SimCity launch crippled by server issues

After two "beta" weekends, Electronic Arts' well-regarded — and controversially online-dependent — new SimCity game was released to the public and quickly encountered server issues resulting in long queues to enter the single-player game. Following release, EA has struggled to address the issues, adding more servers, patching existing servers, and even disabling "non-critical" gameplay elements, all in an attempt to allow players to reliably access the city-building sim.

EA adding offline mode to SimCity

SimCity will soon be playable in offline mode, developer EA Maxis announced this week, 10 months after saying it couldn't be done "without a significant amount of engineering work."

The studio will add offline mode for all players with Update 10, a free upcoming patch. Once the single-player mode is added to the game, all previously downloaded content will be accessible without an internet connection, and SimCity will store single-player save games locally instead of in the cloud.

Maxis is "in the late phases" of development on offline mode, and the studio plans to run extensive testing...

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Maxis has a team exploring offline mode for SimCity

SimCity developer Maxis is exploring an offline mode for the always online simulation game, according to a post on the game's official site.

In a lengthy post called "State of SimCity," Maxis Emeryville general manager Patrick Buechner outlined the story of the game's first seven months, which included seven major updates and the reveal of its first major expansion, Cities of Tomorrow.

As part of Maxis' continuing effort to refine the game and listen to player feedback, the developer is also exploring an offline mode for SimCity.

"Right now we have a team specifically focused on...

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DRM wasn't a factor in SimCity's online-only design, says EA

SimCity publisher Electronic Arts didn't force developer Maxis to require an internet connection due to DRM concerns, said Frank Gibeau, president of EA Labels, in an interview with GamesIndustry International.

"For the folks who have conspiracy theories about evil suits at EA forcing DRM down the throats of Maxis, that's not the case at all," said Gibeau. "That's not the reality; I was involved in all the meetings. DRM was never even brought up once." Gibeau even went as far as to call DRM a "failed, dead-end strategy" for combating piracy, and said it isn't viable for the game industry.

...

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SimCity update aimed at fixing traffic problems, new Asia server coming next week

The latest update for SimCity makes a number of corrections to the title's previously reported traffic problems, as well as readies a new server for launch, according to a post on the Electronic Arts forums.

According to the post from a Maxis community manager, the update fixes traffic intersection and congestion issues and re-routes emergency vehicles to avoid traffic and drive in empty lanes. Both emergency and delivery vehicles will now be given priority over regular cars and other common traffic when leaving their origin points.

Maxis has also tweaked SimCity to perform better on...

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SimCity modder says game doesn't appear to offload significant calculations

"With the way that the game works, we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud," she told Polygon.

But a duo of programmers and database engineers who have been analyzing the communication between local games and SimCity servers say that according to their research that simply isn't true. EA has not responded to requests seeking comment on this issue.

"It's not possible that EA servers are 'offloading' calculations (simulations) for your city, which it works out, and then sends to your...

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SimCity sales top 1.1 million in first two weeks, EA says

Despite crippling launch issues that led publisher Electronic Arts to offer a free game to buyers of SimCity, the latest version of Maxis' city building simulation has already sold more than 1.1 million copies since launching March 5, according to an announcement.

EA says that 54 percent of SimCity's sales have been through downloads, with 44 percent of total sales directly through the publisher's Origin service. The launch of SimCity has pushed to the number of concurrent users on Origin to record levels, EA says, "now at 1.3 million and rising." The publisher called it "the biggest S...

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Maxis offering SimCity players one of eight free games via Origin beginning March 20

Beginning March 20, Maxis is offering SimCity players their choice of one from eight free Electronic Arts titles via the publisher's Origin service, the company announced today.

The list of games consists of Battlefield 3, Bejeweled 3, Dead Space 3, Mass Effect 3, Medal of Honor Warfighter, Need For Speed Most Wanted, Plants vs. Zombies and SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition. For games with multiple editions, Maxis' offer extends to standard editions only.

North American players will have access to the free games portal by 5 p.m. PT on March 20. European players will be granted access at 5 p.m. PT...

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SimCity general manager Lucy Bradshaw on why the game 'is not an offline experience'

Lucy Bradshaw, general manager of SimCity developer Maxis, took to EA's The Beat blog today to address continuing concerns about the game's always-connected nature and further explain the server-dependent design which she says is part of the developer's vision. "In many ways, we built an MMO," Bradshaw says.

"It didn't come down as an order from corporate and it isn't a clandestine strategy to control players," Bradshaw writes of SimCity's always-connected design. "It's fundamental to the vision we had for this SimCity."

She says that Maxis' "innovative use of servers to move aspects of...

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SimCity hacking threads deleted from official forums, EA asks users to 'continue dialogue' elsewhere

Threads on the official SimCity forums discussing "hacks" of the simulation game, including discussion of a user-created mod that allowed the PC game to be played offline, have been deleted in accordance with EA's terms of service. That's according to EA Maxis senior director of worldwide communications Erik Reynolds, who explained the reasoning on Twitter and asked players to discuss such mods elsewhere.

"Due to our ToS we need to delete the thread about the hack/mod from our forums," Reynolds tweeted. "Please move it to other places and continue the dialogue."

Reynolds responded to a...

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Maxis general manager equivocates on SimCity refunds and server longevity

Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw began to address some of the more pressing questions surrounding SimCity in a recent interview with CVG, but ultimately equivocated on a few key issues raised by players unhappy with the game's launch.

Bradshaw was questioned on her stance regarding publisher Electronic Arts' policy of not offering refunds for purchases through Origin and how long the publisher would support the online only game's servers. She also addressed the emotional toll the game's rocky launch had on developers and the current state of the game.

Bradshaw noted that shortly after...

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SimCity mod demonstrates the possibility of some form of indefinite offline play

It is possible to play SimCity offline indefinitely, according to a video of a modded version of the game posted to YouTube.

Modder UKAzzer uploaded the video which shows him disabling the game's disconnection timer. Previous tests confirmed that SimCity will kick a user from the game after roughly 20 minutes of offline play; however, while its impact on a number of features in the game means this offline mode is still not ideal, the video demonstrates some form of unlimited offline play is indeed possible.

According to the modder's initial posts on Reddit, while the game can be played...

SimCity server upgrades completed for 'faster, higher capacity' performance

SimCity server upgrades are now complete, with all original servers successfully migrated to "new, faster/higher capacity server architecture," live operations producer Barrie Tingle confirmed on an updates post on the official SimCity website.

A server status page can now be viewed here, with information regarding all available servers for the game.

In addition, patch 1.5 was deployed yesterday to address trade intermittency issues, which aims to help make regional interaction more responsive. The team plans to offer continued improvements to the speed between cities within a region....

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SimCity server status page now available

SimCity players can now check the status of the game's servers before they fire it up on a server status page that developer Maxis put up today, one week after launching the city-building title.

SimCity's 24 global servers are listed in a few different states. A green light means the server is "available for all players" to log in without any wait. Yellow-green servers are available only to players who have already created a city there; everyone else will be denied entry. If the server icon is yellow, it means the server's dealing with a high volume of traffic, so players attempting to...

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SimCity's server issues 'almost behind us,' says Maxis

After disastrous first days, Maxis now believes the core problem with players struggling to connect to SimCity's servers ‘is almost behind us'.

However, the company needs to gather more data before before it can give the all clear, general manager Lucy Bradshaw wrote this evening.

Through applying critical client updates and optimizing server architecture and response times, crashes have been reduced by 92 percent since the game's launch with players logging 8 million hours of gameplay time, she wrote.

"I had hoped to issue an "All-Clear" tonight, but there are still some elements coming...

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Maxis rolls out SimCity update 1.3, fixes shard selection, server switches

Maxis released a new update to patch general issues with server selection and switches, as well as its announce its new sever, Antarctica 1.

Update 1.3 should fix player problems with selection shards not appearing when a specified sever is down, as well as players getting stuck when switching shards in the server menus. Players will now be able to view which servers they have cities on.

"At the moment, it is going to be showing the icon for any server you've been to as a player," the update reads. "We'll be updating this soon to show how many regions you have (X/10) per server. We know...

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SimCity fix makes servers 40 times faster, rolling shut downs hit as patch applied

Maxis continues to refine the way servers handle traffic as they work to improve response time and server load for their always-online game SimCity, general manager Lucy Bradshaw wrote early this morning.

Response time for the game's newer servers are now 40 times as fast, but now they have to take the original servers offline to implement some fixes to bring them up to speed as well, she wrote.

"Maxis continues to make huge progress in addressing the lag and server-capacity issues we experienced at launch," Bradshaw wrote in her second open letter to the SimCity community. "We've...

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Maxis has 'no intentions' of offlining SimCity, but will look into it to 'earn back' trust

Developer Maxis does not intend to take SimCity offline, but will look into it as a way of "earning back [buyers'] trust efforts," according to a tweet from the official SimCity account.

General manager Lucy Bradshaw began fielding questions via Twitter this afternoon. When asked about an offline mode patch for the future, should the servers go offline in a few years, Bradshaw responded with the following:

Polygon spoke...

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Maxis explains what went wrong with SimCity and what the developer is doing to fix it

Since SimCity's launch on Tuesday, the game's always-online experience has been marred by severe technical issues. For many players, it rendered the game unplayable. For others, SimCity's connection problems meant long waits, lost cities and frustrating disconnects.

SimCity developer Maxis says its efforts to increase server capacity are working, allowing more players to get into the game and reducing the number of "disrupted experiences."

In an email interview with Polygon this evening, Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw says the entire studio — with additional help from across...

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EA giving free game to SimCity players, hopes to fix launch issues by this weekend

The studio behind the new SimCity says it continues to work on server-related issues affecting the game, offering further insight into the game's current troubles in a message from Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw. And in an effort to get EA and Maxis back into players' "good graces," they'll be handing out a free PC game to those affected.

"The server issues which began at launch have improved significantly as we added more capacity," Bradshaw writes on EA's The Beat blog. "But some people are still experiencing response and stability problems that we're working fast to address.

"So...

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EA suspends SimCity marketing campaigns, asks affiliates to 'stop actively promoting' game

Publisher Electronic Arts has suspended some of its online marketing campaigns for SimCity in the wake of ongoing server issues, asking its affiliates to "please stop actively promoting the game" until further notice.

In an email sent this morning to marketing affiliate partners, EA Origin says it has "deactivated all SimCity text links and creative and we ask you to please remove any copy promoting SimCity from your website for the time-being." The email, obtained by Polygon, is directed at affiliates of EA Origin's LinkShare program.

"To be clear we are continuing to payout commissions...

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Internal Maxis memo outlines SimCity stabilization efforts

"I'll start by saying that I couldn't be more proud of SimCity and the Maxis team that made it and are supporting it," Maxis general manager Lucy Bradshaw wrote in an email sent to staffers at the studio. "The game launched with great reviews from both new critics and the veterans who have loved this franchise for so many years. SimCity is a software achievement that everyone at Maxis is extremely proud of. I am also thankful for all of the hard work put in by our marketing, EA Global Publishing and Origin teams, which drove very strong Day One performance around world.

"Then we launched...

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EA not offering SimCity refunds

SimCity publisher Electronic Arts isn't offering refunds for copies of the game purchased digitally through Origin, even though an Origin community manager previously said aggrieved players could request refunds.

Players who are frustrated by a continuing inability to access SimCity's servers — and therefore, play the game at all — can seek refunds if they bought the title through a third-party retailer like Amazon. But as the Origin Twitter account reminded people this afternoon, EA's policy is, "in general," not to offer refunds on any products purchased digitally through Origin.

Amid...

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SimCity no longer being sold by Amazon, warns about server issues (update)

Amazon.com is no longer selling the PC download version of EA's SimCity and appears to no longer be fulfilling the retail version of the struggling city-building game.

Earlier today, Amazon posted an "important note" on its SimCity product page, writing, "Many customers are having issues connecting to the 'SimCity' servers. EA is actively working to resolve these issues, but at this time we do not know when the issue will be fixed." Amazon pointed customer to EA support for updates.

The PC download version of SimCity is listed as currently unavailable. "We don't know when or if this item...

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EA turns off SimCity's fastest gameplay mode as it struggles with servers

Update: About three and a half hours after cutting some "non-critical" gameplay features from SimCity in an attempt to get the online-only game back on its feet, Electronic Arts announced it would be turning off one of the more basic functions of the game: cheetah speed.

Since the game's inception in the '80s, players have been able to slow the speed of time passing in the game down, or speed it up to quicken the pace of play. SimCity launched with three speeds: turtle, llama and cheetah.

The latest patch, released shortly before 2 p.m. ET, disabled cheetah speed and made it match the...

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SimCity servers continue to struggle as game hits more countries (update 4)

Following the turbulent U.S. SimCity launch, some Australian SimCity players are currently struggling to access the game's Oceanic servers following its launch in the country at 5 a.m. PT.

SimCity is region free, allowing gamers to play on whatever servers they choose; however, Australian region gamers prefer to play on the Oceanic servers.

A patch was applied to Oceanic 1 starting around 9:15 a.m. PT (4:15 a.m. AEST) "to address some player issues that have been reported overnight". As reported by Polygon, NA East 2, NA East 1, EU West 1, and EU West 2 were also recently patched and...

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Maxis continues to add, patch SimCity servers to address performance problems

SimCity developer Maxis has rolled out patches to a few of the game's servers today in an effort to improve performance for players, and added servers to meet demand.

Maxis added two servers, North America West 2 and Europe East 2, last night and has now added a total of four since launching the game yesterday. In addition, the studio identified a variety of problems and began patching the servers in an attempt to address them. Reported issues include an inability to create a city, errors with friends lists and invites, tutorial loops, trading not working consistently and an inability to...

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Origin customer service responds to SimCity server outage complaints

Some SimCity players are unable to access the game's servers right now, according to tweets from anguished users, and developer EA Maxis as well as Origin staff said they're aware of and working to resolve the problems.

The Origin Twitter account told one customer, "No ETA right now but we're working on resolving this." For now, the SimCity Twitter account is suggesting to individual users that they try changing servers from within the launcher.

Any issues with Origin due to SimCity are affecting "a small percentage of users," EA said on Twitter. Origin users have been experiencing delays...

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Today I Played: SimCity

I experimented with SimCity games during grade school, but I would hardly call myself a simulation gamer. If you've watched previous Today I Playeds, you might have noticed my affinity for action and adventures games. Yeah, I like smart, thoughtful, slow games, but I also love blowing stuff up.

I'm a simple man. Squeezing a button and being rewarded with streams of visual mayhem plays to my id. Simulations, they were usually too slow. I could play a simulation game for hours, weeks even, and still lose. I was trained on cheap gratification, and these games expected so much from me.

S...

EA Origin struggling to meet SimCity demands at launch

EA digital distribution service Origin is still struggling to meet the demands of some users trying to access the newly launched SimCity, Origin global community manager Marcel Hatam told Polygon.

"We are still in the process of delivering SimCity to some U.S. customers, but the majority has been fulfilled," he said. This follows numerous service updates from the official Origin Twitter account revealing server and download issues related to the game, with the latest update posted four hours ago.

According to the account, the service experienced delays due to heavy traffic during the...

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