Jason Schrier at Kotaku reports EA's latest effort to get SimCity working involves removing "non-critical" features of the always-online game: "Hey, remember when video games came out and then you could actually play them?"

86 Responses to “SimCity DRM disaster: EA removes game features "to get servers working"”

  1. elix says:

    Christ on a bike, I wrote the new SimCity off when I heard it was going to have always-online DRM like a full year ago, but I was not expecting this profound level of fail. Just… wow.

    Between this and the fact that EA has basically promised in-game microtransactions in everything from now on, EA is dead to me. I was hesitant to buy their games in the past due to their scummy ways, but I’d still be able to be convinced for favourite franchises… now, I don’t think I can do anything but watch in horror.

    EA… just, what

    what

    EA stahp

    • Robert Drop says:

      Sadly you won’t be able to escape these things by avoiding EA.  EA is just responding to economic conditions in game development with all the revenue-raising strategies previously shown to work.  Those are the same strategies everyone else has seen working and they’re in the same pickle.  Namely that the cost of making a AAA game is ever-expanding while sales have been down and the retail cost of games, adjusted for inflation, has gone down significantly at the same time, taking the game industry from a situation where a top-selling game could pay for four or five dud games to a point where a top selling game can’t even necessarily pay for its own development.

      • Are you saying that EA aren’t making enough money? Because quite frankly, Sir, that’s bullshit.

        • Robert Drop says:

          I’m not saying that EA is being reasonable here (though they have seen a pretty serious decline in profits even as they’ve seen increases in revenue over the last 10 years).  Clearly their notion of what “enough money” consists of and what’s reasonable is different from anyone else’s, as evidenced by the fact that they’re not only the first publisher to decide to implement all these revenue-increasing measures, but they’re doing so in a ham-fisted, player-unfriendly manner.
          I’m just saying that they’re responding to changes in AAA game development and markets that are afflicting everyone else, and eventually other publishers are going to implement similar strategies (where they haven’t already).

          • I think that the changes in their profits are also due to change in the market (not that your analysis isn’t accurate).

            There are indie gaming companies netting bigger profits than EA on individual titles, with absolutely no DRM whatsoever.

            The world is changing, and EA are no different to the music biz dinosaurs also gurgling for greater profits. Unfortunately though they do own some fantastic titles.

          • Robert Drop says:

            Yeah, in addition to AAA games becoming unsupportable by sales alone, other changes have happened to the market that a dinosaur like EA (or THQ, RIP) can’t adequately respond to.  They rely on proven formulas as solutions when there aren’t necessarily any.
            Looking at specific outliers can be misleading.  Successful indie games can be extremely successful (oh my gods, so damn successful) because of the low development cost to revenue ratio.  But that ignores the fact that when you look at indie games in general, the success-to-failure ratio is terrible (the full extent of which is also unknowable).  And the successes are games of the sort that a large studio would never (and could never) make.
            In some ways what’s happening with the decline of publishers in the game industry is the opposite of what happened in the music industry with the decline of publishers.  There’s more DIY, “indie” game/music making going on in both cases, but what the publishers offered was quite different.  The music industry was not an industry of musicians but an industry that exploited musicians – very rarely was there anything in it for musicians, financially speaking, once the profits were doled out, and the labels offered little to musicians besides their marketing machines.  Large game publishers offer financial security (or as much as is possible in this industry) to game developers – you won’t see any profits from your games, but you get a reliable salary. Without publishers, the costs of making games will fall entirely on the backs of developers. For every success there will be X number of game makers going broke and spending their savings unsuccessfully making games (even with Kickstarter), unable to last long enough to make that one game that interests people.  I’ve seen this firsthand and it’s ugly.  Gamers will find that certain types and a certain scale of game can’t be made without publishers.  I suspect that publishers will become more and more like music labels – they’ll take money for marketing and distribution of games made by self-supported developers whose games weren’t funded by the publishers.

          • Or we’ll just see private backers and investors like every other industry that makes stuff.

      • Boundegar says:

        Really?  Have the real wages of computer programmers soared to stratospheric levels?  No?  How about the 3D modeling artists?  Or maybe the cost of duplicating CDs?

        Where is all that “ever-expanding cost” actually going?  It couldn’t be coming out as profit now could it?

        • Robert Drop says:

          No, the number of developers required to make a AAA game has exploded as improving hardware and graphical capabilities allowed for larger games with more detailed, life-like graphics.  (And as the possibility to make a larger game is there, so is the consumer expectation; AAA games are judged by the standards set by the highest budget products.)  Once upon a time (but not so long ago), a AAA game could be made for a couple million dollars by a team of at most twenty people.  It was possible to spend more money than that, but it wouldn’t result in a better game.  Now it’s increasingly common to see games with budgets upwards of $100 million and employ 500 or more people.  Since the number of games on the market has increased as well, marketing costs have increased (and since revenue is tightly associated with money spent on marketing…), so we’re seeing marketing costs that are a thousand times bigger than they used to be in order to recoup inflated development costs.

        • Tynam says:

          Robert Drop is precisely correct.  Those movie-quality top-tier graphics?  They cost just as much to make as for movies.

          For a random example… I’ve just finished Mass Effect 3.  Take a look at the IMDb page cast list, and then remember that that’s just the “film” jobs and doesn’t include the majority of the actual development team.

          • DreadJester says:

            And yet, some of the most popular, well known games right now wer made by a particularly small development teams for a particuarly small amounts of money.  I don’t buy this for one minute and neither is anyone else.  More money spent, better voice acting, more devolopers does not equal a better game.

            The proof is out there, Minecraft, League of Legends, Angry Birds.  These are current legendary games and they didn’t involve any large number of people or huge budgets to produce.  I promise you, 25 years from now games such as those will still be on everyone’s mind as “ground breaking” games while games like Mass Effect 3 will barely be remembered and the new Sim City will be remembered as a huge dud and an example of what not to do.

          • Robert Drop says:

            Outliers are meaningless I’m afraid.  Those are, indeed, indie games with AAA game level revenues.  But how many more indie games are there like that?  Almost none.  How many indie games are made?  So many they can’t be counted.  I could show you more than one AAA game that made more money than all those indie games put together and then some (though it would probably be a completely forgettable game).  When we’re talking about indie games, the ratio of failed games to a modestly successful one is quite large.  Rovio made dozens of games before Angry Birds, and most indie studios won’t ever see a fraction of that success no matter how many games they make. (Rovio is also spending AAA-level sums on Angry Birds these days.)  Anyone building a business plan on having the next Angry Birds is just as much an idiot as someone counting on winning the lottery, as there’s the same level of dumb luck required for both, no matter how talented the creators.

          • DreadJester says:

            Since I can’t reply to your post I’ll reply to mine.
            You said popular indie games were rare.  Once again not true at all.  Here’s a short list
            Little Inferno
            Orks Must Die
            Journey
            FTL
            World of Goo
            Retro City Rampage
            Chivalry
            Torchlight
            FEZ
            Mark of the Ninja
            Spelunky

            I could go on as I know there’s plenty more popular ones.  Just because in your mind the more money spent = more money earned does not make it true.  To be honest when big money gets involved in anything things usually go downhill fast……..

          • Robert Drop says:

            I didn’t say popular indie games were rare.  I said that indie games of the sort that you listed, i.e. the ones that hit anywhere near AAA-level revenue, were vanishingly rare.  Indie games that make money do exist, but this is relative to the smaller amounts being spent to make them. (e.g. Torchlight was/is popular, but didn’t sell well enough to generate the revenue the developers were hoping to get.  They had to cancel their plans for a follow-up game and do something much cheaper.)  Some of the games you mention were made by as little as one person, so obviously the bar for profitability is set pretty low.
            Although now that you mention it, popular indie games are rare, at least compared to how many get made each year – they’re still grossly outnumbered by the ones that lose money (even with their lower budgets).

      • Chris says:

        How has always on DRM been shown to work? Ubisoft even dropped it because people who actually bought assassins creed were pirating it so they could play it because Ubisoft’s servers were having issues.

        • Robert Drop says:

          Because always-on DRM of the sort Ubisoft used is a completely different beast from the DRM effect of migrating part of the game itself onto servers.  (See my comments below.)

      • C W says:

        “Sadly you won’t be able to escape these things by avoiding EA”

        I’m fairly certain that I can, thanks.

        • Robert Drop says:

          Only in the short term. (Assuming you’re still playing AAA games, that is.)

          • C W says:

            Oh, I’ll just play less AAA games. I’m playing less and less as say, Origin and other services are made essential.

          • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

            If this is your example of a AAA game, you might need a whole new rating system.

        • James Penrose says:

           Yep, it’s easy to avoid this BS.  If it becomes the industry norm, I’ll stop buying games.

          I buy far fewer now than I did ten years ago simply because of all the DRM nonsense.

          I can wait until the current hot bunny game is old and available at massive discount and rewritten to lose the DRM.  If that doesn’t happen, I don’t buy it.

          I buy most of my games now from a website that sells them that way, legal and licensed and openly. Even games a couple of years old can be found there.

          Since some of my favorite game are more than a decade old (I’d kill for someone to restart Might & Magic but not **** it up with “improvements”).

      • TheOven says:

         Not my problem.

        It just means they have to develop better games. Better meaning more appropriate for the budget/technology/expectations.

        • Robert Drop says:

          As a customer, EA will make it your problem.  Their problem is that the technological and graphical expectations of players keep increasing while the budgets required to fulfill that expectation are increasingly unsustainable.  What that means is that the AAA portion of the industry is in ever-increasing need of getting their shit together and figuring out a radically different way of doing things.  What EA’s doing now represents their desperate attempts to try to figure out, apparently through mindless flailing, what people will put up with/what will work.  They’ll keep flailing until they run into a solution.

          • T-Boy says:

            As a customer, EA will make it your problem.

            Nnnnope. EA and other customer- (and, eventually citizen-, because, of course, once they push for and support SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/TPP) hostile businesses that trade in entertainment seem to forget one thing —that while they require our money and participation to survive, we don’t require them to survive.

            Sure, we don’t intrinsically deserve, as customers, non-broken, fair, equitable games, or an industry that treats us all like potential thieves. Sure. But they don’t intrinsically deserve survival, and they better remember that.

            Capitalism, right? That’s how it’s supposed to work? Or are we going to abandon pretending all that shit now was the truth and say that we live in a Too-Big-To-Fail Corporatist Environment, and I just failed to get the memo for that already?

          • Robert Drop says:

            I’d say people will be perfectly willing to buy games under these new, unpleasant publisher-privileging dynamics.  I say that because they’ve already demonstrated that they are.  Diablo 3 was a huge hit.  Farmville brought in enough money to turn Zynga into a major game company.  World of Warcraft is Activision’s biggest money maker.  Despite the worst possible launch and negative publicity, Sim City 2013 will probably outsell all the previous games in that series put together.  What I’m seeing people most object to is not that the game has been engineered to support a certain dynamic but that it’s not actually working when they want to play it.

          • l337n00b says:

            Robert Drop: In the long term these things aren’t going to work out for game makers.  People buy the box the day it comes out so how good the game is doesn’t affect sales of that game, but it may affect sales of the next one.  Of course the executives get paid on some nonsense like change in change in change in profit this week, so of course they are making bad long term decision.

      • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

         ”while sales have been down”
        Maybe if they stopped over promising, delivering broken crap that needs 3 months of patches to be playable, and stopped trying to kill the used game market and delivered quality product to the consumers they might start buying again.

        • Robert Drop says:

          Oddly enough I suspect it has very little to do with that (after all, most of that isn’t new), but shifts in how/where people play games.

          • That_Anonymous_Coward says:

            It is newish.  But then I’m old enough to remember playable demos.  Where you got your hands on the real thing with a limited content… but you could see if it actually worked.
            Now we get 3d rendered artist visions of what the game will look like one they get the hologram system online.
            Minimum Specs are a joke.
            Broken out of the box is the norm.
            Declaring war on the people who support you.

            Sales are down because they are producing some foul crap and that let people to discover oh hey this android app I got for $3.99 works better than the $60 EA rehash of an idea they got 12 years ago.  They could be hostile to consumers before… now it hurts because there are more ways and places for us to get and play games.

          • Robert Drop says:

            The demo situation is interesting; companies largely stopped making them because a) the cost of demos increased along with game production, and b) they realized demos were not only not helping sales, they were actually hurting them.
            Broken out of the box isn’t new, either. I remember buying games in the late ’80s/early ’90s that literally didn’t run because they had been shipped broken. (And how many people were going to download the patch off the BBS?)  Internet connections have made patching easier, so publishers are a bit more relaxed about the idea of fixing game problems post-release, but this is new only on consoles, really.
            Those phone/tablet games are indeed part of what’s cutting into the AAA market.  Games being made for a tiny, tiny fraction of what AAA games cost and being sold for less as well.  Except they’re not necessarily making any money, either (as their development costs could be where AAA gaming budgets were 20 years ago, and $4 games aren’t going to pay for that unless you’re at the very top of the sales charts).  And the ones that are?  They’re making money off of micro-transactions and online play.

      • elix says:

        The other thread’s locked to comments, so I have to continue the conversation here.

        So, yeah, about Maxis and EA’s claim that a significant portion of GlassBox’s processing is offloaded onto the cloud: Apparently total horseshit, according to a confirmed Maxis developer that requested anonymity for obvious reasons.

  2. kmoser says:

    I stopped playing computer games when they forced my PC to have always-on grid electricity. Whenever the power lines go down I’m unable to play my games. Total fail! Heck, they can even screw me by cutting off my power and claiming I never paid for it. Sure, I can run a generator but who wants to be dependent on Big Oil? (But seriously, DRM sucks.)

    •  Really? Batteries, laptops? You can power your laptop even w/o a battery by cycling or walking on a treadmill.

      How often do you use a tablet (iPad, Android thingy) while plugged in. Do you use your cell phone tethered?

    • C W says:

      Always-on is much less of a problem than them focusing on shallow online features at the expense of the single-player experience. I’m not going to drop 50 bucks on a glorified Zynga game.

  3. Nick Mailer says:

    kmoser: your hilarious parody doesn’t actually work. I’ve seen people play video games on their battery-laptops on public transport.

  4. mccrum says:

    EA is obviously in the pocket of Big Boardgame, wanting to show people that you can still have full-feature fun without waiting for downloads.

  5. Marja Erwin says:

    Except that here, and I suspect in most of America, the power company is a bit more reliable than the internet service provider(s), and the power connection doesn’t need to route through seven other internet service providers, any of whom might be in an argument with the last.

    • mccrum says:

      Sir, I note here that you seem to have run an extension cable to your neighbor to help them out six timesin the past, we’re going to have to cut off your power…

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      Perhaps more importantly(odds are that EA will clear up launch-window capacity issues within a month or two at most, by sheer attrition if nothing else), the power company has, with relatively little downtime, kept the lights on for decades and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.

      How long before EA simply shuts down the servers? You bought the $60 box once, those servers keep costing money every day. Unless EA manages to really turn the screws on the DLC and Zynga-style ‘freemium’ microtransaction bullshit(which will be a little bit of bad every day in its own ways), we know that SimCity is a dead man walking.

      Bad launches are one thing(even without the benefit of DRM, more than a few companies have shipped software that simply isn’t usable until the first few months of patches are applied, though having a bad launch inflicted largely for DRM purposes is adding insult to injury); but software that you know will be either terminated or twisted into an endless Pavlovian hellscape of nickle-and-dime pay-to-play-what-you-already-paid-to-play is seriously bad news.

      (MMORPGs have some of the same defects; but at least those are structural, rather than artificial, hard to have an MMO without a decent player base, so you have to shut down if you don’t have one, and they are at least honest enough to take your cash upfront, rather than grind it out of you one cut at a time) 

      • elix says:

        Talking about DLC, the game shipped with day 1 DLC (not surprising for EA) that basically didn’t work (wat). People who bought the “digital deluxe” edition for $20 extra were supposed to get a pile of decorative buildings, but they didn’t. That $20, so far, has gotten them three statues.

        I’m not touching this game, even with a hook instead of a hand (yarharhar), but according to complaints, the lots are pretty small. EA’s promised larger lots down the road — I’ll be floored if that isn’t a paid-DLC benefit.

      • Robert Drop says:

        Unless their not-so-micro transactions turn out to be significantly profitable, I suspect we’ll see EA turn off the servers roughly about the time they come out with a sequel.  That’s the strategy they’ve been using for a number of their games, anyways.

  6. JoelCave says:

    ‘Always online’ has to be the stupidest ever idea by video game companies. 

    • brerrabbit23 says:

       As a student of video game companies, I would argue that the competition for their “stupidest idea ever” is pretty stiff.

    • Robert Drop says:

      It’s part of a larger strategy to turn games into a service.  No more piracy, games become continuous revenue streams, etc.

      • Paulo Silva says:

        It’s part of a larger strategy (scam) to turn games into a service.  No more piracy, games become continuous revenue streams, etc. (are able to squeeze more money from customers)

        FTFY

      • DreadJester says:

        Once again, more BS.  Forcing games to always be online is not the best way to handle DRM and it’s doing nothing but creating broken games and pissed off gamers.  It’s a way to quickly flush a game down the toilet.  As for stoping piracy it’s a horrible way to stop piracy since I can simply buy one game at the store, bring it home and get the code to activate the game from the box, take it back to the store, tell them disk is broken, get a new code.  Lather, rinse, repeat, and I can supply my whole group of friends with codes with the cost of one game.

        If you want better DRM find a better way to get the game to the computer.  Allow me to present you a method that I thought of 3 years ago.  Put the games on secure flash drives.  There’s not downloading to a hard drive, you bring the flash drive home, you pop it into your USB port and away you go playing.  All updates go straight to the flash drive and playing from an authorized flash drive is the only way to play it.  Online interactions are minor, once to authorize the flash drive initally, and for updates and extra content which are decided on by the owner.  Combine this with some really cool one of a kind flash drives and you’ve got people actually wanting to buy the game for the cool flash drive it comes with.

        • Gatto says:

          As a person who has worked on both AAA and indy games, I agree with Robert. I think he’s trying to explain EA’s decisions, not defend them.

          Making games is a bit like gambling… the more you put down, the more you can win ( or lose ). It’s risky, but the big publishers like to bet big.For them, online-always kills several birds with one stone. It’s a form of DRM, it’s a form of limiting used-game sales, it’s a revenue stream, it allows for easy updates to popular games, it lets them see how people are playing their games, and it can provide features for gamers that are difficult to provide otherwise.  The only thing that suck for them are fiascos like this.

          One thing I can’t understand is why didn’t EA have a huge beta for SimCity like Diablo3 and every MMO in existence. It makes no sense at all.

        • First Last says:

          So basically your solution is to reinvent the wheel by using flash drives instead of CDs and expect that they won’t come with exactly the same piracy issues as CDs?
          The stupidest thing is that almost every single CD game I bought I ended up cracking just so that I didn’t have to reinsert the CD to play it! Because fucking around with hardware to use software is fucking primitive and a waste of my time!

          I have a better solution: goddamn code-wheels.

          This form of always-online DRM is actually much more effective at stopping piracy than you think because there is no ‘code’ to copy down – it simply binds that game to your user account, and when EA gets a returned disk “because it doesn’t work” and yet see that user account online playing they just deactivate that illegitimate copy. And you can’t just crack it not to go online because the servers aren’t simply there checking copies to make sure they are legitimate – they’re actually serving up functional game code without which the game cannot function correctly (if at all). Pirating the game isn’t just a case of bypassing the checks, but in fact completely and accurately emulating an official server without having access to the code it’s executing for you.

  7. SamSam says:

    This whole fiasco is almost the very definition of “schadenfreude.” I had a big smile on my face the moment I started to hear about the SimCity server issues.

  8. xzzy says:

    Worst part is that even by lobotomizing the game, it’s still not functioning anywhere close to full capacity. Sure, you can get into the game and play a city, but region play is completely broken because the back end servers are too loaded to handle the messages that cities pass back and forth. Events that should take a few seconds to register aren’t happening for hours. As this is the sole gameplay justification for any sort of “online all the time” component, it’s extremely disappointing to have it not work.

    What I’ve heard is that most of the problems stem from EA’s side of the project rather than Maxis’.. it sounds like the server infrastructure has been completely bungled by penny pinching managers and now the whole world gets to hear about it.

    Friend of a friend type of stuff though. I don’t actually know anyone in EA. 

  9. Eric0142 says:

    Stupid DRM aside, it’s been pretty hilarious watching my gamer friends absolutely freak the shit out on facebook like this is the worst thing that has evar happened to them in their entire lives ermagawd guys for real ok?!. #firstworldproblem.

  10. Rob says:

    With 50 billion lost to piracy every year, you can’t blame them for trying. I mean… how many 12 yr olds would you screw over for 50 billion dollars? If the legitimate game buyers have to suffer to get the pirates to pay their fair share, you should be mad at the pirates.

    • elix says:

      Please cite references for this $50 billion in piracy losses. Be sure to demonstrate how all those pirates would have paid legitimately if only they hadn’t been bad and cracked the DRM like the awful hackers they are.

      • xzzy says:

        Also take into account that there’s posts out there claiming that a few hacking groups are hard at work doing what they do and there are beta quality cracks in the pipe already.

        So yet again, legitimate customers get boned and pirates deal with a couple speedbumps.

        • Robert Drop says:

          I’m sure someone will eventually come up with a playable “cracked” game, but since gameplay is being withheld on the servers, there’s pretty much zero chance that the game the pirates come up with will be the same as the real game.  They’ll be inventing their own game mechanics to replace those running on the server; the end result will a hybrid game at best – part Sim City and part whatever they’ve made.  This is the genius of online play DRM – unless you get access to the code running on the server, you can’t actual pirate it.

          • Rob says:

            Ah you mean like WoW private servers, or Minecraft private servers, or pretty much any game you can think of having their code leaked and a little pirate ecosphere show up with plenty of free goodies for everyone?

            I’ll believe it when I see it.

          • Robert Drop says:

            WoW private servers are not the result of having their “code leaked.”  They’re the result of fans making their own versions of what they imagine the code on the WoW servers is like, based solely on the nature of the output the server provides.  The result is pretty rudimentary compared to the actual code running on the official servers.  Which is to say, it’s not the same game.

          • Boundegar says:

            Minecraft servers are there by design.  There are no “official” servers; everybody who pays their 20 euros can run a server.  Sadly, this means that most servers are run by 11yolds.

          • xzzy says:

            No game logic is run on the servers. This is a rumor that’s been getting passed around a lot, but nothing more. The servers appear to only function as authentication, matchmaking, game saving, and message passing between regions. 

          • Robert Drop says:

            I think this particular move shows that they are in fact running game logic on their servers.  I don’t know how else to interpret that they’re turning off features to allow more people to get on the servers.

          • Nonentity says:

             @facebook-100000929402049:disqus  The features they’re turning off are some of the ones xzzy mentioned.  The article doesn’t mention any game logic being impacted.

        • Rob says:

           Ah you mean like the Assassin’s creed crack that was the first to beat EAs always on DRM the first time? Or how pretty much its a rule that the more imposing the DRM is, the more legitimate buyers go seek out cracks?

          Its as if you imply that between crap game releases and distasteful DRM, then EA has burned their brand a hundred times…. but then if that was true, you’d expect a series of colossal failures from them over and over again.

          How likely is that?

          • Robert Drop says:

            AC was published by Ubisoft, not EA, and used Ubisoft’s ubiquitous online DRM (which they’ve subsequently dropped).  I’m not aware of EA using any online DRM previously.  Also, Ubisoft was only using online authentication, not actually moving game functionality onto their servers like Diablo 3 and Sim City have.

      • Rob says:

         Oh you mean that they since its in their interest to inflate loss figures to piracy, and since they’ve been doing it for so long that its become truly ridiculously inflated, thus you dont believe their estimates… then you seem to imply that most pirates are either a)expending their disposable income on games already, or b) don’t have 50 billion and they are pricing products for which there is considerable demand above the price some segment of the the market can pay?

        Well that would mean that since they run around spouting ridiculous figures, then the scrooges that own their stock get dollar signs in their eyes and start calling for truly drastic laws and DRM to tap into this nonexistent revenue stream.

        How likely is that?

      • Robert Drop says:

        The source is the industry itself, naturally.  No wait, they lose $43 billion due to piracy just in handheld games!  Why a quarter of the profits of the whole industry are lost to piracy!  No, 50%!  No, 75%!  Now if we could only decide out what the industry is worth…
        (As someone working in the game industry, let me just say: we have no fucking clue what the actual losses are to piracy.)

    • C W says:

      “you can’t blame them for trying”

      I don’t. I blame them for mangling the games into uselessness. We won’t pirate them, but we won’t buy them either.

    • T-Boy says:

      Pirates aren’t the one who lie and misrepresent numbers, and then beat consumers for those made-up numbers. Pirates aren’t the one who subvert democracy and strip away rights of citizens to sustain their profit margins.

      So you can imagine why people aren’t mad at pirates.

  11. Blaven says:

    This server debacle has me holding off on buying SimCity, even though I’ve played every version since Commodore 64 release.  And now I’m wondering if I’ll ever buy it, considering that if EA decides to shut down the servers (like the CitiesXL people did), the game would become instantly worthless.  Congrats, EA.  Your DRM scheme to end piracy just lost you a sale.

    • l337n00b says:

      I’m pretty sure by deciding not to buy the game you just stole $60 from them.  Better watch out for a civil suit.

  12. C W says:

    I was willing to try it with Starcraft 2. I felt a bit uncomfortable, but I’m always near WiFi, right? Then I bought Diablo 3. It’s like a MMO, so that should be fine, right?

    Then I played D3 long enough to know that they promised the immersion of a MMO with what ended up being a shallow, dumb single-player with extreme DRM. 

    My opinion of D3 notwithstanding, I can’t jump into any game in the future that unnecessarily transitions always-on “features” into being necessary. I don’t need “the social” for fucks’s sake.

    • l337n00b says:

      I think SC deserves to be considered differently because the people who really play that game are playing it against other people online.  Perhaps there should be support for LAN parties, but I haven’t heard of those in quite a while (maybe just because I’m not in university anymore, I’ll admit).  I loved the SC2 campaign and would probably be a little happier to be able to play HotS offline, but I’m going to buy it and I’m willing to understand the always online component.

      For Diablo 3, I think the main problem was the developers having no idea what made Diablo or Diablo 2 fun, and sucking all the fun out they could in the name of some fantasy of “balance.”  The always online thing would be a lot more of a problem if the game was something you’d really miss if you couldn’t play.

  13. CastanhasDoPara says:

    Good work EA you can’t even get the abortion of the abortion right.

    And by some small chance if Maxis is looking/listening, flush this thing like the dead rat that it is and start over. You don’t need EA, you need loyal fans and trust me when you do things right you will get your loyal fans back. We ARE waiting, have been, very patiently for quite some time now. 

    Also FYI, I’ve bought, with REAL money, every version of Sim City for PC since it was on firmy disks and came with code sheets as the only “DRM”. Dump the bozos at EA and get cracking on something truly worthy of being called Sim City, because this failed failure is not it.

  14. KeithIrwin says:

    Don’t buy it, you can just play it for free on-line here.

  15. Brandon Wright says:

    Video Game companies today just don’t get it…

    -Increase in “perceived” piracy leads to DRM
    -DRM pushes away legitimate gamers into pirating non DRM copies
    -Piracy as a result increases, not decreases
    -Companies see increase in piracy, and respond… with stronger DRM

    Rinse & Repeat…

    • C W says:

      This ain’t true as long as the games are enjoyable and the DRM isn’t too obtrusive.

      If the games won’t run and the DRM adds to the frustration, yeah, then you’ll have problems.

      • DreadJester says:

        Problem here is that companies aren’t bothering to try to make DRM un-obtrusive.  It’s like someone who has something they want to keep safe so they put it in a safe but then decide that’s not enough, so they put the safe inside another safe, but that’s not enough either, so they put both safes in a locker with a lock, but that’s not enough so the locker with the safes go inside of an electric fence…… on an on until it takes hours just to get to the prized item.

        Instead of coming up with a better way they just keep taking on more and more DRM which is creating exactly the situation Brandon talked about.  How about the flash drive method I mentioned above??  How about they come up with a completely different and non-obtrusive way to handle it?  No, we’ll just keep tacking on more till it destroys the game industry.

        • Gatto says:

          Just to provide some insight on “why not a flash drive?” Flash drives are expensive, but much more importantly ( from their perspective ) client side decryption can always be hacked. Witness the fact the 360, PS3, Wii, IPhone, etc. have all been hacked and rooted. The only way those systems lock themselves down is via their online services. And when you get an update: it can brick your console, or phone.

  16. Daemonworks says:

    I also remember when SimCity was good. Never mind the server issues, the initial reviews weren’t great either. Apparently city size caps out rather low, amongst other issues.

    • Andrew Conlon says:

      Actually most of the reviews were fairly positive, at least the ones I read. And the few hours I managed to play, were pretty good as well. It actually is a very fun game. City size is fine, the game wants you to do regions with interconnecting services, which adds a fair bit of complexity. Different doesn’t mean worse.

      That said; it is completely broken, I very surprised at how completely borked their servers are, especially in light of recent epic flops likes Diablo 3. I would think that Diablo 3′s launch would have a big sign next to it saying “don’t do this!”. Its stranger because I actually think Blizzard tried hard to fix these problems, but it doesn’t seem like EA actually cares. They added a small handful of servers to try to fix it, and they launcher “queue” isn’t, its a timer for when you’re allowed to TRY to reconnect to a server. Blizzards servers were full, or dead, so I can’t connect, EA just tells me to not bother for 20 minutes. This annoys me more than a normal outage.

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