March, 2013 Monthly archive

Is it Simcity or SimCity? Does it matter? Will anyone notice? The recent SimCity release has caused a lot of negative heat for EA and Maxis despite the seemingly no-way-to-lose release. I have not personal played this game and will probably wait for much of this to pass until I even think about giving EA and Maxis my money or time. The following has been collected from different posters, commenters and reviews of the game Ive been able to read and watch to far. It’s not impossible for EA & Maxis to fix and improve a lot of these problems but in the mean time, it is somewhat satisfying seeing them squirm as each lie is called out and exposed by the hive mind of the internet.

How the release has gone so far for EA and Maxis:

  • Enforced a policy, disguised as a feature, of requiring their users/customers/players to always maintain an active internet connection
  • Always-On Servers were not available for the better part of the first 2-3 days of the release.Apparently, too many people logged on to their servers. They basically didnt put up enough for the demand and it all crashed. They have sense improved but there are still many stories trickling in of customers not being able to reach the servers. EA has offered a free game to those effected players. However, the recipients can only obtain the free game exactly 14 days after the release of SimCity. This is the exact same day those same users would no longer be able to return their copy of SimCity.
  • Since the servers went down and in order to get them back working again, EA & Maxis made the decision to disable some parts of the game. EA’s servers fail and their solution is to take game features away because their own always online servers cant handle process requests. These features have not been returned to the game.
  • Amazon suspended sales of the game for a period during the initial release as too many customers were complaining they could not connect. Amazon has sense removed the warning but reviews for the game continue to hover around 1.5 stars out of 5 with over 2000 reviewers.
  • The actual simulation is very broken. The path-finding system for the ‘sims’ is improving with some updates being pushed out already but there are still oddities being reported: Fire trucks can’t find fires, students can’t find schools. Traffic unable to recalculate based on fastest mode vs shortest mode. These issues have all be squashed in SC4 with community mods.
  • EA/Maxis have not been terribly honest during this entire build up and launch of the new title – misled customers about how the ‘sims’ are counted, misled about the ability for play offline, misled about the ability for 3rd party mods to the game. Ocean Quigley, lead developer of the game, was quoted saying mods would be allowed. Reality, EA will ban you from Origin for any user mods found on your game. User mods are what keep Simcity popular and so contemporary. Removing them changes one of the fundamentals of what made SC4 so successful, sharing and extending the game and creating new buildings, modes of transportation and regions. It’s their product, I realize, but in doing so they are alienating a very large, passionate and vocal audience of Simcity fans.
  • Their PR campaign continues to baffle and generally seems to just cause more problems. Yesterday, Maxis SVP, Lucy Bradshaw, explained that SimCity is really more of an MMO.
The game we launched is only the beginning for us – it’s not final and it never will be. In many ways, we built an MMO.

So is it a strategy/simulation game or an MMO? If it is an MMO, why wasn’t this better facilitated to the customers and fan base before release? Again, just bizarre handling of a very prized brand and product. Why are they so unclear as to what game they are making? It would make sense to me to know firmly what type of game you are making, at least from a PR perspective. Lucy, had previously said Maxis/EA had a vision for the game and single player didn’t fit in that vision. So they know very well who they want playing but they have no clue what you will be playing. That sounds like a great plan to me.

Simcity is one of those games that will far out last the individuals who first conceived it or put the first parts of the simulation together. It is a timeless classic of the video gaming industry. Seeing the game and the release handled as it is, is both sad and disappointing. EA and Maxis have let a lot of the community down. Most of what EA and Maxis say now comes with very little credibility even if they were to fix many of the problems. How can you believe them? As more information about the game and the decisions EA and Maxis have made trickle out, it becomes very clear that most of the decisions being made for the release of this game were driven financially.

As an avid fan and player of Simcity, none of these items are really deal breakers for me. I could deal with the always-online, if it worked, and the community features. It makes sense moving forward with the game. I can get behind the Great Works projects that require multiple cities to cooperate to complete. Im ok with poor path-finding and being misled about certain features within the game. These can all be updated and fixed. What I cannot get over and what continues to prevent me from even entertaining this game, is how EA and Maxis have treated us, the customers, like absolutely morons and continue to do so. The game itself treats the users as if they aren’t capable of handling the stressful decision of where to start your city or where zones might go or how the roads might interact with the building forms. No, all of that is predefined. The game, as it stands, does not reflect the level of intelligence that had previously be required to play. Their PR campaign is just as bad, delivering double speak and non answers to nearly all the tough questions. It’s insulting to be treated like this but even more shameful for Maxis to continue to parade around like everything is fantastic with SimCity. Reddit user, maretard, sums it up nicely

This is the first time I’ve felt like some prick has just sold me a bag of shit after seriously trying to convince me it was caviar. And after everyone in town confronts him, he starts his explanation off with, “Sorry for interrupting you guys from eating your caviar.” It is just fucking infuriating, and makes me want to punch that prick in the face and go, “NO ONE BELIEVES IT’S FUCKING CAVIAR.”

What originally drew me to this game was its deep deep complexity. The nuance of changing this road or that road, adding an elevated rail, moving a port and seeing how those choices all effect a massive region. Now, you are given an area 1/10 of size we previously had and told you can play during this time and with these predefined sets and must only save the game on the Maxis server. Thanks but no thanks. I play Simcity 4 almost daily. I still revel in the choices Im able to make and the consequences of those choices. That seems to have been removed in favor of making EA’s shareholders more money.

It did take SC4 a handful of years to get it’s act together. It wasn’t until the Rush Hour update that really kicked up the SC4 quality to what we have today. Maybe we can expect a great turn of events in the future for EA and Maxis. Maybe they see some of their errors and change things for the better. Ill just keep playing Simcity 4 while we wait.