Sim City Review. Sorta.

Written by  //  10/03/2013  //  Blogs, PC, Reviews and Opinion  //  8 Comments

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 image will forever be burnt into my brain. I used to like helicopters…

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?

Sim City is well on its way to being the lowerst-rated product on Amazon.com. How’s that DRM going, EA?

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.

Sim City has been removed from sale on Amazon due to incompetence

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.

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About the Author

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When he's not busy patrolling the local bingo halls for some fine tail, A.J reviews, rambles and randomly mashes his face on the keyboard here at Retry Quit. Whilst failing to fight his WoW addiction, A.J attempts to play anything he can get his grubby little mits on. He currently works in retail, tinkers on the guitar and one day hopes to get Shania Twain's autograph.

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8 Comments on "Sim City Review. Sorta."

  1. avatar
    Evan 10/03/2013 at 7:43 PM · Reply

    Look I see what you’re saying, but I’m not going to deny myself the possibility of playing an outstanding game, on the chance that EA may pay any attention to my not purchasing it. Look at the list of some of the things they have their “fingers in” – NFS, Battlefield, Crysis, Mass Effect, Army of Two, Mirror’s Edge, Dragon Age…. they are great games / series (even if mirrors edge 2 hasn’t been released). There are too many people that would always buy games from EA to have a few say no for whatever reason to stop EA laughing while they’re stuffing cash in their pockets. It just won’t happen. So in the mean time, i’m just going to enjoy some of the games (that aren’t always online) and try not to watch when my favourite series are gutted.

  2. avatar
    jonos 10/03/2013 at 4:52 PM · Reply

    I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate here. Apparently Maxis has taken responsibility for the always-online internet connection. “EA does not force design upon us. We own it, we are working 24/7 to fix it, and we are making progress.”

    From Kotaku: “Additionally, Bradshaw said Maxis more than doubled its server capacity on Friday and added more today. But again, it’s “just not possible” to let the game revert to an offline, singleplayer mode because, as has been said before, SimCity depends heavily on cloud computing, taking place on a computer other than the gamer’s, to run the simulation.”

    Straight from the horse’s mouth.

    Full article here: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/03/simcity-boss-on-games-failure-this-is-on-maxis-we-own-it/

    It’s easy to blame EA without relent but it seems there’s more to it than just that. I don’t doubt that EA played its hand in forcing DRM on Sim City, but there needs to be a bit more clarity on the whole picture.

    • avatar
      A.J 10/03/2013 at 6:12 PM · Reply

      I call bullshit here. Firstly, Maxis has been pulled apart and rebuilt by EA more times than you’ve had hot dinners, meaning the studio is virtually EA anyway. Secondly, always-online DRM is 100% a result of sales protection. There’s no reason a developer would see this as necessary. If the game doesn’t require multiplayer features, then it shouldn’t require online-only and Maxis KNOW this. To say otherwise is a outright lie, so I don’t know what Maxis’ angle is here.

      • avatar
        Tom 11/03/2013 at 1:24 AM · Reply

        Perhaps this direction is one that Maxis actually wanted to take SimCity in. The online social potential of the game is vast. However, I think things like micro-transactions, over-priced DLC and removal of things from the game (see: larger city plots) are from EA. They saw a product that was being crafted for online play and then implemented all of the cheap tricks they know.

  3. avatar
    Evan 10/03/2013 at 4:41 PM · Reply

    I think it’s a bit of a more varied choice than that though. Yeah EA fucked up with SimCity, and sure they’re definitely appearing more money hungry than ever – but on the same note they have published some smashing games over the past 10 years. I think it’s more about just being more selective of what you buy. If you know it has always online – then sure wallet goes away, but to write off so many excellent single player games because of an online component? Nah. Good article though.

    • avatar
      A.J 10/03/2013 at 6:13 PM · Reply

      The issue isn’t been selective as there’s really nothing to be selective about. Forget minor sequels here, were talking big AAA titles here and every single one of them has had some sort of EA finger dipped in the proverbial cash pie. Now it’s only getting worse with the announcement that titles will now all feature micro transactions (it’s started with Sim City. a French & German DLC addon pack is available for $10 each) and I’m sure DRM isn’t going to go away. EA need a lesson learnt and whilst that may be difficult due to their launch lineup, you can start by not purchasing Dragon Age 3.

  4. avatar
    Ben 10/03/2013 at 11:58 AM · Reply

    To be fair, NHl ’09 is one of the best games in the series

    • avatar
      A.J 10/03/2013 at 6:15 PM · Reply

      Can’t actually disagree there, now that I think about it. I remember smashing out a demo of some NHL back when I was a teenager.

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