Sunday, March 10, 2013

Good Lord, This SimCity Thing is a Disaster

I am pretty sure I don't exactly have to elucidate the situation that is SimCity, as it is a thing that has been at the forefront of pretty much everywhere.  For good reason, too, since it is a case where this thing has been, as I say, wobbled so drastically that it's ripe for mockery and derision.  Not a single facet of this entire experiment has been particularly -good-, but merely yet another vessel through which we find yet another reason to collectively put our palms to our foreheads and sigh in something of a mix of disappointment and confusion.  It's hard to think that EA and Maxis, who have been doing this Sim thing in various forms for decades, could have gotten it so wrong with this installment, one that was meant to be a reboot, to bring the series back to 'glory' as they say.  And yet, they did.

If you -have- somehow missed out on the whole deal with SimCity, I would like to know what sites you frequent to ensure that.  More to the point, I can give a little bit of a run-down here so you're definitely caught up and just so we can all rub it in just a tad more.  When the game launched on March 5th, same day as Tomb Raider, the initial flood of players did just what it does with every game that requires online and crashed the ever-loving hell out of the servers, completely putting them out of commission.  Which, since the game has that pesky always-online DRM, requiring an internet connection to constantly affirm that you are totally playing a legit copy of the game, means that nobody got to play it.  Or, at least, very, very few people got to play it.

The problems only expanded as two days ticked by and the game was officially released everywhere aside from North America which caused an even bigger server strain which meant even more people 'owned' SimCity and could not play it.  EA issued a statement saying they would be adding more servers to address the issue over the next couple of days, yet here it is, the 10th, and not a whole lot has -actually- changed.  Presumably more people have, indeed, been able to play, but 10,000 people over 1,000 people is also still -more- so 'more' is honestly not indicative of a clear percentage of people who own the game and can actually play it with a degree of reliability.  Which is, of course, a Bad Thing™.  You know you have a problem on your hands when the company actually asks people to stop promoting the game until it works right and disabling parts of the game to expedite that process.

On the eighth, there was an official update about the situation as well as a little bit of a peace offering.  On top of dedicating 120% more server space, everyone who bought SimCity will be eligible for a 'free PC download game from the EA portfolio' which is a sort of nebulous statement.  Common sense would dictate that it's a pre-determined title, but the wording leaves it open to interpret that perhaps you get to -choose- a title (up to a certain dollar amount, likely, which will preclude 'new' releases).  We'll find that out on the 18th, when players will get an email with details on just how to redeem their game, but either way, free stuff is free and that always goes a long way to placate folks.  It's certainly not something you'll ever find me complaining about unless the situation is far more drastic.  "Oh, I'm sorry, I broke your leg in three places, here have a free PSN game" or the like.  I will assault you with my crutches, sir.

Now, we're being assured that 'the worst is behind us' which sounds very nice, of course, but it's not, really.  I never really understood people openly rebelling against this game, against this concept until this whole thing.  Until all of it made me realize just what the critical flaw of SimCity is:  Whether or not you get to play the game is wholly dependent on EA.  We talk about digital licenses and 'loaning' games to you, not actually 'selling' them and by and large, there's some truth in that, but this is just blatant.  Look up how many games EA turns the servers off of ever year and see just how new -some- of those games just happen to be.  Not, like, year old new, of course, but similarly not decade old either.  So for your $60 investment (or more), you only get to play this new SimCity for as long as EA is willing to hold servers aloft for it which is certainly not going to be more than....six years, I'll say.

There is no way to play SimCity Offline and an idea to do an Offline Mode has already been nixed as a possibility, which of course wouldn't normally preclude it from being possible eventually, but I highly doubt it.  The reason provided, you see, is that the actual simming part of SimCity is apparently done server-side (to incorporate other players into it and the like, all those lovely 'social' features that require it being online) so your game is less a game and more a conduit for input.  And, of course, it's pretty much persistent.  I've heard stories already from people who were locked out of playing the game for a while, only to come back to disaster and unrest because, well, the city went on even though you couldn't continue to play it and guide it.  That, to me, is the most damning thing about the whole situation, and is one good reason why I would never personally look into procuring the game for myself - but also because, as stated, that's a technical impossibility.  It's just absolutely baffling how they took SimCity as a concept, a single-player thing, and turned it into this.  Absolutely miserable.

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