Failed State: SimCity’s Disastrous Launch

Senior Contributor
03.08.13 32 Comments

When we published a piece on always-on DRM this Wednesday, we mentioned SimCity, but we assumed that by Friday, it would have these issues ironed out, and the game would be playable.

We were very, very wrong. Forget fire lizards and tornadoes: Somebody save SimCity from its own protection measures!

EA has been doing everything to get the game to actually work. They’ve disabled “non-essential” features and they’ve added servers, and Maxis and EA are going into the weekend dealing with… uh… enraged gamers in Asia and Europe as well.

While EA is desperately trying to put a happy face on the measures, the simple reality is that they were clearly caught completely flat-footed by this. This goes well beyond launch day screw-ups; going into today, there are people who got the game Tuesday who haven’t built a city yet. All of this is baffling because, well, they can read, and the last time an eagerly anticipated PC exclusive came along, it was Diablo III, which had more or less the exact same problems.

And EA also is abundantly aware that their own customers don’t like always-on DRM; the rather ugly Reddit AMA with Maxis personnel rapidly turned into an anti-DRM argument. Pretty much everything the more level-headed Redditors out there predicted would go wrong did.

Will EA admit defeat and change the DRM? Doubtful. The game was built around this concept, and to change it would require some fairly significant back-end changes that Maxis likely can’t afford and EA likely wouldn’t want them to do anyway.

But hopefully this makes the entire game industry stop and think. DRM is going to be a part of gaming for a while, but if it renders the game unplayable… what’s the point?

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