When EA announced that their new version of SimCity would require an always-on Internet connection, the response from the Internet was practically audible. Why should a single-player game be required to connect to the Internet? You may have guessed the answer: greed.
Yes, game producers have been salivating at the big profits and piracy-proof models of successful online games like World of Warcraft, and are now busily adding phony and/or worthless online-only features to even single player games. In response to the uproar, EA claimed that the game couldn't be played without a connection to their servers, since a lot of the game processing would be done there. They also played up the 'social' aspect of the game - essentially tacked-on multi-player features that don't really add much to the game. They claimed it would be impossible to make the game work without a connection to their servers.
And then the game launched. EA's servers promptly fell over, and haven't gotten back up since. The uproar increased markedly. Many players are only able to play about 10% of the time. When they can play, gameplay is often extremely sluggish. Refunds are being demanded. Reviews are scathing; there were so many terrible reviews for the download-only version on Amazon, that the retailer pulled the game from its web store.
Here's a random selection of posts on this debacle from around the web:
- Techdirt: Launch Day Punishment: SimCity's Online-Only DRM Locking Purchasers Out Of Servers, Purchases
- Geek.com: Following 800 poor reviews, Amazon stops selling download copies of SimCity
- Techdirt: SimCity: The Backlash
- IGN: SimCity Burning: A Warning to Microsoft, Sony, and All Publishers on The Dangers of Always-Online DRM
- Business Insider: NFL Punter Chris Kluwe: The New SimCity Has One Huge Problem That Makes It Utterly Useless
- Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Maxis Insider Tells RPS: SimCity Servers Not Necessary
- Consumerist: Using The EECB Gets Me A SimCity Refund, But What About Everyone Else?
Update #2: EA Admits SimCity Could Have Run Offline. So now EA is back-pedaling like crazy, although they will never, ever admit that the real reason for the single-player Internet connection requirement was DRM (copy protection). Meanwhile, hobby hackers are engaged in a worldwide race to produce a fully-functional, single-player, no-Internet-required, cracked version of the game. These people love a challenge. Still think it was a good idea, EA?