SimCity release leads to long wait times on EA servers

The Right Click
Sim City screenshot from EA's Origins Store

After waiting ten years for the release of a new SimCity, it looks like fans of the popular franchise will have to wait just a little bit longer.

Despite promises by EA that its servers would be able to handle the influx of eager players starting up the game on its release today, demand for the game at EA’s virtual Origin store has led to users being advised that they’ll have to wait up to half an hour before they’re able to download the game.

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The Origin account sent out several tweets beginning at the midnight launch, indicating that there were heavy delays due to traffic. After ten hours of silence, it looks like Origin still had only bad news to deliver to those waiting to download the game:

Those who purchased a physical version of the game seemed to be having problems, too. Players are required to enter a product key upon installing the game, which also requires that they be connected to the server:

The reason players are being forced to wait for the game is due to the controversial move by EA to make the game always online for DRM purposes. Despite massive backlash following an AMA post on Reddit, Senior Vice President Lucy Bradshaw defended the move in a blog on the SimCity website:

Creating a connected experience has always been a goal for SimCity, and this design decision has driven our development process for the game. This is easily the most ambitious game in the franchise and we’ve taken great care to make sure that every line of code embodies the spirit of the series. To do this, we knew we had to make sure we put our heart and souls into the simulation and the team created the most powerful simulation engine in its history, the GlassBox Engine. GlassBox is the engine that drives the entire game -- the buildings, the economics, trading, and also the overall simulation that can track data for up to 100,000 individual Sims inside each city. There is a massive amount of computing that goes into all of this, and GlassBox works by attributing portions of the computing to EA servers (the cloud) and some on the player's local computer.

Bradshaw goes on to say that “real cities do not exist in a bubble; they share a region and affect one another.” Yet SimCity has traditionally been a single player game, and while Bradshaw highlights the fact players can choose to play how they want, either setting their city to private and never interacting with another soul or playing with friends or strangers in a public region, regardless an always-online connection is required.

The situation is reminiscent of Diablo III’s launch back in May, a game that also requires an “always online” connection.

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Unsurprisingly, frustrated SimCity fans are lashing out. Ars Technica reports that many have taken to Metacritic and rated the game negatively, most with the same complaint: servers are at maximum capacity for a single player game, preventing players from actually playing. Currently, the game has a User Rating score of 3.7/10, while ahead of the launch, critics had extremely high praise for the game, with an aggregate rating of 91/100.

PC Gamer says that fans who want a refund for the game can get one by contacting http://help.origin.com/contact-us, although the issue is still being worked on for those who are willing to wait. There’s no explanation yet as to why there was no option to pre-load files from the game despite inquires from both PC Gamer and Ars Technica.

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