Column: EA Should Feel Ashamed About SimCity's DRM

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andrewc513

EA is like Wal Mart. No one necessarily likes them, there are many legitimate reasons to hate them, but the masses aren't going to stop using their services and products.

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wolfing

Not quite. The products you buy at Walmart are just the same ones you buy anywhere else (except cheaper). If anything, Walmart is more like Steam (and not even).
EA is like Hell. You like those sexy Succubi? Come to Hell we have plenty! And when you get there, you find out things are not as good as you thought they'd be.

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Danthrax66

"Some people believe piracy has no negative effect on sales. I am not one of those people." Remember that one time when the VCR killed the movie industry? And that other time when Cassettes and CDs killed music? Oh wait that didn't happen their revenue actually went up.

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PCWolf

They always crying about Pirates costing them money, yet they all rich & living the good life, while the rest of us suffer. Yet Hollywood is making record profits at the Box Office. Now the Software Industry is crying the same tears. If piracy was as rampant as they say, EA would have gone broke long ago. at least Pirates give you the option to "Try it before you buy it". Nothing is worse than buying a $60+ game, only to find out it stinks of Fail & Hype.

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Scatter

Its always the 'have nots' who try to dictate how much those who have should be able to make. How much theft should be accepted?

If I were to break into your home what percentage of your property would I be allowed to steal before you'd decide that it was enough?

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Master__shake

your absolutely welcome to come in to my house and copy everything i own, you left the original why should i care?

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Azerikk

One aspect of the "always connected" form of DRM that frustrates me is the long term perspective. I *still* have SimCity 3k (peak of the series IMO) installed on every machine I have. I don't play it constantly, but I do fire it up with some regularity.

In a few years when EA has decided it is done with this SimCity I won't be able to keep playing it. At all. I'd love to think they will patch the game to not require the connection anymore when they decide to stop supporting it, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

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LatiosXT

If Maxis shuts down because of this, I will never buy a game from EA ever again.

Maxis is the last good studio they have. The rest of the studios they bought they ran to the ground.

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PCWolf

Maxis was great until EA took them over.

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Gezzer

Funny how Will Wright left Maxis in 2009 isn't it?
http://kotaku.com/5204010/will-wright-leaves-ea-does-something-stupid
Come to think of it both the Docs left Bioware too.
Get while the getting's good I guess, and still have a reputable name that EA hasn't destroyed by using a studio's past accomplishments to sell shovelware.

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jaymz668

It's not some shooter where I can drop in and kill whoever whenever, a city is hours/days/weeks of building. It doesn't follow you from server to server and you need to remember which server it's on.

How stupid.

So what if EA adds more servers, or server xyz is working fine now if server yyz is where your city is and it's down?

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vkt62

Had great respect for EA until Crysis 2 came out and Origin was FORCED onto Mass Effect 3 players. I doubt I will be buying anymore games that contain Origin or I have to be online to play single player and specially made by EA or Activision.

Most of the world still has not so stable internet connection, and EA wants us to keep it running? There are still millions of gamers who play using limited internet. Do they think I have constant internet access? I have powercuts where I stay.

I am sure that piracy is going up and not down thanks to EA and Activision's bad product and DRM design. Steam is an exception that has been done excellently. If given a choice between a game on Origin/Steam/Offline option, I would buy the offline option any day.

While the cost of developing games has gone up, product manufacturing cost has become nearly zero since most of the product is freely reproducible software for them. And they still use such draconian measures.

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cownaetion

"...FORCED onto Mass Effect 3 players."

Let us not forget that this practice has been around for a long time now with companies forcing users to install Steam or Windows Live. Doesn't matter whether someone may or may not like the other services, it is still the same draconian DRM scheme.

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vkt62

The difference is that, If you buy an EA game, you are forced to use Origin. Most of the games on Steam are available without it and can be bought outside.

And Piracy is not always bad. Some people I know download a game, play it for a few days. If they like it, they go and buy the full game and preorder the sequels.

I pre ordered Crysis 2 (Waste of money and won't every be buying Crysis 3 but I am still a big fan of the first one) based on my experience with Crysis and Warhead. But Assassins Creed was definitely worth the pre order

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Danthrax66

Crysis 3 is much better than Crysis 2 but it still doesn't hold a candle to the multiplayer in Warhead. BF scale maps were awesome although no one ever played on them...

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timmyw

I would love to try a new SimCity game, one problem, I don't buy games with oppressive DRM--ever! I was real excited to hear about Diablo III, then I found out about the DRM. No sale. I vote with my dollar, I went and bought Torchlight II (and with the money I saved bought copies for my friends).

Is it any wonder Consumerist.com voted EA 'Worst Company in America' in 2012? They sure look to be in a position to repeat this year. You can't treat your customers like criminals and expect them to remain customers.

I agree that EA has a right to protect thier intellectual property. The best way to protect it, lock it an a vault and don't let anyone play with it. Oh, never mind, they did.

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tenchymuyo2

Even if there wasn't any DRM, I always steer clear of day ones because they rarely go right. Let the pawns go first, as the saying goes. I won't be playing this unless it by some crazy notion, makes it to GOG.com or maybe GameRanger.

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stradric

This issue is certainly infuriating. This game had such great potential. It sucks so bad that it has to be hobbled in such an extreme way. It's pretty clear to me at least that the suits at EA put their filthy hands all over this project instead of letting the developers fulfill their vision.

There was once a time when all you had to do was make a great product that appealed to consumers in as many ways as possible. The profit would follow naturally. That's the bottom-up approach. Now they favor the top-down approach. They like to make products that will secure profits first and foremost, but give little to no thought into actually pleasing consumers. Everything about the marketing material during pre-release for SimCity was designed to deceive consumers. This game should have been called 'SimCity Online' so that consumers would know exactly what they were getting into, but I'm sure that name didn't test as well in the focus groups.

Infinite growth capitalism sucks the life out of everything. That is really the underlying cause here.

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Jebuslovesu

EA and Activision can both go to HELL! Both are full of limp dick, money hungry, Napoleon complexes shitforbrains execs! I only pirate form them if that!

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bobla90042

I played the beta tests, and was tried to get a refund, but couldn't find where to do so. The older versions were more fun. I got bored with the new one. Too many features were lost with the new game engine. Now it's just cash out the window.

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ApathyCurve

"EA Should Feel Ashamed About SimCity"

Fixed.

Don't buy from EA, starve them. This ain't hard to figure out, folks.

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gamewizard

Well EA is going to get sued in the E.U. for refusing to give people there money back because of a law in the EU that forces to give people there money back for defective products, which under the purview of that law from what i gather the new Sim City falls under due to the fact you cant use it right now.

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NavarWynn

You are absolutely right that piracy has an impact on sales. Granted, it's not the piracy itself that (broadly) affects sales, it's the backlash from companies. It's idiotic DRM, and requiring persistent ICs. *Those* are what negatively affect sales. For example, a game I was willing to pay $60 for became a game I wouldn't pay $5 for.

There is no way in hell I'd *ever* buy a game that I want to play by myself that requires my cities/characters/position to be saved on a server, and requires a *continual* connection to simply play! whatever idiot thought that up ought to be strung up in the town square, and banned from a boardroom and a computer. The dumbasses who *PAY* to play a single player game that way? well, a fool and his money... (obviously, since EA ain't giving it back ;) )

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jonnyohio

They make it sound like they stand behind their product by telling people where to go to request a refund and then all requests are denied. Is the government running that company?

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Straegen

There is already a company that does this in a pretty good way... Steam. Steam has made a killing by putting into place DRM that feels more like a convenience than a burden. Sure it has its problems from time to time but overall works pretty well and most users are pretty happy to use it.

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jonnyohio

You can go into offline mode on steam...I have been playing games through steam for several years and have only encountered one issue with connectivity. It turned out I wasn't paying attention to their update news as it was just some planned maintenance. Thing is, games sold on steam like ubisoft games come with their own drm, which valve has nothing to do with, but I avoid most of those games on steam. In contrast I have one game through origin, and that is the last game I will be buying. I've pretty much put EA in my rear view mirror since they took all their new releases off steam. That company is ran by a bunch of morons that are going to run it right into the ground someday.

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Biceps

Yep, I said the same thing, then caved and bought that abysmal Star Wars MMORPG they rolled out - it was flipping horrible, and I learned my lesson that time. EA and quality games are basically mutually exclusive. Never again.

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US_Ranger

Everyone will be in an uproar about this and rage all over the internet. Meanwhile, EA will keep producing their next title. When it's time for that to come out, most people will buy it and then we'll see the same rage again all over the internet. How many times do people have to get burned before they learn that fire is hot? Sometimes I question the intelligence of the gaming community.

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Duck Dodgers

People always want. No matter how many times people hear fast food is bad for you they will consume it, continue to be obese and ultimatly die. McDonalds isn't going out of business soon and neither is EA, so long as they produce games that people want to play regardless of DRM issues.

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AETAaAS

I had massive reservations once I saw Origin on the requirements, it was a pain having it in BF3. That coupled with the prospect of them releasing a barebones game and then milking the gamer for every sodding DLC release (ala Sims 3) put me off.

But always-on-online DRM? Server-side simulation processing? No thanks. That basically means EA can decide when and where you can play the game. And what happens when they decide to pull the plug on the servers? I can still run SC3K no problems more than a decade on because there is none of this ho®§£$#¡t.

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warptek2010

DRM in general I bet is mostly decided by suits and not by designers, programmers, artists etc... It is time for DRM to go away entirely. It only hurts legit customers and I for one am sick of it. And I disagree with you Jimmy Thang, Piracy has next to nothing effect on sales. Stop believing this drivel concocted by research groups because not only do pirates steal but they lie about the stealing too.

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Vano

EA was banned from my wallet since BF2.

Oh and one more thing, EA only promotes pirating, because why would anyone pay for a pre-alpha version of games, then during next year install patched that brings the game to a beta state, at which point EA abandon any support.

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Paper Jam

If I could call my bank and get my money it would be done after that conversation. And they could ban me for life because I wouldn't be back.

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majorsuave

I bought the game.
So far I played a couple hours every night (after work, diner, putting the kids to bed...) and I am impressed by the content.

I have met server timers and such, but since I am not interested to play with people, I started 4 cities on 4 servers and since, I play on the one that the server is not busy.

Less than ideal but it works for now. When things have settled down I will make sure to create my own private region and play the hell alone.

As for successful launches of "always on" games, as far as I remember I saw one such game released by EA and it went very smoothly; Warhammer Online (WAR) had a very smooth launch and, as an MMO, you had to be always on. Maybe there were less people at launch (a few hundred thousands I believe) but still, no hiccups, short queues.

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Jox

majorsuave - There is a significant difference between an MMO and a single-player game with additional online content. Most people wouldn't expect a single-player game to require internet access beyond the point of license validation.

-Jox

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Renegade Knight

I don't play games that require a server connection. EA will in time retire their sever and that will be that.

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HiGHRoLLeR038

I thought the Diablo franchise was by Blizzard.

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Peanut Fox

Who has since merged with Activision.

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HiGHRoLLeR038

But Activision has nothing to do with EA, right? Theyre two seperate companies. what does diablo have to do with EA?

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Peanut Fox

They're connected because there are a lot of parallels in the design decisions, and the subsequent releases of Diablo 3, and SimCity 5.

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stradric

@HiGHRoLLeR038: Blizzard is an actual competent company, and *they* still botched the launch of Diablo 3. It was quickly addressed with more capacity. (I know I was able to play the day after release with issues being pretty much non-existent after a week.) EA should have taken note after seeing the mighty Blizzard fail and the mighty Bioware fail with the Old Republic launch (Bioware is an EA company btw). How could they be so blind to think that Maxis, who had never attempted anything like this before, could pull it off?

Diablo 3 is relevant because it was the probably the first major title to cross from single player to the cloud/client-server model of always online. It was met with tremendous backlash as you can see on Metacritic.

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igoka

How many AAA titles will go down the drain because of some asshole's decision like that ? Why ??? Are there really not a single smart person at EA who would learn from previous mistakes . BF3 was last title i bought from EA , period.

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Spiral01

I gave Bf3 another shot after a year but this, oh no. Ban him for requesting his money back for a broken item. You touched a nerve there EA. Bad Move PAL!

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dgrmouse

Jimmy said, "tarnished the reputation of a respected development studio"

The last Maxis game I bought was Spore, and I'm pretty sure that it received massive amounts of very public criticism for its online activation/DRM policies.

The scariest bit about this story is the threat to ban the customer's account for disputing the charge. Even with just a few recent Origin-only games (BF3, Sim City, Dead Space, etc), this could amount to a loss of hundreds upon hundreds of dollars with absolutely no recourse. Thus, it absolutely must be stated that while Sim City is bad, DRM is bad, and online-only DRM is awful, game distribution services are even worse. This, without even going into the licensing details that allow EA to scan and upload any file on your hard drive, terminate service at any time, etc. And please don't reply with statements praising Steam as an alternative - it is just as bad, and their customer service is at least ten times worse than EA's.

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majorsuave

The ban threat was not for disputing the charge.
The CS rep said that if you ask your financial institution to reverse the charges, it will instantly flag the account as fraudulent.
Because, usually when an institution reverses a credit card payment it is because the card was misused or stolen.

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Asterixx

Not necessarily. You can also dispute a credit card payment when a product or service is not as promised, for example if you buy a laptop on eBay and the person ships you a brick, or if you pay a roofer to do your roof and he doesn't do it, or if you buy a product from Amazon and it isn't delivered. Or, as in this example, if you pay for a game that you can't play (which would pretty much be the same as the guy sending the laptop buyer the brick or the online purchase that isn't delivered)...

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Paper Jam

After that guy acknowledged the company said they could refund money at their discretion and then said he wouldn't refund mine, they could flag my account to their heart's content because I would never be back for it to matter.

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MrSelatcia

The problem is the other games that he has previously purchased from Origin all become unusable at this point.

This is only part of why I will never buy directly from EA; they have never proven to be trustworthy with my money.

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Eoraptor

Sure it was... because people have never been threatened for leaving negative feedback or demanding their money back in the past

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RUSENSITIVESWEETNESS

I wanted to buy this after seeing a commercial the other night, but now I've decided to simply download a cracked copy, instead. Way to go, EA.

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