Let’s face it, Sim City’s release hasn’t exactly gone smoothly. Insufficient servers have led to massive queues and losses in service, and the fan reaction hasn’t exactly been positive. A plummeting Metacritic and Amazon rating have left EA in no doubt as to their customers opinion of this new Sim City and its always-on requirement.
In a blog post issued last night, Lucy Bradshaw finally responded to the community with the offer of an apology and an unexpected gift. I’ve reproduced it fully here for your perusal.
Here’s a quick update on the problems we were experiencing with SimCity – and a little something extra for people who bought the game.
The server issues which began at launch have improved significantly as we added more capacity. But some people are still experiencing response and stability problems that we’re working fast to address.
So what went wrong? The short answer is: a lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played and played in ways we never saw in the beta.
OK, we agree, that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it. In the last 48 hours we increased server capacity by 120 percent. It’s working – the number of people who have gotten in and built cities has improved dramatically. The number of disrupted experiences has dropped by roughly 80 percent.
So we’re close to fixed, but not quite there. I’m hoping to post another update this weekend to let everyone know that the launch issues are behind us.
Something Special for Your Trouble
The good news is that SimCity is a solid hit in all major markets. The consensus among critics and players is that this is fundamentally a great game. But this SimCity is made to be played online, and if you can’t get a stable connection, you’re NOT having a good experience. So we’re not going to rest until we’ve fixed the remaining server issues.
And to get us back in your good graces, we’re going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio. On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email telling them how to redeem their free game.
I know that’s a little contrived – kind of like buying a present for a friend after you did something crummy. But we feel bad about what happened. We’re hoping you won’t stay mad and that we’ll be friends again when SimCity is running at 100 percent.
SimCity is a GREAT game and the people who made it are incredibly proud. Hang in there – we’ll be providing more updates throughout the weekend.
I’m not sure the offer of a free game will pacify the many people who’ve approached Origin for a refund and been rejected. A message posted to EA’s forums by their Community Manager originally stated “if you regrettably feel that we let you down, you can of course request a refund for your order… though we’re currently still in the process of resolving this issue.”
Since then, dozens of complaints have appeared stating EA’s offer of a refund apparently doesn’t extend to anyone who downloaded from Origin. Curiously, that initial message has now been revised to simply say “please review our refund policy here.”
The massive increase in digital downloading in recent years has a troubling impact on consumers. When things do go disastrously wrong, it’s becoming incredibly difficult to obtain any kind of recompense. Refund policy be damned, if people pay for your product, they have every right to expect a product they can actually play.
On the plus side, Chris apparently hasn’t been hitting as many problems as the rest of you, so had a few thoughts about the title over here.
As for me though, I’ll be sticking with my guns after this rant and holding off for now.