Games used to be all about buying a copy off the shop shelf and taking it home, unwrapping the ridiculously tight plastic and smelling the manual. Those days are increasingly over as games can be accessed digitally. In theory, this should lead to a seamless buying to playing workflow; unless the game is SimCity and you need to be connected to the EA servers at all times to play. Servers that are currently not working very well...
Co-Optimus is struggling to access the SimCity servers ourselves to delve deeper into this up to 16 player co-op title. At first the servers were slow due to being full to chock-a-block with eager gamers wishing to get their Sim on. To compound the issue EA actually took the servers down overnight (in the UK) to try and fix things.
SimCity developer Kip Katsarelis has been on the Maxis forums to try and explain the current situation and hopefully calm a few furrowed brows:
This has been an exciting and challenging week for the team here at Maxis, the culmination years of planning and development. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and enthusiasm from our fans which has made it even more upsetting for us that technical issues have become more prominent in the last 24 hours. We are hitting a number of problems with our server architecture which has seen players encountering bugs and long wait times to enter servers. This is, obviously, not the situation we wanted for our launch week and we want you to know that we are putting everything we have at resolving these issues.
What we are doing is deploying more servers over the coming two days which will alleviate many of the ongoing issues. We are also paying close attention to all the bug reports we are receiving from our fans. We've already pushed several updates in the last few days. Our live ops team is working 24/7 to resolve issues and ensure that bug fixes roll into the game as quickly as possible.
It is nice when a developer acknowledges that there is an issue and it is clear that in the case of SimCity the developers are doing what they can to get the game up and running at an acceptable level. But are the issues not being compounded by EA's insistence that the gamer be online at all times to play this potentially single player game? I feel a community question coming on.
What do you think about always-online DRM?
Are we moving towards a gaming market of leasing licences to play the game, rather than owning a copy?
Should the community all calm down a little? Good things come to those who wait?