Online SimCity Petition Doesn’t Bring Offline Play

So remember that whole SimCity launch thing?  You know the one where the majority of users couldn’t log in to the servers, download their game, or play because of constant crashes?  Well the customers sure didn’t because there was an online petition to protest the online DRM.

I’m wondering if I’m the only one who finds it kind of funny that people are using an online petition to get the game to allow offline play?  Apparently not because there are over 60,000 signatures on the petition.  The petition itself is simple, “Remove ‘Always Online’ DRM from SimCity and future games.”   And I get where they’re coming from because my SimCity launch day ordeal is still pretty fresh in my mind.  After paying a lot of money for a game, consumers shouldn’t have to go through the pain of server problems just to play single player.  And let’s face it, how many people are really going to use the online feature with SimCity?

EA did respond to the petition, as Lucy Bradshaw from Maxis tweeted this (for her full statement please go here:

“I’m happy to report that the core problem with getting in and having a great SimCity experience is almost behind us. Our players have been able to connect to their cities in the game for nearly 8 million hours of gameplay time and we’ve reduced game crashes by 92% from day one.

Let’s just savor that shall we.  It shouldn’t take up to six days for you to fix the problems.  There shouldn’t have been any problems.  And this is going to be a running theme here folks, as something like this has already happened.  It was called Diablo 3.  Lucy continues:

“A combination of optimizing our server architecture and response times, deploying these enhancements on both a series of new and the original servers and issuing a few critical client updates has achieved getting virtually everyone into the game and, once in, having a great time building cities and sharing regions.”

The experience is improving, but it’s still far from where it should be. A lot of features were removed to help server stability, like Cheetah speed, but there’s still a lot of bugs and features that are broken. For example, I wouldn’t build a gambling city any time soon…

Of course they wouldn’t stop the always-on DRM.  There is no way that EA was going to change their minds about this issue.  While they say that they (and the industry) have learned from the last time (i.e. the Diablo 3 debacle), this shows that they really haven’t.  And I’m not the least surprised. EA has been steadily tightening their grip on how games are played.  Look at what they’ve done to the used game market.

Now if you want to play a game used, you have to buy the code from EA. And as someone who not that long ago was a broke undergrad, used games came in handy. They’ve been steadily making sure that no one escapes them for a long time now.  So I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the last time that EA is going to use always on DRM.  If anything they’ll say that they’ve learned their lesson and next time will be different.  But trust me; there will be a next time. And more than likely, it won’t be different.

Someone made the comment to me that if the servers had held up no one would be complaining.  I would, personally because I don’t like the requirement.  But they are right.  If everything on launch day had gone the way that it should have, if EA had truly learned from Diablo 3, I doubt anyone would be writing anything about SimCity other then reviews.  But launch day didn’t go well, because once again the creators did not consider the high volume of people who want to play a game the minute they get it.  And just like Diablo 3, servers crashed. And people were left with either a buggy SimCity or the inability to play said buggy title.

So now where are we?  It’s been almost six days and only now are things getting back to the way they should have been.  With EA/Maxis increasing the number of servers and trying to fix as many bugs as they can, people can finally play SimCity.  EA’s offered SimCity purchasers a free game (what will be available is still unknown) that is redeemable on March 18th. And while SimCity and Maxis can recover from the PR hit, there is no doubt that these events have tarnished EA’s already lackluster reputation.