Sim City Review. Sorta.
Digital Rights Management is a tricky, controversial and downright complex issue, one I don’t expect to solve or fully understand. Hell, I don’t expect anyone to. But what we can do is look at why it’s simply not good for gamers and more importantly, Maxis’ Sim City.
Let’s not beat around the bush: Sim City doesn’t work. It’s physically impossible for me to sit here and give an honest opinion about a game that I literally cannot play properly. In fact, I can summarise my entire experience with one image:
This is DRM and it’s apparently EA’s solution to preventing online piracy of their games. In order for anyone to play Sim City, you must always be connected online even to play it’s single player offline features. The end result of this is lengthy queues to get in-game, random disconnection and loss of save data during gameplay and most commonly, the inability to even access the game at all. There’s been many cases in the past with DRM causing this issue, but Sim City has surpassed all predecessors with quite possibly the worst day one launch in gaming history. As of print, were currently into day 4 of Australia’s release and most people are still unable to access the game they’ve paid for. It’s one thing to prevent people from playing your game without paying, its another to prevent them from playing the god damn thing at all, which in turn leads people to finding other ways of playing the game, payment or not. Do we see the problem with always-online DRM yet?
This isn’t the first time DRM has caused headaches. 2008 was the year EA began their march with the release of ‘Spore’ containing SecureROM. Players were so infuriated with the restrictions on their game that most turned to pirating the title, making Spore the most pirated torrent of that year and still in the top ten for most pirated titles of all time. Ubisoft also followed suit with their Assassins Creed titles amongst others and Blizzard made the same fatal flaw with the release of Diablo 3 last year, leaving players unable to access the game upon release. It seems that DRM causes nothing but issues for players and most companies have registered this, Ubisoft and others now no longer use an always-online form of DRM and instead utilise Steam or uPlay to combat piracy. Yet this system seems to have eluded EA who, with the power of Origin, appear to be sticking with forcing customers to play by their own hand. Buy why?
It’s simple; EA wants to control what you play and how you play it. Customer satisfaction and service appears to be of little priority, instead focusing on how to squeeze the most amount of cash out of every customer that purchases an EA game. Realise now why a new Sims expansion is pinched out every two months? It’s not because you’re asking for them, more that they cost little to make and provide EA with a bankroll to continue doing what they do. Infact, every single expansion for The Sims 3 will set you back a cool four hundred and seventy dollars US, not including the $50 price tag on the actual game itself. Do the math, that’s around $700 AUS that a 16yr old girl has shelled out over the course of two years just so she can have a Katy Perry-themed loungeroom for her virtual barbie. The worst part about everything is that Maxis and other studios that have moved in under the EA umbrella are suffering at the hands of greed and now after spending years building a game that has the potential to be something great, is now tainted.
So that’s it. Never in my 26 years have I ever been unable to actually review something due to an inability to access it. There’s only one way to change this, not by petitioning online, not by complaining, but by placing your wallet back in your pocket and not buying titles with an EA logo slapped on the boxart. It’s that simple. Their number one goal is getting your money and if you refuse them that, only then will we see change.
EDIT: Apparently now EA are claiming that they will be giving a free game to anyone who purchased Sim City. Apparently we’re not allowed to know what that game is however, but personally I’d rather my copy of Sim City working than something from the $10 Origin dumpbin. NHL 2009, come at me.