SimCity Launch Plagued By Locked Games, Download Issues And Server Queues

SimCity Launch Plagued By Locked Games, Download Issues And Server Queues

Yesterday afternoon, my copy of the SimCity digital deluxe version unlocked in EA’s Origin service. For the next 20 minutes I experienced download failures, until finally the game began to come down the pipes. While it updated I napped, and when I woke up a few hours later, the game was ready to play. Apparently I was one of the lucky ones — for many people the game still hasn’t even unlocked.

I woke up this morning to reports of a SimCity launch disaster. While the problems with my download, brought on by the sudden rush of everyone that wanted to play the game assaulting the servers all at once, were quickly resolved, reports of download failures and network congestion continued well into the early morning hours. Further confusing matters, the initial download is relatively small, with the majority of the game’s data being delivered via the launcher. Folks pleased with the quick Origin download were met in-game with a “Processing Large File” meter that took hours to fill (if it finished filling) — that was the actual download.

Completely unrelated to network congestion, EA Support is filled with complaints of the game not unlocking in Origin for folks in territories where 12.01am EST (4.01pm AEDT) was supposed to be go time. Looking through the support forums I am seeing folks with the issue having some success re-buying the game, so it looks like live purchases unlock just fine — mainly preorder customers are having the issue. Not a very nice loyalty reward.

On top of those issues, our friends over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun point out that some players in the early hours of launch reported experiencing 30-minute server queues just to get into the game once installed. That’s 30 minutes even if you just wanted to start up a private region and play by yourself, the always-connected nightmare made flesh.

And here I sit, still connected. I disconnect, log back in and everything is fine. I’ve tried each of the servers available, and I have yet to encounter a queue. There seem to be plenty of people playing. I’ve not encountered any serious bugs or hiccups. It’s running just as well as it did this past weekend. I realise it’s an illusion, but I feel like I’m the man on the one spot of dry land as the flood waters rage.

I’ve contacted EA about the launch woes. I expect they’ll get back to me once they get a break from dealing with the launch woes.


  • Yeah well its not like they can say it was unexpected. Everyone knew it would happen, and have been saying it since they announced their always on BS. I played the beta, but opted to NOT buy the game. Not because it is bad, because it’s not. Maxis did a great job. But EA add their 2 cents to the pile and it ruins the experience for me.

  • Kinda glad the Mac version is delayed. Hopefully when it’s released in 2014 no one will be interested and these issues will not occur.

    • Because MoP is expected to always be online seeing as it’s an MMO. Games like Diablo 3 and SimCity are generally thought of as single player affairs, so always online DRM and server queue’s are ridiculous.

    • MoP didn’t have any problems at launch because the WoW server architecture has already been optimised over 8 years for massive demand spikes. The first 6 months after WoW’s original release had the same issues EA is having here – long queue times, server crashes, etc.

      • That’s true, it has been strengthened and optimised over the 8 years, but the queues you can’t do a lot, seeing as expansion packs tend to bring a hell of a lot of people back who haven’t played in months who just want to see the new content.

        Only thing you could do about it is adding more and more servers, which then forces people to relocate and splits up guilds etc.

        This is where Guild Wars 2 overflow servers have been an absolute godsend, at least you’re playing and can communicate with guildies while waiting for entry into the main server.

        • Overflow servers weren’t a bad idea but at launch they were badly implemented. You were supposed to be able to move overflow servers to the same one as your group mates but that only worked 5% of the time. There were other problems that I remember as well. But otherwise yeah, they were a decent idea.

      • Are you fucking kidding? How about the gamebreaking bug due to server overload that didn’t allow people to get through the intro quest to Pandaria?

        • Which bug was that? I didn’t experience it, nobody on my server said a word about it and nobody I know on other servers had any problems. Do you have a link to forum discussion about it? And what does it have to do with the context of my comment, which was server load problems caused by always-on requirements?

  • another successful EA launch 🙂

    THis is why Steam has Pre-loading of games and shared servers :/

    • Errr, nope. Steam is just as bad. Clearly you don’t remember how awful the Portal 2 launch was. People weren’t able to decrypt the game files, were unable to launch due to bugs, etc, etc…

      It’s very easy to demonise EA (and indeed, they deserve it in this case for making it always-online), but evangelising Valve does nothing to further the point.

      • Like all companies, there is going to be issues, however… Valve removed the sudden shock of 10,000 users downloading a PC game from servers via PreLoad offerings.

        At least the Steam issues get worked on and progress is found, like the issues with Portal 2 most games which work via PreLoad have worked successfully.

        DRM unlocking of games is one thing, failing to have the systems in-place to have suddenly millions of gamers trying to download/login to a game…

        Not saying Valve is perfect, but I would rather their DRM issues over Origins

        • I’m just pointing out that, in the end, it’s exactly the same situation. When demand is high, the servers stuggle. I prefer no DRM to any kind (Steam, Origin or otherwise!) 😛

          I’m stubborn until the last! 😛

          • So your a GoG man I see?

            On a side note I had no issues with Portal 2 launch 😉

          • Haha, GoG ftw!

            I had massive issues with Portal 2 – the game wouldn’t decrypt for 2 days after launch. :\

          • Yeah, but that doesn’t really apply to this discussion, does it? 😛

            I mean, there isn’t steam on consoles! Nor is there Origin. Nor is there UPlay…


            … I need to get me a console…

  • Ignoring that the Australian release still isn’t for a couple of days so this isn’t really relevant to AU, with the popularity and anticipation of this game is this really such a big deal? Big online game comes out, servers can’t handle it. It’s happened before, it will happen again, heck even Blizzard couldn’t get it right after nearly 10 years of WoW experience.

    If the servers are down in a week or a month from now then that is bad service and EA should be held accountable, but can we really expect EA to build one off infrastructure to handle everybody downloading and logging in to this game at once? This article could have been written the day before and set to upload four hours after launch such was the predictability of the situation.

    • I’m fairly forgiving about launch day server issues, they’re to be expected for the volume of people trying to use the service. But EA is fully responsible for not allowing preloading of the game, which is perhaps the biggest of the issues players have run into. There’s no excuse for the decision to make all your customers download the game at the same time when it could have easily been spread out the week before launch.

      • Agree, not allowing preloading was a mistake, if they are serious about wanting to make Origin a must have service they need to fix these basic things.

  • Doesn’t this happen to pretty much every high profile online only game at launch? Pretty much everyone expects them to be like this on launch day these days.

  • I’m not happy if the queues are going to be normal. I am the fan from years ago who now has a wife and kids. When I grab an hour to play it is literally an hour and if most or all of that is waiting in a server queue then I won’t be playing that particular game. A few people mentioned three hours waiting which, for me, a three hour gaming session means my wife has taken the kids out. This just doesn’t happen for most 30 plus year old gamers with families. Originally I was looking forward to playing on the train, two hours unhindered of free time but alas, no internet on the train.

  • There is no reason to have always online DRM in these games. Yeah, an online mode where you can play with your friends, that’s is fine. But come on, does anyone actually believe their garbage about it “needing” to do simulation server side.. It obvious it’s there as annoying DRM that no one wants, but people buy the game blindly accepting it making this an acceptable practice in the world of gaming.

  • I remember when Battlefield 3 was released. Took a day to unlock, and was still unplayable in multiplayer for another day after that. Laggy, buggy, it was really quite disappointing. Looks like the origin curse strikes again >< Although I have to mention, it wasnt nearly as bad as the day Diablo III was released. That was some screwed up stuff.

  • This is why I see the words “always online” and that’s an immediate No Buy in my book. Sure these issues will be resolved in a few weeks, but when its said that a game will be released on a date, I would like to play it on that date, the way its intended to be played.

  • Wow, who’d have thought it? An On-line only game that requires an on-line connection for a single player experience, fails on the first day because the demand has been underestimated. And since it requires the EA servers to be present anyone who bought it is screwed over for a few hours.. Who’d have thought this would happen?

    This kind of thing occurs almost every time a game is released with these stupid requirements. None of this needed to happen, Always on DRM is a disservice to paying customers. The people who paid for this game are being screwed over, you’d have thought that EA would have learnt this lesson every other time they have tried the same stupidity with other titles (Mass Effect 1’s Activation limit anyone??).

  • Ehhh, why should EA care? They already got the money.

    Even most people on the fence won’t be swayed, because this is typical launch day behaviour. If the servers are still terrible in a month, then they’ll start losing business.

  • Online-only game broken at launch.

    EA screws something up.

    Midnight in the forest under a new moon is dark.

  • I want to support the developers because this looks like an amazing game and I want them to keep making amazing games.

    I DON’T want to support the publisher because of all this crap added to it.


  • And yet, no-one is surprised.

    You can bet though EA won’t be scrambling to protect their reputation… Blizzard worked around the clock after the D3 launch, typically keeping downtime to a minimum (Yes, Blizzard DID make some epic mistakes with the online only, but there haven’t been any outages longer than 24 hours)… Expect 3-7 days of downtime for Sim City because EA just don’t give a shit.

  • EA stated from the beginning that they’re turning SimCity from a single player game into a multiplayer game. They haven’t been shady about it, they straight up told everyone that they’re turning it into an online game. It’s not like Ubisoft using Always-Online with Assassin’s creed 2, it’s entirely different.

    I experienced the same server issues when I started GW2 for the first time, server issues, downloads, all that jazz. I doubt there is one company out there that could deal with the server load that SimCity experiences when everyone (that’s millions, upon millions) loads up immediately. We know how servers work, let’s remember that.

    Calling it “Always-Online DRM” when it’s not is fear-mongering and not good journalism. I’d expect better from you guys at Kotaku.

    • That is kind of true.. the single player experience is nothing more than a sandbox now.. an addon thing to play around with but not the meat of the game. It does suck that in order to play this single-player experience you have to be “continually” connected.. it would have been nice to have something you could play around with when servers are offline or your connection is offline etc even if it isn’t/wasn’t intended as the full experience.

      Pre-loading might have to become part of their future business model for the Origin service though.. seems a bit silly for them to expect servers to handle millions of simultaneous downloads of the full game on launch day and for the rest of the system to cope.

    • But it IS always-on DRM – there is a single player mode, which doesn’t involve interacting with other people at all, and you STILL have to play via EA’s servers. That is the definition of always-on DRM – the only possible reason for structuring the game like that is to force you to log on every time you play it.

      And just because EA have been open about their plan to wreck a great singleplayer franchise does not mean that they cannot be criticised for it. It just confirms that they are evil and stupid rather than just stupid.

      Looks like the PC community is going to have to rely more and more on indie and Kickstarter games and sites like that respect us as customers and don’t try to control our games once we’ve paid for them.

      EA can go to hell.

      • There’s a “single” player mode but the market is still working online. You’re still going to be affected by their market for commodities.

        Do you define MMO’s as “Always-On DRM” because that’s what SimCity is now. That’s why it isn’t called SimCity 5, because it’s a complete REVAMP. I don’t see how you failed to see that they’re not using DRM to punish you, they’re using it so they can enhance your experience.

        All MMO’s have had teething issues. When I first loaded GW2, I had the same issues people are having with SimCity and I didn’t see anyone complaining then. Why? Because ragging on EA is the “cool” thing.

  • And yet every single person who purchases Sim City deserves exactly what they get. You know why? EA only cares about your money. As far as they’re concerned, by paying for their product you have said that you support their business decision, and any further complaints fall on deaf ears.

    Everyone knew this was going to happen.

  • I’m keen to play, but I will wait for this to settle.
    But I would like to know why these companies are still using outdated tech/FTP’s, I’m more of a PS3 gamer and barely touch online stuff. But it mostly surprises me these thing are not done over torrenting or something similar..? Send out most of the game encrypted as a large file using torrents and send out smaller paid for enabling files from the actual EA servers. Make the users help each other out, basically the reverse of what they are doing now?

  • What ever happened to buying a game and being able to play it on single player without being connected? This origin b.s. is another way to nickle and dimn\e you for every little add on (like they do in sims 3). What is even Sims 3 anyway its completely boring. Remember Sim Tower? Sim City the company MAXIS? How about Spaceward Ho! ?, all great games. Make a great title and it will sell. Don’t do this play for free b.s. we keep seeing. I can’t tell you how many times I have bought a game and it only to become worthless cause they pull the servers and there is no single player offline mode. I didn’t think anymore common sense could bleed out of humanity’s collective mind. You pay for something you own it not a company that keeps my save games on it. That’s why I buy it, to OWN it. Not to be promised now and taken away later like a little indian.

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