Forcing the issue

Yesterday the topic of Origin holding back SimCity and other titles focused on the player’s perspective. Today I want to focus on the devs.

Imagine you’re part of the team creating SimCity, and some suit from EA tells you to make a traditionally single-player game have multiplayer elements not because it will make it a better game (was anyone missing global resources from previous SimCity title? Nope), but to justify Origin. Not exactly great news right? And very likely has some trickledown effect on the devs and their overall buy-in on the project. Tough to really get hyped about something you know has built-in flaws for the sake of a perceived boogyman (in this case, digital theft).

The result is that not only do you limit your sales because of the platform (Origin), but additionally you harm sales by alienating a single-player crowd with needless complications, not the least of which make your game unplayable because the login server is crashing. For an MMO we accept these things, but for what is essentially a crippled single-player game? For some that’s a dealbreaker.

And all of this has little to do with the game itself. Perhaps SimCity is a great city building simulator (or in this version, village building simulator), but if the source of purchase or the intangible annoyances drive you off before you even give it a try, it doesn’t really matter.

It’s an interesting example of taking something that generally worked (SimCity), and forcing it into areas it really doesn’t belong (always-online, Origin-only, pseudo -multiplayer), all to push a higher, big-corporation ‘action plan’ (Origin).

It works a lot better if you just let it naturally happen EA.

20 Responses to Forcing the issue

  1. Kobeathris says:

    Not to mention the dev time wasted on implementing some sort of net code into the game.

  2. John says:

    You need to admitt that EA try very very very hard to win the award of the worst company in universe…

  3. kalex716 says:

    I’m not completely turned off by the online only thing, but couple it up with origin as a wrapper and i’m just not going to get past the barrier of entry to even bother buying it.

    This might be okay, if I didn’t feel like I was a target user for the brand, but we’re talkin about SimCity here…. Are younger gamers even going to care about this game at all?

    • SynCaine says:

      I don’t mind always-online in the background, since my comp is online 100% of the time anyway. So long as login servers or such crap don’t sneak in (Heroes 6 had minor issues here, but even then it was not all that noticeable), all good.

      But here, it prevents you from saving and testing things like blowing up your entire city halfway into the game. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who found that a huge plus of previous games.

  4. dsj says:

    The biggest PITA is to come home and find out your service provider has a technical glitch that takes a day to fix and finding out that none of the games you’ve “bought” can actually be played at all. You might as well wait for a console version if you want single player games anymore.

    • kalex716 says:

      I chalk those up as “shit happens” kind of days and move on with my life. I don’t hold it against developers, and while in those moments I will agree it sucks, i’ve long conceded it as a part of modern living in general when the internet goes out.

  5. I hesitate to use the term “bait & switch,” as it has specific legal meanings, but there is certainly an aspect about this SimCity release that is playing on people’s expectations based on previous experiences with games in the series.

    I have seen posts now on non-gaming blogs I follow decrying the Origin requirement, the always online and must log into a server aspect (and EA always keeps its servers up forever, right?), as well as surprise that buying the disk meant installing and then having to download updates about equal to the initial install.

    I am sure that it warns people about all of this in small print on the side of the box. But given expectations people are likely to have, that seems hardly adequate. It would be more appropriate if the game box bore a great red label, ‘Warning: Lark’s Vomit!”

    But I bet that EA will make plenty of money from otherwise unhappy customers. As for selling the next release, that is some future person’s problem. Let him deal with it.

  6. Drew says:

    Getting destroyed over on Metacritic by the Users. At the time of this comment, the score is 2.6.

    There is zero chance I buy this game with the inability to save my progress so I can mess around and blow stuff up.

  7. Spidubic says:

    If they want to verify I bought it by connecting online fine. But if I buy a single player game I don’t want at some point to not be able to play it due to server being down or perhaps my internet is not working at the moment. I want no ties to the internet in a single player game. BTW I may have high speed internet but it is wireless to a tower and on weekends or in nasty weather the signal can be affected to the point that I cannot get online. So weather where I may want to stay inside and play could cause the single player connected to the internet game to fail.

  8. Spents says:

    I don’t mind the DRM as much as long as it’s seamless and is working. I was a bit of the fool and bought the game yesterday and after 2 hours have yet to be able to play. Once I get home from work on EST time, the servers crash and I can’t even access a game I paid $60 for.

    No excuse.

  9. Jenks says:

    I’m usually intensely against this kind of crap (I didn’t buy Diablo 3) but I bought Simcity solely for the multiplayer component. It’s a catch 22. If SC was single player only, I wouldn’t have bought it. Because of the online features, I bought it. Because of the online features, it’s almost unplayable and I get booted several times a night and face 20 minute+ queues to log in.

    I would like to personally thank pirates for our bleak gaming future.

    • Lyss says:

      Ofc Pirates it is. I seem to recall a Time where you could play multiplayer online without having to connect to a server for a singleplayer session, I also remember a Time when Lan had a meaning besides “not allowed in sc2″. The real problem are people who buy games regardless of the things the developer trys to enforce.

      Also, its not because of the online features that it is unplayable its because of eas incompetence in handling said features, and yes theres a fucking difference.

      Although I think everyone who buys EA games and gives them even pennys (same goes for buying their games on GoG for which they, as far as I know, also get money) deserves to be unable to play.

      CDPR shows that, even if pirates are a big problem on pc and you find pirating disgusting and unethical (but still buy from ea you smelly hypocrite) its still financial doable to mak #e games without ridiculous DR measures and what other crap some firms do to their playerbase.

      oh and also, compared to the older simcity games the new one is heavily sub par, but ofc multilayer….

  10. This gets better and better

    UPDATE: EA is disabling “non-critical gameplay features” within SimCity in a bid to wrestle the game’s server issues under control.

    • kalex716 says:

      Nice, so all that snazzy stuff that is supposed to make online play worthwhile, now has to be shut off and quarantined anyhow!

      Rich!

  11. whatever says:

    I wonder what the exact logic is behind “not allowing returns” at this point. Before it was because “bad people” would “pirate” the game. Now, since they have nuked playability into the ground for the sole purpose of not allowing pirating, what is the excuse behind denying returns. Besides “because”.

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