SimCity servers struggle with launch

Users unable to download game on release, 30 minute queues to play

The US launch of EA's SimCity has hit problems as its digital distribution platform Origin struggled to cope with demand, stopping users from downloading their digitally purchased copies and preventing those who own physical copies from unlocking them.

"We are still in the process of delivering SimCity to some US customers, but the majority has been fulfilled," Marcel Hatam, global community manager, told Polygon via Twitter. Meanwhile the official Origin Twitter account has been keeping the frustrated city planners updated on progress.

"We are continuing to distribute SimCity as quickly as possible. You should receive your game within the next one and a half hours."

Both digital and retail copies of the game seem to be affected, judging by user reports, with the problems caused by the awkward combination of server capacity, the inability to "pre-load" the game before it was released, and the game's need for a constant internet connection.

Even now gamers in American are reporting 30 minute queues to join the servers that will allow them to play the single player game, inviting comparisons with that other recent high profile launch dogged by DRM issues, Diablo III.

The game is due for release in the UK on Friday.

More stories

EA CEO weighs in on FIFA and NFTs

Andrew Wilson says publisher has a "great relationship" with football federation, believes digital collectibles will be important part of gaming's future

By Jeffrey Rousseau

EA to open new studio in Seattle

Company taps Halo co-creator to lead FPS project

By Danielle Partis

Latest comments (20)

I'm guessing we all saw this coming? Launch day miseries - but its okay becuse of DRM nobody can pirate the game.. except i'm betting they can already.
4Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe8 years ago
Did anyone not expect this to happen? That is why I decided not to get it and instead to sit back and watch the drama unfold. Soon the European players will storm the servers too. I wonder what will happen? /sarcasm
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
And this is exactly why digital AAA will be frustrating for consoles. Can you imagine the bile flood coming when everyone tries to get onto servers to play that next big shooter or whatever else is coming down the pike as a launch title with a much larger audience? Eh,whatever. This is like a cycle repeated endlessly, but that doesn't mean gamers need to shut up and expect it to keep being an issue...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (20)
Max Priddy8 years ago
Well, this confirms I made the right choice getting Bioshock Infinite and SC2:HotS over this, I hope other publishers take heed of this and well, not implement such draconian features into their otherwise half decent(?) games..though who am I kidding? WE GOTTA STOP THE PIRATES BY SCREWING OVER OUR PAYING CUSTOMERS GUYS!
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tim Browne Game Studio Design Director, King.com8 years ago
I'm not one for bashing other commentators but I have to say to Max what a silly thing to say!

The fact that on day one they have some server issues proves that you were smart in deciding to buy Bioshock Infinite and SC2:HotS?! Server issues on highly anticipated releases are not new... as some have stated it was to be expected and yes frustrating if you absolutely msut be the very first person to play on day but seriously the problems being experienced at the moment are nothing like what was seen on Diablo 3 last year or worse yet way back in 2004 when WoW came out.

I just don't get your logic.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Browne on 5th March 2013 5:25pm

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises8 years ago
I hope they sell it on Steam someday, because I'm not re-installing Origin or ever buying anything directly from EA again...
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
@ Greg
And this is exactly why digital AAA will be frustrating for consoles. Can you imagine the bile flood coming when everyone tries to get onto servers to play that next big shooter or whatever else is coming down the pike as a launch title with a much larger audience?
There's a difference between buying/downloading games digitally, and being forced to play them digitally. Sim City requires a server connection to play (since your city is essentially hosted server-side). Not all games will be like this. Contrast Sim City, for example, with Tomb Raider. TR doesn't require you logging into a company-hosted server to play, and that's getting along nicely.


Also, to counter the problems downloading, surely pre-loading is the way to go? Again, contrast with Tomb Raider, which had a Steam pre-load effective from Friday, I believe, so ensured that the download servers weren't killed overnight.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th March 2013 6:52pm

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports8 years ago
Oh people with short memory. I remember not being able to play Half Life 2 when it came out because the servers got flooded, and I had the damn thing on disc!

The fact that this kind of thing continues to happen on launch day of large releases really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online8 years ago
@Tim: Let's say people go to see a movie the day it comes out because they are big fans of the movie franchise. Now let's also say that due to the high demand, theaters are showing the movies that often that the film actually rips apart in many theaters, forcing viewers to wait 30 minutes until it's fixed (or, if it's digitally distributed, have the HD/transmission crash).

According to your logic, that was expected to happen and they should not have gone to see it on day one. The thing is, however: it doesn't happen. If a movie is highly popular, theaters open extra screens and add extra screenings. They also don't oversell theaters.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Just when people are relieved about Ubisoft stepping down from their always online DRM scheme and after the horrible D3 launch issues, EA slaps it on a single player game and decides to antogonize their paying customers.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Max Priddy8 years ago
@Tim: My logic is simply this - I shouldn't have to queue up for 30+ minutes to play a singleplayer game, no-one should and it's a stupid idea to begin with. Sure, they allow for you to connect with other player cities but that should be an optional thing anyway.

Fact is, it's -not- an MMO, neither was Diablo 3 and the way both games got handled for the sake of "anti-piracy" measures that debilitate some users (laptop users when they have a lack of Internet, an example) is really just stupid.

@Tom: I admittedly had a bit of a knee-jerk reading the article, remembering the ordeal I had with Diablo 3 and how horrible that was for a game I planned to play singleplayer first, only for the experience to be further polluted by the RMAH and how the will to obtain anything other than gold in that game was nullified by the fact you could get the best gear off the Auction House...But I digress, it could be a great game but I'd rather wait until a sale/discount during the Summer than pay full price, get the game now and have to wait until Origin to be able to register my CD key, then wait 30 minutes and up to play what is most likely just a singleplayer city building game with added social features to justify being permanently connected in order to build your city.

Plus hey, there's Rome II which'll have me busy by the time I feel SimCity's at a reasonable price! ;P

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Max Priddy on 6th March 2013 5:59am

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd8 years ago
@ Kieren Yep, 9 years ago Steam had this issue. I would have hoped Origin wasn't 9 years behind Steam, but yeah... that's about right. I'm also about 9 years past never from installing it just to deal with this sort of mess. I can live without EA games in the bottomless library of incredible PC games that I can own on Steam instead.
1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
@Morville: Oh, I know all that, but I can't see "pre-loading" of console games working with so many gun-jumpers trying to do stuff they shouldn't. Anyway, the system as it is is going to suck no matter how it's done because somewhere, someone who wants to play a big game on day one won't be able to.

As for SIm City, I'm wondering WHY they didn't think people wanted to pre-load this, given the interest level. Or does Origin not allow that sort of thing? Or is there something "special" about SIm City that pre-loading would mess up if you had a few too many players in a few hours or a day early?

Meh, I prefer discs, anyway over all this forced digital content that's shutting out too many people who'd otherwise might be buying a few more games a year...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 6th March 2013 4:24am

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Johnny Hsu Employee, EA8 years ago
I distinctly recall not being able to access Call of Duty Black Ops 2 multiplayer servers for a couple of hours. I also recall thinking it was no big deal. I don't even think this was covered in the mainstream press because it's NOT NEWS.

No, I didn't buy Black Ops 2 in order to experience the single player campaign.

No, the issue with SimCity didn't affect 100% of the player-base either.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 8 years ago
@ Johnny

There's a difference between not being able to access multi-player servers and being able to fall-back to playing the single-player game (even if that's not what you bought it for), and not being able to access the game at all. Of course, not every Sim City purchaser had these problems, but it's a level of technical incompetency that shouldn't exist for any player - a single-player game, reliant on company servers, that went through 2 (or more?) closed beta sessions where they also had slow-download speeds and players not able to join servers. The beta sessions alone should have told EA to get more content servers up-and-running.

@ Greg

True. It's just a case of mitigating the problems to the smallest number of consumers. I wouldn't care so much if EA had allowed a pre-load, or if there was an actual reason for the server-side content-holding, but... eugh. I would hazard a guess that the lack of pre-load is the same as the required internet connection to play - a pointless attempt at ensuring pirates don't get hold of the content until the last possible moment.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 6th March 2013 7:30am

1Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tim Browne Game Studio Design Director, King.com8 years ago
@Max and others,

Don't get me wrong, I don't like that a player has to queue to play a single player game. I totaly get that it's not good if a player who has no interest in playing with others still has to connect to play but unfortunately due to piracy many publishers are resorting to this sort of tactic.

My criticism was more about your knee jerk reaction. It will be interesting to see if SC2:HotS has similar problems (unlikely granted) how you'll react then. Demand your money back and be glad you pre-order GTA V or something like that.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Stephan Schwabe Multichannelmanagement, Telefonica8 years ago
For me games like any other products i buy it and i want to use strait awayt.
With every new game EA upset the customers base more. EA must find a balance between ther customers and ther shareholders.
EA needs to work on ther relationship with ther consumer then thy may earn money instead of anouncing every quarter "we have less losses.." and blame it on the pirates. Right now EA is the tip of the iceberg and ignores the rest of his being.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
James Prendergast Process Specialist 8 years ago
Even to this day Steam has launch day issues with all big releases.

To be honest, I don't see why this continues to be a problem or why paying customers should put up with it. It's pathetic.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam8 years ago
Greg - "I can't see "pre-loading" of console games working with so many gun-jumpers trying to do stuff they shouldn't"

You can already pre-order some big new games on PSN and (automatically or manually) pre-download them to your PS3 a few days before they're released. I imagine this kind of thing will become far more common in future.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Max Priddy8 years ago
@Tim: That's fair enough, though when compared with SimCity, Blizzard do allow for offline play if you've logged in before, which is a godsend for whenever they do extended server maintenance, which is one more thing they're doing than EA to not punish the customer for having a subpar Internet connection.

As for piracy, it'll happen no matter what DRM you slap on it, there's already Diablo 3 server emulators so you can just LAN Diablo 3, SecuROM gets cracked fairly fast with each new release etc.

Personally, I think it would honestly be in the publisher's best interests to incentivise buying new through providing unique services for the game instead of punishing everyone as if they're all thieves. At the very least you can just release on Steam and then provide incentives through free DLC interspersed between the paid content, and even go that extra step by making the game moddable with Workshop support, and though you could argue that Steam's far from perfect (it's not without its own criticisms) it's certainly the best solution right now for a win/win between publishers and their customers. :)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.