EA Offering Users Free Games to Make Up For SimCity's Disastrous Launch Week
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style
When I scheduled my upcoming posts for this month just one week ago, I was so naive. I wouldn't say that I had high hopes for SimCity, but I expected to be able to play it more than once or twice in the week following its release. While now most people are able to get in game, there are still countless bugs and problems (especially concerning multiplayer regions) and several features have been disabled in an attempt to reduce the demand on the servers. It's playable, but it's far from the amazing game I experienced in beta just two weeks ago.
Thankfully if you're too frustrated to play SimCity you'll soon be getting a free game from the EA catalogue to play instead. Aren't you excited? Here are all the details:
If you missed the SimCity brouhaha (which I wrote about last week), a quick glance at the game's score history on Polygon reveals a laundry list of problems the game has seen since it launched. The game started at 9.5 based on pre-release gameplay (and yes, the game itself in the best circumstances is totally a 9.5) but dropped to an 8 after server issues kept many players from actually playing at all. The score then plummeted dramatically to a 4 as issues escalated, with key features like Cheetah Speed (ultra-fast forwarding) being dsabled to reduce strain on the servers.
Resources were also pulled from other online games operated by EA to support SimCity, which is common enough to support launch loads but has led to anecdotal reports of people not being able to play older games like SSX and even Mass Effect 3 reliably. I've heard horror stories about regions not saving or seeming to roll back to previous versions resulting in hours of lost work, and I've personally experienced an absolutely obscene delay in sending information between two users sharing a region as recently as last night. Should it take a half hour to send a gift or even to receive a friend request when both parties are online? Absolutely not.
The solution of course is not quick or glamorous. It'll take a lot of steady work and triage from developers and support staff--two groups I desperately wish I could send flowers to because this has to have been the shittiest week for them, through no fault of their own--but in the mean time, Maxis General Manager Lucy Bradshaw has an offer to get Origin back in its customers' good graces. In a very apologetic post that outlines what went wrong and what they're doing to fix it, it was announced that Maxis and EA will be offering everyone who bought SimCity a free game on Origin on March 18th. Eligible customers will receive an email on the 18th (coincidentally also the day that the $20 coupon given to those who preordered SimCity directly from Origin expires) with details, but the games will probably come from a limited catalogue so if you're looking to use it for the latest Sims 3 expansion you might be out of luck.
I guess it's better than nothing, but personally I would much rather be able to play the game I paid for.
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Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.