* Users complain they are unable to access game
* EA adds servers to increase stability
* Server capacity showing improvement -EA
By Malathi Nayak
March 8 Electronic Arts Inc's launch of
the newest game in its signature "SimCity" franchise this week
was marred by a series of technical faults that shut out some
gamers for days, triggering an outcry on social networks and
Players of the city-building simulation, now hosted wholly
online rather than stored on personal computers, were plagued by
constant error alerts when trying to log in.
EA blamed "server instability" caused by too many players.
The company has been in damage-control mode since the game's
North American launch on Tuesday, and has scrambled to bring
additional servers online. But the botched launch is a black eye
for EA and a 24-year-old franchise that has proven one of the
company's most reliable cash cows.
While EA acknowledged that it had more to do, it said the
situation had improved since Tuesday, when it expanded the game
to Europe and elsewhere.
"As we continue launches in Europe, we've seen positive
feedback where the additional server capacity has already shown
improvement to the service levels," said Lucy Bradshaw, general
manager of EA's Maxis label, which makes the game. "We have
more work to do, but tens of thousands of new players are
logging in, building their cities, and enjoying the game."
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.
Through a post on its SimCity forum, Kip Katsarelis, senior
producer of SimCity, updated fans on Thursday, saying more
servers are being added over the course of the next three days.
"And, our plan is to continue to bring more servers online
until we have enough to meet the demand, increase player
capacity and let more people through the gates and into the
game," Katsarelis said.
Although the post was intended to allay users' concerns, it
triggered many outraged responses on the site.
"Did you not foresee any of this EA? We paid you for a
specified product, and service. Your product and services
rendered are nonexistent. When can we expect to see refunds?"
posted a user identified as "Graywolf400."
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 to enhance
Shares of Electronic Arts dipped 0.7 percent to close at
$18.58 on the Nasdaq on Friday.