Lies, Damned Lies, and Public Relations
Just recently I took EA to task over their terrible SimCity release, pointing out that all the money they wasted on server infrastructure and so forth was bringing them no gain and just causing bad press. Included in that wasted money was the cost of coding the game to run half of it on EA’s servers rather than locally – that being EA’s justification for always-online DRM.
Well, guess what’s not true. Turns out the servers don’t actually run any of the sim calculations at all, despite what EA said, and only handle cloud saves, region interaction (i.e. trade between cities) and of course regular authentication checks, because god forbid someone pirate this buggy mess of a game. Even the simulation aspects, which were loudly touted pre-release and initially received praise, don’t hold up to scrutiny. After several hours of gameplay, it becomes clear that what appears slick and intricate on the surface is only a thin veneer covering up a system of random choices, shortest-route pathfinding with no option for problem-solving (like taking a secondary access road to avoid a traffic jam) and ‘phantom sims’ created to swell the population with movements determined by extrapolation from the tiny pool of actual agents.
EA’s not just shooting themselves in the foot with this fiasco. Lies about core game features, lies about server structure, delivering an unusable product and threatening Origin account bands over refund claims? They’re pumping out the whole magazine and calling for reloads. And they’re doing it while standing on poor Maxis.