EA promised again and again that its servers were entirely prepared to handle the influx of players simultaneously logging on for today's North American launch of the always-online SimCity reboot. But we had our doubts that things would go as smoothly as expected, and it seems like our fears were well-founded.
When I first opened up Origin to play SimCity earlier this afternoon, I was greeted with a message helpfully telling me that a slow network was preventing my game library from being loaded. It's possible that this was a problem on my end, but SpeedTest.net didn't show any problems. It seems that it was EA's clogged Origin servers that were temporarily preventing me from playing the game (the error appears to have been fixed roughly an hour after I first encountered it).
Microsoft editor Peter Bright reports letting his game hang at the loading animation for a full eight hours just after the game went live, with no results. He eventually was able to get in after two or three more attempts to contact EA's beleaguered servers. The Internet is full of similar reports from fans, including a video from popular YouTube game-streamer TotalBiscuit, who highlights the 30-minute queue he encountered for what he notes is "a traditionally single player game."
Origin didn't allow purchasers to pre-load SimCity before its official launch at 12:01am EST this morning, apparently because the development team was "working to polish the game until the very last second," according to a post from an EA community manager. This decision appears to have led to widespread download problems and delays before the game even unlocked and started downloading for many pre-order players. Some online reports indicate that even those with the disc-based retail version of the game were delayed in their installation by Origin server problems.
"We are aware of an issue affecting customers trying to download The Digital Deluxe edition ofSimCity. We are working to correct this issue," EA said in a tweeted statement overnight. Later, even after the problems were officially "resolved," EA warned that "due to server load it may take up to three hours for your game to unlock.”
The Origin support forums are predictably loaded with complaints about download and login problems. A community manager had to hop on this morning to apologize and explain the process for requesting a refund.
Plenty of frustrated users have taken to the Metacritic user reviews to drag down the game's score. Many seem to be just generally complaining about the DRM and other issues with the game without being specifically inconvenienced themselves. The game's Metacritic user score currently sits at 4/10, with 61 percent of all reviews rated as negative. "It may be looked down upon to use this as a megaphone to shout through but the fact is that people need to see this, that NO-ONE should EVER support always online DRM for a single player game," Metacritic user penemue wrote.
The issues bring to mind the infamous "Error 37" that prevented many Diablo III players from logging into the game in the days after its launch last year, though it's unclear how comparatively widespreadSimCity's server issues are. After that debacle, EA had a good chance here to prove that a publisher could launch a major, Internet-connected game with proper infrastructure and planning and withoutsignificant server-related issues. Unfortunately, EA seems to have squandered that opportunity.
Keep in mind that this was simply the first wave of SimCity's worldwide launch. Hopefully EA will learn from the experience and buff up its servers ahead of the game's official European launch on Friday