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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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  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:04PM (#43109903) Homepage

    Alegedly it's not "just" DRM. EA has stated that their servers are handling some portion of the gameplay itself.

    Anyway, it sucks that this game probably won't be playable after the servers inevitably go offline in a few years. Guess there's no room for nostalgia in the world of cloud computing.

  • by Seumas (6865) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:05PM (#43109921)

    I haven't had a single problem since I played the first time the night of the launch.

    All the problems I've run into are simply the shitty game, itself, with all the problems everyone has already covered a thousand times over (social, regional stuff, tiny cities, crappy road system, inability to build an all inclusive city, etc).

    After playing for a bit, I wanted to reset my city and start from scratch, again. I could not find any way to do it, whatsoever.

    Eventually I got tired of it (probably about five hours worth of play, into it) and I don't know that I'll ever go back to it. I wasted my money and I regret it. I buy a lot of games and put up with a lot of let-downs as just part of being a gamer, but this one felt like a particular waste of money. Especially after all these years of being excited that someday we'd eventually have a new awesome Sim City game with all that having it on modern hardware would offer (which, as it turns out, is nothing).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:09PM (#43109987)

    Alegedly it's not "just" DRM. EA has stated that their servers are handling some portion of the gameplay itself.

    They are. It's actually pretty damn good, when it's working. It's funny, because I didn't even know people were having problems until the /. article yesterday. I was too busy enjoying the game to see what other people thought about it.

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

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:11PM (#43110033) Journal

    In other news, a sequel to Planescape: Torment got funded on Kickstarter in 6 hours flat. It looks like the good guys are finally winning for once.

  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:12PM (#43110049)

    I call BS on that one. The servers may be handling the inter-city calculations but that's it. There's just no way that these mini-cities have so many calculations that a decent desktop stumbles with them.

  • by TheSunborn (68004) <tiller&daimi,au,dk> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:15PM (#43110087)

    All you really need to implement to pirate the game, is a service which can load/save the game. And then you can just return fixed values for the global marked place. Then you have a perfectly working pirated game.

    I don't know how complicated the load/save thing is, but If we are luckey, save just serialize the data and send it to the server, and load just get the same serialized stream back. If they do it that way, making a pirate save function should be rather simple. They did it for settlers 7.

  • by canadiannomad (1745008) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:32PM (#43110315) Homepage

    The only alarm bells that will be ringing over at EA is that Amazon is full of libelous astro-turfers from "the competition" and internet trolls who are jelly of EA's success. The "poor sales" will be seen as a sign that their new-angled DRM is working since most people are Pirates and can't handle their masterful security scheme.

    It isn't poor sales that is closing it down... It is high returns and chargebacks.

    People are going first to their retailer (Amazon) for a refund, then the factory (EA) then their banks (Amex,Visa,MasterCard) ... If they follow that, at one of the three steps they will get a refund. And the people to fit the bill at the end of the day will be EA (and I don't know if you have ever seen amazon chargeback fees...).

  • It's also apparently not working. Over on the Answers HQ forum, there are more than a few people complaining about corrupt cities that can either be abandoned or rolled back, usually resulting in huge population and money loss. I can only imagine what kind of chaos this causes with the influence that cities are supposed to have over each other. I wasn't able to even get into the game in the 2 days since it launched so I requested, and received, a refund from Amazon. Last EA game I ever buy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:43PM (#43110437)
    To be fair, a lot of those one star reviews flat-out said they were refusing to buy the game due to "always-on DRM". I think Amazon has a policy that you're only supposed to review products that you actually own.
  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:47PM (#43110483) Homepage

    Alegedly it's not "just" DRM. EA has stated that their servers are handling some portion of the gameplay itself.

    I call BS on that one. The servers may be handling the inter-city calculations but that's it. There's just no way that these mini-cities have so many calculations that a decent desktop stumbles with them.

    Actually, it'd probably run a *lot* better if it was running entirely on the local machine. But that's not the point.

    As was mentioned several times in yesterday's story [slashdot.org], the setup itself was almost certainly designed this way as a form of DRM. It makes perfect sense- if enough critical parts of the game code run on the servers (and the end-user doesn't have direct access to the code), they can restrict access to paying customers only.

    Sure, people can still pirate the "game" (or rather, the game client), but without access to the servers, it's pretty worthless in itself. You'd need to replicate the server functionality too- but EA obviously aren't going to let you have the code needed to run them! Sure, you could rewrite it, or hack the game to be entirely client-based, but if enough of the game is server-based, you'd have to rewrite a significant portion of the entire game from scratch.

    Expect to see a lot more software (games *and* applications) use this model in future. I predicted it a few years ago- as a lot of people probably did, since it was a pretty logical step.

    Of course, if a publisher is going to run things this way, they have to make sure that the servers run smoothly and are able to handle the load. Oops...

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

    by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:49PM (#43110521)

    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.

    This is good for PC gaming, because it means strategies like this will not succeed in the marketplace. The best outcome of this would be EA losing a ton of money on SimCity. Hopefully EA withdraws from the PC gaming market and focuses on only producing console titles, that would also be a win. EA is not a friend to PC gamers, we don't need them. PC gaming is much, much larger than EA. PC gaming will succeed because of companies like Valve, and because of the developers and fans who use things like Kickstarter to get their games funded (speaking of which, where the hell is Star Command?). PC gaming will succeed in spite of companies like EA, not because of them. I would love it if companies who start their game design by including DRM left the PC market, it will become a bigger market for the developers that want to make great games.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:51PM (#43110535)

    All the reviews have been pretty positive about the game itself; it's the failure of the DRM system that caused the Amazon backlash.

    Not unlike a chef preparing you the most delicious porterhouse steak ever and then the waiter drops a turd on it before serving.

  • by Dogtanian (588974) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:59PM (#43110661) Homepage
    Disclaimer; actually, it seems that EA may have been lying about the importance of the servers ain running Sim City [slashdot.org]. However, the principle stands (unfortunately); it should be possible to design software such that the client did the hard work, whereas the servers ran less intensive *but entirely critical and hard to replicate* code.
  • Re:Not sure... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:27PM (#43110867)

    Who cares what the industry does, there's a flourishing indie scene ready to take their place.

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @08:08PM (#43111279)

    Especially after all these years of being excited that someday we'd eventually have a new awesome Sim City game with all that having it on modern hardware would offer (which, as it turns out, is nothing).

    Judging by the civilization games, what "modern hardware" has to offer is an excuse to use horribly inefficient design methods that reduce development and maintenance costs.

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

    by Killall -9 Bash (622952) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @08:25PM (#43111439)
    PeerBlock detects a connection to the amazon EC2 cloud when I attempt to launch SimCity. SimCity will not launch unless i disable PeerBlock.

    So....

    I don't know if the SimCity main servers, or maybe just authentication servers are hosted by Amazon.... but... NO EXCUSES. IIRC EC2 has plenty of tools for rapidly cloning servers.
  • Re:Not sure... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @09:54PM (#43112165)

    I've hated EA ever since back in 1985 when I bought a game for my C64 that hammered my 1541 disk drive out of alignment. It took about 5 minutes to load and you could fry an egg on the drive's cover by the time it was finished. I finally got the copy protection stripped out and it loaded in about 24 seconds just as smooth as silk. I haven't bought a game from those fuckers since. I can't believe they're still in business the way they've screwed over their customers and they are still at it today.

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

    by Xest (935314) on Friday March 08, 2013 @05:00AM (#43113925)

    As I pointed out yesterday in another thread, EA have scrapped Dead Space 4 because DS3 sold poorly.

    The reason it sold poorly was because of microtransactions, I'd like to think this means microtransactions aren't going to sneak more prominently into games too now as a result, but I'm not sure it works like that. EA's scrapping of Dead Space 4 seems to imply that they don't think microtransactions were the problem, and that it was the franchise that was at fault, which is silly, because that's blatantly false, it was entirely the effect microtransactions had on the game that stopped people buying it.

    So yes it's nice to see bad ideas fail, but don't assume that companies necessarily recognise that the games failed because of the bad ideas.

    That's not to say this wont select out such stupid companies in the long run, but we're nowhere near yet.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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