Simcity – Not buying into the online argument

I guess it was only a matter of time before I encountered some crippling server issues while playing Simcity. Sitting through a repetitive loading screen as the industrious kingdom of Finchtopia is loaded left me wondering – why am I here?

The answer is simple, and EA have defended it since Simcity’s launch.

Launch might be quite a generous term for how the game was released. In truth, the debacle that occurred on March 5th – which still has not been totally resolved, it would appear – will likely be something which is held as a comparison to all major video game cock-ups for years to come. 

I spoke to an avid social gamer, Adam Peel, about his thoughts.

Granted, it was no secret that Simcity would be based online. EA have evolved the franchise, adding in the vast social element that most gaming companies the world over are desperate to adopt. That’s fantastic – playing with friends is a surefire way to keep people playing, with groups being able to play with their cities and supply their neighbours with power, water and the like. Lucy Bradshaw, General Manager at Maxis released a post to answer these issues, and even went as far as to say: “in many ways, we built an MMO.” The pieces are all there, but that isn’t what Simcity is supposed to be.

I’m no introvert, but like many people who have played games before the deluge of social networking, I’m more than happy to play by myself. To have the option there would be appreciated – while I don’t have any close friends who play Simcity that I know of right now, that will likely change soon, and I look forward to when I can hop online and further the Finchtopian march of industry. It would exist as a great feature, but as a necessity it is nothing more than an annoyance.

The servers flat out did not have the capacity to manage the traffic it was seeing, which is embarrassing. I personally opted out of buying the game on release, especially after Amazon announced that it would suspend sales until the issues were resolved. The irritation was not because the launch was a whole new dimension of failure, but rather because it’s failure was caused by an aspect that I don’t feel I should have to opt in to.

You only need to take a stroll through the comments section of Bradshaw’s post to see that the community would trade online capabilities for stability in a heartbeat.

I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played, and I by no means wish to cast aspersions on the gameplay itself – it’s intoxicating in the very best way. But to have such a masterpiece be tarnished with access issues does both EA and Maxis a disservice. The fallout from the companies rolling back on their stalwart position of compulsory online play would, I should imagine, be less so than hiding behind this perplexing rhetoric.


  1. whitakermarisa · April 17, 2013

    I’ve always been fine with non-online builder games. Considering that’s ALL I’ve ever played. Like you, I’m not an introvert and I see the benefit and fun of having my friends be able to play with me, but sometimes I just want to build a city *alone.* Is that too much to ask?

    • graemefinch · April 17, 2013

      Exactly my point! Both the Sims and the Simcity series had that sense of escapism that I think a lot of people look for. They’re towing a weak line with the online servers, I think.

  2. Pingback: E3 – A post-mortem of Microsoft’s fall from grace | graeme finch
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