Despite positive reviews from many critics, EA's disastrous SimCity launch might go down as one of the worst debacles in the history of gaming. How bad is it? So bad that Amazon briefly stopped selling SimCity not 48 hours after its launch.
According to the BBC, Amazon temporarily suspended digital sales of SimCity on March 7 after customers complained that they were not able to connect to the game's servers. While the sale of the game resumed after a few hours, there is now a warning alerting potential buyers to EA's ongoing server woes.
SimCity, the latest iteration of the classic city-building simulation, requires players to be online to play. That aspect is a game-changer in the literal sense; previous titles in the series were single-player, standalone applications.
EA has spun the change in design as a way to introduce a social element to the game, but some critics said that it is primarily an anti-piracy strategy. And the connectivity issues are not sitting well with consumers.
Outrage over the "Always Online" Digital Rights Management (DRM) in SimCity has spawned a Change.org petition asking EA to remove the feature from it and all future games.
Amazon customers are speaking up, too. As of Friday afternoon, users have submitted more than 1,900 one-star Amazon reviews for SimCity since the game was released on March 5. That lackluster feedback led Reddit user moby323, a prominent member of the site's gaming forums, to postulate that the game is on track to become the "worst rated product ever on Amazon."
Although many consumers are upset about SimCity's server foibles, which EA is scrambling to resolve, another Reddit user pointed out that the connectivity issues aren't the only problem with the game.
"Even if the online worked perfectly there are a TON of graphical, gameplay, and AI problems that should have been ironed out. This game needs another year of polishing. I feel like once the online is fixed that the core game problems are going to come to the forefront and we will see that it's just all around not ready," wrote user dgiangiulio228.
Despite the troubles with the launch, some retailers, such as Origin, will reportedly not be offering refunds for SimCity.
Kotaku reports that a $250,000 Kickstarter campaign for a DRM-free city simulation called Civitas has been created in the wake of the SimCity launch debacle. In their product description, the team behind Civitas took direct aim at EA and its DRM policy, claiming it is "not a good recipe for a simulation game" to be tethered to Internet access.