Last night, EA and Maxis officially took the wraps off the latest iteration of Simcity…supposedly. The launch — which the company has been performing private load testing for — was a complete failure.
The company stood its ground that there would be no preloading of the game before the launch as their services would prove stable enough, but the assumptions were completely wrong. Users warned and begged on the Simcity subreddit for months that the company should allow preloading but the company consistently said that they believed their services would handle the influx at launch. They also said that the development team were “working to polish the game until the very last second.”
Inevitably, as soon as the game actually launched and users were able to redeem their keys, the servers slowed to a crawl. If you were lucky enough to actually redeem your key and start the download it would be too slow. Once users managed to vault that hurdle, a worse, insurmountable one arose. The DRM.
We are experiencing overwhelming demand which is keeping some users from accessing their games. We’re working as fast as we can to resolve.
— Origin (@OriginInsider) March 5, 2013
Users were faced with their worst nightmare. Having the game installed in its entirety, but being unable to play it due to overprotective DRM. The servers were overwhelmed and couldn’t handle requests, so just forced users to sit and watch a countdown timer before they were able to try again.
Once able to get in the game stability is still a concern. The most upvoted thread on the Simcity subreddit right now talks about an issue where users are being forced to abandon cities or rollback once they leave, losing all progress. This was something that also came up in the press beta over the weekend and clearly hasn’t been resolved yet.
Users took to Twitter and unleashed their frustration on the Origin account, who claimed that despite issues being “resolved” users could face a wait of up to three hours for their game to actually unlock.
@origininsider PLEASE get your shit together. I’ve been waiting for 2 hours for customer service. This is ridiculous.
— Raineee (@RaineFalls_) March 5, 2013
We have resolved issues affecting SimCity downloads. Due to server load it may take up to three hours for your game to unlock.
— Origin (@OriginInsider) March 5, 2013
You may remember the launch of Diablo III, a game with a similar level of DRM and just as much frustration from users who pre-purchased the game. Simcity buyers have done the same thing and have taken to Metacritic to voice their disgust about the game, with it already seeing a 3.8 out of 10 rating.
Server reached maximum capacity and so I was placed in a queue and was not allowed to play a single player game because it forces me to constantly be online.
If buyers were even unluckier and their game showed as still locked in Origin, the only option is to contact EA Support. That said, with a wait time of somewhere around 855 minutes, it’s probably just worth waiting for EA to iron out the issues. There’s also the option of posting in the EA support forum, but that’s overwhelmed with users asking for help and refunds.
You may consider the user outrage and frustration uncalled for, but for a game that is traditionally played alone to be unavailable due to server issues, it’s ridiculous. In an AMA by the Maxis team last year, the most upvoted comment is one that lists hundreds of complaints from Reddit users about the DRM and the issues it would cause, but EA chose to ignore it.
As of writing many users can’t play Simcity still, and Origin says that they are “making changes to prevent further issues” and are “confident that “Origin will be stable for the international launches later this week.” It’s unfortunate they weren’t ready to handle the load before launch day and this makes a case for buyers pushing back against companies that insist on DRM-laden single player games.
The launch today was only part one of the worldwide launch, with Europe and Asia scheduled for Thursday and Friday, so it remains to be seen if EA can indeed resolve the issues in time for those launches too, or if the servers will be crippled again. If you’re still waiting, sit tight, hopefully it won’t be too much longer.