SimCity DRM, what lessons to be learned?


EA’s launch this week of the game has turned out to be more disastrous than any calamity that could befall your in game creations. Ongoing server issues are continuing to prevent an awful lot of people from playing a game that can retail for around £45 or $65 and now it has temporarily been pulled by Amazon because there has been so much negative feedback. The question is was it really necessary to include this always online component for a game where people would be content to engage in the single player experience? Also, after last years debacle over the Diablo 3 launch surely this weeks events could and should have been foreseen?
I was one of the many last year who pre- bought Diablo, I swore at the time that I would never hand over any more money to the Blizzard corporation or pre-purchase any other title again, especially one with always online DRM.

So I suppose the question arises, how do these companies protect their investment from piracy and not punish the paying customers in the process? I think my favourite (PC) game of the past six months, Dark Souls struck a good balance. In giving players the option of the traditional offline mode they have no doubt made it as easy to pirate as any other single player offline title is. However, much of the joy and the greatest mechanic of the game are the abilities and opportunities to interact with other players around the world even though they are all more or less playing their own solo campaign. The added value this brings makes the customer want to be online and happy to pay for this enhanced experience. If the game’s server or your internet goes down as mine occasionally does, then you can make do with offline as a better than nothing option.

Regardless of what the solution may be, EA’s already dubious reputation has taken such a hammering this week that I don’t think it has been worth all of the potential lost earnings!


It means that here are still issues with the always online methos for home games.
Personally Ia mgiddy as hell about his becuase I have NEVER been a fan of this idea(Dont get started on Cloud Computing), for a ton or reasons.

Anyway, here is more on this FANTASTIC fiasco.

SimCity’s requirement for an always-on Internet connection is backfiring, as the game servers are currently going up and down like a yo-yo. How quickly can EA solve this problem?

by Christopher MacManus, CNET

Good luck trying to move into the new SimCity.

Ever since the city management game launched on Tuesday, countless gamers have found themselves battling error messages and random disconnections that prevent them from experiencing what SimCity was supposed to deliver in the first place – fun. In response, publisher Electronic Arts says it’s working around the clock to try to fix the problems and add more servers so people can play without worry.

SimCity Senior Producer Kip Katsarelis


“SimCity DRM, what lessons to be learned”

don’t buy EA games…


The DRM is the last of the games problems, it completely misses the point of why the game is a fiasco, which is:
A) the game SUCKS
B) EA historically can’t deploy a F’in server for ANYTHING to save their lives

Steam does always online DRM checks for a crapton of games with no problems, but then Valve isn’t EA.
EA’s travesty of online community and MMOing/making social SimCity was a poor attempt in a 360 degree arc. Putting it down to just the DRM side of things is a mistake, the game would keep sucking and make people angry and ask for reimbursments even if the servers were rock solid.

It was pulled from Amazon not so much for the vitriolic reviews as much as for the fact that they promised reimbursments, and through Amazon that policy was being honoured, but not by EA directly and Origin purchases (which at best they answered with 15% price coupons after anywhere between 90 and 360 minutes wait times for support).

So what lesson to be learned? EA remains the crap company it’s always been and we’ll all be better off if we let them keep digging their own hole instead of buying their franchise rehashes.


Unfortunately people continue to. We can whine all we want, but they keep making insane amounts of money. Doesn’t matter how many bad articles are written.

Vote with your dollars people.


Game’s not bad, anyway, it’s playable now after 3 days of waiting…


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I think Bohemia did a decent solution to the problem in ARMA 2. Pirated copies deteriorate over time, I am guessing they have some system where if the game doesn’t connect to the internet once in a while it does this. My friend ran a pirated copy and eventually it got…interesting with vehicle traction wonky, shots not registering, glitches galore. The effects are subtle and increase overtime so a pirated copy could be near full experience for a good couple weeks I would say, it works in the favor of them as well because users get to play full copies in a sense that are pirated, enjoy them but then quickly see reason why they should buy the legit one.


Bohemia can’t do much to protect the offline, single-player experience from pirates. Online, however, Bohemia can use Degrade.

“The philosophy is not to try to prevent counterfeit and pirated games from running, but instead (or in addition) to degrade the end user experience of such copies,” explained the developer.

“In the Arma series, players with pirated copies have lower accuracy with automatic weapons in both single player and multiplayer, and occasionally turn into a bird …”

Marek Španěl, CEO, Bohemia Interactive

"The motto is: Pirated games are not worth playing, original games do not degrade.

"Some of the symptoms are funny, usually annoying. In the Arma series, players with pirated copies have lower accuracy with automatic weapons in both single-player and multiplayer, and occasionally turn into a bird with the words, ‘Good birds do not fly away from this game, you have only yourself to blame.’

“While we know we will never stop piracy, we use this as a way to make our stand that piracy is not right, that it has a serious negative impact on PC games developers.”

Degrade is a supplement to the more traditional, although perhaps as controversial, DRM anti-piracy approach.

“It’s very difficult. Companies and teams invest a lot into game development, and with such widespread piracy, it’s extremely tough to get the investment back,” Bohemia said, highlighting how it tries to remove DRM “not too long” after a game’s launch. This, it hopes, will stop the “vicious cycle” of “annoying” DRM that “hurts” legitimate game owners.



What I don’t get is why they think they’re making more money this way. Now, for every game they publish, they have to have people on the payroll to support the game’s DRM (technical support, customer service, development, IT for the servers, etc…) and those costs will have to be paid for as long as they decide to support the customer. If they stop supporting the game, they get mad and the risk is they stop buying their games. The result? Instead of making n dollars of profit on a copy sold, they make that money and as time goes by it shrinks.

They can’t actually prove any money is going missing, so I’m not sure why they think this is actually a preferable situation.


What you forget is that it’s a stepping stone to micro transactions, then to semi-mandatory micro transactions, until they become the blood sucking playing model EA would love to see you pay for.


Oh goodie, micro-transactions for ebooks and movies. That day is coming, isn’t it. sigh

I can’t wait until the phrase ‘nickel and diming’ becomes a more popular part of our lexicon, maybe we can get these companies to dial it back a bit.


Anyone who bought SimCity will get a free video game, publisher EA said tonight. Apologizing for the crippling server issues that have rendered the new simulation game near-unplayable for the past week, Maxis boss Lucy Bradshaw wrote in a blog post that anyone with a copy of SimCity activated before March 18 will get a free PC game from EA’s catalog.

  1. Piracy and DRM is a theory not well understood by those in charge
  2. The greatest threat to American Business - Is American Business’
  3. MBAs and CEOs are questionable assets

Sadly - In the end this will be attributed to “The Economy” or “The Servers” not to what it really is… a horrid implementation of a terrible business decision.


I would think if your servers are jammed on release its the kind of problem you would want to have opposed to no one playing.

I thought the game was like the sims that 12 yo girls play but I watched some vids on youtube and was pretty impressed. This is nothing I would play but I believe player created content is the way to go for the future. I am seeing this increasingly in new releases and it is clever.

People are not going to stop buying and playing games just because of the inconveinience of online protection, and regardless of how you feel the cloud is coming so hold onto your shoestrings.


It’s simple, really. Respect your customers and offer good value for money. Anything else is just going to backfire on you in the long run.


Yeah, that cold black cloud is comin’ down…


Ive been looking forward to this for a while, and its almost criminal what theyve done to the franchise. I was all ready to buy it a few days ago, but then noticed the entire planet gets it 2-3 days before the UK… seriously why? Literally every country on the planet gets it from 5th March, the UK release 8th. Ok so Ill go buy it, the buy button in chrome doesnt work, you need IE or firefox… classy. But whilst im clicking the buy button I notice theres 2 versions; regular, or one which includes all the content for £65… £65!? For a model of big ben and a red double decker bus, I could go on turbosquid, buy the models and make them myself for less than theyre charging.

While waiting for the UK launch, I had a look at a few reviews, whilst it looks nice enough, the land plots are minuscule and im virtually forced to play with a bunch of other people I dont want to? sod that, I want to make my city, not have it held random by some other guy who doesnt want to build the items we’re all going to need.

Then theres EAs track record on closing servers as soon as people stop buying the game, even if there are significant numbers of people still playing. Some of their 2010 sports titles had their servers shut down towards the end of 2011.


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This links back to the recent Steam thread about being able to sell on games or other digital goods. We are lectured that digital content should have different rules than physical goods because of piracy.

Any goods, digital or not should be treated the same. If they are unfit for purchase or mis sold, then they should be returnable for full refund.

The buying public needs to have their rights back.