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.

  • Kalev

    “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.”

    Actually, it wasn’t Origin that was crushed, it was the SimCity game servers themselves. Perhaps Origin has its own issues, but this wasn’t one of them.

  • jacksonsquire

    There was a stink with this game before it ever launched. People were angry because you need to be online to play a single player game as they were using their servers to verify you purchased the game as a form of DRM. Many people, including myself, won’t buy the game for that reason alone. EA did a AMA on Reddit about the game, and the thread is almost nothing but people bagging on EA for treating their customers as thieves.

    EA’s servers crashed because they’re idiots and developed an addition to a widely popular single player series that required server verification to play. Their servers crashed because a bunch of people simply opened the game to play it at one time.

    Meanwhile, you can buy SimCity 2000 at GOG without DRM. There’s no servers that crash preventing you from playing that game.

  • D Pauw

    Have to agree that I am now glad they delayed the mac version. Nothing worse than getting a half baked port of a half baked game (now we may just get a half baked port). Hopefully they release it when it is ready.

  • Will

    If this has taught anyone anything it’s that always-on DRM just doesn’t work. It’s restrictive to extreme levels and just completely backwards. Ubisoft tried it with their UPlay service in 2008 and by 2010 they removed it completely after nothing but bad feedback. Their games were still pirated, and paying customers had to deal with hassle.

    Then again, EA have always been one of the scummiest bad business practice abusing games companies ever. They’re lead by people who don’t play games and don’t have any love for games so they just don’t understand. It’s the same with Activision, and on a broader scale Microsoft. They’re just blind corporate executives chasing the dollar at the top of a graph and then wondering why people hate them so much when they go out of their way to inconvenience people. Apple gives a fuck about every detail. Same with Google, Valve, Nintendo.. EA just simply doesn’t, and MS too for that matter.

    • I guess most people wouldn’t mind the always-on DRM if they would be able to play just about everytime, and not being hold back with server downtime. As Blizzard launched Diablo 3, people were saying that they hated the fact they couldn’t play the game because of server downtime, but if the servers would have been up the whole time, the rage would be much smaller. The problem just is, that the game companies apparantly can’t guess how much server power they need to stand up against the requests.

  • Steven Fisher

    There’s a “poor us, unanticipated sales!” to this that I just don’t get. EA had control of how many copies they put in users’ hands. They could have released the game gradually.

    EA makes this mistake over and over again with online games. It’s astonishing to me that EA has been learning this lesson over and over since 1997 and still thinks it’s okay to inflict bad experience on customers.