EA calls SimCity launch ‘dumb,’ offers free PC game

EA’s Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw has offered an apology and an olive branch to Windows gamers affected by the poor launch of the new SimCity game for Windows. (A Mac version is in development and is expected to be released in Spring.)

EA launched the new SimCity this past week, and the launch has been an utter debacle. EA’s Origin game delivery service – its own answer to Valve’s Steam service – was crushed by the number of customers attempting to download the game. SimCity is very dependent on server connectivity: it features multiplayer support, uses cloud save and relies on server-based copy protection management, requiring a persistent online connection. Frequent server outages, disconnections, crashing and loss of saved game data are all problems reported by players.

Bradshaw says that EA continues to add server capacity, but admits that EA got caught with its pants down.

So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.

OK, we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it. In the last 48 hours we increased server capacity by 120 percent. It’s working – the number of people who have gotten in and built cities has improved dramatically. The number of disrupted experiences has dropped by roughly 80 percent.

EA is giving anyone who purchases the game until March 18, 2013 a free PC game download to apologize for the mess. Said Bradshaw:

I know that’s a little contrived – kind of like buying a present for a friend after you did something crummy. But we feel bad about what happened. We’re hoping you won’t stay mad and that we’ll be friends again when SimCity is running at 100 percent.

It’s times like this when it playing second fiddle to Windows may work out in Mac users’ favor. By the time the Mac version arrives, these server problems should be a distant memory. What’s more, according to a FAQ posted on the SimCity Web site, the Mac version will be a fully native game. That’s a departure for EA, which has been dependent on TransGaming’s Cider translation technology for many Mac offerings in recent years.