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2013 SimCity Release Reception refers to the negative public reception of Electronic Arts’ fifth title in the urban city simulation game franchise. Since its official release on March 5th, 2013, the game has been widely criticized by gaming review blogs and YouTube commentators, mainly due to its requirement of an Internet connection for single-player gameplay and heavy server downtime upon launch.
Simply dubbed SimCity, the fifth title in the city-building simulation game series was officially introduced at the Game Developers Conference on March 6th, 2012 and two gameplay trailers were unveiled at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012. The application process for the closed beta version of the game began in August 2012, which became available in January and February 2013. Despite the high anticipation surrounding the game, SimCity was met by poor reviews and criticism mainly due to unexpected server outages upon its launch on March 5th, 2013.
Forced Internet Connection
On March 4th, the YouTube commentator OfficalNerdCubed uploaded a video expressing his hate of the forced Internet connection that is needed to play the single-player mode of the game. It started a minor campaign in which people sent spam emails to EA’s headquarters.
EA has said the reasoning behind the ‘always online’ system is to prevent downloading the game illegally and playing single-player mode. On March 3rd Ryan Lashley started a petition on Change.org to make EA remove the connection requirement. Word spread across the Internet, quickly reaching Reddit and YouTube, where the petition gathered roughly 50,000 signatures in five days.
Downtime at Launch
Upon the U.S. release of the game on March 5th, 2013, the majority of players experienced issues logging on to the server, which was noted by YouTube commentator TotalHalibut:
The bug is very similar to Diablo III Error 37, which was a direct cause of an overload of players trying to connect to the servers, although the downtime on SimCity lasted much longer.
EA Customer Support
On March 6th, SimCity player CalebPeters expressed his dissatisfaction with login issues in the customer support section of the Electronic Arts forums. When CalebPeters asked for a refund, he was denied the request and warned of a possible ban. The chat log transcript was subsequently posted on Reddit’s /r/gaming subreddit, where it sparked a heated debate over the Electronic Arts customer support’s handling of the SimCity release (shown below).
Adrian: I am sorry for any inconvenience that this has caused. I can offer you a 15% off coupon from Origin with your next purchase.
Adrian: I am sorry, but I can not offer you a refund.
You: Why can’t you offer me a refund?
You: Your product is defective
Adrian: Return Policy
You: I can call my bank and have the refund done that way.
Adrian: I can offer to assist you with any trouble shooting issues.
You: Why can Amazon users get refunds but I can’t?
Adrian: That is understandable, but I must inform you that if you choose to dispute it, your account will be banned.
Adrian: I am sorry, but I can not speak on another company’s policy.
Adrian: Now this just released.
You: I am at a loss of words
Adrian: So the servers are having issues, with more servers opening up as other countries release then we will show these issues resolving themselves.
You: Yes, but it is not capacity demand I am debating
Adrian: I can understand this causing frustrations and I do apologize for this.
You: Your servers are not the issue
You: The game/back end is
you: “Game updates” are not an excuse to hide behind
Adrian: I am sorry, but I am not able to process a refund.
Adrian: Is there anything else that I can assist you with?
You: You were offering refunds according to your press release!!!!
You: In response to the launch day trouble Hatam said " If you regrettably feel that we left you down, you can of course request a refund for our order at http://help.origin.com/contact-us , though we are currently still in the process of resolving this issue. "
You: Why lie??
You: I have done nothing wrong in expecting what is quoted.
Adrian: That is correct, that this is where you can request a refund, but as our policy is stating it is also the our discretion to process a refund.
You: Process a refund.
Adrian: As I stated before, we are not able to offer a refund.
Adrian: Is there anything else that I can assist you with?
You: This chat text goes viral.
Chinese Spammer Parody/Rumor
On March 6th, parody gaming news site Play4Real posted a interview with a supposed Chinese spammer hired by EA to post positive feedback on the game. The spammer said he was going to be paid the equivalence of $0.16 for every “good post” he made, having made 780 posts already. The article ends with a statement from EA that “We would never stoop so low as to hire Chinese spammers to post positive spin about SimCity’s always online requirement. There is no reason to since the always online requirement is a good thing.” The article was quoted from on various sites soon after, with many apparently taking the story as factual.
On March 7th, a Redditor posted a link to a SimCity parody video game website called “OpenCity.” Developed by Free Software Foundation as part of its anti-digital rights management (DRM) initiative Defective By Design, the entire game consisted of an inaccessible user login window that would repeatedly prompt an error message reading “Unable to connect to the OpenCity servers. Please try again.”
On March 13th, YouTuber UKAzzer uploaded a SimCity MOD gameplay video demonstrating the possibility of playing the game in offline debug mode indefinitely, albeit with some limits on features such as saving or cross-region playing. The following day, UKAzzer submitted a link to his YouTube video via /r/SimCity subreddit, where it was largely met by positive response from other Redditors. The video was quickly picked up by a wide range of gaming news and review sites, including Kotaku, Polygon and GameStar.