Some people believe piracy has no negative effect on sales. I am not one of those people. So I sympathize with EA's desire to combat piracy with SimCity. However, I do not believe that requiring users to always be connected to EA's servers to be the best solution to the problem, especially when those servers come crashing down and prevent honest customers from playing legitimate copies of their game.
Disaster NOT averted
As a result of this massive fiasco, gamers have flocked to Amazon in droves to negatively rate the game, giving it a one-star average from over 4,000 reviews. This prompted the large e-tailer to block the sale of the game.
Dealing with the game purchase through EA's digital download Origin service can be even worse. One customer pointed out that he was not only refused a refund, but was threatened with a ban for trying to force the issue.
An EA representative refuses to refund a customer for SimCity and threatens to ban him
But the bigger question I have for EA is, "Did you really think this was going to be a good idea?" We don't have to look back very far to see how well it panned out for Diablo 3. Blizzard's game was met with staunch criticism for requiring users to always be connected, even if gamers only wanted to play the single-player portion of the game. The result was the infamous error code 37, which, like SimCity's DRM issue, was greeted by server crashes and prevented legitimate customers from playing the game. Diablo's online community is now a barren wasteland of its former self.
Does DRM prevent piracy? No, and sometimes it can even encourage it. EA should know this best considering its game Spore became the most pirated game when it was released in 2008 because of its draconian measures. One lesson history has taught us is that if pirates want to pirate your game, they'll do it.
In the end SimCity's DRM measure hurt the honest customer, tarnished the reputation of a respected development studio, and has clearly begun to hurt the game's sales (which is ironic considering its intentions). It's a lose-lose situation no matter how you spin it.
I understand if EA wants to take measures to protect itself from piracy, but there are other creative, more beneficial ways to do it. Some developers like Valve have even given away games for free (see: Team Fortress 2 and Dota 2) and have made a fortune off of selling purely cosmetic items. I don't see why SimCity couldn't have done something similar. Instead, we got a lazy solution that resulted in a colossal mess.
The last SimCity game Jimmy Thang played was SimCity 2000 back in 1995. He didn't have an internet connection then but was still able to enjoy the hell out of the game.