A few days away in central Australia meant that I missed the Sim City launch day excitement. As it turns out I missed very little and, at the same time, it was all waiting for me when I got back.
This week hasn’t been a good week for EA. What should have been the glorious launch of the first proper SimCity in the best part of a decade turned into a technical and PR shit-storm.
Even before the game came out the usual anti-DRM whiners where already in full swing. EA’s servers crumbling under the pressure, resulting in long waits to login, frequent disconnects and players losing their cities gave the great unwashed all they needed to throw their dummies out of the pram. Some websites that should know better even waved their pitchforks and torches at the game, giving the game a spitefully shitty score. I’ve played the fucking game before launch and whilst it may not be as good as SimCity 4 it’s better than a sodding 5/10, Gamespot.
All round the world developers with similar ideas must be cursing EA for so spectacularly fucking up a system that would’ve put paid to games piracy for good. In a few years time we would’ve all be shrugging our shoulders at the idea of games persistently connected to the internet, in a similar way that we do when saving games to the cloud or paying for DLC (remember the horse armor debacle). Now any publishers that attempts to duplicate EA’s SimCity model is likely to be crucified by consumers and on the receiving end of a load of witty remarks from the gaming press.
Interestingly, the same idea, a persistent online city-bulding game finished off Monte Cristo, the developers of the original CitiesXL; a game with identical online aspirations as EA’s recent stumble.
Now I have no problem with EA’s business strategy. I use both Steam and Origin. I’m done with buying boxed PC games for three reasons: one, I have to go to a store; two, I have to pay the stupid EB Games prices and three I have to mess about with discs. And I hate having to reach for discs. Both Steam and Origin check the internet, sure my other games don’t shite themselves if I get disconnected, but the notion that I am always online is there. I think it is reasonable for EA to assume that most of us are connected to the internet all the time.
The big, huge problem here is that EA have failed to account for any of the issues that are still inherent in the network for 99% of internet users. I don’t believe for one minute that the internet in the US doesn’t suffer from outages. I know that the UK internet is all over the place, as is New Zealand’s and Australia’s. So, apart from South Korea which has to have a 100% robust internet service, to stop the population turning on itself in some internet-deprived lunacy, the world is having a shit time with SimCity.
Why someone at EA didn’t see this monumental fuck-up racing towards them I don’t know. I hope it was naivety/stupidity and not some sort of arrogant “fuck you” attitude like the EA of old. Come on EA you’ve come so far since those dark days. You handed the torch of bastard publisher over to Activision years old.
Another recent EA game that got some folks knickers in a bunch was Dead Space 3. The action injection that the third outing received was not enough to get new players into the franchise, who were still put of by the plodding nature of the previous games. The game’s new direction also managed to knock out of joint fans of the previous games who still wanted to slowly plod about. I liked Dead Space 3. You can read my review here or over on the Games Console pages of Techday.com, here.