If you’ve at all been keeping an eye on what’s been happening around the latest installment of the long-running online city builder series you might have noticed that its launch has been less than perfect. In fact it’s been all but an outright disaster and serving as possibly the single greatest argument as to why always-on DRM is an exceptionally bad idea.
Even prior to release there were multiple concerns surrounding the game with some reviews allowed access to the closed Beta noting that due to the low population they could not gauge the overall quality of the title. Praising many elements of its design and mechanics but specifically noting that because the servers were hardly being strained by their presence, issues such as lag, file corruption, disconnections and other aspects could hardly be accounted for. That their overall experience might not fully reflect that of the general public upon its release.
It turned out they were right to do this.
While Electronic Arts rightfully opted for a staggered launch to the title with access, only being permitted in certain areas before others to try and prevent a server crash from a sudden rush, it seemed to hardly help. Not long after its start we began to see repeats of many criticisms of Dialbo 3. Well, that’s not quite true. While Dialbo 3 was certainly problematic suffering from Always-on DRM it had a single obvious source – Error 37 along with one or two lesser referenced errors. The problems SimCity had with always being required to be online are numerous, ugly and came down to the publisher being completely unprepared to deal with the strain placed upon their servers.
Thankfully the end seems to be in sight, at least for some of its problems. More surprisingly however, EA has actually admitted it was at fault for many of the problems.
In an update on ea.com, general manager of Maxis, Lucy Bradshaw, spoke in an update about the game on Friday evening surrounding the title’s many problems. She reported that to combat the ongoing problems SimCity was going to have access to an increased server capacity: “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.”
The exact reason for the title’s problems was put down to a much higher level in traffic than had been expected and that they could not simply cope with the way in which “players played in ways we never saw in the Beta.” While the stupidity of this action is evident Bradshaw herself comments upon this stating “we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it.” Maxis have offered an additional free title to try and help compensate those who were inconvenienced by the problems and have announced that they will be adding additional updates over the weekend.
This is certainly good news for those who did purchase SimCity and a sign that, despite the publisher and studio’s severe lack of foresight in using always-on DRM despite continual problems in past titles, some of the problems are being fixed. As the DRM requirement cannot be removed from the title itself this is the next best thing and with any luck it’s a sign the game will actually be playable sometime soon. Then players will just have to worry about problems inherent to the title itself such as the tutorial problems and multiplayer DLC restrictions.