It is not uncommon for consumers to complain about the
technical problems that plague some video games. It is rare,
however, that a game is so problematic that it is universally
panned by critics and consumers alike. SimCity might have set a
new record in this regard, as it is being called a
. Customer complaints have been so extreme that Amazon (NASDAQ:
suspended digital orders
of the game.
The problems stem from (but are not limited to)
that prevent players from entering the game. Electronic Arts
), which published the new SimCity, requires players to be online
and logged into a server in order to play. This restrictive
feature was designed to curb piracy, but it stands to hurt
legitimate customers more than anyone else.
Ubisoft attempted to employ similar features in 2011 and 2012.
Last September the company
accepted the negative feedback
and scrapped the program. PC consumers are still required to
activate new Ubisoft games, but after that they are free to play
online or offline.
SimCity's problems are not limited to the online requirement,
however. Those who are lucky enough to play the game will find
that is, according to
, "unplayably broken."
"Unplayably" is not technically a word, but the point is well
taken. SimCity is performing so poorly that Electronic Arts
disabled non-critical features
in an attempt to improve the experience.
Chris Kluwe, a punter for the Minnesota Vikings and longtime
fan of the SimCity series, was hugely disappointed by the
"At the time of writing this piece, SimCity 5 has been active
for almost 62 hours," Kluwe wrote in his
. "Of those 62 hours, I've been able to log in for around ten. Of
those ten, four consisted of massive latency issues and corrupted
games, so (quick calculation here), I've had access to the actual
game for maybe 10 percent of the time I've had it."
Kluwe was particularly upset by the online requirement,
especially for a series that was once known for delivering a
great single-player experience.
Last summer, Kip Katserelis (a producer at Maxis, one of
Electronic Arts' studios) told
that the company was ready for the game's launch. When asked
about the chance of repeating the errors of Activision Blizzard's
) Diablo III (which also had error-filled servers), Katserelis
pointed to Electronic Arts' experience.
"We've got experience from Spore and Darkspore," he said. "EA
is an online company. We're definitely watching what's going on
at Blizzard, and we're putting in backstops and checks to try to
prevent those kind of things from happening."
Evidently those "checks" and "backstops" were not enough to
ensure a successful launch for SimCity.
If consumers are unsatisfied with their purchase, they might
think they can ask for a refund. According to
, that is not the case. Electronic Arts is (mostly) holding firm
to its no-refund policy.
Despite these issues, investors are not abandoning the stock
in record numbers. As of this writing, Electronic Arts is down
less than one percent.
Perhaps this is a buying opportunity for those who think
Electronic Arts won't screw up the next game it forces people to
stay online to play.
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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