When Smokey Robinson & The Miracles sang, “You’ve really got a hold on me,” I doubt very much that he wasn’t singing about a woman. However, had that song come out following the release of the first Sim City and subsequent versions, one could be led to believe that he was referring to the ever popular, hard to put down, city building game that built Electronic Arts empire one park, power plant, and suburb at a time.
Staying with that, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) was forced to put a hold on Sim City 5, albeit a very brief one, following the fact that the game just didn’t work. How does a company with a market capitalization of over $5 billion fail to have the server strength to make their cornerstone and cornerstone building game function? I have a theory, it’s the Simquester. Their SimCongress was unable to get it together long enough to do what was best for its SimCitizens.
Another theory or perhaps more likely, in an effort to stem piracy, Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA)’ first new version of the game in ten years requires that all players remain online all the time, thus, making the game unplayable – a game that looks amazing but not for most people. It’s not dissimilar to the McMansions that caused massive default and foreclosure across the United States just years ago.
Like foreclosures and living with China, this no longer stand-alone version, forces players to deal with shared problems like crime and pollution respectively. That is when it works. It didn’t. Log-in times of over 30 minutes for millions forced the online retailer to halt sales of this wildly popular game on March 7th.
Well for a few hours anyways. EA added a number of servers to deal with the issue and cut a few features from the game until the problem is addressed; one of which was making everyone play at “Llama Speed” and putting an end (for now) to “Cheetah Speed.” Where do these people SimLive?
It’s fun to watch a retailer fire a real shot over the SimBow of Electronic Arts’ ship that says “Fix It!”
Type in Sim City into Google News and you will hear the rantings of millions about this let-down. This includes everyone from the “usual suspects” (gamers in forums) to the punter for the Minnesota Vikings in a long-winded editorial.
While EA has apologized for this monumental failure, some at the company see it as a success. “What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn’t want to leave the game, which kept our servers packed and made it difficult for new players to join,” said SimCity’s senior producer Kip Katsarelis.
Optimists always buy the best rose-coloured glasses.
Perhaps today’s jobs numbers will help EA remedy this problem as 236,000 now have to get up and go to work instead of staying up all night as a responsible SimMayor does.