even some basic videos of minimal functionality would make me a bit less skeptical.

      And then there’s the lack of any information about who’s involved… apparently this project is being developed by a collection of non-specific game developers who may have worked on a few games, with no other information about what their positions were. Or, you know, their names.

      I’d love to believe that this is a legitimate project, but at the moment all I’m seeing is a vague write-up and some screenshots I could put together in an afternoon.

      *Edit: Apparently there is one video up now, but it still doesn’t provide much of an impression of a working game. Basically every game engine out there (Unity, the open source Torque engine) has that kind of terrain editing. I just think these guys should be presenting more info when they’re asking for $250k.

      • Jay says:

        Agreed, that looks really dodgy. With the date it was launched and the pandering anti-EA sentiment throughout the pitch, it reads a lot like a bunch of chancers trying to cash in on a backlash they saw coming.

        There’s very little in the way of actual work on display there, and as ubermonkey pointed out, what looks like a classic case of trying to pass off basic development tools as “features”. I’d be wary.

  7. Lemming says:

    Let’s get real here, the reason for games becoming a ‘service’ like this, is nothing at all to do with socialising or multiplayer. It’s to do with control, marketing and data mining. Internet infrastructure is nowhere near optimum for there to be a large happy and loyal customer base playing online with no issues, so ask yourselves: Why do they do it?

    Also, I think EA’s biggest misstep here is to have ‘Simcity servers’. They should have Origin Servers that create space for their games within as and when needed. What’s the point in having your own digital distribution and community infrastructure if all your games are speaking different languages? The fact they don’t do this, just lends credence to the idea that they see even their own games as eventually disposable to make room for the next thing they want to sell.

    • Continuity says:

      Oh yeah great, make all origin games use the same server assets. That way a day 1 stampede like this can take down all their games in one fell swoop.

      Genius.

      • Zephro says:

        That’s not how it would work, servers are generic and can run anything. If I have X server power and currently SimCity is in demand but Fifa isn’t the servers ought to be able to shift to service SimCity over Fifa. It’s a fairly standard way of doing things and alleviates these problems.

        Obviously if total demand exceeds total server performance, then you’re screwed. But fixed resources can’t adjust to demand.

        • Continuity says:

          Thats fine if you only have simcity and fifa to worry about, but what if its hundreds, or thousands of games? you can’t have them all installed on every server.

          • Zephro says:

            Yeah you can. The data isn’t really on the processing servers, it’s elsewhere. Also they don’t actually need all the assets of a game to run on a server.

            Check out the installation size of server builds of things like Quake, they are a fraction of the client version as the art assets are what takes up the space.

      • Lemming says:

        What Zephro said, and also the idea being that if you set up a service like Origin, you have a fucking boatload of servers all the time anyway, not just the three you stuck in hoping it was enough for your new game.

    • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

      Oops! Mispost.

    • Iamerror says:

      ‘It’s to do with control, marketing and data mining.’

      Well that and it’s a rather effective form of DRM.

  8. Brun says:

    I also understand that we live in a society that’s growing more connected by the day

    That’s really it, isn’t it? The next generation of gamers – the ones that are in junior high and high school right now, don’t give a damn about always-online. They’ve grown up on Facebook games, Xbox Live, MMOs, etc. Being online to play games is really all they’ve ever known, and to them it’s to be expected.

    • Arkh says:

      Yes, that’s what they are trying. That’s also EA argument for microtransactions.

      There’s some hope though, maybe it will be not like this. A friend of mine from university who owns a PS3 and only plays on console was mad as hell because in the PS4 you will not be allowed anymore to lend your their games to your friends.

    • UberMonkey says:

      This really is the key point here. As an older gamer (29) I hadn’t really figured out what was happening, but it’s suddenly obvious:

      Just like game publishers bailed on our generation to cater to the next generation of kids (the ones who love CoD, Halo, etc.), they’re now throwing those guys aside as well to cater to the next generation of younger customers. The “kids” who grew up with the Xbox are now adults, which means many of them are now thinking more critically about how they spend their money. And even they seem to have gotten somewhat bored with rehashes of console shooters and/or action movie simulators.

      For these publishers the best customers will always be the ones who have no financial independence; the kids young enough to have parents buying the games for them. And it just so happens that the current generation that’s at the right age is perfectly comfortable with things like online-only gaming and micro-transactions.

      That Dead Space 3 guy was actually being totally honest, it’s just that the message was bad news for us: The demographic they’re after now expects pay to win buttons because the horrible practices of mobile gaming have trained them for it.

      @Arkh: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Your friend, a college age adult, is no longer the target demo these companies are after. He’s old and cynical and not worth the effort when there’s a whole new generation of gamers out there who’ve already been trained to love social media and micro-transactions.

      • Beemann says:

        That would work and be a really snazzy answer if he wasn’t talking about people who are just gettting into college

        ” There are action game fans, and survival horror game fans, who are 19 and 20, and they’ve only played games on their smartphones, and micro-transactions are to them a standard part of gaming. It’s a different generation. ”

        I’m about two years older than his supposed generation of people who only play smartphone games, and I dont think I’ve met anyone who fits his description. I hear a lot of complaints about map packs, DLC, stuff not working properly etc. and not everyone I know is a PC gamer (quite a few of them are console-only)
        I’d like to see the data that says that I’ve basically just missed this massive majority of smartphone-centric gamers who are ready to make the transition to Dead Space 3 without having played the previous two

        I think it was just poorly worded crap to be honest. It could probably have been said in a manner that is less obviously ridiculous, but it would still be crap all the same

        • Brun says:

          I would say 19 and 20 year old is just outside the range I’m thinking of. I’m thinking of kids who are currently between the ages of 12 and 17. To put that in video gaming perspective: kids whose first console was (at the earliest) a GameCube, PS2, or Xbox, but more likely owned an Xbox 360 or PS3 as their first console.

          And to be fair, always-online in theory is not really a bad thing. No one complains about their PCs requiring electricity to play games, and when broadband internet access is as widespread and reliable as electricity no one will bat an eye at an internet connection requirement. We’re just not there yet.

  9. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    It’s great when they say that the future is DRM, sorry NOT DRM but ‘online single player’. Then disable the features that will make the ‘online single player experience’ shine to leave only the DRM.

    Or am I missing something?

  10. trjp says:

    I’ve always said that problems with servers etc. are fine – they’re to be expected

    BUT

    Companies have to come clean and admit there’s a problem and keep people posted about what they’re doing.

    That nature of most companies organisations – the way such things are often outsourced (on contracts which I suspect have performance targets especially) means that the default approach is to treat customers like mushrooms (keep them in the dark – feed them shit)

    The moment the problem goes away – everyone forgets it happened – no harm, no foul.

    Actually engaging with your customers, admitting fault and posting updates leaves a mark – a visible sign of your problems which can be referred to later.

    Games like Warhammer Online which were hosted by third-parties were AWFUL for this – you could tell the hosting company simply didn’t want to admit any issues and they just offered NO information whatsoever. The server I played on was completely broken for 2 days once and not a single message was posted – not a single complaint was replied to – they just pretended it never happened.

    You cannot, realistically, do that and expect people to come back for more…

    • Zephro says:

      “I’ve always said that problems with servers etc. are fine – they’re to be expected”

      They are not. These are solved problems, the likes of EA are just lazy and trying to do things with bad design on a shoestring.

      • skalpadda says:

        They’re not even necessarily problems to begin with. Design your single player game to be playable offline with online features being optional and there is no problem to solve in the first place. This would be best for the customer in every way, but of course what’s best for the customer is almost never a big consideration in modern business.

      • Brun says:

        It’s often not a problem that can be reasonably addressed within a fixed budget. Sure it may have a solution, but if it’s too expensive no one will implement it.

        • Zephro says:

          It isn’t expensive:
          EC2 processing instance http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/pricing/
          At the worst that is 48 cents an hour per extra server. Or 12 cents for every GB transferred up to 10TB, when the prices come down.
          S3 which is static storage costs around 9 cents for a GB up to 10TB.

          Pretty sure EA can afford that for launch week.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            Or free for an “offline” mode. Well, as free as it takes a programmer to program an int or routine not to check the neighboring city for players. Perhaps an hour or so pay to a designer in balancing funding/XP/gameplay pacing through points (really, in SimCity it’s only points/stats/money that the region effects, nothing a simple number change cannot fix, not “complicated programming” needed). I’ve seen mod team work on balance issues for free. :P

          • Zephro says:

            I wasn’t really defending the idea of always online, I was just saying IF you are going to do it, do it properly.

      • Martel says:

        I agree. It’s called capacity planning, and in this case should be extremely easy to do considering they know how many copies have sold (or a good enough approximation). That’s actually why things like IAAS are popular, rent out a few hundred servers for the first week or 2, then kill them and you don’t have wasted infrastructure. It’s either poor planning, or done on purpose, neither of which are acceptable.

  11. Entitled says:

    This might be one of those cases, where we, news site-visiting, always online-hating gamers who care about the role of gaming, don’t represent the gaming industry or it’s target audience.

    That’s part of why I feel sorry that the terms “hardcore” and “casual” fell out of favor in the past years. If they would still be in use, we could simply say that Sim City is bad because it’s made for other people than us, for people who just want to have instant fun with a social gaming, and who don’t care about the future of the gaming industry.

    Then we could conclude that at the very least there, are still some other “real games”, in “our games industry”, that are made for “our kind”, so live and let live.

    But this recent trend of thinking about the big picture, as if being a gamer would make it necessery for us to feel responsible for every game that ever became succesful, as if there would be a single “game industry”, will only lead to apocaliptic thinking about how tragic it is that we are not in total control of it.

    • Geewhizbatman says:

      Now, now–That’s no way to sell stories. Reasoned thought and even sided debate went out years ago. Either you’ve got a side or you don’t and, this just in, those that don’t may or may not be implicated in destroying kitten cuteness nationally. I’m not saying they are, because that may or may not be an impossible thing to prove is happening or that can even be done at all, but by reporting with persuasive questions and apocalyptic tones I can be sure that someone is going to read this, feel an addictive emotion, and return. Or I can just say that it’s what I feel and imply that I’m like you somehow and ba-bam, I’m really saying you should be feeling these things. Ya know, because we’re both gardeners. We are, right? I mean, why else would we both be writing on a gardening site. The world needs to expect these kinds of emotion mongering tactics because it’s another outlet for our overstimulation.

      The sort being used in that paragraph, if anyone was curious. This seems to be the new sort of rhetoric for debate since the rise of things like blogs and youtube. Both of which have the capacity for still showing things like explained logic with outside evidence or scientific method to back up various claims made–which is a fraction of the content being uploaded to such places. Why wouldn’t the rest of the world, including reporters, not take the hint and decide to just start throwing opinions around when it appears to be what the public at large wants to engage with over reproducible data on trends and their repercussions on something like, say, gaming.

      Also–I do like RPS. They report on games, and even show things like gaming diaries on those games (Pathologic is what I’m thinking of specifically) that I would otherwise never become aware of. Their opinions on main stream games do help to inform my view of modern games. They do that very well. Still, I’d like to thank you for bringing up a much more interesting conversation on the second page of comments than the entirety of the article it is attached to. Much broader and more engaging than a rather long winded rehashing of a bias, no matter how well founded, that has already been established. Bravo.

    • RedWurm says:

      I think there are some fair points you make, but for me simcity demonstrates why I disagree.

      No matter your attitude to gaming, this launch mess is A Bad Thing. Yes, it’ll probably be okay soon enough, but if you own the game right now, and cannot play right now, it is not the experience you want, no matter your attitude to gaming.

      With always-online we have to ask what we’re getting. Other than the small maps, I was quite interested in simcity, despite the bloody dlc and preorder crap, and unlike, say, d3, it actually had mechanics to make use of the online nature of the game to some extent.

      All that, taken together is The Game. I can say if it’s for a gamer like me or not based on that. The impossibility of even playing a gimped offline mode when I have connection problems, or no internet connection, or on the move, or at launch week, or once EA turn the servers off, or of ever being able to mod it, are straight problems, costs of the online model, not features I have an opinion on.

      If I didn’t care about the practices of the industry I would still be pissed off, because those practices have managed to mess up a game I would otherwise have certainly bought today. I wouldn’t care if the game was not for me, if they messed up the launch of a new cow clicker. I’m not going to shrug my shoulders when an interesting, popular, big budget game gets hamstrung by drm and think it’s obviously not meant for people like me.

      • Entitled says:

        Even if no one actively LIKES game failures, the fact that these games still sell, shows at the very least different priorities.

        For some of us, not being able to play on launch days, is a thing worthy of boycotts, rage, and cries about why on earthwould “we” keep buying it, while in reality, it’s obviously not *us*.

        I didn’t ask for the “gamer” label, don’t want to be in charge of the whole games industry. as long as I can get my own offline single player games, I see no reason to feel depressed about other games that are a no-go for me, still finding an audience somewhere else.

  12. Barchester says:

    I was shocked today when I was looking at one of the loading screen messages in the game giving random tidbits of online information, and it said that more than nine million cities had been founded already. And that’s despite all the people not being able to access the game at all. That’s just massive, and I can imagine how their servers would not be able to handle that amount of pressure.

    • sharkh20 says:

      It is probably counting all the times people hit found and then wouldn’t let them in the city, wouldn’t let them attempt to claim the city again because it was “already claimed.”

      • Barchester says:

        Could be that and figured it would be something like that, yes. Still, seems like a lot to me. Not that I’m an expert on server capacity or anything, but when I see 9 million somewhere I think, damn, that’s a lot, no wonder stuff crashes.

    • Bluestormzion says:

      That’s because a “city” is a two square mile chunk now. For reference, a villiage near me is one square mile, so it’s like 4 of those laid out in a square. When you start a Region, you get something like 3 to 8 areas in it that you can found a City in. But each City can’t have all the stuff. You’re kinda required to have one city to produce resources, one to provide shopping, one for higher education… So that’s artificially padding the numbers. That “Nine Million Cities” is probably more like 3 to 4 million cities, if you consider a Region to be equivalent to one city back in the day.

  13. appropriate touching says:

    sicking lawyers on everything with ears and a pulse”

    I now know that’s an alternate spelling of siccing, but the mental image I got before looking that up was amazing.

  14. sharkh20 says:

    I would like you to take a look at how Grinding Gear Games treats their customers and then come back and say EA is doing a good job.

    • SAM-site says:

      My first response was going to be “who?” So I looked them up and it looks like the only thing they’re doing is Path of Exile (correct me if I’m wrong) which isn’t out yet.

      It’s remarkably easy to be lovely to everyone all the time when the game isn’t out and/or you only have 10s of thousands of people trying to play.

      Not defending or condemning EA on this point, but the scale of their woes I believe is significantly larger than the lovely lovely company, whose name has already slipped my mind, you mention.

      • sharkh20 says:

        The game went open beta with no more wipes in january. They have limited resources and a mid 20 person team. No publisher backing. They hit 70k concurrent users. While there were crashes and small problems, as one would expect, they were fixed quickly and customers were kept in the loop the entire time. The lead developer himseft was writing what was going on pretty much the entire launch week. He told what happened, if something went wrong, what they were currently working on, and anything people should be aware of in the near future. Not to mention they have it in beta and made sure everyone knew before hand that problems would likely occur.

        I am in no way talking about how the launch went for EA/Maxis. Obviously it didn’t go well. I am talking about how they handled it with the community. They didn’t say anything for hours when nobody could even download the game at launch. They didn’t even let people know that they were doing a rolling release so people were just up waiting around for hours before giving up and going to sleep. They finally come up with PR EA typical responses. Lie. And treat customers like dirt. That is the difference I am talking about.

  15. Theodoric says:

    The main thing that saddens me is that all of this are just launch troubles (caused by boneheaded idiocy, but still) and don’t have much to do with the game itself. I find it truly sad to see a game shoot itself in the foot like that.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Do you not for one moment think that they knew this would happen and don’t give a flying fuck?

      • Theodoric says:

        That’s why I used the word boneheaded. I tend not to think of game publishers as being single malevolent entities, they’re just generally incompetent and misdirected.

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Yup, as soon as creative direction is shifted from developers to publishers *shiver down spine*. What with focus groups and god forbid feedback from greasy fingered morons the IP is FUCKED!!

      • Barchester says:

        I keep wondering about EA giving a damn about this or not, and in the end I really don’t think they don’t. Perhaps I’m being naieve here, but no-one in their right mind would not give a damn about a gigantic clustermug like this.

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          When games were good it was the preserve of the Geek(hate the term so I’ll call them Nerds). Nerds had brains so as a result games were cerebral and challenging.

          Now we get a firm and sizable stool (albeit a glitter rolled shit with real hair) and we should be thankful.

          If Last Light sucks I’m back cataloguing till Lost Alfa’s comes out!

  16. Sleepymatt says:

    Surely that should have been “That’s what happens when our only points of reference for, well, anything are achy, breaky, and half-bakey”?! :D

  17. studenteternal says:

    The interesting thing is this silly ‘enhanced singleplayer’ idea can work. I would point to deamon\dark souls as the shinning example of this. And they did exactly what you said. No internet connection? No problem, the game still works, you can still play… but online just makes it better. Nothing is locked away, and (with a couple of exceptions) nothing is inaccessible when you are playing solo, but I always play online. When you actually add value with an online component you don’t have to shove it down your customer’s throats.

    • Continuity says:

      Ah but then you don’t foil the pirates…

    • Brun says:

      The motivation to enforce persistent connectivity isn’t really about “enhancing singleplayer.” EA wants everyone to play online, and only online, for the following reasons:

      1) To maintain the integrity of microtransactions.
      2) To prevent piracy.
      3) To mine useful and valuable data from their customer base.

      Given that Dark Souls was a console game and didn’t have microtransactions, I don’t think Bamco was particularly interested in any of those things.

  18. Moraven says:

    Good points. If Steam had a lot more download hiccups and/or service down for a few days there would be the outrage, pitchforks and no one would be sold on the concept of a digital download service. When the Playstation Network got hacked and was down for 3-4 weeks, all PS3 owners were screwed with no online options. And had no other option. Other than buying a Xbox 360.

    • Continuum says:

      Except Steam has an offline mode you can access with about 3 mouse clicks. I can’t think of any of my Steam games that I can’t access with no internet connection. This is why I don’t get upset at Steam.

      Of course, I don’t really play any multiplayer games through the Steam service. So if it goes down, it cuts off updates and my ability to buy new games. Then again, I can’t think of any time it’s gone down. EA wants Origin to be their own personal version of Steam, but they just don’t quite get how to do it.

    • Saul says:

      I’ll just leave this here: http://www.p4rgaming.com/?p=1473

      “EA Hires Hundreds of Chinese Spammers to Post Positively About SimCity’s Always Online Requirement”

      • iucounu says:

        It’s really annoying when parody news sites aren’t funny, because you then have to work out if it’s actually a badly-written *real* news story.

      • Hungry Like the Wholphin says:

        “500 Internal Server Error

        Oh no! The servers are overloading!

        Try again in a few.”

        Unintentionally funny

      • solidsquid says:

        “We would never stoop so low as to hire Chinese spammers to post positive spin about SimCity’s always online requirement. There is no reason to since the always online requirement is a good thing.”

        Good god, they could at least lie believably

  19. Chris D says:

    I’d find it easier to believe this was a genuine attempt to make games better if it was optional. If they let us play the game offline then by all means add whatever other features they want to. If we like them and they work then we’ll connect of our own free will.

    That EA chose to make always online compulsory says either “You’re probably a pirate so we’ll treat you like a criminal” or “We always want to be able to sell you microtransactions” and not “We genuinely wanted to make a better game.”

    • Iamerror says:

      “You’re probably a pirate so we’ll treat you like a criminal”

      It’s an anti-piracy measure sure, but given the hatred EA have received from the ‘hardcore’ PC community, the mass piracy of their other games despite incentives [such as Bioware games] and the fact this is the revival of an older franchise it’s hardly a wonder they took that route…

      • Chris D says:

        We’ve had the DRM conversation many times before so I’ll just say this: If I’d been able to play offline I would have bought this game. Now I’m not going to.

        There are some people who would be prepared to pay for a game and some who never will. If a publisher or developer wants to make more money from a game then look after the people who will pay you and forget about the ones that were never going to.

        • fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

          This is exactly how I feel. I would have thrown money at them if it wasn’t always-on. I have patchy internet at best, and do a lot of travelling – SimCity on a train would have been fantastic. I really am very sad, and very angry about it.

        • Jimbo says:

          ‘There are some people who would be prepared to pay for a game and some who never will.’

          And plenty of others who will pay, but only if there’s no easily stealable version available. Unfortunately there are a lot more of them than there are of us nowadays.

          • Christo4 says:

            Umm no. 90% of the people who pirate won’t buy the game anyway. In my country almost no one buys games except if they are multiplayer and even so it’s very rare. Reason? Money. 60$ is a shit-ton for students who’s both parents earn 700$ a month.

            I understand that EA wants to reduce piracy, but IMO it isn’t worth it because most people who pirate the game won’t buy the game anyway.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            @ Christo4:

            Statistics: sometimes they’re accurate, but most of the time they come out of your ass.

            Every person I know that pirates video games more than makes up for their bad behavior in paid content. Every last one of them.

          • malkav11 says:

            In my experience, people who are prepared to pay the asking price for a game usually do. And people who aren’t prepared to pay that asking price usually won’t. The idea that there are droves of people out there who don’t want to pay $50-60 for something but by golly they will if there’s no pirate version to get it for free doesn’t pass the sanity check.

  20. Continuum says:

    “The cynical part of me wants to say it’s most cost-effective to weather the early storm with minimal resources…” and the cynical part of you is exactly right. Launch server stress is so much greater than it is after 30 days that the companies don’t want to rent the server space to cope.

    This is one thing in an MMO where being online is the core part of the experience. It’s simply ridiculous in a game that can be played entirely 1P not to design it to work offline. But all we can do is announce on Twitter or whatnot that specifically have not preordered the game because of the launch issues and will wait for a price drop, and then do so. That’s all the companies care about – if the always online DRM causes them to lose money.

    • malkav11 says:

      Well, we can and should take the further step of not buying the game at all so long as it has the objectionable server requirement, and tell EA as much. But you’re correct in basic principles.

  21. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    All this slaver about an IP with real history. ‘We’ knew what was happening and ‘us’ that were in the know being marginalised by EA, THEY DON’T GIVE A FLYING FUCK.

    Time to move on people, AAA is an acronym for something witty about being REALLY FUKIN’ STUPID.

  22. Liudeius says:

    I’m never going to play a game with always-online DRM, I may crack it (whether I’ll pay for it or pirate it I’m not sure, while I would normally not pirate, I have no intention of supporting the awful idea), but I will never log into an always-connected online server to play a single player game.

    It’s really regrettable, I WANT TO PAY FOR YOUR GAMES, but I’m not going to jump through all your hoops just so I can give you my money.
    One of the most talked about concepts I hear about with respect to piracy is that “piracy is not only free, but also provides the services more conveniently,” so why they hell, when piracy is already more convenient, is your answer to make your game inconvenient to IMPOSSIBLE to play without piracy?

      • Liudeius says:

        One, I paid, so screw them, I’ll enjoy my game DRM free, and two, you think this can not be avoided through a combination of peerblock, encryption, IP blocking, and a proxy?

        Actually this is LESS threathening than what was previously in place, while it may have previously been less likely to get caught (assuming this actually works, it has only been out over a week, so we can’t know that yet), the penalty was far higher.
        With a system such as this, it seems the WORST possible punishment is three days of slow internet (Oh no, what ever will I do? Play my cracked copy of Sim City which doesn’t need internet access?), where as previously you could be fined obscene amounts of money.

        It you practice even remotely safe torrenting, I doubt this will even be a problem for most pirates.

        But I don’t pirate, I buy my games. I’m just very likely to crack most of them at some point to avoid the DRM.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        5 Online games is all I’ll ever need. If I want a 6th, I’d happily trade the internet for it. ;)

  23. The white guar says:

    Day one. Day one never changes.

  24. Zogtee says:

    Meanwhile, The Settlers 3: Ultimate Collection has just been released on GOG. That will be $9.99, thank you very much. No always-online, no DR, eh, “service”, and no micro-transactions. :D

  25. crinkles esq. says:

    I think Nathan has developed a case of Stockholm Syndrome.

    The anger is not just a case of Day 1 server problems. EA wants to make every property online-only so that they can 1) track everything we do, 2) monetize everything we do, 3) shut off the game when they want us to play their next game. This is not a development that I can support. This is a direct attack on our ownership of the games we purchase. To excuse their behaviour and overlook the threat they represent to single-player gaming by normalizing this pay-to-rent model is foolhardy at best.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Don’t buy their products then, it’s that fuckin’ simple.

      Ohhnooos, I was that fuckin’ stooopid I bought a game that monitors me and I can’t get access to, ohnoos. I knew it was going to happen before I bought it but bought it just incase it didn’t…………FFS!!

    • Baines says:

      Indeed. You can’t say EA has done a good job of its launch simply because they admitted they made a mess, not when they knowingly made the mess in the first place, and all for no benefit to consumers.

      Its like someone running over your dog, and then you say “They did a good job driving. Sure they killed my dog, but they bought me a novelty tombstone that said ‘Don’t Drive Drunk’, before they went back to
      the liquor store.”

    • wodin says:

      Nathan’s articles always leave me abit bemused. I find myself more than any other RPS journo disagreeing with him. He has done it again, he is to erm…PC at times for me and comes across as slightly wet. Sorry Nathan. Make a stand for once. Be abit risky.

  26. DickSocrates says:

    We all have the option of boycott.

    Only joking, you’re too WEAK!

  27. ghling says:

    Am I the only one who is irritated by the fact you criticize the always-online behaviour of games like SimCity, but on the other hand see facebook, iTunes or Google Glasses as great examples without problems? iTunes has quite a strong DRM with big limitations (limitations as of how often you can copy a file on your phone / mp3-player), at least the last time i checked (which, i admit, isn’t so often as I’m not attracted by DRM and such).
    Facebook and Google Glasses are far away from what I would call unproblematic. They won’t have things like always-online DRM (even I would say facebooks behaviour could be compared to that in some way) but lots of other problematic thing concerning privacy issues. It may be one thing that you can choose to use these products for yourself, but the big issue is that you harm other peoples privacy by doing it (address book farming from facebook, video recording other people without them having to possibility to say ‘no’).

    • SAM-site says:

      Facebook – http://kingdeem.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/we-do-not-own-the-barn.jpg – is perhaps a poor example you’ve chosen there.

      Google Glass meanwhile will (I suspect) like you to log in to your Google account in order to use it. Weirdly, Google seems to be more effective (for me anyway) when I’m logged in, precisely because it knows the kinds of things I’m usually after. Now you can describe that as extra functionality or DRM depending on how you fancy spinning it.

    • Lanfranc says:

      A least for music, iTunes actually removed all DRM (FairPlay) back in 2009. Books and movies still have it, though.

    • baozi says:

      what does itunes have to do with always-online drm?

      music files you purchase there get stamped with your name, date and time of purchase, and email address. that’s it. you can freely make backups of them. every music player that plays mp4s will play the files. itunes never asks you to login to play music. you could, in fact, give your purchased music files to friends (not that i recommend doing that), and they’d be able to play the music.

      also, was there really EVER a limit on how often you can copy files to your phone?!

      Even movies on itunes (that still have drm) don’t require you to be always online to watch them. you only need to authorize your library once; i think it’s something like 5 libraries/machines or so, but you can always deauthorize them.

    • Christo4 says:

      Last time i checked this was a site about PC gaming not facebook chick-flicks.

  28. RandomEsa says:

    So EA has problems with Sim City and gets a lot of bad rep for it. Now what would you do to try to balance the image of your company?

    How about release another LGBT promotion ( http://youtu.be/_RgEA07lAZI ) again. C’mon step up your game EA you already used that card when you won the worst company in America award.

    • Iamerror says:

      I’ve seen people claim this event has been used to ‘distract’ from a number of different statements / events now. It’s getting a little stupid.

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Nah, not stupid planned. In the limelight means people think ‘oooh that new Sim City game’ and promptly trot off to read a ‘paid for review’ on one of the ‘paid for top 10′ on google review sites.

        Easy this game marketing malarky, given enough money I could sell my smegma for millions…

  29. jonfitt says:

    Since time immemorial (or iMMOmorial, I guess), servers have gone toe-to-toe with day-one stampedes in much the same fashion as a turtle against an 18-wheeler: by, er, turtling. We, meanwhile, have been conditioned to react accordingly, with all manner of requisite gasps, averted gazes, and muscles clenched until they scream for reprieve. Then nature runs its course, and developers and publishers alike scramble to glue one billion bits of finely pulped turtle back together again.

    Very well done sir.

  30. destroy.all.monsters says:

    What I don’t understand is why anyone would support this behavior by any publisher. EA, Ubi, Actiblizzard are all on my do not buy from list. There is no game so worth playing that I’m willing to cut out my own self-interest to do so.

    However, this is exactly the outcome the success of Steam was always going to be. “What amount of lack of ownership will they put up with? Apparently any.”

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Because they don’t give a FUCK, reviewers in the mainstream have allready been bought off. This just puts their IP more in the public domain. RPS readers are not your average gamer!!!!!!!!

    • Lanfranc says:

      I’m “supporting” it because it still looks like an interesting game that I want to play. I won’t get my copy for another week or so, anyway (Amazon with supersaver delivery), so I’m counting on the server troubles having abated somewhat by then.

  31. derbefrier says:

    heres a solution none of you will like or actually do. quit pirating games. The need for DRM subsides. Big businesses like EA see it as a waste of money they quit putting drm on all their games, everyone’s happy. Of course that would involve admitting our part in this drm fad as pc gamers so it will never happen. Taking responsibility for ones own actions is not something people like to do. This is why i will never not buy a game solely because of its drm because I understand why its here and that I personally contributed to it by pirating tons of games while I was in college. I was selfish and I can admit that now. Its probably to late to go back to the way things were though so either get used to it or just be happy with indie games who cant afford to protect their product and pretend they don’t mind if you pirate their games.

    If you ever want to see a bunch of egotistic, self righteous idiots just click on your nearest PC gaming site and read the latest story about how people trying to protect their product from thieves are evil and greedy!

    we have no one to blame but ourselves for drm crazy publishers and you know it could have been completely avoided by just practicing a bit of self control but you’ll never see anyone say it especially a gaming site as they need to pander to their base to stay in business.

    enjoy this monster we all created together :)

    • PikaBot says:

      I haven’t pirated a game in…six years? Not counting games I have no way of legitimately paying money for, of course.

      That doesn’t make this any less of a completely garbage argument.

    • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

      Sorry but NO! If there is no demo I will pirate a game and if I like it I will buy otherwise I delete.

      By the sounds of it you preorder regardless, doffs the cap, while uttering imbecile!

      • Kingmarzo says:

        Why do you feel entitled to a demo? Just stay away if you care that much. Using that as a reason to pirate games don’t make you any better than the rest of them

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          Like when I’m spending money on something expensive from the Deli I get a taste first.

          Call me suspitious but no demo makes me think there is something being hidden from me, probably for a good reason.

          Edit: I bought Max Payne 3 full price because I played a torrent after the reviews made me think I’d hate it. I’ve got nothing to hide from the counter copyright infringement cops, my Steam Library would make them look a little foolish to go after me for pirating

          • Jimbo says:

            I hope you have a better defence up your sleeve if you ever need one, because I really don’t think that one’s going to work out for you.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            To be honest I don’t care, I’ve been supporting games companies since the ZX Spectrum days.

            Now these corporate entities buy their reviews so an unbiased view is like hens teeth. I never pirated up until about two years ago but after being bitten by a couple of AAA titles I said ‘enough is enough’.

            In every other consumer good related purchase I have the right to a refund on a product not meeting my expectations. I understand the software model is a different beast but when I as a consumer am being actively deceived what recourse am I left with.

            Huge advertising campaigns whet the appetite and if I can’t wait till peer reviews come out in a large enough sample (ignoring the 10’s and 0’s) on Metacritic I’ll stick the metaphoric ‘toe in the water’ before parting with my hard earned now.

            It’s a sad state of affairs when the actions of the corporate entities are actually encouraging people to pirate. They buy up free speech in the popular gaming press removing any objectivity from a critique and expect us the consumer to swallow their lies.

    • Iamerror says:

      ‘ Big businesses like EA see it as a waste of money they quit putting drm on all their games, everyone’s happy’

      Oh I agree the situation is definitely gamers [as a collective] own faults, but that’s never going to happen now, the time this kind of game-system focused DRM might have been seen as merely a bad idea as opposed to a necessity came and went a long long time ago.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      This is bullpucky and always has been. DRM is about control not piracy. Piracy will never cease to exist so calling people out on it is pointless. Pirates have made many games playable and are the source of the vast majority of Gog.com’s lack of disc checks.

      Not buying games laden with DRM is something entirely within the control of the buying public. The only answer is to put EA, Ubi and others on your do not buy from list until it shows up in a DRM-less release.

    • Jimbo says:

      I don’t pirate games, so speak for yourself.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Bullshit. If it wasn’t the excuse of “pirating” they were using for DRM, it would be something else.

    • malkav11 says:

      Companies are entirely responsible for their own actions. They’re the ones wasting money on DRM, driving away customers and violating consumer rights, not the pirates.

    • WrenBoy says:

      The problem with your line of reasoning is that the evidence disagrees. There is plenty of evidence to show that piraters in general spend more money than average on the form of entertainment they are pirating. There is no evidence to show that piracy reduces overall spending for the type of entertainment being pirated.

      When I was younger for example I spent most of my disposable income on games and pirated what I couldnt afford. You are free to find this morally wrong but while it meant that I enjoyed some games I didnt pay for it didnt mean I would have paid had piracy not existed. Since I started working I have had no need to pirate games and only play what I have paid for but thanks to the easy availability of pirated games in my youth I am still in the habit of playing games. I cant see this as anything other than a net gain for the gaming industry.

      I dont think I am alone in this.

  32. Nick says:

    Spraying air freshener after shitting up someones wall is not handling things well.

  33. toliman says:

    EA does a great job for those stores, the chosen people, the ones who actually invest in their cardboard boxes and holographic stickers and lenticular printed collectors editions, etc. and they do that archaic job, well.

    A good deal of the PC gameplaying world, buy the boxes. a larger portion just for the online codes needed to put into an account, but EA, still sell and buy the process of making cardboard attractive because cardboard, does not talk back, it doesn’t have issues, and it sells rain, hail, shine, great or poor or unplayable, and EA marketing makes the box sing back in melodious sales projections and recites old tales of steady income and former glory.

    Stores will buy EA games or go broke trying, they don’t care about the value of a game or the review scores or the process of creating.That’s partly tragic, but inevitably, that’s also EA’s major foundation. selling those cardboard boxes. At some point, it stopped making games and sold boxes, and made the boxes better, and hoped that the process would catch up on the other end.

    And it’s perhaps the problem with EA, it is too large to know what it’s doing wrong, because the backlash that would cripple a regular company, doesn’t stop it from continuing, it has clearly not cared about infuriating customers in the launch window of an MMO, in every MMO it’s released, and it’s clear that the only way to really make EA, as a monster, stop and take notice is to pull sales from the shelves, to threaten the boxes rather than the games within. Amazon may be the bully in this, but it’s a valuable lesson, and perhaps the only one that will make EA take notice, is if Amazon stops selling their boxes.

    It will lash out badly, i imagine that EA is going to use the bully tactic and shun and boycott amazon soon enough, before Amazon can pull the plug on EA, but it is quite delusional at this point and EA, being the combine harvester of creativity that it is, can’t turn itself around, it only does one job well because that job, makes a profit.

    Example in point, Origin. it clearly is a disaster, not because of the continual run-on launch failures, but because it’s a store first, and a platform second. but that’s not even a mote in the behemoth’s vision.

    This is perhaps the problem with having EA be the ultimate combine harvester of innovation, they have separated critical parts of the normal release cycle in an attempt to make the process fit a marketing release cycle, and it’s clearly their weakest area. it’s not the first time they’ve released Horrible, Horrible content, thinly disguised to sell, and i clearly point to the Sims 3 as being one of the clear innovations of EA, cycles of content with little thought or support behind it.

    I can’t point blame to any one department, others can, i tend to think that the huge shitstorm indicates they all assumed another group would handle the inherent issues, of using Origin as a backstop to server issues, and never gave it any thought.

    For every other developer who wants to tread the ground behind EA, it’s fertile soil, but it still has to stand in the filth and muck left behind when EA rattles on past.

  34. Mctittles says:

    Another possibility is they have expected server problems on launch the same way products are limited on store shelves on launch to give the impression of their game being very popular. If the servers are “buckling under the pressure” people assume a lot of other people are trying to play the game. Then group mentality draws in even more people.

    Look at the number of people and articles talking about the game that wouldn’t have been if the launch had gone smoothly.

    • fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

      Yeah, my local nightclub used to have us queuing round the building in the snow, and then an hour later when you got in it was empty.

      The things you’ll do at 18 for a sniff of knicker.

      • Mctittles says:

        That is completely irrelevant. You don’t pay for the nightclub services before you show up. Kind of a stretch of an argument.

        • fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

          I had a membership card. I’d already paid for my entry with that.

          • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

            Any luck with the knicker sniffing?

            Creating exclusivity is different to being denied access. Using your nightclub analogy EA created a great club but forgot to fit a door, on purpose.

            Once in the club via a spring that can snapback at any moment. You have to wear a rather large pair of Clown Shoes. Not because these shoes are essential to use the services in the club or make the experience any more enjoyable. It’s because the management can easily spot gate crashers and they don’t care that the aforementioned footwear spoil most people’s experience.

  35. Strangerator says:

    This is the future. But don’t worry, it won’t always seem this bad.

    Once this becomes the new normal, you’ll just accept this bullshit as part of the process. When you complain you’ll be told you’re living in the past. You won’t be able to resist buying a game, because EA puts together a slick ad with some stoner loser from an admittedly funny television show.

    This will all happen for the same reasons we allow ourselves to be felt up at airports, we’ll be told it’s for security and that it must be done this way. We’ll accept it because we don’t want to miss out or be inconvenienced or be (heaven forbid) AGAINST SECURITY. DO YOU GUYS REALLY WANT THE GAME PIRATE TERRORISTS TO WIN!?!?!

    What disturbs me most about this story is that the REASON the servers went down was that so many people just bought this thing. Launch day failures are annoying, sure, but only to the morons who buy this. The problem with the way this is being done is the inevitable shutdown of the “old” SimCity SERVICE to make room for newer SimCity services. Think of this as essentially a 60 dollar a year subscription game, being sold in the guise of a non-subscription game like older SimCity’s.

    • Mctittles says:

      Maybe they only want you to think the servers went down because so many people bought this game. If the servers shut down with 3 people it still gives the impression of a game so popular people are waiting in line to play it.

  36. harbinger says:

    I think I may just be developing a deep hatred for everything Nathan Grayson, Apple lover, Facebook addict, major hipster, illusionary “tough guy”, turbofeminist, violent game denier and Always-Online DRM apologist… He’s like the anti-thing of a person I might actually like.

    • Kamos says:

      Always Online DRM apologist? You might want to read the post again.

    • zachforrest says:

      the ‘i’m a tough guy’ article was just utter tosh. i was embarassed to read it

    • wodin says:

      I have to agree…Nathan comes across as way to PC and to much of an optimist for me. He is sadly my least favourite on here…didn’t he get the job last year when they asked for people to apply? Also looking for someone from across the pond aswell I believe. Though it pains me to say and yes his writing skill is great…I can only agree with the statement above.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Fuck off back to Kotaku & make sure the door doesn’t smack you on the arse on the way out.

    • Hahaha says:

      “under the immense strain of North America’s unquenchable entertainment lust, recently leading to halting of sales on Amazon”

      So why can we still buy the physical copy?

      Oh look at that we can buy digital copies as well now. fuck me RPS that was some shoddy arse writing did you even check with amazon to see why the digital version only was not for sale?

      • Brun says:

        You can buy them from third-party retailers that sell through Amazon’s website. That is *not* the same as buying directly from Amazon.

        • Hahaha says:

          At least click the link next time you decide to respond ;)

          Physical copy (The following wording has not changed)
          “In Stock.
          Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.”

          Digital copy (This has changed)
          ” Available Now.
          Sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. Additional taxes may apply. By placing your order, you agree to our Terms of Use. ”

          So from this we could take that they sold out, there was something like 2 physical copies available when this story was posted.

  37. Jraptor59 says:

    I can’t believe the gamers, as consumers, tolerate this latest trend of needing to be always online to play a single player game. I prefer single player games. The addition of multiplayer is ok but not requisite. The fact is the this online only gaming strategy can ruin the game experience. If people don’t like this, and they shouldn’t, for God’s sake stop paying money for the games that force this on you! The compainies don’t care at all about you, but they do care about your money. If consumers/gamers wouldn’t put up with this BS, the companies who do it would stop.

  38. Strife212 says:

    This insane rage over games not working when they first come out is pretty new. Would World of Warcraft be getting 4/10′s if it launched these days? That was completely broken for days when it came out.

    • Brun says:

      No, because WoW is an MMO, and MMO’s get a pass apparently. This argument was done to death with D3, but I think in that game’s case they were trying to turn it into more of an MMO – obviously people still nerd raged because *they* didn’t like the direction they took the franchise. That said, I bought D3, and didn’t buy SimCity, and SimCity’s problems still piss me off more, as the online stuff feels more arbitrary here.

      • D3xter says:

        The mandatory Online in both is arbitrary and unnecessary, it’s basically just DRM.
        You could offer every single feature without forcing people to be Online, since both games are inherently SinglePlayer from their base design. The upcoming D.iablo III for PlayStation 3 that is likely going to feature Offline (Couch)-CoOp is only going to further prove that.

        They are both basically taking a huge dump over their consumers in the knowledge that instead of shying away, most of them are just going to open their mouths.

  39. Brun says:

    The metacritic scores for this game are hilarious.

    Critic Score: 82
    User Score: 1.7

  40. Shokyu says:

    Omg all these crybabies really.. every single time. You don’t want an online game? Don’t buy this or D3 or whatever offers online mode only. Your loss.
    Servers are suffering on day1-2-3? Hmm never seen that before. Let’s create even more topics, pictures etc about how angry you are and how you want a refund, burn down EA!
    Really, are you new to online gaming??

    • Hungry Like the Wholphin says:

      This isn’t online gaming. It’s offline gaming dependent on an online connection with no justification.

    • malkav11 says:

      I haven’t bought either of those games. And it is indeed my loss. It’s also your loss, and the loss of the medium, the moment those servers are shut down.

    • Kamos says:

      New to online gaming? I was there when the first MMO came out, kiddo. Back then, your internet could be a piece of shit 9 kbps dial up and you’d still manage to play a game you had paid for. I’m a crybaby and you are a fool. Go play your deliberately crippled game if you even can.

      • Shokyu says:

        Yeah, let’s compare games and the Internet itself from 1990 with its current state. Things got waaay more complicated than the very first mmos and you should know that as well. I’m not saying it’s not a shame that a game “works” like this one, but this thing happens like EVERY time a new game comes out with loads of people trying to play it from day1. And the same posts and comments appear everytime as well asking for a refund (even tho they want to play the game and thats why they own a copy and probably after the refund they’ll just buy the game again when its fixed) and when 1-2 weeks passes by all these will be forgotten and people will just play the game, no one caring anymore about this article and its comments. Until the next bigger online game when it starts again… What’s the point of this?

        • dE says:

          Apart from the army of strawmans in your argument (you should train them into marines for an early rush, you might be at army cap though), the point in these articles and comments is a very valid and particularly easy one:
          If you don’t force pointless online requirements, then you won’t have to deal with the persistent long term backlash.

          • Shokyu says:

            Or just give it the time and the game will just do fine like the others did in the past. Also if you don’t like their way, don’t buy the game, no one is forcing you. You still don’t understand it and call it pointless so I just cba anymore but the amount of crybabies (most of them are above 20 for sure which is a bit pathetic) annoys me everytime I see articles and topics like this.
            Ps: You were almost funny in your first sentence, almost. Try harder next time.

          • Kamos says:

            Shokyu, you obviously do not understand what crippleware is. Please, go ahead and look it up if you’re at all interested in not being cheated the next time. You see, EA depends on misguided fools such as you to thrive. Again, enjoy your deliberately crippled product.

        • WrenBoy says:

          Given that Sim City is fundamentally a single player game it doesnt seem waaaaaaaaay more complicated to me. I can think of a fairly simple technical solution to downed servers on single player games.

  41. bulletbill88 says:

    I was really looking forward to this game as I have fond memories of playing SimCity 2000, but I don’t think I will buy it now. To be honest, even if the game had been half decent I probably would have purchased it on nostalgia alone – but I’m not going to pay $70 for a game I can’t even play.

    Anyone who purchased this game only to find they can’t play it due to problems on EA’s part should be entitled to a refund. If I buy a TV from a shop, take it home and plug it in only to find it doesn’t work, I can take it back and expect a refund. I the shop told me ‘wait a couple of weeks and then try again and see if it works’ there is no way I would accept that. Gamers need to stand up to EA here – the product is not as advertised so it shouldn’t be sold in its current condition.

  42. malkav11 says:

    I could see online connectivity features bringing unique and valuable approaching to gaming. No, really, I could. But I can’t imagine how you could possibly ever justify making those features mandatory and thus condemning your game to an inherently truncated future and taking it out of the hands of anyone who doesn’t have solid, speedy, reliable (and depending on the data you’re throughputting, uncapped) internet service. Some of the things SimCity is theoretically doing with its online features could be cool. But they could also be optional. And they aren’t.

  43. frosty216 says:

    I expected psychotic cyborgs and jetpacks, not F2P and DRM.
    Worst. Future. EVER.

  44. PopeRatzo says:

    Here’s the problem with articles of righteous anger like this one:

    EA doesn’t care. Ubisoft doesn’t care. None of the big game companies care one whit whether you like it or not. You’re still going to buy their game.

    How many companies have gone under because of a bad launch? Not enough. We think we’re the customers, the consumers. Instead, we are the consumables. Our desires and demands are so far down the list that nobody at the top of one of those companies has any incentive to care. Because so few of us actually use our power as consumers. We feel we have to buy because “8.5 out of 10!”

  45. Morcane says:

    Amidst all of the DRM rage and emo people cutting themselves up…

    How is the actual bloody game, if you get to play it?

    • RedViv says:

      Pretty neat. Chances are, it would not be quite such a big deal otherwise.

    • solidsquid says:

      Apparently it’s pretty good, but has some bugs and there’s some features they don’t have from the older games which detract from it. Biggest one is the cities being significantly smaller than the ones you used to be able to build. Others are things like pollution from other cities can effect yours if you’re in a shared location and you’re not able to do any kind of terraforming (whatever the land is like, that’s how it stays)

      Also the always online has actually caused problems in-game beyond just the connection issues, there’s people lost hours of work on a city because their computer lost the connection it switched to using the local cache (as it’s supposed to), but then didn’t sync the cache to the cloud when it reconnected and they lost everything since they were last online.

    • jalf says:

      Depends on who you ask/which reviews you read.

      So far, my impression is this, basically:

      - It’s tiny. Like really really tiny. Like SimVillage tiny.
      - Lack of save/load is crippling, as it makes you afraid to experiment
      - inability to turn control/off disasters is painful
      - It simulates individual sims more than the city. Revenue fluctuates wildly as individual stores or factories open or close, and there’s what basically sounds like pathing problems, where vehicles (or water supply nodes, or electricity) get lost in transit and refuse to reach certain buildings. You can’t really get the graphs and stats that you’d want in order to get a feel for how your city is progressing, but instead, you can follow an individual sim to/from work and in various everyday activities.

      The positive reviews mostly seem to basically boil down to “it’s fun”.

      So, a mixed bag, from what I’ve gathered.

  46. The_Doc says:

    I probably would have bought this game: I’ve gotten bored of SimCity games pretty quickly in the past, but the prospect of the new bottom-up method of simulation was/is intriguing to me. But then I heard about the internet connection requirement and the limited city size restriction, and I’ve decided to pass on buying the game. Maybe I’ll buy it in a year or two when it’s on sale for $5, we’ll see.

  47. bar10dr says:

    How can you rally for a game that obviously has had its entire gameplay mechanics based upon the fact that it had to be a single player game but at the same time being a online only game? It’s so obvious that the “always online” gameplay decided how the game should be played that it ended up being something completely different than what Sim City used to be? All that’s left is laying down roads and putting down zones (And they even removed low, med and high zoning). Even the lack of game saves, lack of terrain modification and lack of mod support is a result of the online part.

    When the servers shut down in the future, the game will be dead for always, EA never update their always online games to be offline games when they take down the servers.

    Sim City 4 is still played by many, its still used. In another 10 years Sim City will be completely dead, you won’t be able to play it, your kids won’t be able to play it, it will just be a slight memory.

    Please, never lease another always online single player game from EA, vote with your wallet!

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