SimCity announces more DLC: It’s time for the players to start asking questions

SimCity

By on April 17, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I spent about 16 hours in SimCity across the Easter long weekend. This was my first time with the game since the limited one-hour beta, and while it was great to see all the new stuff I was forbidden from seeing in that testing period, the biggest feeling that I came away with after those sixteen hours was not one of happiness and discovery.

It was anger. Anger and frustration.

For a game that’s built with such charming, inoffensive graphics, relaxing music and cute sound effects, that’s a pretty impressive achievement. And yet when my city rolled back for the fourth time and undid another hour’s worth of work, what else was I supposed to be feeling?

Earlier this month the announcement that SimCity would be getting free advertising DLC for Nissan, however, demonstrated that I had another emotion yet to experience: incredulity. That’s the same emotion I felt again today, when I read that you can buy specially-marked Crest and Oral-B products to get DLC codes for exclusive new tourist attractions in your city (more info here).

Unlike the Nissan LEAF station, at least these new products don’t result in your simulated city turning into a tiny advertising billboard. But that’s not the point: the point is that SimCity is a literally broken game that doesn’t work properly — and the fact that even a small amount of development time is being devoted to extraneous DLC nonsense like this should be upsetting to players and fans everywhere.

Your city has stopped processing correctly

SimCity really isn’t in a good place as a product. We’re talking about a game so broken that you literally can’t even rely on something as simple as chat messages, which arrive anywhere up to ten minutes after sending them and often in the wrong order. A game where cars stop on the highway for no reason, blocking all traffic into your village city. A game where you spend hours and hours turning down the same repetitive quests because, for some reason I can’t possibly fathom, the game can’t track what you have and haven’t done.

Now, alone, all these problems (and the many others) would be fine: little bugs that you could ignore, or perhaps work around. But SimCity needs to be online for some reason (even though it actually really doesn’t) and so we’re talking about a game where — for no reason at all that can possibly be justified in this era of MMOs — your city can and will randomly stop “processing correctly”, resulting in forced rollbacks that undo hours of work.

SimCity is broken. It is a broken game, and it’s built on Origin’s hideously broken architecture. Origin is the only game service I’ve ever used where I’ve literally had to restart my entire computer to get the friends list to display correctly. Coupled with SimCity, it’s like somebody decided to build a house of cards on top of a trampoline. Surprise! The cards fell down somehow. Who could have foreseen this?

Lots of people aren’t having problems connecting, and to them I say: lucky you. But even if you can connect just fine, the game is still all kinds of broken, confusing, and in need of serious development work. So why are Maxis and EA spending any time at all on Nissan-brand in-game ads?

But it’s free!

Yes, of course it’s free. Yes, if I don’t want it, I don’t have to get it. All these things are true, and you know — you’re right. I am choosing to focus on this and to become frustrated with it because — like some sort of customer — I paid money for a product and now, over a month after launch, the game still doesn’t work properly.

I, like many others, am invested in the future of SimCity and we want it to get better, faster, so we can go back to enjoying it. Instead, I’m seeing press releases telling me I can now have Nissan-branded buildings in my city (for free!).

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s more DLC on the way, and a whole pile of it — we’re talking Roman casinos, a Coal Stripmine great work, army bases, mosques, a Red Cross building, an Amusement Park and more. There’s even something called a ‘Crime Lord Package’, if you scrape the datafiles deep enough.

Obviously, this isn’t the first time EA and Maxis have flirted with corporate sponsorship. Hell, there’s an entire Katy Perry-brand version of The Sims, and SimCity Societies featured a partnership between BP and EA.. But here’s the thing: These were actually working games before the DLC started rolling in. SimCity was actually broken right out of the gate, to the point where EA Labels boss Frank Gibeau has publicly expressed his disappointment in the launch.

Once you’ve got a game engine up and running, most of the hard work has been done: it’s easy enough to design and code a new building, get some 3D assets in place to represent it, and make it happen. But we have to ask the question: how much development time is this taking up?

Could that development time be used to fix bugs instead? Could it be used to expand city sizes? Could it be used to develop a more stable cloud-saving service (since we know that the city is actually simulated on your computer)? Is the Crime Lord Package being worked on right now? What about the Roman Casino? Have they already been worked on? And if they have, are the developers who finished them now back on bugfix and polish?

These are all questions that we should be asking.

There is no conspiracy here

Before we get all tinfoil-hats up in this joint, let’s be clear that there is no conspiracy here. EA obviously didn’t (and continue to not) enjoy the negative press surrounding SimCity’s launch, and Maxis doubly so. That negative press has probably cost them, in sales, more money than Nissan would have spent to get their branded advertising DLC into the game. Probably more even than Oral-B and Crest are pumping into the joint promotion.

Chances are very good that these deals were signed months ago, before SimCity even launched, and EA/Maxis are obliged to honour them. If this is supposed to be a money-making exercise, it’s a pretty poor one — and given that the current promotion also provides codes for The Sims Social, the Facebook game that EA just announced would be shutting down, there’s little incentive to believe this is some sort of mad cash grab.

What we need to see now from EA and Maxis is a strong commitment to not only explaining exactly why the game needs to be online (and not just saying “We designed it that way”), but to moving ahead with solutions to these problems, problems that have no place plaguing such a high-profile title with such a big push behind it. Not more announcements about more DLC-distractions from the core issue: SimCity is a broken game.

And we, as consumers, need to keep asking questions and demanding answers — especially when we’re being charged through the nose.

Tags: , ,
30 comments (Leave your own)

LOL EA are making you buy actual real life products to access dlc in the game? jesus these people have really hit rock bottom. time to delete this shit off my hard disk. EA really are armature hour.

 

I’m still enjoying Sim City though the “Your City has stopped processing correctly” bug has sprang up a few times – usually once citizens push past 200k and use of the faster time modes. Which makes it a complete pita when it happens. This is what the big concern is really about with this game it still has these errors occurring and they aren’t being addressed and the game is already up to version 2.0!

As for DLC being “commercialised” (for lack of a better term), meh, it’s not the first time a gaming company has dabbled in this sort of thing, won’t be the last either.

Were people devastated when WoW had mini-pets obtainable via purchasing Mountain Dew? Did the internet rage? (and to top that off it was also restricted to North America). There was some but it was rather muted, probably because the hate for Blizzard (which they were then and not the Acti-Blizz of now) is far less than the vitriol some have for EA. Which means EA automatically earns ire regardless of what happens. At this point EA could bust out of a burning building holding a bunch of saved kittens and still cop a backlash of some description.

Compound it with the frustration gamers already have with Sim City and EA it’s going to be a lot “bigger” of a “problem” then it has any right to be.

I guess one consolation we can take out of this is that at least those Sim City fans who take advantage of this offer should have nice clean teeth. Presuming Oral B don’t cop some “internet backlash” for being in bed with the devil or whatever (As we know EA is already the worst company in america according to such people) and presuming that people are actually brushing their teeth even with toothpaste and toothbrushes at hand!

 

‘Now, alone, all these problems (and the many others) would be fine: little bugs that you could ignore, or perhaps work around. But SimCity needs to be online for some reason (even though it actually really doesn’t) and so we’re talking about a game where — for no reason at all that can possibly be justified in this era of MMOs — your city can and will randomly stop “processing correctly”, resulting in forced rollbacks that undo hours of work.

SimCity is broken. It is a broken game, and it’s built on Origin’s hideously broken architecture. Origin is the only game service I’ve ever used where I’ve literally had to restart my entire computer to get the friends list to display correctly. Coupled with SimCity, it’s like somebody decided to build a house of cards on top of a trampoline. Surprise! The cards fell down somehow. Who could have foreseen this?’

Hang on now. Origin is far more stable than Steam ever was for the majority of us. I have to resinstall steam monthly, and how many people had broken copies of Hitman: Blood Money? Let alone all the other games with issues.

Also haven’t heard of any rollbacks in weeks, and the longest it can go for is 5 minutes anyway which is trivial in an established city if it ever occurs.

That being said, Oral B? That’s fucking stupid; almost seems like they lefto ut building variety, but I don’t work for EA and have no idea how they budgeted their art team so I wouldn’t know. Would be nice to have more variety in the utilities though, or to at least have variety in intersections so we don’t have to game the traffic system as much (which has featured heavily since SimCity 4′s direct route at all costs system).

 

rapid101: Hang on now. Origin is far more stable than Steam ever was for the majority of us. I have to resinstall steam monthly, and how many people had broken copies of Hitman: Blood Money? Let alone all the other games with issues.

Also haven’t heard of any rollbacks in weeks, and the longest it can go for is 5 minutes anyway which is trivial in an established city if it ever occurs.

Honestly I’ve never had any issues with Steam, and I’ve been using it since 2005. I’m not saying your problems are invalid, but Steam has been fine for me — where as Origin has been truly awful. Organising ME3 multiplayer is an actual nightmare, the ratio of working:broken games is probably 1:1. It’s ridiculous.

It’s been a week since I last played SimCity, but yeah, it was more like RollbackCity for me. And it was really bad.

 
Black Patriot

rapid101
Hang on now. Origin is far more stable than Steam ever was for the majority of us. I have to resinstall steam monthly, and how many people had broken copies of Hitman: Blood Money? Let alone all the other games with issues.

I don’t know what you’re smoking but I can count on one hand the number of times Steam has had a serious issue since I first started using it when HL2 came out, whereas Origin can’t seem to go a few weeks without some sort of issue, which is why I only start it when I want to play an EA game (which is becoming less and less often) and then close it immediately after.

I think if you took a poll of games.on.net users you’d find that the VAST majority had few to no issues with Steam but massive headaches with Origin.

 

meji:
Which means EA automatically earns ire regardless of what happens.At this point EA could bust out of a burning building holding a bunch of saved kittens and still cop a backlash of some description.

EA IS STEALING KITTENS!

 

Maxis have released this video to assure customers their staff are hard at work solving the problems.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvM77OWLzzI

 

Ah hahahahahahahahahahahahahah.

That’s all I can say to anyone who is still trying to defend this farce of a game.

 

I just pretend I bought Dead Space 3 and somehow got Sim City for free with it. It’s less depressing that way…

 

I’ve had a grand total of one issue with steam since I first installed it back with Half Life 2, and even then I’m pretty sure I caused the issue myself anyways.

Origin on the other hand…. is a nightmare, between just plain not working, bogging my system down and taking up way more resources then it should (admittedly its better now, but it was horrible) and finally even eating one of my games, it just plain vanished from my games list and I can’t get it back. Support tell me I never had said game, yet I have a reciept and a key to prove I did….. so go figure.

 

What we need to see now from EA and Maxis is a strong commitment to not only explaining exactly why the game needs to be online (and not just saying “We designed it that way”),

because all PC gamers are filthy pirate scum, and those people in Australia are filthy rich filthy pirate scum. Oh did I say that out loud, I meant to say because its a social game we designed that way.

 

ajc23288:
I’ve had a grand total of one issue with steam since I first installed it back with Half Life 2, and even then I’m pretty sure I caused the issue myself anyways.

Origin on the other hand…. is a nightmare, between just plain not working, bogging my system down and taking up way more resources then it should (admittedly its better now, but it was horrible) and finally even eating one of my games, it just plain vanished from my games list and I can’t get it back. Support tell me I never had said game, yet I have a reciept and a key to prove I did….. so go figure.

Call the Australian Support Centre. I’ve spent 12 months trying to get my Mass Effect 3 copy back. And STILL waiting. I guess the threat of a business tribunal by VCCC doesn’t bother EA…

 

juliaswift,

Ah those crazy code monkeys.

Yeah I’ve had little to no problems with Steam myself. I can also legitimately say I’ve had no problems with Origin as well though. Only because I’ve never used it, but hey, not using it means no problems right?

 

i must be special, ive had no problems with either. both seem fine. and uplay. gfwl on the other hand…

 

I emailed Origin and got a refund 2 weeks ago… a full refund… not a credit… that’s $99 back even though I played the game for a collective 20-30 hours.

I simply pointed out the rollback problem and they never even kicked up a fight… so me thinks they know how bad it all is and how they no longer have a leg to stand on.

I’ve since bought Anno 1404 for $6 (six) from Ubisoft (not on uPlay thank god) and having the time of my life with this understated gem… so I encourage everyone to demand your money back and go get a real game.

 

sirgriggles:
i must be special, ive had no problems with either. both seem fine. and uplay. gfwl on the other hand…

Same thing, I use Steam and Origin (with only 10 games on Origin) and both work fine with me.

As for Sim City , I played it for about 4 hours then kinda got bored. I was hoping for a Sim City 2000 type experience but meh. Good thing I bought it for something like $25 off the Origin-India store ;)

 

rapid101: Hang on now. Origin is far more stable than Steam ever was for the majority of us

I don’t know what planet you are on but it surely isn’t Earth. Such a claim is quite frankly laughable.

 

rapid101: Hang on now. Origin is far more stable than Steam ever was for the majority of us. I have to resinstall steam monthly, and how many people had broken copies of Hitman: Blood Money? Let alone all the other games with issues.

What ? O_O

I have the same install of steam I have had for the last …8ish years which has moved across countless hard drives. Not once have I had an issue.

Blood money works fine always has no one i know has has an issue with it.

Now origin, I do not have a single friend that has not complained about it even the ones that proclaim “it’s not that bad” have bitched about it at least once.

iiimystiii: I don’t know what planet you are on but it surely isn’t Earth. Such a claim is quite frankly laughable.

^ Basically this is what I’m saying.

 

Agreed Spooler, I’ve had the same Steam install since I first used steam, keep transferring that install folder after a new install of windows. No problems whatsoever.

Origin on the other hand is a nightmare. Still craps out every time I try to download something. I’ve given up trying to get the last Battlefield update. It’s just that bad.

Oh and rapid101, if your steam is behaving that badly, I’d be more inclined to say it’s a conflict with another program you run or an overly aggressive Anti-Virus/Internet Security program. That’s the only time I’ve ever seen and had to troubleshoot Steam issues.

I must admit I can’t comment on Sim City any longer, none of my friends have a running copy any more and I certainly won’t be paying for it.

 
MarcusarilliuS_IRL

Never had an issue with Steam either.
Been using since HL2.

Never installed Origin and have no plans to. Ever since the terms of the EULA was made known before it was released, where it stated that EA can monitor ALL the files on your PC. Kinda sounded a little too Orwellian for my liking.

Shame really as I was interested in BF3 at the time, but I have just decided to avoid EA games until Origin collapses, and If that doesn’t happen I’ll just steer clear.

 
Leave a comment

You can use the following bbCode
[i], [b], [img], [quote], [url href="http://www.google.com/"]Google[/url]

Leave a Reply

PC Gaming Calendar 2014

Follow Games.on.net

YouTube

Steam Group

Upcoming Games

Community Soapbox

Recent Features
far_cry_4_2

Far Cry 4: Wielding the will to power

"A living being seeks above all else to discharge its strength. Life itself is will to power. Nothing else matters."

battlecry

Will Battlecry dethrone Dota or de-hat TF2? We play the game and speak to the team

In a world where gunpowder is banned, nations just stab each other instead to solve problems. We jump right in.

gta_5_ps4_xb1_1

Grand Theft Auto 5 comes alive on next-gen: We look at the PS4 re-release

With a completely overhauled engine and a new first-person mode, is GTA V's next-gen release worth your time?

amd_gear_winners

Gear up for Christmas with AMD: Winners announcement!

'Twas the month before Christmas, and all through the house...

dragon_age_inquisition_review_20

Inquisition is “a new foundation” for BioWare: We chat to Mike Laidlaw

Why can't you have an entire party of dogs? Why can't I turn into a swarm of bees? We ask these important questions and more.

Streaming Radio
Radio Streams are restricted to iiNet group customers.

GreenManGaming MREC

Facebook Like Box