Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/6/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Electronic Arts angers customers with draconian DRM and buggy release.

Electronic Art's new blockbuster game, "Sim City" was released on Tuesday to a myriad of troubles. Despite being one of the most anticipated software titles of the year, it appears the EA's servers were not equipped to handle the rush, and bugs have rendered the software virtually unplayable for many. The game's anti-piracy measure that requires owners to always be online to play has many chafing and asking who the pirates really are.

A viral image decrying the corporate depredations of EA.

A viral image decrying the corporate depredations of EA.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/6/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Electronic Arts, EA, games, Sim City, piracy, servers, Always Online DRM, controversy, crashes, bugs, refunds, forums


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The goal of Sim City is to be a mayor and build a city. Actually, you control a region of several cities which can be played individually or with friends who also own copies of the game. Players manage everything from budgets to police departments to unemployment and zoning. Despite the seemingly boring premise, it's all actually great fun and beautifully rendered -- when it works.

Like millions of others around the world, I enjoy playing computer games on the rare occasion I get the time to play them, and like millions I eagerly anticipated the release of Sim City. Going into the buy, I was aware of the always online DRM and the fact that the game would not be available for download until midnight Eastern Time on March 5, which meant there would be a tremendous crush on their servers.

Logically, I expected some launch-day difficulty with installation. I also understood that I'd always need to be connected to the internet to play the title, but dismissed this since I enjoy a permanent internet connection into my home, as do most Americans.

However, I was unprepared for the shock I received yesterday when I sat down for my precious hour of free time. Although installation went smoothly, gameplay was fraught with bugs and crashes that forced me to repeatedly start over.

Going online to the troubleshooting forums, I found I was not alone. Distraught customers publicly posted hundreds of complaints decrying the quality of the product and the troubled release.

Electronic Arts has been rated the worst company in the world, beating out Bank of America for the number one spot. Gamers have a poor opinion of the company, believing that it willfully sacrifices quality and value for short-term profit. Naturally, if such a thing is true, then the company should eventually lose customers and go out of business. However, EA remains a good investment for shareholders, as the company's financials reveal.

Still, customers are disgusted.

Sim City received high marks in previews. A lavish marketing campaign drove sales and even persuaded me to pre-order the title. I was allured by the virtually unprecedented 90th percentile scores from professional critics across the board. Critics have uniformly praised the title as a refreshing reboot of the franchise, simple to play and complex to master, with pleasing, often humorous interactions.

However, those like myself who paid $60 for the standard edition and others who paid $80 for the deluxe edition, were far less impressed. In a time where most titles cost less, the price tag was steep, creating an expectation that this would be a premium title.

So far it hasn't lived up to that expectation. As of this morning, individuals on Metacritic, an review aggregation site, shows a professional rating of 91 out of 100 which it calls "universal acclaim" but a user rating of 2.7, "generally unfavorable."

Disgruntled buyers have flocked to the site to vent their frustration at a product that doesn't work out of the virtual box. Every title has bugs on day one, and for their first few weeks following release -- how can they not, with a virtually infinite number of permutations of operating environment out there? So some bugs are to be expected, but to have a product that absolutely does not work for thousands of customers is virtually unpardonable, particularly at the price paid for it.

Astoundingly, customers who contacted technical support complained of wait times in excess of ten hours just to chat with a specialist. Several posted screenshots of their wait time prediction as proof.

At the suspected root of the problem is the requirement that the owner always be online to play the game. Known as "Always Online Digital Rights Management" or DRM, the goal is to prevent software piracy by ensuring that all players are paying customers. To accomplish this, the game state is "saved" online every several minutes with the game presumably phoning home and verifying that it's a legitimate copy.

Electronic Arts has downplayed this to the press, saying that the new multiplayer feature of the game requires constant synchronization with other players to work, which is why it must constantly be connected to their servers to play. That's understandable. However, Sim City has traditionally been a single player franchise and most players have expressed dismay that the game isn't working for those who wish to play in that fashion. For myself, I have little desire to play the game with others.

Unfortunately, the constant "phoning home" is where the crashes occur. Many players report only being able to play for 5 to 10 minutes before the game crashes and they lose any progress they built. Worse, players cannot save the game on their own, so it's not possible to save the game each time you complete a minor project.

This is likely because the servers that EA has are inadequate for the demand placed on them. For shame.

The end result is that Electronic Arts has accepted hundreds of millions of dollars for a product that does not work for many people. Development on the project supposedly occurred right up until the day of release suggesting the product is incomplete and premature.

Others also decry the small size of their playing areas and the feeling that they will be forced to purchase add-ons later to obtain basic elements that should have been included in the initial release.

What is piracy other than taking that which you should not and spending it without compensation? Are the purchasers of Sim City truly being compensated for their money when the product does not work as advertised?

The technical problems go beyond issues with display drivers and Windows updates or over-zealous anti-virus programs. Commenters posted their system specs on forums, with values well above the minimum required by the program. Instead, this is the sole result of a developer releasing a product prematurely and without the supporting infrastructure in place to ensure it runs relatively flawlessly. Ah, corporate greed at its finest. Who wants to overspend on infrastructure when the upset customers will eventually go away?

Nobody can object to EA protecting their investment against piracy. However, when they accept your money and give you a defective product in return, it's not just cruel - it's a form of corporate piracy in itself.

Today, a lot of gamers are swearing off EA, and wishing for its demise. If EA continues in this vein, it just might happen. I know for my part, I have purchased my last EA product.

Finally, the problem is expected to get worse, not better through next week. Sim City is being released over the next several days to eager markets in Europe and Asia, which will place an additional strain on the company's servers, while greatly increasing profits.

Unhappy customers might find this comic amusing, as consolation for their frustration.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


ę 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Technology

Amazing sight beheld on Saturn's moon: More than 100 geysers spewing forth Watch

Image of NASA's Cassini spacecraft first spotted the geysers as plumes in 2005.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The universe has offered up many amazing sights over the past years, but the most recent one seems to take it all. At least 101 geysers have been discovered erupting on Saturn's frozen moon Enceladus. This find suggests that it may be possible for liquid water ... continue reading


Here are 12 amazing images of outer space. Number 6 is our favorite! Watch

Image of Nebulae are created when great stars explode, scattering their guts across space where they form new stars and solar systems.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There are wondrous sights in the heavens above! Space is packed with treasures beyond imagination. While we can see many things with just our eyes alone, instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope have given us some incredible close-ups packed with amazing detail. ... continue reading


Astronomers crack mystery of 'transformer' star Watch

Image of The mysterious star switches between two states of energy output, baffling scientists -- until now.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers have discovered a star that seems to vary and vanish in a surprising fashion. They mystery may now have been solved. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists observing a pulsar have been surprised to notice the star disappear and reappear in their ... continue reading


Apple dominates tech market as anticipation builds for iPhone 6 Watch

Image of The iPhone 6, expected to be released in September, is highly anticipated, and may be responsible for the slight increase in sales of iPhones.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Apple continues to do well in the market, as the company's flagship product, the iPhone, gained significant traction since March, and the Mac line of desktop computers also saw growth. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Apple sold 35.2 million iPhones over the ... continue reading


Latest claim: the universe might not be natural... Say whaa? Watch

Image of A map of the cosmic background radiation which permeates the universe. Note the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The nature and structure of the universe is one of the most enduring questions of the ages. Even the Book of Genesis addresses the topic. Presently, scientists are using modern scientific tools and methods to probe these mysteries and the preliminary results are ... continue reading


What is Microsoft up to? After this rambling memo, even its employees don't know! Watch

Image of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is planning to eliminate almost 20,000 jobs by 2015.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Software giant Microsoft announced that it is going to cut 18,000 jobs by 2015-about 14% of the company's 125,000 employees, by far the largest amount of layoffs in the history of the company. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Most of these layoffs-12,500-will ... continue reading


Mars Rover finds massive iron meteorite Watch

Image of NASA has now published the combined image. A preliminary analysis has been made of what the meteorite is made from.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What will they find next on the surface of Mars? Just recently, NASA's Curiosity rover came across a massive iron meteorite half buried in the sands of Mars. The space agency has dubbed the find "Lebanon." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The two-meter-wide ... continue reading


Ever wondered why North America doesn't have any elephants? Scientists have the answer Watch

Image of A new study suggests that the earliest American natives hunted to extinction, a precursor to modern elephants.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Clovis people, thought by many archaeologists to be the original native Americans, hunted to extinction the precursors to modern elephants that lived alongside them in North America, new scientific evidence suggests. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This ... continue reading


Jesuit Brother gains prestigious award for astronomy Watch

Image of Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno received the coveted Carl Sagan Award for 2014, by bringing an enthusiasm for science to the general public.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Jesuit brother has been awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for 2014 for his radio shows and public lectures on astronomy which helped generate interest in scientific inquiry among the general public. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The American Astronomical ... continue reading


Untouched by human hands: iPhone 6 made completely by robots Watch

Image of The machines that were introduced in 2011, known as

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Robots are performing more and more human-like functions in the worlds of industry, and it comes as little surprise that Apple is increasingly using automations in the constructions of iPhones. Human hands attached to real living humans in the past previously ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 18:1-6
1 The word that came to Jeremiah from Yahweh as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 146:1-2, 2-4, 5-6
1 Alleluia! Praise Yahweh, my soul!2 I ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:47-53
47 'Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 31st, 2014 Image

St. Ignatius Loyola
July 31: St. Ignatius was born in the family castle in Guip˙zcoa, Spain, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter