Another "always-online" DRM game launches, leads to another launch FAIL
When EA announced that the latest incarnation of SimCity was going to require a constant Internet connection, in the vein of Diablo III, nobody thought that the same launch issues that plagued the Blizzard game was going to affect SimCity.
Or maybe everyone did think that this would be one of the scenarios, only nobody thought that EA would be careless enough to ensure the launch was not only just as bad, but worse!
That's what happened this week when the eagerly awaited SimCity (technically SimCity 5), the first new SimCity game in a decade (not too dissimilar to the wait time between Diablo II and III), was launched. Instead of gamers getting a healthy dose of nostalgia, and a fresh boost of megalomania, it was mostly frustration and anger that spilled out onto the Webosphere.
While the new game features plenty of online based features that really can't work without a constant Internet connection, once again, the decision to not allow an offline mode and to require an Internet connection for even the single player experience has backfired, with users reporting not being able to be logged on to EA's servers (having to wait half an hour or more for a free slot), being kicked off with hours of city planning work unsaved, and a host of other frustrating issues.
So just like the botched Diablo III launch, not enough servers were available for accommodate all the gamers, despite the game having been on pre-order for months in advance.
As expected, gamers took to the Internet to vent their frustration. Typically, Amazon's product page served as a focal point for the virtual protest, with one star reviews being given along with devastating reviews. The situation got so bad that Amazon had to temporarily suspend sales for the game, with a message explaining that EA's server issues are to blame (the same message is still there, although sales have resumed).
EA's handling of the whole affair still leaves much to be desired, but the worst was to come from their South Korean branch. When one user complained about the lack of servers in Asia, for a game that can't be played without servers, the manager of the EA Korean Facebook paged instead blame pirated version of the game for the problems. Except that there aren't any pirated versions of the game yet, ironically thanks to the DRM that is causing so much trouble right now.