So the much anticipated SimCity launched this week into a firestorm of angry customers. It’s got nothing to do with the quality of the game or even the concept of in game purchases or additional DLC. The problem with SimCity was the online DRM.

With overloaded servers around launch time loads of gamers were unable to play the game that they had purchased (ala Diablo III) with server errors and disconnects preventing gamer’s from even playing the tutorial let alone a full game. To make things worse the publisher behind SimCity is EA, a company that gamers seem to love to hate.

SimCity servers in the red

For the first time that I can remember being in South Africa with a delayed launch date does seem to have worked in our favour. The 3 extra days that we had to wait for the game to launch provided EA with some time to increase server capacity. However it is not without it’s hitches. On launch day I experienced some issues with connectivity even while playing the game, which is quite disconcerting as you can’t save – it automatically syncs with the server instead… Since then EA have launched a few new European server (European East 3 and West 5), I am using East 3 which has not given me any issues and I have now racked up over 10 hours of game time.

EA has finally come forward with some details and an apology and will be offering a gift to all customers who bought SimCity before March 18th – A free downloadable PC game. Sure, it is likely to be a discounted game but still a nice token from EA. Below is the statement that they released today, but first let Zoidberg set the scene for you:

EA server SimCity meme

Here’s the full blog post:

Here’s a quick update on the problems we were experiencing with SimCity – and a little something extra for people who bought the game.

The server issues which began at launch have improved significantly as we added more capacity. But some people are still experiencing response and stability problems that we’re working fast to address.

So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.

OK, we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it. In the last 48 hours we increased server capacity by 120 percent. It’s working – the number of people who have gotten in and built cities has improved dramatically. The number of disrupted experiences has dropped by roughly 80 percent.

So we’re close to fixed, but not quite there. I’m hoping to post another update this weekend to let everyone know that the launch issues are behind us.

Something Special for Your Trouble

The good news is that SimCity is a solid hit in all major markets. The consensus among critics and players is that this is fundamentally a great game. But this SimCity is made to be played online, and if you can’t get a stable connection, you’re NOT having a good experience. So we’re not going to rest until we’ve fixed the remaining server issues.

And to get us back in your good graces, we’re going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio. On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email telling them how to redeem their free game.

I know that’s a little contrived – kind of like buying a present for a friend after you did something crummy. But we feel bad about what happened. We’re hoping you won’t stay mad and that we’ll be friends again when SimCity is running at 100 percent.

SimCity is a GREAT game and the people who made it are incredibly proud. Hang in there – we’ll be providing more updates throughout the weekend.

I appreciate that they agree it was a dumb move but I still can’t believe that a company like EA would go this route and presume that they could do it without a single hitch after the backlash Blizzard endured with Diablo III. It’s quite a way beyond dumb.