One of the most vocal consumer groups around, but often unnoticed by the general public, is the dedicated community of video game fans. One of the most anticipated titles this month was the PC online version of SimCity; a construction-time management game.
But upon its maiden voyage Tuesday, the game failed to deliver and sunk with 'Titanic' proportions as tens of thousands of gamers waited for hours to get onto game servers, while others blasted Electronic Arts for exploiting gamers by nickel and diming them for additional content.
No happy campers
To get a feel for what the PC gaming community is experiencing, reviews scores on Amazon.com, at the time of this writing today, show an overwhelming 1203 one-star votes for SimCity Limited Edition. A one star rating is the lowest (worst) possible score for a product.
On the upside, if there is one at all, 38 lone votes gave SimCity the highest rating of 5-stars. But cynics doubt the legitimacy of these reviews and chalk these up to "planted" reviews.
To serve and be served
The main uproar over the SimCity game upon its launch was the horrendous waiting times necessary to jump onto a server in order to play the game. Or in other words, if you want to play SimCity, you have to be logged onto the servers.
The policy of being logged onto a server to play is nothing new, but what threw SimCity gamers for a loop is that the game must always have a connection to the SimCity servers. Why? Because there are no save points in the game. If you log out, all the hours of progress you have in building your virtual city goes into the ether. Kaput. Nada. Zero. Goose egg.
What happens if you’ve been building your city over a time span of hundreds of hours and suddenly your Internet connection accidentally terminates? You lose all of your game progress.
This situation of always being connected to the SimCity servers via the Internet is not only maddening for gamers, but is a possible security risk as well.
Nickels and dimes
The gaming community is also crying foul over EA’s penchant for charging additional fees for features in games that should already be standard.
C.Hughs, on Amazon.com, summarized what many hundreds of other gamers felt about SimCity:
“I am so angry and disappointed about this game. Once again, EA (Or is it Maxis?) have created a game that is designed to drain your wallet from the start. They purposely make bare-bones products just so they can later "improve" upon them, and quite frankly I am getting sick and tired of this method in EA videogames. It's sleazy and really obvious. Furthermore, the game being entirely online is pure insanity.
“Paying $60 (as a base price) for a game like this should entitle you to use the game whenever without having to connect to the internet! It's almost as if they really are not giving you anything at all, but only allowing you to rent their product.
“You know what, no, that's not almost what they're doing, that's exactly what they're doing. EA, you should be ashamed of your reprehensible business techniques. DO NOT BUY THIS GAME. You will regret it, I promise...”
SimCity Limited Edition
The odd irony of the situation is the name of the game: SimCity Limited Edition. The title of the game serves it well, because in the eyes of the majority of those who have purchased this PC game, they feel that it is indeed, limited.
Electronic Arts says it is trying to resolve the server issues, however Amazon.com has pulled the digital download version of the game. The full boxed version is still for sale.