Sim game fans have been looking forward to SimCity, the latest release from Electronic Arts, but the newest version of the popular computer game series has taken a beating from critics and players alike for rampant connectivity issues since the game's official release on March 5, 2013. On Twitter, Amazon reviews, and other social media, gamers are reporting widespread access problems related to the game's mandatory online aspect, which means that even players who want to enjoy solo games have to be connected to a server in order to enter the game.
SimCity is a city simulation game in which players create communities and attempt to balance residents' needs with budgetary restrictions and other concerns. Players build towns up from empty plots of land by laying roads, creating zones for housing and business, and investing in services and revenue streams. Health problems, pollution, crime, natural disasters, and even zombie outbreaks complicate the player's efforts to create a thriving urban haven for thousands of tiny inhabitants. Unfortunately, the server problems mean that many players (including this Examiner) are spending more time waiting to access the game than actually playing it.
On the game's official Facebook page, developers say that "We are aggressively undergoing maintenance on the servers and adding capacity to meet demand. Performance will fluctuate during this process. Our fans are important to us, and we thank you for your continued patience." The reassurance does not seem to be placating many fans, some of whom have unsuccessfully demanded refunds from Electronic Arts because of the server problems. Other customers have taken to Amazon to air their grievances, where the game now has a dismal 1.3 star rating with more than 900 1 star reviews from angry players.
The always online foundation of the game is part of the developer's DRM, or digital rights management, used to control access to its product and prevent piracy. It also encourages players to work cooperatively on multi-city regions that share resources and developments, although some gamer reviews thus far indicate that a significant number of players would prefer to play individually. Gamers can create private regions for individual play, but these still require constant connection to a server. Thus, even players who do not want to interact with others are being shut out of the game or forced to endure wait times in order to enter.
It remains to be seen whether EA can win back customer approval after this disastrous debut of its much-anticipated product. Patches, additional servers, and other tweaks have been promised in order to get players up and running more smoothly as soon as possible, but the damage, as far as public opinion is concerned, might already have been done.