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DRM Games

EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems 259

An anonymous reader writes "The SimCity launch earlier this week was a complete disaster. Single player games that require an Internet connection to enable forced multiplayer features (as well as acting as a form of DRM) is bad enough, but then to not be prepared for the demand such a popular franchise has, well, that's just dumb, and Lucy Bradshaw, EA's general manager for the Maxis Label, has admitted exactly that." They did not provide much details, but supposedly anyone who has SimCity now should get "a free PC download game from the EA portfolio." They are unrepentant about the always-online requirement though.
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

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  • by Loki_666 ( 824073 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:24PM (#43126229)

    but I'm already boycotting any always connected games or any other product. I can live without, plenty of other good games available, plus my back catalog of awesome games that i always go back to, and thanks to visualization, i can always return to even the oldest ones.

    After the Bioware debacle where they disabled their authentication servers (fortunately games still playable online) and Gamespy shutting down their old servers (without the publishers releasing patches to enable online matchups without gamespy - eg: Marvel: Ultimate Alliance), I'm totally against any form of always-on connection.

    I'm not even willing to trust Steam now. I believe Gabe is a good man, and as long as he is at the helm things will be cool, but one day he will be gone, and when the first profit oriented CEO takes over, it will just turn into another EA or Ubisoft, and at that point, support for old games will suddenly disappear, and one by one, those games you paid for will no longer work. Or at least that is my guess... i'm not willing to risk it. I want the games i bought to be mine.

  • by ChangeOnInstall ( 589099 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:25PM (#43126235)

    I have the income to buy them. I have the desire to play them. I have the computer hardware to play them. And I won't pirate them.

    But I won't pay you $50 or $60 and be rewarded with the very kind of stress that I've purchased the game to temporarily escape from. You're not going to stop the pirates, but you are going to stop me.

  • by ZombieBraintrust ( 1685608 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:34PM (#43126289)
    There are older versions of Sim City that are single player. Maybe you should play one of those games. Making a new game means changing things. I suppose they could of just changed released Sim City 2000 with hi res textures. But I think that would of been a failure as well. Adding multiplayer is a reasonable change. Selling more copies of the game than you have servers for is stupid.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:44PM (#43126351)

    A really great aspect of mobile game development is that while game makers can expect you probably will have networking, they can't rely on it always working. So while they can build features that make good use of networking they can't really make games that don't work when disconnected.

  • Re:All in all (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @01:45PM (#43126363)

    Poor Maxis, i feel so bad for them.

    It's sad how often this [] can reasonably be updated.

  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @03:17PM (#43126889) Journal

    Actually, this is one form of copy protection that DOESN'T work. The fact is, I was all ready to buy the game. I actually buy all my games, haven't pirated one in forever. (I'm old, employed, $60 is no biggie).

    Now I won't buy the game simply because I couldn't play it if I did, and I don't want a game that forces me to save games online, be online when I play, can't be played on an airplane or in the car, etc. And it will stop working once they get tired of hosting the servers.

    I've bought every SimCity game ever made and many other sim games from Maxis. Paid money, not pirated. 1, 2k, 3k, 4, Societies, Sim Copter, even Sim Tower and The Sims 1 and 2, simant, simfarm, and so on. I just can't buy this in good conscience because I don't know if I will be able to use it like I wanted to. And that is sad, since I love their games. Maybe, just maybe, I will buy it if someone comes out with a cracked version, and just use the cracked version. I don't mind spending the money, I just don't like being treated like a criminal once I've given them the money. At least with Steam, I can play most games offline and on different computers.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @03:46PM (#43127065) Journal

    Actually, considering how the game works, I'm 100% convinced that it's the result of EA considering the single-player case... except in EA management lingo that use-case sounds a bit like, "OMG, gazillions of people will pirate our game, or buy it used on EBay."

    Seriously, the game IS at heart a single player game. I've managed to squeeze in between server crashes and start a game or two, and guess what? The game functions exactly the same when the server crashes while you're in your city.

    The lie that the game is too complex for a single CPU and they need to do server-side processing too, was just that: a lie. The only "server-side processing" they do is saving the game and publishing your game events.

    But here's the funny thing: Steam for example manages just fine to send your achievements to the server in the background, without needing the game to be tethered to a server all the time. Skyrim, Fallout New Vegas, A Game Of Dwarves, etc, take your pick, they're all single player games that Steam can both provide DRM for and save the achievements (and for some even the save games) on their server without pretending it's an online game.

    So anyway, the game IS perfectly able to run single player. It's not a real client-server product like WoW or EA's own TOR. It doesn't need a server or a server emulator to play exactly the same. It's a single player game, which is perfectly able to function without a server, plus some artificial tethering to their servers that doesn't really add much.

    So why IS a single player mode missing at least as an official option to start the game, when the game functions perfectly well in single player?

    It seems to me like the only reasonable explanation is that they considered single-player offline mode as something to prevent.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 09, 2013 @03:51PM (#43127097)

    Its only akin to an MMO because the devs forced it, jsut like Diablo III.

    NO, you just don't get it. World of Warcraft could have had a single player mode, too. Any online game could have had a single player mode. The developers have to make a design decision early on as to whether they make it purely online, purely offline, or both options available.

    No matter what you think, there is NO way to prevent cheating and hacking if you allow someone to do ANYTHING offline and then cross that over to the online mode. The client software has to essentially be a "terminal" which sends requests to the game server, and displays what the server sends back. ALL the game rules MUST be processed on that server- if you ever allow the client to TELL the server what it did, that WILL be exploited. End Of Story.

    If you are going to be upset, be upset that EA chose to not include a single player mode. Be pissed that they did a very careful job avoiding the mention of no single-player mode. Be pissed that they did a shit job launching the game. But don't bitch about them requiring the multiplayer game to require an always on connection. That's how it ought to be, and any game which allows clients to run while not connected are ripe for exploiting.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Saturday March 09, 2013 @05:01PM (#43127459) Journal

    DRM is the least of the problems with this game. They took what is inherently a single player game and turned it into social networking garbage. The online only model deprives you of the ability to play Sim City on the train, airplane, or litany of other unconnected places where you might want to play by yourself to pass the time. It deprives you of the ability to save your game, blow the city to hell with disasters, and resume playing afterwards. People might laugh at this, but that has been a huge part of the Sim City experience since the very first release in 1989. The servers don't speak to each other, so if you create a game on server A and have to use Server B tomorrow you can't play the city you spent hours creating. All of this is a huge problem, and that's without taking into account the DRM and completely inadequate server infrastructure.

    The server model doesn't even make financial sense for EA -- ongoing expense for a one-time sale -- unless of course they intend to turn this game into a bunch of downloadable content where they "add" features (that have existed since Sim City 2000, i.e., subways and large maps) every few months for $20 a pop. This is almost certainly their plan, because it's the only way the server model can work without becoming a money pit.

    I have played this game since I was ten years old and got the SNES version for Christmas. My sister and I used to spend hours in the public library playing Sim City 2000 before we had our first PC, saving our games on 5.25" floppy disks so we could play again tomorrow. I met many of my online friends -- most of whom I still communicate with -- through an old Majordomo mailing list that I found in a book about Sim City 2000. Hell, Sim City 2000 got me online in the first place. I learned how to make my own scenarios with nothing more than a hex editor and patience. I ignored the eye candy and stupid crossovers with The Sims in Sim City 3000 and Sim City 4 because they were at least smart enough to improve upon the underlying simulation model and keep it true to the franchise.

    Disappointment does not begin to describe my feelings about this game, which was the first video game I've shelled out my coin for in five years. No, I'm not a pirate, I've just lost interest in gaming in general as I've aged, but this one had me genuinely excited in spite of my concerns about the online model and DRM. Guess I should have known better. I was one of the lucky ones, got a effortless (except for waiting two hours in chat queue) refund without any argument even though I bought it from Origin. Saved me the hassle of doing a credit card charge back, which is something I would highly recommend for anyone who can't get a refund through other channels. Vote with your wallet, it's the only thing EA understands.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @08:17PM (#43128309) Journal

    Actually, now that I said that only morons would believe EA's BS about the CPU not being enough for their game, and that they're actually processing your city on the server... it kinda makes me wonder if they ARE trying to get morons as a target demographic.

    I was reading a paper a few months ago about Nigerian widow scams and such. The question they had basically asked themselves was: why those scams don't try to be a little less ridiculous and more plausible? Why don't they try to snag more people?

    Their conclusion was that basically the scammers don't really want everyone. They actually want only the morons, who are more likely to then go through with it. If a smart person gets tipped off that it's bogus... GOOD! That's one less dead end to waste time on.

    So I'm thinking, hmmmm, maybe that's EA's plan. Maybe they do want to reach the morons. More morons with money probably means more crap DLCs sold down the line :p

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