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DRM Networking Games

Hacker Skips SimCity Full-Time Network Requirement 303

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from "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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @10:43AM (#43170917)

    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.

    It will just go away. If people were really upset by this type of thing they would have fought it long ago. Anyone who didn't see it coming is blind, stupid, or both. I wouldn't be surprised if they are monitoring what else is going on on your computer (but of course not full on spying, that would be illegal...) and selling as much as they can to marketing companies. Personally, I no longer buy games, I refuse to use steam or any other software, I will not buy a console and I bitterly await the time when I cannot find something to play games like AoE, BG and BGII, and the like. The last game I bought was Witcher 2, specifically because they removed the DRM after installation (or at least marketed it as such), but that game was terrible. The interface was clearly meant for a freaking console, not a computer.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:41AM (#43171631)

    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.

    [citation needed]

    Preferably in the form of actual drops in sales, plus evidence that these shenanigans are what caused it.

    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.

    I don't mean for you to show me where a few people whined really really really really really really loudly. I don't mean for you to show me the most flowery, prosaic form of bitching about it by a few dissatisfied customers. I mean show me where this HURT Ubisoft and EA. And by HURT, I don't mean where one game didn't sell well, I mean HURT as in it REALLY damaged their bottom lines and forced them to change their ways significantly to avoid going out of business. Show me just how HARD they got smacked upside the head.

    Yeah. You won't find any examples. You CAN'T find any examples. I know you can't. You won't find a single smack upside the head. At worst, you'll find a pillow fight with nice, soft, fluffy pillows to the face, nice and slow, roughly around where Ubisoft and EA executives sleep quite comfortably at night. You know how I know this? Because both companies have been doing this for many years now. They wouldn't be doing this if it were hurting them in the slightest bit. They're still making money hand over fist, the DRM controversy isn't even slowing them down at all, let alone stopping them, we're being proven dead wrong, and there's not a thing we can do about it.

    No, whining EVEN LOUDER won't help. Making creative protests won't help. We can come up with the loudest, most creative, most nasal whine ever recorded in the history of the internet, amplify it by a billion blogs and a trillion tweets, and harass every single person on the face of the planet in person, 24/7, and it'll still be drowned out by the cold drumming of reality and the rhythmic ringing of a cash register. We are NOT the majority of gamers anymore, we're not the most lucrative, we don't even play as much as this new generation does, and nobody cares what we think because we can demonstrably be ignored to no ill effect.

  • Re:SimCity Rescued? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by asylumx ( 881307 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:55AM (#43171843)
    Regarding the kickstarter project, if it's DRM free, then why is one of the donation rewards "three digital copies" -- if there's no DRM, why would three copies be any different than one?
  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:01PM (#43171907)

    The article noted that you can do everything, and better, offline except "save" and "socialize". I would bet that you can work around the save issue simply by running a virtual machine and saving the session using the virtual machines capability to preserve memory state. Unless this thing is actually monitoring gaps in the wall clock time record for DRM puproses it should be possible to use a memory image.

  • by wbo ( 1172247 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:32PM (#43172351)

    The game is still available for sale on Amazon: []

    I'm not sure why people keep saying they took it down. Maybe they did, but it's there and available now and the ratings on it are still horrible.

    Amazon did take it down for a few hours but they put it back up and added a notice to the page stating that EA was having server problems and was working to resolve them and that customers who purchase the game may be unable to play until those problems are resolved.

    Now I see that Amazon has since removed that notice and replaced it with a note saying that owners of SimCity are entitled to a free game from EA.

  • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:09PM (#43172917) Journal

    "Is it even fun?"

    The answer is "no."

    I'm embarrassed to say I purchased this game. The goddamn digital deluxe edition for $80 goddamn dollars. I should probably click the "Post Anonymously" box to hide my shame, but I won't. I'll wear my scarlet EA.

    Now, I knew about the "you have to be online" thing, but I thought that was just for authentication, like StarCraft 2. I do not like DRM, I run Linux on most of my computers, and I'm a donation-making member of the EFF (got the t-shirts and everything) but I will, on occasion, fork over cash for a DRMed video game and roll my eyes when I have to sit through "verifying with server..." bullshit. I'm weak.

    I read pre-reviews of the game, and I watched gameplay videos. I have fond memories of SimCity 2000, and thought this game looked awesome.

    I was annoyed when I couldn't play for the first two days because of 'server load' issues. They were right about the "multiplayer experience." Not being able to play a video game because "servers are unavailable" is definitely part of the multiplayer experience.

    But, I'm a patient person, and I wanted to play this game. So when the servers stabilized and I had time over the weekend, I played. And it was great! It was a ton of fun drawing and planning my city.


    Until you hit about 100k population (which, as the decompiled ui code shows is only actually 15000 sims because they inflate the pop to make it seem like they're doing more). When you get about that big, all of a sudden, the city collapses because of incredible traffic jams on the roads. No one can get to work or back, a building catches fire and the fire trucks can't get to it so the building burns down. Sims get sick and the ambulances can't reach them because of traffic, they die, people become unhappy and leave, no money from no taxes, city collapses etc etc.

    And at first you think, "Oh, I have clearly been mistaken with regards to my city planning abilities! What an interesting challenge! Let's look closer at the traffic patterns to see what I've done wrong, and what I can do to fix my city that is being simulated in exciting and challenging ways!"

    So you start looking closer. You turn on the traffic map and see, "hey wait a minute. Why are all cars using that one narrow side street instead of the massive 4 lane highway right next to it..?"

    So you think, "perhaps I've overloaded that street, or have failed to understand the population density along it?" So you look closer. So you follow a single sim to see what he does to get to and from work.

    And when you look at an individual sim, an "Agent" in the GlassBox lingo, you see that he is stupid, and does not behave in any way like a real denizen of a city. Which is what you're trying to simulate.

    You follow the sim and discover that when he leaves his house at 6AM to go to work, he does not know where he is going. It isn't even correct to call it "his" house, as it's not his house, it's the first open house he came across when he left work the night before. When a sim goes to work, he becomes aware of the closest building with an available job. And closest means "shortest path" routing, not "least cost." So he will take a .99999 mile long dirt road instead of 1 mile long super highway, because it's shorter. So he travels to this closest building, and if when he arrives, there is still an available job there, he will go inside and fill up a job slot. If by the time he reaches the building, some other sim has arrived first and TOOK HIS JERB he will pick the next closest building with a currently available job and try his luck there instead.

    However. Every other sim that spawned is following the same process. Which results in the city-ending traffic jams.

    And this is when it happens. There's an word for it, "anagnorisis." It's an element of greek tragedy. It's the moment when the protagonist realizes the clearer, fuller picture of the situation and of his destiny, in all of its horror.

    Because you think, "so how

  • by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:00PM (#43173817) Journal

    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.

    Nonsense. If you're an addict you're going to take the easiest possible route to feed your addiction. On the PC that's going to be MMOs or Steam.

    EA store? Far too much hassle. I'm too addicted to sit around watching a game tell me I can't play.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:24PM (#43174221)

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

    Except then the downgraded score wouldn't have happened. But don't let facts get in the way of your clumsy efforts to look like a world-weary cynic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:58PM (#43174673)

    Speaking as a guy who has been doing game reviews for more than a decade (AC because I can't remember my password), my reviews have never been paid for, and I've always had games to review far in advance of the general release to the public. So, if I had a game, and played it, and found it great, and then later found when the general public got it that it was entirely unplayable for some reasont that is (1) unavoidable and (2) something I didn't run into, I could completely see revisiting my score and dropping it by at least 50%.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:05PM (#43174745) Journal

    Look at the sales before and AFTER they started being douchebags when it came to DRM, you'll see that they lost a LOT of sales thanks to douchebaggery which is one of the reasons EA is now for sale and shows that voting with your wallet DOES work, its just not magic and takes time.

    I have personally refused to buy any games that require me to be online for SP and honestly? I don't miss 'em. There are so many good games out there that don't treat you like shit that you could buy 3 new games a day and never get them all. My only suggestion is to write a nice little letter when you do so explaining WHY you bought the other guy's product, sure they'll probably use PPT math anyway (Our PPT shows X number of people like Y so since we didn't sell X copies of our DRM douchefest it MUST be those evil pirates yargh) but at least you will have made it clear why their product isn't being bought. I gifted my friends and family Torchlight II through Steam when it came out D3 was online always DRM and RMM and even though I was a buyer and fan of D1 and D2 I'd rather have TL2 where I'm treated as a customer than D3 where I'm treated as a walking ATM.

    But you just have to realize voting with your wallet takes time and there are certain genres where the fans? Would buy dogshit in a box and not care. Take Madden, I used to work with a guy that had his CC on file with Gamestop so the SECOND a new Madden came out a copy for both his console and his handheld was sent to his house so when he got off work it was waiting. He never looked at a single review, never looked to see if EA was treating him like shit because he really did not care as ALL he wanted was the latest rosters, that's it. The same thing applies to the CoD games where the hardcore MP CoD players don't give a rat's ass WHAT EA does as long as they have the latest maps on release day so they can learn every place to go to bitchslap the noobs.

    But thankfully CoD and Madden aren't enough to sustain a lumbering hulk like EA so they really need more buyers and if we refuse to purchase and spread the word we CAN hurt them by voting with our wallets, just don't expect change to happen overnight. By voting with your wallet you can not only refuse to support douchebag behavior but you can boost support to those that treat you well, which frankly is what we should all be doing anyway.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay