EA says SimCity server issues improve, not yet 'all-clear'

SAN FRANCISCO Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:32pm EDT

Electronic Arts' video game SimCity is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/Electronic Arts/Handout

Electronic Arts' video game SimCity is seen in a handout photo.

Credit: Reuters/Electronic Arts/Handout

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Server problems that botched the launch of Electronic Arts Inc's new "SimCity" title last week and incensed gamers who could not access the game for days have improved but not yet been fully resolved, the company said.

About a week since the game's launch, the company has been scrambling to add servers and issue client updates to tackle server connectivity issues that plagued users.

While video game crashes were down 92 percent since the "SimCity" release on March 5, the company needed some more time to issue an "all-clear," Lucy Bradshaw, general manager of EA's Maxis label that develops the game, said in a blog post on Sunday.

"We need a few more days of data before we can assure you that the problem is completely solved and the game is running at 100 percent," Bradshaw said.

The rollout of the newest game in its 24-year-old "SimCity" franchise was met with an outcry on social networks and Internet forums from gamers who complained of being shut out from the game after receiving error messages.

EA said last week that it was unable to handle the user demand for its new title that is now fully hosted online and was setting up additional servers to bring the game back up.

To win back the support of its users, the company issued an apology on Friday and said it would offer them a free downloadable PC game from its portfolio.

"I know that's a little contrived - kind of like buying a present for a friend after you did something crummy. But we feel bad about what happened," Bradshaw said in a blog post on Friday.

The classic city-building game first came out in 1989 and became one of Electronic Arts' biggest hits. The new, $60 game was given a modern-day look and feel, and received positive reviews before its launch.

EA's latest, online-only "SimCity" won plaudits for incorporating some of the most topical themes in urban planning, including environmental and renewable energy issues.

Shares of Electronic Arts climbed about 4 percent to $19.24 in afternoon-trading on the Nasdaq on Monday.

(Reporting By Malathi Nayak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Comments (1)
Mathion wrote:
Having purchased the game a day before official launch, and only received it today, I’ve read with dismay about the server issues. But I read with even MORE dismay about how the game has been changed from SC4.

With server saving, you can’t save a city, then destroy it, then pull it up again from the save over and over (It’s fun to destroy a city in imaginative ways without having to rebuild it between disasters). That was one of the best features of SC4. The new one doesn’t allow it.

The other things you can’t do: Modify the terrain. Create sprawling cities (the city size, according to other players, is 2 km X 2 km instead of 10X10 or larger). Mass transit options are buses. No subways, no rail.

Yes, the graphics are much better and there are new first person perspectives that SC4 didn’t have. Those are why I bought the game in the first place. But what they added was not enough to make up for what they took away.

The biggest thing they took away was your money, time and effort. By tying the game to the server, they can shut it down tomorrow and you’d never be able to play it again. I can play SC4 TODAY, ten years later. It’s essentially a single-user toy that’s fun to mess around with, but doesn’t have the same needs or enjoyment as an MMO – which makes the entire no single user mode decision completely incomprehensible.

With EA’s track record in server and DRM issues, I don’t see this game being around in 10 years. I see a lot of wasted time and money ahead for those who do play it. And for those reasons, the game is bring returned today, unopened. In trying to make sure they get their money from every player, they’re not going to have as many players as they could have had. And they’ll make nothing off of any expansion packs they may have been thinking about because those who did get burned won’t be investing more into that particular fire.

Mar 11, 2013 5:02pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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