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EA: SimCity woes "almost behind us"

EA: SimCity woes "almost behind us"

Mon 11 Mar 2013 3:00pm GMT / 11:00am EDT / 8:00am PDT
GamesOnline

The problems are not completely solved yet, but EA has reduced crashes by 92%

In an update on Sunday evening, Maxis head Lucy Bradshaw issued an official blog post to let SimCity players know that the publisher is close to solving its disastrous server problems. She commented that the core problem is "almost behind us" and "our players have been able to connect to their cities in the game for nearly 8 million hours of gameplay time and we've reduced game crashes by 92 percent from day one."

Bradshaw thanked the community for its support and understanding and noted that it'll be just a few more days now before everything is running at full capacity.

"I had hoped to issue an 'All-Clear' tonight, but there are still some elements coming together. Tonight and tomorrow we'll be monitoring each server and gameplay metrics to ensure that the service remains strong and game is playing great. We need a few more days of data before we can assure you that the problem is completely solved and the game is running at 100 percent," she said.

"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. 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."

Indeed, the release of SimCity was one of the worst online product launches in recent memory. The game had to be pulled from Amazon, EA decided to cease marketing, the title was hammered on Metacritic, and EA refused customers refunds (before offering a free game to frustrated players).

12 Comments

I wish them the best, I have been playing for awhile now. Moving past the launch and server problems I see one more real problem. I really dont understand the decision to waste so much resources on the lil sims themselves, It brings nothing to the game as their AI is lacking, and they move at unnatural speeds, surely just some sprite animation would of done the trick here, and instead, they wasted resources there, and then limited the size of your layout, this cripples the game. I would much rather have twice the size to play, resources needed to go to the right areas, not sure they have.

This limited scope of play makes me feel as if Im pretty much done with this game, all within 20 or so hours.. You simply cant build what you want.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,136 914 0.8
I find it hard not to feel bad for the company. Its a nightmare situation and an exceptional one at that.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,130 1,038 0.5
"Almost behind us"??? Yeah, sure. Like leaving the scene of an accident "almost behind us", I guess...

I don't feel a bit sorry at all for anyone because ALL of this could have been avoided, period.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,136 914 0.8
Maybe it could have been avoided but we often forget that people make mistakes, no matter how big or small they are. Its sad, because of course this would never be intentional and its rare for such a major launch to go quite so bad.

Its not hard to imagine a lot of lessons will be learnt from this, especially when the ambition and scale of projects and launches will continue to increase. From what I've seen though, the studio has done a great job with this title after a lot of work, just too bad the launch was marred with technical issues.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 11th March 2013 9:54pm

Posted:A year ago

#4

Mary Hilton
Community Manager

37 20 0.5
They might think they are almost over the worst of it, but I have a feeling their customers aren't...and that many of them won't be returning to play this game.
EA asked for it, in spades by shoddy planning and not listening to their customers.
They can believe all they want-reality will set in eventually: the game is not that great and people will not be coming back for more.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mary Hilton on 11th March 2013 9:56pm

Posted:A year ago

#5

Jeremy Robinson
Quality Assurance

7 1 0.1
Maxis are not some new company that hasn't experienced the release of AAA products before nor is EA a virgin when it comes to this either. They had a rough idea from pre orders plus beta registrations as to how well the product would sell, they didn't perform sufficient enough stress/load testing of the services or they would have been ready for the influx of users and finally they were not wise when it came to the DRM. If you are going to have an online all the time service you have to over compensate with your servers from the outset so you don't alienate your user base with server failures.

Don't get me wrong I enjoy the game but as Todd stated above, if they don't widen the scope with large areas to populate and more options in the building area then people will leave in droves. I already miss my rural areas.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jeremy Robinson on 12th March 2013 11:48pm

Posted:A year ago

#6

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

200 476 2.4
Popular Comment
@ Adam
Its not hard to imagine a lot of lessons will be learnt from this
just too bad the launch was marred with technical issues.
I usually like your posts a lot Adam, but sometimes you're just over-optimistic.
Very recent history with Diablo III's launch shows nothing was learnt by EA with other companies mistakes, but even discarding that, this game had similar issues in its beta, and with the amount of pre-orders they could have acted instead of reacting. These technical issues were created by EA and EA alone, placing more servers to meet pre-order demand and allow pre-loading would have made the entire difference, and later on close/merge servers as population stabilized to a certain consistent size.

Alas, investors talk louder in these giant companies, so it was decided to go against common sense and "see how it goes". I feel sorry for the developers - in this case Maxis - when publishers like these interfere in their creations, I really do.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Andreia Quinta on 12th March 2013 8:08am

Posted:A year ago

#7

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,130 1,038 0.5
I'm old enough (49 this May) to have seen plenty of nonsense that didn't need to go down go down hard and fast with big and small game launches, so I absolutely stand by what I said. Unless EA, Activision, and any other big publisher aren't plugging up the mouths of the well-paid suits who don't go near a controller, start taking notes on what went wrong (yes, look over the fence and track what the smaller publishers are doing right AND wrong) and actually listening to what people WANT, the industry where it is isn't going to last very long doing what it does.

Anyone who keeps thinking consumers will either "get over it" or "move on" or whatever other happy-snappy press release stuff gets published once the building is burning down, will no doubt be shocked (shocked, I say) when there's a crash bigger than the last one. Or when consumers start NOT buying very many launch games until all the warts are squashed flat and people can play the game they were hoping they'd get day one with as few issues as possible. This Sim City situation is beyond unacceptable, as it's basically an extended beta test people have paid full price for.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,136 914 0.8
I usually like your posts a lot Adam,
:-)
but sometimes you're just over-optimistic.
Very recent history with Diablo III's launch shows nothing was learnt by EA with other companies mistakes, but even discarding that, this game had similar issues in its beta, and with the amount of pre-orders they could have acted instead of reacting. These technical issues were created by EA and EA alone, placing more servers to meet pre-order demand and allow pre-loading would have made the entire difference, and later on close/merge servers as population stabilized to a certain consistent size.

Alas, investors talk louder in these giant companies, so it was decided to go against common sense and "see how it goes". I feel sorry for the developers - in this case Maxis - when publishers like these interfere in their creations, I really do.
I am very optimistic (and maybe I take a bigger share of the optimism than most) but I guess it because we have to believe things can improve and get better and though I'm not as mature shall we say, in terms of years as some of the users on the site, I've seen a lot of things get better and sometimes it does take a major issue to happen at your own front door (EA's) for the real change to happen.

It really isn't ideal and I'm sure like most things this could have been prevented. But in my relatively short time working in the games industry for a few companies, I've been one of many in situations that have gone horribly wrong and I know how it feels when it only takes small mistakes or oversights for something to escalate, then there are the ticking time bombs waiting to blow but once they do its everyone that suffers =/

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 12th March 2013 10:19am

Posted:A year ago

#9

Leo Wakelin
QA Tester

24 4 0.2
It's no where near 100%. Most servers still have so much latency, the game feels to be working alright for a while, then you realise there is absolutely no connectivity to your region, the updates are random, intermittent, unreliable and at times -- non existant.

I don't know if anyone actually plays it, but I've put in touching 60+ hours so far, which is an achievement in it's own considering the uptime. But it's broken at the core.

Many servers have trouble sharing resources/sims/cash/projects/departments/benefits/workers/shoppers/tourists. EA reps have even posted in their forums saying sharing is DISABLED on some servers.

This renders the game unplayable, since city sizes are so small you are forced to work in an intercity collaboration.

It's a disaster :|

Posted:A year ago

#10

David Serrano
Freelancer

298 269 0.9
Adam Campbell

While optimism should always be applauded, sometimes you simply need to acknowledge that stupid is as stupid does.

This is not a case where hindsight is 20/20. If developers and publishers cannot fully test what will actually happen when hundreds of thousands or millions of players simultaneously access the servers on a new title, then common sense dictates they must have multiple levels of redundant capacity up and running for the first few weeks following a launch. Then after they have a handle on their actual requirements, they can safely take any remaining redundant capacity off-line.

What would the costs have been for EA to double or triple their estimate for two or three weeks? 500K to 1M? Do you think EA would now gladly paid ten times as much to make this problem go away? The bottom line is, these are the types of problems which will always occur when large companies put "money guys" higher up on their organizational charts than people who have years of actual hands on work experience and who also possess a far greater understanding the requirements and risks involved in bringing products to market.

Posted:A year ago

#11

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,130 1,038 0.5
One stupid solution: MAKE anyone yakking about how great their online-only game is going to be PLAY the damn thing so they can see what's right and wrong with it before that big, failed roll-out. Asking millions to once more sit on their hands for over a week just to get to a basic level of acceptability and functionality is not even anything close to right or reasonable.

Posted:A year ago

#12

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