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In Wake of Poor Reviews, Amazon Yanks SimCity Download 511

Posted by timothy
from the drawing-board-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Geek.com: "In what must be a big blow for EA and Maxis, Amazon has stopped selling download copies of the just released SimCity. The game has at time of writing received 833 reviews on Amazon, and has an average rating of just one star. That's because 740 of those are one star reviews. Only 20 people gave it 5 stars. There's few better ways to gauge how a game has been received, and this is pretty damning as to how EA has handled the launch."
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In Wake of Poor Reviews, Amazon Yanks SimCity Download

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  • DRM (Score:5, Informative)

    by knetcomp (1611179) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:01PM (#43109835)

    Use always-on, internet-requring DRM they said. It will work fine, they said.

    Sadly, EA will not admit DRM is the problem, they will just attribute it to "overwhelming demand".

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:03PM (#43109873) Homepage

    The Fine Summary misses most of the point. They could have simply copied the second paragraph from the Fine Article:

    A note has been posted by Amazon underneath the “Currently unavailable” message. It states that many customers are having connection issues and they have no idea when it will be fixed. As we reported earlier, EA is bringing new servers online over the next 2 days to try and solve the problem, and Maxis is fixing bugs as quickly as they can, but server architecture issues are hampering them.

  • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:06PM (#43109929) Homepage

    ...No you wouldn't. The *game logic* is on the server. You'd have to create your own server to play it. This makes it very hard to pirate, AND very tied to having a good internet connection even in "private" mode

    No, it's not. The game uses an extreme amount of CPU as it crunches those numbers itself, and the game continues to run even if your internet connection is lost. The only thing the server handles is the Facebook-like social gaming elements, and the save files.

    The "Oh, our server handles all the number crunching" was a bold faced lie by EA and Maxis, because that kind of number crunching would not be possible without a monthly fee to pay for server maintenance.

  • Re:DRM (Score:5, Informative)

    by Seumas (6865) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:07PM (#43109945)

    And when/if sales are lackluster because of the shit DRM or the shit quality of the game *itself*, they'll blame *that* on "piracy".

  • Re:Too bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by xaxa (988988) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:12PM (#43110045)

    Ah, the rights don't really apply, there's a gap in the law: http://m.computeractive.co.uk/ca/consumer-rights/1931491/isnt-software-covered-undere-sale-act [computeractive.co.uk]

  • The servers are handling a part of the game which is not that important. That is: The global marked placed. And while it is an interesting feature it is in no way vital to the system.

    And I know this because I bought the game, and managed to play half an hour with absolut no internet connection and it worked fine. But then I wanted to change region, and I have been unable to play since. But once you get a game started you can normally play until you want to change to a new city. (Or the game crashes, or you look the wrong way).

     

  • by mythosaz (572040) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:27PM (#43110257)

    Biggest duds of the year? For whom? Certainly not Activision.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diablo_III#Sales [wikipedia.org]

    Sales
    Before its release, Diablo III broke several presale records and became the most pre-ordered PC game to date on Amazon.com.[98] Activision Blizzard reported that Diablo III had broken the one-day PC sales records, accumulating over 3.5 million sales in the first 24 hours after release and over 6.3 million sales in its first week, including the 1.2 million people who obtained Diablo III through the World of Warcraft annual pass.[99] On its first day, the game amassed 4.7 million players worldwide, an estimate which includes those who obtained the game via the World of Warcraft annual pass.[99] In its second quarterly report, Diablo III was reported to have pushed Activision Blizzard's expectations. As of July 2012, more than 10 million people have played the game.[100] Diablo III remains the fastest selling PC game to date, and also one of the best-selling PC video games. As of the end of 2012, it had sold more than 12 million copies.[5]

    Certainly not from critics:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diablo_III#Critical_reception [wikipedia.org]

    So unsuccessful that it was the 3rd best selling PC game of all time....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_PC_video_games [wikipedia.org]

  • by CodeHxr (2471822) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:39PM (#43110395)
    It didn't sell to me either. I did, however, buy a 4-pack of its primary competitor, Torchlight 2 for $60 (the cost of 1 copy of D3) so that I could play with 3 of my friends. Torchlight 2, incidentally, was developed by the same team that developed Diablo 1 and 2. Funny how things work like that sometimes.
  • by Fallingcow (213461) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:40PM (#43110411) Homepage

    This ea support chat screencap posted in one of the reviews seems worth sharing far and wide [imgur.com], and judging from the way it ends I would guess the owner doesn't mind my posting it here.

  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:54PM (#43110577) Homepage Journal
    Generally speaking, perhaps. But Skid Row and Razor 1911 tend to be two of the better groups, as evidenced by their longevity.
  • by esten (1024885) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:05PM (#43110711)

    EA ruins game. Amazon saves day.

    I did this. Amazon was great. Return/refund is the only way EA will ever take a hint.

    I suggest:
    1. If you bought from Amazon return it. Amazon made it painless for full refund of my opened game.
    2. If bought from Orgin ask for refund. EA says in press release you can do this. Though I hear problems from customer service
    3. If you cannot get refund from Orgin/EA call credit card company and have them stop payment for defective product.

    Maybe EA will fix if this hurts their bottom line?

    If problems get fixed in a month or so you can always buy the game again. Otherwise not worth my time now to play with so many problems

  • Peeved. (Score:4, Informative)

    by jo7hs2 (884069) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:09PM (#43110745) Homepage
    I preordered a physical copy several weeks ago. I was never able to play the beta, because Amazon delayed my access code until it had ended. I have still not played the game, despite owning a physical copy. Tuesday, the game spent two hours completely downloading itself all over again, despite the physical copy. I was unable to join any servers in the US. It them refused to create a city once I was able to join a server in Europe. I gave up. Tried again Wednesday, still could not creat a city. Today, all servers were busy. Eventually got through, but was only allowed to play the tutorial, and about two minutes in the servers dropped out. Then back to unable to create city. Frankly, I knew this was coming. I hate EA for what they've gradually done to Maxis since the acquisition. I knew always-on DRM and shunting the region math onto the cloud was going to mean connection issues. What I didn't fully know is that my saves are on the server, and I cannot even create a game if the server is down. I love SimCity...I can remember many hours spend with SimCity (the original), SimCity 2000, SimCity 3000, and SimCity 4...and this looks like a welcome update. Shame I cannot play it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:31PM (#43110897)
    Not true at all. There are a number of well established groups known for putting out quality releases of games. Even if you go outside those groups, torrent sites form communities. Torrents loaded with trojans are quickly identified as such and aren't seeded by anyone who pays attention to the comments.
  • by ildon (413912) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:34PM (#43110929)

    Diablo 3 was "unsuccessful" because people "only" played it for 60+ hrs before getting bored/disinterested/frustrated, instead of the 1,000,000 hrs they thought they'd get out of it after playing Diablo 2.

    And those same people could log back in right now, patch to 1.07, and end up with an experience that was a lot closer to the D2:LoD clone they were hoping for.

  • Re:Not sure... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tridus (79566) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:34PM (#43110935) Homepage

    Amazon was getting bombarded by refund requests. That is why they pulled it. Selling it was costing them money.

  • You can make a region private. That way only you, or frieds who you explicit invite can play a city in the region. That way it is single player.

    As numerous players have noted in this discussion, the game works fine once authenticated, so there's no reason they couldn't let you play in a region without multiplayer without their servers.

  • by razorshark (2843829) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @08:08PM (#43111267)

    I think there needs to be some clarification as to the nature of why the game thinks it needs to be always online. Some people have suggested that ALL the computing and simulation logic happens on EA servers, but this isn't true.

    It has been shown that if you lose a net connection/connection to the server, the game will continue to run offline for about 20 minutes. During this time, YOUR city will continue to simulate properly. However, neighboring cities being developed by other people will freeze in time and be held in this state until such time that your connection is reestablished (if it doesn't before the timeout, the game session ends). Once it reconnects, the state of your neighbors is synced with your city and hence any changes to your neighbors' cities during the time you were offline will immediately be represented.

    If you connection drops, your city lives in isolation. Once it reconnects, it returns to the world and is affected by the effects of your neighbors. If you happen to be developing a city next to a tard who is polluting like crazy, your city will suffer the effects. That's the whole purpose of the always-online feature - to provide this MMO-style relationship between players. BUT, given the game runs fine with your city if the connection drops, this is bullshit because it means it should be trivial to enable the player to just play on their own.

    The simulation logic is there, available on the installed game. EA just doesn't feel it's worth having an offline mode despite it basically being readily set up for it - it thinks being interconnected with other players who might be dicks and ruin your city is much more important.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @10:27PM (#43112397)

    As a sucker who bought this game, let me share my two days experience with it.

    Half the time the game won't even launch - It briefly flashes "Servers not available" then the text changes to "checking for update" with a progress bar 100% full. If you just let it sit there, nothing happens. Ever. What you need to do is alt-F4, and then try again until the server is back up. Once the server is up, you get to launch the game.

    There are only two servers per most regions, and only one for Oceania. I signed up for West Coast, US #2, correctly guessing it would be available more often than US #1. By day 2, West Coast #2 was stuck on "Busy" so I switched to Oceanea

    EA has been promoting the fact that the servers aren't region locked, but it seems like a stupid move given the game releases in those regions today and tomorrow, but they're already full with overflow players from north america....

    I did not play Sim City as a child and so don't have any sentimental attachment to it - I enjoy the game but find the multiplayer experiance oddly silent. I was expecting voice chat, as is normal in multiplayer-emphasized games but rarely have I gotten so much as a chat response. Because literally every game is hosted online (single player regions are just locked games), EA had to use asynchronous communications - Functionally when you send a written chat, it has to be delivered to the other regional players in a periodic region update so chat messages can sometimes lag 2 or 3 minutes before showing up.

      Now granted, I didn't go into this with a full origin friends list so it's been all pubbies, but in 7 games with 20+ players I've gotten one response to a basic greeting, that's a terrible ratio and I'm pretty charming.

    The real kick to the shins is that most of the time the game just doesn't work. I've got a DVD in my drive that says Sim-CIty on it, and I just want to get back to Myrtle City - my highly successful singleplayer region on the Oceania server and continue work on New Wageslavedom, the adjacent settlement I'm also mayor of.

    Unfortunately the Oceania server has just filled up and after giving me the longest loading screen in the world, literally 10 minutes, it says my city isn't available right now.

    Don't buy this game

  • Re:Not sure... (Score:5, Informative)

    by rtb61 (674572) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @10:45PM (#43112499) Homepage

    It seems lot of customers who wrote 1 star were also getting pretty offended when the 5 star (one time only reviewers) also included personal attacks against the 1 star reviewers many of whom are an "Amazon Verified Purchase", this pushed many of them into demanding a refunding.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday March 08, 2013 @05:06AM (#43113939) Journal
    A policy as you outline would be illegal in all of the EU, so I guess the moral is to buy from amazon.co.uk, not amazon.com...

The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.

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