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DRM Networking Games

Hacker Skips SimCity Full-Time Network Requirement 303

Posted by timothy
from the expected-lies-and-got-some dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Geek.com: "Ever since SimCity launched, there has been a suspicion that the need for the game to always be connected to a server was mainly a form of DRM, not for social game features and multiplayer. Then a Maxis developer came forward to confirm the game doesn't actually need a server to function, suggesting the information coming out of EA wasn't the whole truth. Now EA and Maxis have some explaining to do as a modder has managed to get the game running offline indefinitely." The writer names a few small ways in which the game is actually improved by being offline, too.
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Hacker Skips SimCity Full-Time Network Requirement

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  • by AdeBaumann (126557) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @09:36AM (#43170825) Homepage

    Not a huge surprise... Though I wonder how they're going to wriggle their way out of that one. I'm guessing they'll just try to ignore it and hope it goes away.

  • SimCity Rescued? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frightened_Turtle (592418) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @09:38AM (#43170863)

    This is probably the best thing that could have happened to SimCity 5 in order to save the SimCity franchise.

    It's a pity how corporate greed can ruin an otherwise excellent product. Management at EA/Maxis was obviously incredibly detached from the product. Comments such as how surprised and unprepared they were for the massive response they got to the new product speaks volumes to the fact that the people in charge had absolutely no clue about the products they make, nor what it takes to make them successful.

    The good news? At least there is one team out there that gets it! [kickstarter.com]

  • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @09:41AM (#43170897)

    I just don't care to spend that much effort fixing something that should have had the option out-of-the-box. EA is a big company, if they want sales, sell a finished game. Getting upset and spending my TIME trying to hack it or pirate isn't worth the $60 anymore... The have created a situation where even FREE is losing me money.

    The solution is that the servers needed to JUST WORK. As a grown up, waiting twenty minutes even twice has wasted more of my money/time than the price of the game... They're jerks, fix it.

  • Let us ask Data (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nitehawk214 (222219) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @09:42AM (#43170915)

    Here is what Lt. Cmdr Data [youtube.com] thinks about this.

    I was a big fan of the game since the original and thought it odd it was one of the few mega-popular EA franchises that did not get updated frequently. I was anticipating the release, but I have learned not to pre-order any video game, nor buy it until it has been out a number of months for it either to be "fixed", for customer reviews to roll in, and beta test NDA's to expire. The bigger the game company the worse the lies become.

    Professional game reviewers and magazines can simply not be trusted. Shorly after release metacritic scores showed the "professional" critics giving 90's and 100's, while no customer aside from a stockholm syndrome candidate gives a good review at all. Now that it is popular to bash the title, magazines being rolling in with the poor reviews.

  • by jythie (914043) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @09:46AM (#43170947)
    I suspect someone will throw together a mini-server at some point that will facilitate local saving, it will just take more time then this work around.
  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @09:50AM (#43170985) Homepage Journal

    It will just go away. If people were really upset by this type of thing they would have fought it long ago.

    Bullshit. Ubisoft got smacked upside the head. EA's been smacked upside the head -- HARD -- in the past with limited activations and other shenanigans. If customer outcry is loud enough, EA will take the hint this time, too.

  • The solution is to hire smarter executives that won't spend money creating absurd barriers to annoy their honest clients.

  • by Looker_Device (2857489) * on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:05AM (#43171161)

    I keep hearing a lot about "consumer outcry" about EA games. And yet every time a new one comes out, those same consumers seemed to be lined up around the block to buy them.

  • by Ben4jammin (1233084) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:09AM (#43171227)
    I don't think they have any plans to wiggle out of it. This "always on" setup is by design:

    Frank Gibeau, the president of EA Labels... is very proud of the fact he has never green lit a single project that consisted solely of a single-player experience.

    http://www.geek.com/articles/games/ea-wont-green-light-any-single-player-only-games-2012095/

    So the engineers were REQUIRED to do something that made it "social" and thus needing to be always online.

  • by meerling (1487879) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:11AM (#43171241)
    The CEO is the one insisting they do this bullshit. It's not going to change until the stockholders oust him, and maybe not even then if they ensconce another neanderthal.

    Though I shouldn't say things like that. Neanderthals are shown to care far more for others than he does.
  • Re:Let us ask Data (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Looker_Device (2857489) * on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:13AM (#43171275)

    Shorly after release metacritic scores showed the "professional" critics giving 90's and 100's,

    Hard to believe, considering most of those critics work for magazines and publications heavily supported by EA advertising.

  • by Cid Highwind (9258) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:14AM (#43171287) Homepage

    They can't build for the max usage scenario, because that's just not going to last.

    They don't need to. This is one place where "the cloud" is an improvement over physical in-house servers. Build one complete server image, then in the days after launch you can stand up as many EC2 hosts as it takes to satisfy demand, and later as numbers of simultaneous players drops you can start taking them back down.

    It's not impossible to launch without day-long server queues, EA is just either incompetent or too cheap to pay for the sort of infrastructure their always-on DRM requires.

  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:19AM (#43171343) Homepage Journal

    And yet every time a new one comes out, those same consumers seemed to be lined up around the block to buy them.

    This launch was so bad Amazon actually stopped selling it. It was so bad that EA's offered a free game to anyone who made the regrettable choice of purchasing SimCity (though they still won't offer refunds to anyone who ordered the game through Origin). It was so bad that Polygon's reviewer downgraded their initial review from a 9.5 to a 4.

    So trust me when I say people are going to remember this the next time someone takes a traditionally offline game and tries to add an always-online requirement -- for any reason.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:31AM (#43171495)

    But it wont matter anyway, in a few months after this whole fiasco the very people who condemn EA for lying to them will still buy the next shiny AAA game from them anyway. They're happy being ripped off and lied to, and I can see them everywhere. Such spineless people who cant make a stand would only pretend joining the "so called game vendor is bad" bandwagon to get their "gamer" cred. They don't really care about gaming, they only identify themself as one because right now it is cool to be a nerdy gamer.

    I enjoy playing games and I don't even bother to pirate *ANY* new titles, that's how much disgusted I am to gaming industry right now. The last game that I bought was released at 2006, been what.. 7 years? and I'm not even going to entertain the idea of buying or pirating any games because I've drawn my line many years ago.

    For others, welcome to the future of gaming! It's a multi-billion dollar industry, you better have the money and willing to shed your principles 'cause otherwise you're not going to get your fix.

  • by Time_Ngler (564671) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:32AM (#43171525)

    The reason for all that was because too many people bought it and it crashed their servers! All EA has to do is turn on the hype machine, and people will come flocking regardless of whatever happened in the past.

  • by Lithdren (605362) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:33AM (#43171541)

    ...Polygon's reviewer downgraded their initial review from a 9.5 to a 4.

    Wow...if that doesn't tell you something about how the game was reviewed, nothing will.

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:34AM (#43171555) Journal

    The only surprise is that it took this long

    There is another surprise: that anyone ever believed that a *significant amount of the calculations.* would run on the server. Seriously, it doesn't pass the sniff test that they would offload calculations from the clients onto their own servers.

  • by StuartHankins (1020819) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:04AM (#43171943)
    People not buying means the software companies blame piracy, or tablets, or some other silliness instead of solving the real issue. Many people such as myself have the disposable income and a long history of gaming, but we now hate the companies so much that it's lost its appeal. I will do something else with my money and time instead of dealing with modern gaming frustrations and the companies' shenanigans. <shrugs>
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:10AM (#43172041)

    These things we like to call morals. You see, when games release DRM free, as a community, we try not to be douchenozzles. So you could try actually paying for multiple copies if you want your friends to play it, unless you would rather send the message that DRM is necessary.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:12AM (#43172077)

    Or... Reviews are bought and paid for wholesale.

  • by Xest (935314) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:49AM (#43172623)

    Reviews have always been protection rackets. Companies pay for them with money or freebies and in turn the reviewers give it a good review.

    This is why just every once in a while great games get oddly bad reviews - someone in the marketing department forgot to pay a certain reviewer their protection money.

    There are very very few review sites (if any?) now that review honestly and independently. The best metric you can get I guess are post-release user scores, assuming they're never manipulated.

    For what it's worth this isn't new, I remember all the way back in the 80s there was some scandal about print magazines here in the UK doing the exact same thing back then.

  • by Lithdren (605362) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:10PM (#43172943)

    My point is more about how fake a review score has to be, to even do that.

    I get people are upset because the servers wont even let them play the game, and I fully support people who are angry at EA over it, no question.

    But how can you cut a games review in half, after the fact? Either they're riding the wave of hate and trying to keep it off themselves; which means you shouldn't trust their reviews because they're not being honest about what they are reviewing; or they're honestly saying the game is half as good as it was before the release; which means you shoulnd't trust their reviews because not not being honest about what they are reviewing.

    An honest review should have come out saying the game was (for example) a 7/10, because of the possible issues the always-online DRM could cause, even if its a fantastic game. Still good, but be warned, there could be issues. It just highlights how unreal they're being with game reviews. a 9.5 out of 10 means its almost perfect, which is clearly absurd on the face of it. The scores are getting paid for, either over or under the table (or both) and clearly shouldn't be trusted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:18PM (#43173013)

    Gamers are not idiots.

    Perhaps not, but many of them are addicts, and behave in the same self-destructive fashion that weak-willed addicts always exhibit.

    I've known people who wrecked their lives with computer games, and I've known people to wreck their lives with drugs, and the effect on their families, friends and health was pretty much the same. [steveswink.com]

    If you're not an addict, it's a pleasant diversion, and if you're an addict, no amount of DRM will stop you from lining up at the EA store.

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:21PM (#43173057)

    The reason for all that was because too many people bought it and it crashed their servers!

    And another way to say that would be that the reason it happened was because the game was required to connect to a server in the first place in order to play. If it didn't need to connect, then there wouldn't be overloaded servers, would there?

  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:35PM (#43173321) Homepage Journal

    Reviews need to stop calling such previews "reviews" and call them by what they are. Once the game is launched, they then should go back to do an actual review of the game. That's how things should be done anyway. Getting a preview mislabeled as a "review" out of the door faster than everybody else seems to trump the disservice they are doing to their readership.

    In full agreement with you here. Reviewers are still basing their methods on a single-player model. That needs to change. Polygon did OK by updating their review, but I think Metacritic still has SimCity somewhere in the 60s ... which is about 60 points more than EA and Maxis deserve.

  • by PhxBlue (562201) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:37PM (#43173367) Homepage Journal

    No, seriously. Show me one time where this was the case. Show me a single road bump this sort of thing has ever caused in either Ubisoft's or EA's business plans. ... Yeah. You won't find any examples. You CAN'T find any examples. I know you can't.

    There ya go. [rockpapershotgun.com] Took me about 10 seconds on Google, by the way.

  • by PlusFiveTroll (754249) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:38PM (#43173389) Homepage

    ...Polygon's reviewer downgraded their initial review from a 9.5 to a 4.

    Wow...if that doesn't tell you something about how the game was reviewed, nothing will.

    I don't own SC since I do not buy EA, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to blame the the reviewers or the beta testers.

    The beta only allowed one hour of play at a time. I'm sure the reviewers had a pretty limited amount of time to look at the features trying to touch a little bit on each part. EA designed the well enough that it could pass a few hours of uncritical inspection, but once the curtain was pulled back and people were had time to play it long enough the SC engine has revealed itself as a sham. I'm going to assume that most reviewers are not given a whole lot of time to review the game on purpose. This just goes to prove my next premise. Any game review created before release will be creatively framed by the manufacture to limit the amount of actual review that can occur.

    tl;dr Don't believe the hype and never preorder. Let your peers test the water for sharks.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@justco ... et minus painter> on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:03PM (#43174721)

    Not necessarily. It could mean that the game was great, but the problem of overloaded servers basically ruins the game. Just how much it ruins the game wouldn't necessarily be apparent from a pre-release copy, and the fact that it happened once means it could happen again - putting a serious dent in the scores. No dishonesty required - a great game that has a huge major flaw that ruins the game is a perfectly valid reason to downgrade its score, and this probably qualified. You're probably just annoyed they didn't get all up-in-arms about the online requirement while everything was working fine. I have a problem with that too, but most people don't and wouldn't hold it against a game if the game worked fine

    Now of course some reviews are paid for, and some reviews are dishonest. But it's not a necessary condition for this to happen.

    For the record, I don't have this game, nor will I ever buy it despite being somewhat interested in it. So I can't make any claim about how good the game is when it's working.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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