Electronic Arts’ SimCity launched—kind of—earlier this week, to much initial fanfare. While many bemoaned the game’s use of always-online DRM, anticipation was high for the return of EA’s classic world builder, especially due to developer Maxis’s implementation of multiplayer, allowing gamers to cooperate with or sabotage their friends’ cities to fulfill challenges. Then launch day came around, and disaster struck—best exemplified by the screen above, courtesy of perhaps the most fitting review of the game on the internet by Jonathan Cresswell.
In a gaffe reminiscent of Diablo III’s infamous Error 37, SimCity fell victim to its own opening day popularity. Servers were overloaded, and the long and short of it is that pretty much no one was able to get online in order to play one of the most hyped games of the year—an issue that has yet to be completely resolved. Frustrated reviewers, even those who had played the game before general release and knew of its actual worth, gave the game poor or incomplete marks due to their being unable to continue playing. While the quality of the game may eventually shine through, the initial burst of poor word-of-mouth will haunt the game for some time to come and will cast a pall over what might otherwise have been a contender for game of the year.
What may potentially prove to be the most shocking aspect of SimCity’s launch is EA’s alleged response to this PR disaster. Many who oppose always-online DRM gleefully (and rightfully in this case) skewered EA for their preparedness, or lack thereof. The game’s Metacritic user score suffered from thousands of negative reviews. Then Play4Real Gaming dropped a potential bombshell, claiming to have knowledge of EA hiring hundreds of spammers to counter negative word-of-mouth against SimCity and its always-online requirement. Please keep in mind that this is all only speculation at the moment, as no mainstream gaming news sites have run with this story yet and P4R is currently the only available source. If true, though, EA has a lot of ’splainin’ to do. We will continue to update this space if the story is either squashed or further validated.
As it stands, EA has resolved some of the connectivity issues by disabling a few non-core game features that will be worked back in as kinks are worked out. Hopefully by this time next week we’ll have more information on the game itself and less on the mishaps surrounding it.
In other gaming news this week, Assassin’s Creed IV is announced (much to the chagrin of PETA), Thief returns to the gaming world, and hints at a new Deus Ex game have surfaced. Read on!
- Ubisoft released the Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag trailer this week, which revealed that the upcoming game will be taking the naval battles of Assassin’s Creed III to a whole new level by situating the player in the golden age of pirates—and making them a contemporary of Blackbeard, no less. Is it just us, or does it just feel like last year (oh wait, it was last year) that Assassin’s Creed III came out? Feels a bit too soon. Assasin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is set to launch on October 29.
- In related news, PETA claims that the inclusion of whaling in Assassin’s Creed IV will serve as a gateway drug for gamers to actively endorse illegal whaling. In the immortal words of Professor Farnsworth, “A-whaaaaaaaa?”
- Season 2 of The Walking Dead game is set to launch this fall, according to developer Telltale Games. Word is last year’s surprise hit series may eventually find it’s way to the PS4.
- Fans of endless runners on your mobile phone (cf. Temple Run and the simple yet amazing Canabalt)—what better universe and character to bring to an endless runner than Sonic? Well, that’s what Sega has done with the just-released Sonic Dash.
- Is Square Enix plotting a new entry into the Deus Ex universe? It would appear so.
- Fans of the classic Thief games, rejoice! Eidos is bringing Garrett and the Thief series onto next-gen consoles.
- Despite poor sales for Dead Space 3, the franchise still has legs! Although Videogamer.com reported that Dead Space 4 has been cancelled, EA has denounced this rumor as “patently false.”
- Journey 2 likely won’t be happening, which is probably a good thing. It would be a monumental undertaking for anyone to try and coordinate an effort to follow up on the game’s uniqueness and success, and odds are a sequel would be unable to capture the same mystique Journey did, as so much of the game’s fun was experiencing it for the first time.
- According to Sam Raimi, Blizzard is the reason that a World of Warcraft movie doesn’t exist today. That may be for the best.