Internal Maxis memo outlines SimCity stabilization efforts

Developers at SimCity studio Maxis are working around the clock to bring up new servers in an effort to fix the continuing struggles of the online-only game, adding three servers yesterday in an attempt to fix the problem, according to an internal memo obtained by Polygon.

"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 it."

While Bradshaw pointed out that more than 700,000 cities were built by players in the first 24 hours, she also noted that many gamers are "experiencing server instability and consequently, the rollout in North America has been challenging. It's also now evident that players across Europe and Asia are experiencing the same frustration."

Maxis' top priority, she said, is to "quickly and dramatically increase the number and stability of our servers and with that, the number of players who can simultaneously access the game."

Three servers were added to the game yesterday and several more are planned for the weekend, she wrote.

"I'd like to say that it's not fair — that the game score shouldn't be punished for a server problem. But it is fair"

Bradshaw also detailed the company's efforts to address the growing tide of hostility among their fanbase.

"Maxis is working 24/7 to deliver on our promise," she said.

Bradshaw noted that the server issues are also impacting review scores, saying that the Maxis Communications team is "working one-on-one with media to manage this as closely as possible."

"I'd like to say that it's not fair — that the game score shouldn't be punished for a server problem," she wrote. "But it is fair."

"SimCity is an online game and critics and consumers have every right to expect a smooth experience from beginning to end," she wrote. "I and the Maxis team take full responsibility to deliver on our promise.

"Trust that we're working as hard as possible to make sure everyone gets to experience the amazing game we built in SimCity."

The note, while offering insight into the angst the developers seem to be feeling over the game's troubled launch, matches much of what's being said publicly.

Yesterday afternoon, senior producer Kip Katsarelis posted in the forums again, detailing the company's efforts to get the game up and running, and explaining why the company decided to turn off some basic features of the game, including leaderboards, achievements and Cheetah Speed. Those moves, Katsarelis wrote, reduced the data stress on the servers and "effectively free up space so that we can let more people into the game."

Katsarelis added that they plan to turn those features back on "soon, but our number one priority is to bring stability to our servers."

Yesterday, Amazon.com temporarily stopped selling the PC download version of the game and appeared to be no longer fulfilling orders for the retail version. Electronic Arts also confirmed that it was not offering refunds to customers for the game, despite earlier comments from an Origin community manager that it would.

We have reached out to Electronic Arts for comment and will update this story when they respond.

All emphasis in quotes is Bradshaw's.

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