Following all the issues with SimCity's servers, gamers have assembled on Change.org, signing a petition to add an offline mode to the game. Not only that, they are urging Electronic Arts to remove this "always online" DRM to future games as well.
On March 5th, 2013, SimCity launched for PC for both physical and download distribution. Of course, being the 5th of a highly acclaimed and loved series there was high expectations, not only with its success for EA financially, but also from the consumer standpoint. Gamers drilled EA about their decisions through a Q&A on Reddit back in January.
There were a couple of closed betas, but nothing really extensive to prepare them for this. Though consumers were warned about being required to be connected at all times, fans of the franchise still gave SimCity a chance. After all, it had been 10 years since SimCity 4 released. Gamers were ready for another one.
It was a game so many were waiting for.
Then the servers crashed.
The problem with the servers crashing with SimCity, is not only can you not play the game at all (even in single player mode), but you could potentially also lose your game progress. You see, your game's progress is never saved on your hard drive, but on a cloud save through EA's servers instead.
Which raises a lot of questions. What happens if EA decides to one day pull the plug on their servers? Do you lose your single player game progress, forever? Has EA thought about the large customer base it loses by forcing online play, due to a lot of gamers having an unstable internet connection?
If there's anything one should know about SimCity gamers, is that its a game they go back to years and years later. The style of gameplay isn't just a quick 10 hour campaign run through, and the game ends with credits, that you put it away forever. SimCity gamers are known to dust off their old copies and go back to their roots and play all over again.
Of course, this practice isn't just limited to SimCity gamers. But why limit gamers at all, to a game they purchased and paid for? Especially, if you are buying a hard copy on disk.
Many angry customers flooded in complaints through Twitter, the official SimCity Facebook page, and through online reviews. So far, SimCity holds a 1 star and 1.5 star out of 5 on Amazon.com.
Amazon has also made a statement on the SimCity purchasing page:
Questions/Concerns about SimCity?
Important note: some customers are having issues connecting to the SimCity servers. EA is actively working to resolve these issues. Please visit https://help.ea.com/en/simcity/simcity for more information and troubleshooting.
Some SimCity purchasers are returning their game over this. Of course, EA did warn about the required online time and time again prior to the release. Although if the game would actually be playable at all, I'm sure a lot of people would turn the other cheek and try to forget that someday, their saved game may disappear.
Several different petitions have popped up on Change.org. The petition with the highest amount of signatures at this time of writing is nearing 7,000 signatures.
This statement was made by the official SimCity Facebook page:
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.
So the question of ethics does come into play.
Should gamers have known better than to buy SimCity in the first place, after EA warned time and time again about the required online play?
Or, should game companies stop their DRM practices that could make legitimate copies of a game (a game a company profits on) unusable at the flip of a switch?
What do you think should be done in terms of SimCity, or in gaming in general in the practices of DRM? Is petitioning the right way to go about this, or should consumers boycott with their wallets?