So, SimCity has been released – the fifth instalment in this venerable series of fantastic games. However, just as everyone suspected, the game has been completely ruined by the always-online DRM. So much so, in fact, that Amazon has ceased selling the game. Update: and it’s only getting worse – EA has suspended all marketing efforts for SimCity, and has asked third parties to do the same. Wow.
SimCity requires no introduction – from the first game onwards, it has captured the minds and hearts of gamers the world over. SimCity 2000 is my personal favourite, but I have played all versions to death. I was eagerly awaiting SimCity (no version number), but sadly, the game has been ruined even before it’s been properly released.
The game requires an always-on internet connection to connect with EA’s servers, partly because of online components, but mostly because of DRM. During a Reddit AmA with Maxis, the game’s developers, the problems were already predicted, and they panned out: EA’s servers couldn’t handle the load, and the game became unplayable for large groups of people who just paid â‚¬60 for the privilege.
They were greeted by waiting screens, unable to play the game.
EA had to act, and they did. They have released a patch which… Disables several features of the game. Ironically, it mostly disables features that supposedly required the always-on connection in the first pace, such as leaderboards and achievements. A more dramatic step is the removal of the ‘cheetah’ speed. This is the highest simulation speed in the game, and at least in the way I play the game I require it – I switch between pause (build mode) and cheetah (develop mode).
As a consequence of all the troubles with players being unable to, well, play, Amazon has decided to remove the digital version of the game from its virtual shelves, while the physical copy now carries a warning about the game.
I don’t think EA could have handled this any worse. None of the gameplay features require always-on connectivity; you can play the game entirely on your own. It’s this kind of – pardon me – shit that makes people hate you, EA. You just ruined SimCity.