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View Full Version : SimCity teething problems only help make EA better at online



wraggster
March 14th, 2013, 23:28
Last weekend's SimCity launch proved to be a trial by fire for EA but I can only see this situation as one the publishing giant has won.
To recap: EA struggled to maintain server connections for swathes of SimCity players logging for launch.
The game requires an always-on web connection to support a variety of features: to support of both single-player and multiplayer, to run some of the game's computations server-side, to track data for metrics, and guarantee some form of DRM.
But when the game's servers can't connect, users can't play the game. And there was a lot of that last week, with forums, Twitter feeds and Facebook ablaze with frustration as the game went live.
SimCity is mostly running OK now, with more tweaks due. EA has admitted it underestimated the level of demand and server resource needed. It even offered disgruntled players a free game to keep them sweet.
EA is not alone in running foul of online connection problems disabling the launch of single player games.
Ubisoft has been regularly criticised for using over-zealous digital DRM for single players games, and Blizzard's Diablo III has hit similar issues.
But this has all happened so much that many commentators and pundits have suggested that problems like this will force publishers to rethink their online strategies. (And they insist campaigning against it will speed up that shift.)
Well, it won't.

"Every time a publisher has a widely-publicised
problem with something like DRM or 'always-on'
games, it's isn't another nail in the coffin for that
strategy - it's another nail in the coffin for whatever
that strategy is trying to kill off."

The only 'problem' that SimCity represents for EA is that it has been a steep learning curve.
Every time a publisher has a widely-publicised problem with something like DRM or 'always-on' games, it's isn't another nail in the coffin for that strategy - it's another nail in the coffin for whatever that strategy is trying to kill off. Because companies usually get smarter as they try and try again with things like this.
There's a mix of factors that make this a certainty that centre on web connections and ease of access.
Despite all the connection issues for SimCity, in the long-term web connections are getting better and better for consumers. It's this migration to better broadband and data access which, forgive me pointing out the obvious, is carrying us into the digital era.
And as for problems in the short-term? Well as publishers and developers encounter them, they simply find ways around it or fix them. Mobile and tablet games developers have made the biggest leaps on this. It will come to PC and console next: always-online games that are prepared to cope with a patchy signal or limited data bandwidth.

http://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/opinion-simcity-teething-problems-only-help-make-ea-better-at-online/0112432