To say EA botched the launch of the highly anticipated "SimCity" by Maxis would be putting it lightly at this point. Released this week, the forcibly online city–building simulator has had great difficulty keeping players connected to servers on EA’s Origin system, even after the removal of certain game features. The unplayable issues got so bad that leading online store Amazon removed the digital title until further noticed and consumers voiced their complaints towards the server errors on the review section. While EA initially downplayed SimCity’s troubled servers as a case of players having “too much fun” to let others in on the action, they've now issue a more personal and professional stance on the matter.
Posted on EA’s The Beat blog, General Manager of Maxis Label, Lucy Bradshaw, addressed players’ SimCity concerns:
So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.
OK, we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it. In the last 48 hours we increased server capacity by 120 percent. It’s working – the number of people who have gotten in and built cities has improved dramatically. The number of disrupted experiences has dropped by roughly 80 percent.
So we’re close to fixed, but not quite there. I’m hoping to post another update this weekend to let everyone know that the launch issues are behind us.
She then talks about the positive critical reception the game received from fans and critics alike. However, most professional reviewers held off their opinion on "SimCity" until they could play it on retail servers and not the one specially made for them, and are now issuing bad scores after trying it out. Some websites made exceptions, like Polygon who reviewed the game prior to release, but downgraded their 9.5 score twice from an 8.0 to a 4.0. Fans have also submitted negative reviews to Metacritic, resulting in an embarrassing 1.5 user score.
Finally, Bradshaw states EA is offering an olive branch for players patiently waiting to play "SimCity" in the form of a free game:
And to get us back in your good graces, we’re going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio. On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email telling them how to redeem their free game.
I know that’s a little contrived – kind of like buying a present for a friend after you did something crummy. But we feel bad about what happened. We’re hoping you won’t stay mad and that we’ll be friends again when SimCity is running at 100 percent.
Although this move could be seen as EA trying to weasel out of their originally promised refunds for "SimCity" (where players were denied and threatened with banned Origin accounts earlier), this is nonetheless a generous move on the company’s part. Hopefully the "SimCity" server fiasco will recover quickly for those who spent their hard earned money on the game.