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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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  • Not sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:56PM (#43109755)

    Not sure if this is good for the PC games industry, or bad. It's good, because games with bad DRM shouldn't succeed. It's bad because I like PC games, and want the industry to focus on PC games again.

  • by dingonix (997394) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:57PM (#43109773)
    Any other big releases with always on drm that actually are playable in the first few weeks that you can remember?... I can't remember any such titles recently.
  • by oic0 (1864384) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:57PM (#43109777)
    I bought the sucker yesterday and it doesn't work at all. Can't get past the launcher. If only I had just downloaded the pirated version I would have a working game.
  • Too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @04:59PM (#43109805) Homepage Journal

    Too bad they made all the money from the idiots who pre-ordered. Never-ever-ever-ever pre-order a game, unless you don't mind getting literally nothing in return. Uninformed markets are broken markets.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:00PM (#43109819)

    I really want to buy SimCity, it looks pretty awesome, but I'm not going to allow EA to treat me like a thief and I'm certainly not going to pay them for the privilege.

  • by mccalli (323026) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:03PM (#43109881) Homepage
    Not to exempt the game from all criticism, but the one that's constantly cropping up is 'always on DRM'. Perhaps there is, I honestly don't know, but if so it's only part of the story.

    The game is partly calculated server-side. This is why you need a constant internet connection, because some of their servers are doing the work for you. This is almost certainly also why they've collapsed in a heap.

    It seems there are enough legitimate criticisms of the game without trotting out the true-but-half-the-story "always on DRM" line. I assume they'll eventually fix the servers and I need to wait for the Mac version anyway, but I'm still concerned - much more worried by fundamentals such as the overall city size for instance.

    Cheers,
    Ian
  • by guttentag (313541) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:07PM (#43109955) Journal

    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...

    A star rating on Amazon is one of the best ways to gauge a game's reception? On the contrary, I'd say the fact that 20 people rated a game that lacks basic functionality as worthy of five stars is an indication that the star system is ineffective and fails to tell you much of anything. Were those 20 people rating the graphics of the splash screen? We're they rating what they imagined the game would be like once they could save? Were they purists who believe saves are a form of cheating, and they welcome this new, more-realistic gameplay?

    Actual discussion of what is good and bad is and always will be the best way to gauge a product's reception.

  • Re:Too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xaxa (988988) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:07PM (#43109967)

    Can you return it?

    I'm not sure if there are special exceptions, but in the UK if something's "not fit for purpose" you have the right to a refund or (working!) replacement.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:09PM (#43110001)

    Return it.

    Do it now before you can't. It is broken and you should get a refund.

  • The game is partly calculated server-side. This is why you need a constant internet connection, because some of their servers are doing the work for you. This is almost certainly also why they've collapsed in a heap.

    Prove it. There's no reason to believe that they're doing any mathematics other than DRM to prove you're not running a cheat and tampering with your game, and there's no reason to believe that they would sell you such a game without charging you a monthly fee, and if for some bizarre reason they did there would be no reason to believe that they would continue to run the servers once the game stopped selling, because someone has to pay for them.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:12PM (#43110047)
    Yes, but why is the game partly calculated server-side? The answer is DRM. They did not make the game server dependent because any part of the game play inherently required servers to calculate some aspect of gameplay, they made the game with some of the calculations done server side so as to make it harder (if not impossible) to pirate. So, calling it "always on DRM" is valid short-hand.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:15PM (#43110075) Journal

    The game is partly calculated server-side. This is why you need a constant internet connection

    You have the causation reversed. The game is calculated server side in order to force you to need a constant internet connection. There is no reason to do this except to act as a form of DRM.

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

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <{ten.3dlrow} {ta} {ojom}> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:17PM (#43110111) Homepage

    Yah, I don't know why this story was tagged "failure", it's actually an epic win. Not for EA, but for everyone else.

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

    by 2starr (202647) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:24PM (#43110211) Homepage
    The problem will be if they simply see the failure as not having enough server infrastructure to handle the load as opposed to seeing the whole online DRM model as being a bad idea.
  • Re:Not sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:26PM (#43110233)

    Not sure if this is good for the PC games industry, or bad. It's good, because games with bad DRM shouldn't succeed. It's bad because I like PC games, and want the industry to focus on PC games again.

    Stop, just stop. You're completely missing the point. The point is that EA deceived consumers into thinking it was a single-player game. It's not, there is no single player mode, so no offline mode is possible. DRM is a moot point, it's like bitching about having to go online to play a single player instance in World of Warcraft.

    YA, EA sucks, they fucked this all up big time. Yes, they could and should have made an offline single player mode, but they didn't. They chose to make a game where you cannot EVER truly play a completely isolated single-player game mode... even in the "solo mode" your city is influenced by other players in an indirect fashion.

  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:26PM (#43110245)

    Pirated games are a great way to join someone's botnet. Movies and music are usually safe enough.

  • Re:Not sure... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:33PM (#43110325) Homepage Journal

    The tree of Innovation must be refreshed at times with the blood of failed product launches.

    FTFY

  • Re:Heh reviews... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:37PM (#43110363) Homepage Journal

    even when 740 out of 833 people give something a one star review, 20 people will still give it 5 stars.

    You mean, EA has only 20 employees?

    Only 20 dedicated to astroturfing on Amazon.

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

    by sirsnork (530512) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:50PM (#43110527)

    It's EA, they don't care about either of these things. If they did they would have actually fixed the capacity issues before launch. This isn't the first time this has happened for an EA launch and it won't be the last

    Why pay for more servers for launch, when you can put in as many as you'll need to run under normal load once it settles down and lose so few customers that it won't even make a blip on the graph.Especially as the ones who get punished are obviously the "hardcore" ones who will just keep coming back, even after bitching the whole time when the servers can't handle the load

    Seriously, the Oceana launch that happened today is having exactly the same problems.

    At this point this is what you get if you buy EA games. Give it a week and it might be working enough to play, give it a month and it might be reliable

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

    by AmiMoJo (196126) * <{ten.3dlrow} {ta} {ojom}> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:52PM (#43110561) Homepage

    Isn't that the same thing? DRM causes excessive server load and extremely poor player experience, masses of negative reviews. DRM costs EA sales, and they only way to fix it is to throw more money at the problem.

    Better yet there is no way to recover from all those negative reviews now. Even if they fixed it tomorrow they would remain, and the chances of 800+ people bothering to write positive reviews is nil. The game is tainted forever, the disaster unrecoverable. Well, that isn't entirely true, they could release a DRM free version, that is the only thing that can turn it around.

  • by KillDaBOB (206494) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:01PM (#43110677)

    Yeah, and out of everyone I know who played the game (dozens, including me) there are maybe 1 or 2 that continue to play the game (I don't, though I'll pop in from time to time to see if anything has changed). The initial success was great and it sold like hotcakes. The continued success? Not so great because the game is so damn boring. I don't believe I'll be playing D3 in a decade from its release, like I was with D2- partly because the game sucks and mostly because I doubt Blizzard will keep its servers going that long.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:10PM (#43110755)

    Do you really think it need to be referer free? I can't imagine anyone reading this story, and then thinking: Hey I need to buy this game now :}

    Amazon referrals are a lot more tricky than that. When you load an amazon page with a referral code it sets a cookie on your system that lasts for something like 24 hours. Any purchases you make while that referral cookie is active send cash to the original referrer (and amazon also gives them a report on what you bought, but not your identity, at least not directly) -- even if you never actually purchase the original item.

    That's why some websites [brainpickings.org] will do annoying things like make every image clickable as a referral link to amazon, making it much easier to accidentally click a link so that if 12 hours later you buy something unrelated at Amazon, the referrer still gets the cash.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:18PM (#43110811) Journal

    I don't know exactly who was responsible, or how it happened; but they managed to go from 'concept so sweeping it makes Civilization look myopic' to '5 mini-games, all shitty, plus a low rent 3d modelling application that lets you share penises with eyeballs online'

    1. 'Cell Stage': Ooh, a more or less direct unimprovement of Flow a flash game from 2006!

    2. 'Creature Stage': Hasn't everyone always wanted to see Simlife rebooted as a terrible over-the-shoulder 3rd person action title?

    3.'Tribal Stage': Because the world needs more really terrible RTSes.

    4.'Civilization Stage': See #3. So terrible that even the game's developers had mercy and added a 'superweapon' that would automatically cause you to win the stage and end the pain.

    5.'Space Stage':Is it possible to clone Escape Velocity and simultaneously add lots of fiddly complexity and suck out any reason to play? Lets find out!

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:27PM (#43110863) Journal

    For those of us trying to use Facebook who don't play Farmville, this is not a selling point.

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

    by Darinbob (1142669) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:36PM (#43110947)

    Online DRM won't fail while we still have a giant fan base who supports DRM. They would rather divide the world into good guys with DRM and bad guys with DRM instead of realizing that everyone with DRM is a bad guy (even Valve). When people think that some DRM is ok and even desirable, they make the war to defend consumer rights much more difficult.

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

    by doublebackslash (702979) <doublebackslash@gmail.com> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:41PM (#43111001)

    Amazon Elastic Compute.

    No excuses.

  • by yahwotqa (817672) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:47PM (#43111055)

    Blizzard doesn't care what you do after the purchase, or whether you keep playing. They already have your money. If anything, many people stopping playing after first few days is better for them - less server load.

    Yes, Diablo 3 was a roaring success - it made Blizard loads of money. I'd hazard a guess that this is big part of why EA dared to come up with similar scheme.

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

    by Pseudonym (62607) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:57PM (#43111151)

    It's also good that it happened to EA and not a smaller company. EA has a better chance of absorbing the loss and learning from it. Not that this is likely, but I'm an optimist like that.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:01PM (#43111207)

    And give it three years and they will shut off the servers and ask you to buy the sequel, so it can all happen again!

  • Re:Not sure... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:13PM (#43111311)

    So you're saying what makes some games great is their artistic merit and gameplay. Things that still apply to the game regardless of the platform it runs on.

    Ok, so you can have your awesome game on a console, good for you. Or, you can have the exact same awesome game on a PC, with better graphics, a bigger variety of options to customise your gaming experience (from control mappings to graphics settings etc), the ability to use any form of controller input you like (keyboard, mouse, joystick, gamepad, PS3 controller, Xbox360 controller, steering wheel, flight stick, Kinect) - keeping in mind these also allow disabled people to play that otherwise couldn't on a console with controller lock-in, guaranteed backwards compatibility, ability to play off a hard drive (most PC games these days don't require the disc after installing), ability to mod the game (whole games (Counter Strike, Team Fortress, DayZ) and GENRES of games (MOBA, Tower Defence) have come about only because of modding), choice of online servers for multiplayer, including running your own multiplayer server (for most online PC games), ability to back up save files...

    Really, the list goes on and on. Why would you NOT want the superior gaming experience? You call yourself a true gamer and others a sham, but you would deliberately choose to play games in an inferior way for no benefit at all?

  • Re:Not sure... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:16PM (#43111341)

    "DRM costs EA sales, and the only way to fix it is to blame pirates."

    FTFY!

  • Re:Too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shimbo (100005) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:18PM (#43111361)

    Too bad they made all the money from the idiots who pre-ordered. Never-ever-ever-ever pre-order a game, unless you don't mind getting literally nothing in return. Uninformed markets are broken markets.

    However, paying for a game on Kickstarter before the development has even started is totally awesome!

  • by znanue (2782675) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:35PM (#43111533)

    This absolutely not true. Of course Blizzard cares about whether people are going to keep playing or not. It is a brand. It is IP with value. They do not want it watered down. Future sales matter, people's passion about it fuels the RMA, people buying collectors editions of future Blizzard games because of access to D3, posters, merch, a steady stream of small sales (like D2 got). On top of those concerns, top talent wants to go to places where they make great games. There are real people in these places.

    Z

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

    by Anachragnome (1008495) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:53PM (#43111697)

    "Seriously, the Oceana launch that happened today is having exactly the same problems..."

    That is because this is NOT about DRM--this is about killing the Used PC Game market. The server connection is to verify first-install. After that, the game will not work on any other machine (or be whittled down to Demo functionality). That being said, all EA PC games will have this "feature" from this time forward as they and every other major game developer/publisher are all involved in a major assault on First Sale doctrine.

    Corporate Gaming is dying...don't throw it a life-preserver by purchasing their bullshit. There are a TON of Emulators and Kickstart projects out there--give THOSE folks your money.

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

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @08:13PM (#43111855)
    Except that there are still a lot of truly -fun- and awesome commercial games out there. Yeah, there's a bunch of crap commercial games out there (and a lot of crap indie games) but a properly done commercial game tends to outclass even the greatest indie games simply because they can afford the talent, hardware and polish that indie games will never have.

    Wake me up when there's an indie equivalent to Fire Emblem (and no, Battle for Wesnoth is not the same thing...) or indeed RPGs in general.
  • It's not that bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrBear (63712) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @08:29PM (#43112001)

    Yeesh.. at least there's some good reviews out there.. for instance this one.

    http://www.jonathancresswell.co.uk/2013/03/review-simcity/ [jonathancresswell.co.uk]

  • Sure, Not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @08:29PM (#43112003) Homepage Journal

    "It's bad because I like PC games, and want the industry to focus on PC games again."

    I call Troll. This is all bad and everyone knows it. There is no 'PC gaming industry'...the Personal Computer (PC) is a type of platform for consumer games.

    The problem is the notion of requiring an internet connection to use. The problem is FEE PER USE.

    DRM is bad for *any* industry in its current usage. Sure there is no law against properly implementing DRM in the right situation so not to harm your users, but that virtually never happens. Once DRM creeps into a type of media it is historically resulted in anti-user DRM implementations.

    Lamenting something like 'PC games' is the exact wrong thing to notice. Lament FEE PER USE as industry standard across all gaming platforms.

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

    by ultranova (717540) on Friday March 08, 2013 @05:00AM (#43114103)

    The simulation is reliant on the server, it's not as simple as an "unlock patch".

    While this will of course be used as an excuse for forced obsolescence, the reality is that an unlock patch could of course simply include the server code, perhaps even running it in the same process as the main game.

    Oh well. After reading about the always connected requirement, I decided to wait and see rather than preorder. It turned out to be a wise decision.

  • Re:PeerBlock (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the real darkskye (723822) on Friday March 08, 2013 @07:35AM (#43114553) Homepage

    Or PeerGuardian Linux.

    https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/PeerGuardian_Linux [archlinux.org]

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