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EA: DRM is a failed, dead-end strategy

Mar 28 // Jim Sterling
Call me a cynic, but when I see games presented as online services -- especially when those services fail to serve us -- I see little more than DRM dressed in a shiny new suit. It strikes me as convenient that these "services" also serve the exact same purpose as DRM -- controlling how the end user behaves, shutting down if failing to meet requirements, and providing extra hassle for paying customers.  I find it hard to believe anything said about SimCity lately, given the general air of distrust EA Maxis' claims about the game's online demands have fostered.  If SimCity can do it, I expect to see a fair few other games calling themselves MMOs for little other reason than to get away with an always-online requirement. It seems to be quite a popular thing in the industry right now, to dress up old bullshit business tactics as new things. You'll notice how EA's been calling games with online passes special editions now, downplaying the fact it's gated off the online portion to let us know we can get maybe an extra weapon at the same time. Sheep's clothing at its best.  So yeah, games don't have DRM anymore. They're just special types of MMO! EA: "DRM is a failed dead-end strategy" []
EA: DRM a failed strategy photo
Games boss swears EA Maxis decided on the SimCity online stuff
Electronic Arts may have been one of the last big wielders of SecuROM, and SimCity's online woes reek of it, but EA Labels president Frank Gibeau claims to hate DRM. According to him, such anti-piracy measures have failed, an...

SimCity video photo
SimCity video

A SimCity highway that will make you soil yourself

Mar 27
// Fraser Brown
Given the limited space that EA Maxis expects prospective city managers to construct in, one might be forgiven for thinking that there's not much room for bizarre experimentation in SimCity. This is not quite true, however, ...

We don't wait for games to not suck

Mar 21 // Daniel Starkey
On March 15, I tried to log in and work on some of my cities again, but none of them would load. I know that some people have had a fantastic experience since Maxis and EA have beefed up their server capacity, but clearly for some of us, this system still isn't functional, and at this point it's unclear when it ever will be. I realize that experience isn't necessarily reflective of those of most players at this stage, but that's just the point -- it's impossible to account for every possible scenario. As a reviewer I only have my own experiences when I play, and that's all. Even if I were to go back and re-review it now, I would have no choice but to give it a 1/10. It is still a broken product. There are some people that don't believe reviews should be a consumer guide, and that's actually a perspective to which I am sympathetic. As a general rule, I like to think of reviews as discussion topics. I wait until after I've bought, played, and formed my own opinion on a game before I look at any scores or read any reviews. As a general rule, I consider any information about a game to be a spoiler. This way I expect almost nothing and have a fresh mind going into every experience. I realize however, that that approach isn't at all common. Many people don't have the cash to blow on a $60 game at launch and either need to rent, wait for the price to drop, or check out their favorite critics' thoughts. I get that. I know what it's like to be a gamer on a budget, and I know how hard it can be to scrounge up the cash for a new release, and it's for that very reason that I approached the SimCity review in the way that I did. People who really wanted it, the classic SimCity fans, would buy it no matter what I did. The same is true for the people that want nothing to do with the series. My target audience was the few in the middle, those who weren't sure about whether the game was worth buying at launch. I did the best I could to dissuade people that might otherwise sit on their hands for what is at this point, weeks, for the game to be playable while they have nothing to play in the meantime. Did SimCity get better? I'm sure it did for most people, but as of today, I still can't play the cities I started, and the prospect of creating a whole new region is reason enough to keep me away. As Jim Sterling said a few days ago, buying games like this at launch is not a good idea. The more that don't, the clearer the message to EA that such behavior is unacceptable. In that sense, I think I was still able to fulfill my goal of using the review to spark discussion that took place in the comments, on Twitter, and on other sites like NeoGAF.  If an otherwise rational consumer decided after reading my review that they still wanted to buy the game, good for them. I hope they get lucky and I hope they have the best time possible, but at least they did so knowing what was and is still quite likely to happen. They made an informed decision with their money. Ultimately, so much of this conversation depends on what you personally think the role of a game critic should be. I can say that I expect an engagement with the actual content of the game, and that I want to know far more than whether or not it looks good or if it has decent controls. If those components are exceptional -- going either way -- then that warrants a mention, but otherwise I want to know about themes, I want to know what XYZ critic thought about the message, if there is one. I want to hear about how the mechanics reinforce or clash with the core purpose the game, and I want to know if it's something that's culturally relevant. If a critic goes into an in-depth description about how combat works or about the menu system, I'm immediately turned off. Everyone, when writing, should ask themselves "Why does this matter? What is the point of what I'm saying?" While I'm sure many people have grown rather attached to the current format and structure of reviews, I've always figured that one of the reasons that people like Yahtzee are so popular is that they offer something more. He has a very clear point and is remarkably consistent with his approach. I'm sure some portion of this piece sounds like I'm trying to describe why people should read what I write, and it's entirely possible that that's what I'm actually getting at, whether I realize it or not. Consciously, though, I only hope that people find this interesting. I plan on watching the discussion closely and seeing if I can get a better idea of what others prefer to see in their reviews. Maybe I really am in a very small minority. Maybe I'm operating on a lot of baseless assumptions. I'd like to think, though, that I'm not so far removed from the opinions of most people that I'm completely off here. So what do you think? Is the role of a critic to provide the seeds for a discussion, are we in the business of creating consumer guides, or is our job something else entirely?  [Header image from Suvodeb]
Thoughts on reviews photo
A Critic's Manifesto
A couple weeks ago, I posted my review of SimCity on ScrewAttack. I gave the game a 1/10, which is the lowest I've ever scored anything. That review sparked a surprising amount of controversy amongst one of my roommates who c...


Elder Scrolls Online, Riccitiello Resigns & Transistor!

The Destructoid Show makes fun of a giant corporation
Mar 19
// Max Scoville
Hey guys! Here's today's Destructoid Show.  Big news, in terms of business stuff -- EA's John Riccitiello has resigned from his role as CEO. EA is offering a generous choice of one of eight free games for customers ...
Meat Boy dev on DRM photo
Meat Boy dev on DRM

Super Meat Boy dev says DRM is more dangerous than piracy

Refenes weighs in on the SimCity fiasco
Mar 19
// Brett Makedonski
Tommy Refenes has shown no problem speaking his mind in the past. With the SimCity situation fresh on everyone's minds, he seemed eager to share his opinion once again. Refenes wrote a well thought-out post on his person...
SimCity sales photo
SimCity sales

SimCity has sold over 1 million copies since launch

It's the best selling SimCity game of all time
Mar 18
// Joshua Derocher
According to Electronic Arts, SimCity has sold over 1.1 million copies, making it the fastest selling SimCity game to date. About half of those sales have been for the digital version of the game.  It's interesting that ...
SimCity photo

EA's free games for SimCity players includes SimCity 4

Plus Dead Space 3, Battlefield 3, Mass Effect 3 and more
Mar 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Electronic Arts is trying to make good for all their disastrous launch issues with SimCity by offering select PC games free to players. Starting today, players that have activated their copy of SimCity should receive an email...
EA being EA photo
EA being EA

EA censors its own support number on its forums

If nobody calls, it must mean nobody has any complaints!
Mar 16
// Tony Ponce
[Editor's note: As I indicated in the third paragraph, I assumed that blocking the phone number on the forums has likely been a long-standing practice. As ZiggyMoff posted in the comments, Valve does something similar -- repl...
SimCity photo

Subset offline mode didn't fit Maxis' vision for SimCity

Developer responds to SimCity backlash
Mar 15
// Jordan Devore
After a rather eventful day of people tinkering with SimCity in order to play offline, Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw has written a "straight answers" blog post addressing the game's always-on design. Those hoping for a ...

SimCity can be played offline, according to anyone but EA

Mar 14 // Jim Sterling
[embed]248656:47560:0[/embed] This discovery follows reports by Rock, Paper, Shotgun that an anonymous insider is claiming SimCity never needed to remain online, and can actually go offline at any moment. While Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw claims offline play would require "a significant amount of engineering work from our team to rewrite the game," faceless informants cry foul.  "The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing," claims RPS' source. "They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless." It's suggested the server doesn't even react to your gameplay in real-time, and that it can take a few minutes for it to check your session for hacks or cheats. The bottom line is that, according to those who aren't in Electronic Arts' thrall, it wouldn't take much effort at all to get your an offline version of SimCity -- barring, of course, the game's regional features.  But of course, Electronic Arts made a bold stand on this issue, and is expected to pridefully stick to its guns. All the while, its resolute determination to keep players online will continue to confirm something I think was obvious -- the always-online requirement was only ever a business decision, not one made to enhance the gameplay. The end goal was to keep tabs on players at all times, and control their behavior beyond the point of sale, because EA is terrified of its own audience.  It's DRM in sheep's clothing, and the longer EA decides to keep SimCity online, the clearer that becomes.
SimCity online workaround photo
Evidence mounts that 'always-on' requirement is total bunkem
There is mounting evidence that, despite EA Maxis' claims to the contrary, SimCity is wholly capable of being played offline -- a capability that would have saved buyers a week of hassle and tons of creativity now lost to ser...

We need to stop letting hate define us

Mar 12 // Brett Makedonski
Before we get too far, this isn't intended to convey the message that you need to love everything. In fact, I believe that the opposite it true. Criticize and analyze everything. Without criticism, nothing would ever grow or evolve. Nothing would stick out above the rest. We'd be stuck in a perpetual state of middling, uninspired product. Instead, we need to tone down the undue cynicism. It's human nature for people to bond over shared experiences, but if we focus it on the positive instead of the negative, everyone will be much better off. Do you hate EA? Chance are, you probably do. About a year ago, it was voted the worst company in America. More recently, EA garnered more negative press for its statements about how microtransactions will eventually be included in all of its games. While CFO Blake Jorgensen has since gone on record to state that they meant all mobile games, the sentiment remains the same. It's not a unique opinion to think poorly of EA. However, without EA, there's a solid chance that your gaming experiences would be diminished in some capacity. Do you like Mass Effect, Battlefield, Dead Space, or Rock Band? Those franchises all exist, in part, because of EA. The same can be said for about a thousand other titles. There's absolutely nothing wrong with speaking out against its business practices that you don't agree with. That, along with voting with your wallet, are the only two ways that exploitative conventions will change. Still, it isn't fair to throw around blanket phrases like "I hate EA," because the company has had more of a positive effect than immediately comes to mind. The interesting niche about videogame culture is that there are considerable barriers to entry to even have an opinion. It requires both a monetary and time investment to be informed. Then, it takes the urge to go share your opinion. It's all much more complex than "Justin Bieber is stupid." As a result, it's a very vocal minority that engages on Twitter, forums, and comments sections that comprise the voice of the industry. Relatively speaking, it's a pretty small chunk of the population. In a way, we're more prone to falling into the trap of becoming overly pessimistic because we hear the same opinions recycled from all directions. And to be honest, it really doesn't even matter all that much. While our outcries feel loud as hell at the time, they're usually pretty muffled. Do the thoughts of Diablo III and Error 37 conjure terrible memories? The game still sold a ton of copies. I bet by the time that the SimCity fiasco is completely straightened out, its sales figures will be pretty impressive too. The truly disconcerting facet of this isn't even necessarily how overly cynical we've become, although that's certainly a problem. It's how, as Stump pointed out, many of us have become defined by the things that we hate. Rather than simply dismissing something that doesn't please us, we make an effort to stomp it into oblivion. I've been guilty of it, and I'm sure that many people reading this have been too. To quote Stump, "Near-masturbatory complaining has brought together more people than cheap liquor." He could not be more right. We feed off of others' spiteful opinions, and then we reciprocate. There's a cool kids' club for everyone that says the right things, and we all want to be included. It's incredibly easy to find a litany of bitter commentary about the popular topics, and with each opinion read, we become more and more influenced, and increasingly likely to weigh in ourselves. This is a mold that needs to be broken. It reflects poorly upon us, and frankly, it can't be healthy. I don't necessarily have a lot of hope for society-at-large, but being surrounded by like-minded people, I like to think that we're better than this. We naturally connect with one another via shared opinions, but there's no reason that these can't predominantly come from a place of positivity. Keep the critiques flowing, but let's stop hating things simply for existing. If we can do that, I can't help but feel that we'll all be much better off. [Image courtesy of Fogs Movie Reviews]
Where is the love? photo
We are the Pretty Hate Machine
I was recently inspired by a blog entry from a member of Fall Out Boy. If you're already rolling your eyes and making snarky remarks in your head, then this article is targeted at you. Patrick Stump, Fall Out Boy's lead singe...


Jimquisition: SimShitty

Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Mar 11
// Jim Sterling
DRM is back again, and it's here to stay! Games are a service, so we're told, but who do they really serve? SimCity's failure to launch thanks to ludicrous DRM restrictions has been the hot topic of the week, and naturally there's a Jimquisition afoot to skewer Electronic Arts right in its Electronic Nads. Time to put a bit of stick about, wouldn't you say?

Maxis has 'no intention' of making SimCity offline

Mar 11 // Jim Sterling
"The good news is that tens of thousands of new players are streaming into the game every day and the confidence our fans have shown is truly humbling," she wrote. "I can’t begin to explain the way a development team feels when something you're proud of is threatened at launch. Our biggest fear was that people who love this franchise would be scared off by bad reviews about the connectivity issues. "But you put your faith in us. You bought the game with the understanding that we’d quickly fix the server issues. For that support -- that incredible commitment from our fans -- we are deeply grateful. As the general manager of Maxis, I want you to know that we cherish your faith in us, and the love you've shown for this franchise." All very touching stuff, but these grand displays of humility ring rather hollow for me when it was so obvious SimCity was going to be unplayable at launch. We all pretty much called it, and I refuse to believe anybody at Maxis or Electronic Arts would be so dense as to have not called it too. Once you cross a point where what you're doing is so obviously detrimental to a game launch, and you do it anyway, you waive the ability to craft a believable apology.  SimCity's bullshit wasn't a mistake. It was the result of a decision that had to have factored in the frustration of launch day buyers, and deemed that frustration an acceptable risk.
No offline SimCity photo
Claims the problems are 'almost behind us'
While SimCity's DRM-in-sheep's-clothing continues to cause playabilty issues, EA Maxis has declared its intent to keep the game tied to a server. The company will do "everything it can" to make your game playable, but that do...

SimCity freebie photo
SimCity freebie

EA to offer free PC game for SimCity players

So it's come to this
Mar 08
// Jordan Devore
After a disastrous launch week for SimCity, Maxis and Electronic Arts are going to offer a free PC game via download to players as an apology. "On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email ...

Deadpool, Dead Space & Dead Tired Of SimCity's BS

The Destructoid Show got sent home from school today for cursing
Mar 08
// Max Scoville
Hey everybody! Here's today's Destructoid Show! I'm guessing you guys have heard about all the nonsense going on with SimCity, so if you're sick of it by this point, I apologize. There's a new trailer for Deadpool, which I'm ...

Game Debate to the Death! Most loyal game company?

SimDebate to the Metacritic Death!
Mar 08
// Tom Fronczak
Last week we debated over which of the Dead Space games was most worthy of a trophy, and it was great reading through your comments that brought up gameplay, visuals, scare factors, and other elements to judge the series on. ...
SimCity photo

Petition demands the removal of DRM from SimCity

And all future games too
Mar 08
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
SimCity is broken. Players aren't able to connect to the servers, and without that connection you virtually cannot do anything with the city building game. Fans are rightly outraged, taking to various social media outlets ...

EA: SimCity's broken because it's just too much fun!

Users blamed for wanting to play the game too much
Mar 08
// Jim Sterling
In what has to be the most incredible display of PR spin seen in a videogame crisis, an Electronic Arts spokesperson has claimed SimCity's notoriously awful DRM setbacks are a result of the game being just too gosh-darn enjoy...
SimCity on Amazon photo
SimCity on Amazon

SimCity is now available on Amazon...again

Previously pulled game returns
Mar 08
// Chris Carter
SimCity is finally here, and to say EA has had a disastrous launch is an understatement. Among connection issues due to its always-on DRM scheme, EA has also reportedly denied customers refunds. As a result of this maelstrom ...

SimCity Metacritic user reviews are brutal brutal brutal!

'This is SimVillage'
Mar 08
// Jim Sterling
Big game releases these days are almost always going to be subject to some literary abuse via the outlet of Metacritic user reviews, especially when a major publisher like Electronic Arts is concerned. In the case of SimCity,...

Review: SimCity

Mar 08 // Joshua Derocher
SimCity (PC [reviewed], Mac)Developer: MaxisPublisher: Electronic ArtsRelease: March 5, 2013MSRP: $59.99 I really wanted to love this game, and my initial impressions were positive. I liked the way the screen looked, how detailed the city is, and how easy it is to access information. The graphics are modern and use hip things like tilt-shift and custom filters that make everything look like a photo from Instagram. The old full-screen graphs and charts have been replaced by easy to read overlays that match what you are currently doing. If you click on, for example, the police icon not only can you build new police stations, you can also see where your current stations are, how many crimes are committed in a day, and how many of those criminals you catch. Another good example is the road icon, which allows you to build or upgrade roads while letting you see what's currently going on with traffic. If you do feel the need to access more information, you can pick from around 20 different overlays that show stats ranging from hospital coverage, tourism income, property value, population density, to the location of natural resources like ore and oil. The biggest feature that has been talked about endlessly since SimCity was announced is the new road system, and yes the roads are cool. Power lines, sewage pipes, and water pipes have all been tied into roads, so now all you have to do is connect everything to a road and it works. It might seem like they are taking away control from the player, but I can't think of any reason why I would need to build a city and not give it all of these necessary things to function anyway. It makes building the city faster and easier, and I never felt like I was missing anything by not placing something like power lines manually. The roads can also be curved now, which is nice but it's not very efficient. The downside to the new road system is that zoning density is tied into what type of road you use. If you use little dirt roads, the building density is low. If you upgrade to a high-traffic avenue then you can expect skyscrapers and apartment buildings to grow near it. I found this to be annoying because if I had a traffic issue in an area that I wanted to be at a lower density, I was screwed. I had to choose between living with the traffic jams, or watching my suburban development turn into massive complexes. This is one instance where I wish I had more options and it's not game breaking, but it is annoying. My personal favorite feature is the way that everything has a sense of place and people actually exist. They really go to their jobs, they have to travel to school in order to become educated, and firetrucks need to drive to fires to put them out. You can watch as policemen chase down robbers, and if your city's traffic is a problem you can also watch as the robbers escape. SimCity has evolved past just graphs and numbers representing what's going on in your city, and it makes this really feel like a "next-gen" iteration of the series. Your hospital isn't just balancing out some impersonal number, it's treating sick people that you can see. Everything feels alive and connected, and it's fun to watch things happen. Individual buildings can be updated with small adjustments to make them more useful, which is a great way to make things better without only adding more buildings to your city. If crime is a problem you can add more police cars to the station, or add a prison expansion to increase the criminals you can detain. Schools can be expanded with new classrooms, casinos can add rooms to house more tourists, and public transportation can be upgraded by adding new buses to help reduce the wait. The game at its core is really good, almost great, but it's held back by some odd things that I still fail to understand. For starters, the map size is really small. I was able to fill it up after playing for only a few hours, and after that the only way to keep playing is to either start another city or increase the density until everything is a block of towers with traffic problems. I'm used to older SimCity games allowing me to create massive cityscapes, and this feels like a tiny fishbowl of a city. Server problems aside, this is the biggest problem with the game. After a few hours I was stuck and had nowhere to expand to. The reason behind the small map size could be technical, since I can understand if the way every citizen's life is actually simulated is very taxing on the system, but it could also be contributed to the fact that they want you to build up the region as well as the city. The second one seems more likely to me since everything else in the game tries to make you painfully aware of other cities and players.  A region is where your actual game is happening, and it can hold between three to fifteen cities, either controlled by you in a private session, with friends, or open to the public. Regions grow over time with buildings added to cities, such as headquarters for industry or education offices for the town hall. This unlocks better options for the city, and for the entire region. It's impossible to afford all of these buildings in one city, and they would probably take up half the map with their physical size. You have to play with more than one city, and that's rather annoying since only your active city is growing and fully functioning. It can take a long time to build up a few cities, and I would much rather create one mega-city than a handful of tiny cities anyway. Having to play in a region could be interesting, but it comes across as a cheap way to encourage multiplayer, or "enhanced online single-player," whatever that means. The concept is intriguing, but it doesn't really deliver in a strong enough way for me to be willing to sacrifice single-player or the ability to have one mega-city. In the open region I tried it soon became ruined by pollution and crime due to what other players were doing. One bad city can ruin everyone else's cities with its spread across the region, so I can't imagine ever looking to play with strangers online. I can only see myself playing with other people I know have a clear goal, how to play, and that we all can focus on cities that compliment each other. Good stuff can spread across the region, too. One city can volunteer fire trucks or police to other cities to help out, and it's even possible to create a giant trash town that is filled with giant dumps for everyone. It's an interesting idea, but it's somewhat flawed in the delivery. Since everything is happening on servers, and there are problems online you might lose trash coverage. I tried to see how well things worked across cities by trying to run two cities at once, and I found that it wasn't a reliable way to play the game. Things seemed to break. Workers failed to show up at their jobs in the city next door, water flow stopped at times, police didn't show up, and my city's education went downhill as they stopped getting on the bus to travel across the region. This could all be due to the server issues, or the game could actually be broken in this regard. Either way it's flawed. I felt like I should have been playing with other people, and it's difficult to play with one city alone. A single city is tiny and it can't do a lot. Eventually you run out of space and you can't upgrade any more without depending on resources coming from another city. Things like achievements, leader boards, and friend's lists are pushed to the foreground to try and convince me to play online. It seems like more of an issue to play alone than with others, and SimCity doesn't really need that. It could be cool, sure, but don't force it on me. I haven't come across anyone that wants this from the series, and the fact that the online portion of the game is broken makes it a complete nightmare. So many things felt out of my control and dependent on EA's servers, which is something that I could forgive if it actually worked the way it was supposed to. Sadly, it doesn't work very well at all. Over the past few days since launch, I've spent a good chunk of time trying to connect online. If I did manage to connect, the game would have issues interacting with the other cities in my region and sometimes I would lose entire cities due to things failing to be saved correctly. There isn't anything being saved locally on your computer, and their servers aren't up to the task of maintaining the load. I shouldn't have to deal with this to play in my own city alone. People are connecting the server issues to the similar bumpy ride that Diablo III experienced, but SimCity is definitely experiencing a much more terrible launch. If players waited for four hours they could connect to Diablo III, which is awful but at least you could play eventually. SimCity doesn't always have a login queue, so all you can do is exit and try relaunching the game again hoping that it will work. Even if you do manage to get online there is a good chance things will go wrong, and you might even lose your entire city due to a server crash. It's the worst launch I have ever experienced. Diablo III might have had a rough launch, but people had faith that Blizzard would be able to fix the server issues. I don't have that same faith in EA. Their current fix is disabling game features like achievements, leaderboards, and even removing the fastest game speed to try and alleviate the load on the servers. They are taking things away from us in order to fix their problem, and that's really unfortunate. I want to like this game, but there are a lot of things wrong with it. Maybe they'll fix the servers, and maybe people won't run into issues down the line. Maybe they'll make the maps bigger, and maybe they'll figure out a way to back up some key data onto your machine instead of on a broken server in space. The possibility is out there for this to be a really good game, but it's based on a lot of maybes. It's too many game breaking issues and too many problems. The constant DRM is an annoyance, but the real issue here is the fact that everything is happening online. SimCity has always been a single-player game, and now it's a fully online experience. Nothing is saved locally and when I lose my save game due to online issues it makes me cranky. I was desperately trying to get time in playing this week, not just because I am reviewing it, but also because it seemed like fun. I love games like this. All the time I spent playing on Tuesday was erased because of server issues. After trying to connect for hours this morning, I was shocked to find that my most recent saves were gone, and over six hours of playtime was wiped away. There is some promise for this to be a good game, but promise alone isn't enough. Even if they do manage to get their servers back online and functioning, I still know that if something goes wrong on their end I will lose all of my saved games. My cities are at the mercy of EA's servers and my Internet connection, and while there are some nice things to be found in SimCity, the need to always be online and feeling forced to play with other people ruins the experience.  I wanted to like this game, I really did. At first I started to enjoy it, but soon all I found was frustration. I can't recommend this game to anyone, and I don't want to play it anymore myself because I am afraid of seeing all my efforts lost due to server issues. It's a decent game if it worked right, but the online dependency, forced multiplayer, and DRM ruin it. 
SimCity review photo
The splines aren't reticulating
I love the SimCity series. I played the first one for countless hours growing up, and my younger years were filled with endless play sessions of SimCity 2000 and 3000. I wanted to like the latest SimCity. The visual style loo...


No SimCity refunds on Origin

Anti-refund policy exposes the risk of buying digital
Mar 08
// Jim Sterling
If you are one of the many who purchased SimCity this week and found yourself unable to play it, you may feel like you were gypped out of $60 and want your money back. Unfortunately, while physical retailers might do the hono...
EA's Solitaire photo
EA's Solitaire

What if EA made Solitaire in the style of SimCity?

It might look a little something like this
Mar 07
// Jordan Devore
Sometimes, it's best to relieve frustration with laughter. This week has been full of server-related issues with the new SimCity and the light at the end of the tunnel isn't visible yet. For as universal as the game is, not e...
City builders ranked photo
City builders ranked

Ranked: The five best city builders

While we wait for SimCity to connect ...
Mar 07
// Fraser Brown
I'm a bit of a mess, to be honest. A disheveled, disorganized, forgetful mess. Yet somehow, this all evaporates when I fire up a city builder. Obsessive? Definitely. Compulsive? Without a doubt. Everything needs to ...

PSA: Don't buy SimCity until EA fixes the servers

Mar 07 // Joshua Derocher
(Even the ones that say "Available" are most likely having issues at this point) One of the biggest changes about the new SimCity is that the map size is smaller compared to past games, which I find disappointing. It's a really small map, and it's impossible to do everything with one city. There is a big push to focus the city on a specific thing, and to depend on other nearby cities for stuff like power, sewage treatment, or education. So I created a private region to test out having one city filled with industry, while another one focused on schools and tourism. This multi-city approach could work and compensate for the tiny map size, but with the current server issues I'm not sure how well this actually functions. My cities aren't saving correctly, which is making it hard to tell what's going on. My industrial city was setup to receive sewage waste and trash from my nicer residential city, and this seemed to work until the game refused to acknowledge that the other city was there. This caused a temporary backup of waste and trash, and all of my citizens starting yelling at me. Eventually the entire region reset to a save from a couple days ago, causing me to lose at least six hour of gameplay. It's disappointing that there is no option to play offline and have data saved on my machine instead, but if they can get the servers running correctly it might not be an issue. Sadly, it is an issue right now. I enjoyed my initial time, but I'm still undecided about my feelings on a lot of the design decisions. I am skeptical, but also hopeful that it could work, but it all depends on the servers running correctly.  There are multiple servers and EA is working on adding more, but the problem with this is that cities don't migrate across servers, meaning your saved games are stuck to the server you started them on. Even if today you decided "Hey, the European server isn't full, I'll play on that!" it won't matter. You could lose access to your cities once the new influx of players come in after the European release. I am fighting with the same connection issues that everyone else is facing. I have lost entire cities to server issues, and playing is almost completely impossible right now. Don't buy SimCity, not yet at least. The game isn't done, and you would be spending $60 to be a part of what boils down to a beta test for their servers. Save your money and see how things pan out. I have spent around forty hours in SimCity for our review and have had a good look at a lot of the features, but the networking issues are holding back my progress. I can't play, and neither can a lot of other people. This review is going to be for you, our readers, so what do you think would be fair? Should we review the game as it is, or wait and see if these server issues can be resolved?
SimCity server woes photo
Hold off on getting the game until our full review
Our review for SimCity is coming, but server issues are making the game unplayable. I'm sure you're already aware of the need to always be online to play, but it goes a lot deeper than just a DRM issue. Data isn't stored loca...

Amazon removes SimCity photo
Amazon removes SimCity

Amazon has pulled SimCity from its store

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// Patrick Hancock
The Amazon page for SimCity will no longer allow customers to purchase the game, citing server issues as the reason for pulling it. People all over the Internet are complaining about their inability to play SimCity ...
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EA will be adding more SimCity servers over next two days

'Non-critical' features disabled in the mean time
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SimCity server issues photo
SimCity server issues

SimCity players experience long waits to play

Single-player game ruined by online logins
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