Electronic Arts said it'll be patching SimCity to remove "non-essential" gameplay features as the Origin servers struggle to handle demand for the game.
EA made this announcement in a support forum post after more than two-and-a-half days of troubles for fans who were eager to play the game. Its servers were hammered as soon as the game dropped earlier this week, with players reporting wait times to get on the servers.
Most of the options removed from the game were features like leaderboards, but fans also spotted in the patch notes that "Cheetah Speed" is being removed. "Cheetah Speed" is a speed of time passage option in the game that makes events happen at the fastest rate possible.
Subreddits like r/games and r/simcity feature discussions with sometimes thousands of upvotes and comments. Gamers' main complaints have been about inability to join games or find their friends, being dropped from servers, and other bugs great and small handily compiled into one thread. Other game-stopping issues included a bug in the game's mandatory tutorial where players couldn't access any menus or progress forward.
I personally experienced that bug, along with issues in the multiplayer. SimCity is played in regions containing multiple cities where players can combine their efforts. In our region Wednesday night, two other players and I couldn't cooperate by trading goods or services. At least one of us always had a warning we were offline, and finally all three of us were dropped from the server around 11 p.m. EST. It wasn't a satisfying play experience.
SimCity requires an always-on Internet connection, and gamers cannot experience any part of the game without the ability to connect to one of the servers. On Wednesday night, the game developer Maxis' senior producer Kip Katsarellis said in a forum post that EA was adding servers to meet demand.
Launches of games with an always-on component often don't go smoothly. Last May's Diablo III launch was plagued with similar issues after 3.5 million gamers bought copies on launch day. The Internet unleashed the same fury until the game became playable by all.
The server issues have also dampened both consumer and editorial reviews for SimCity. The game's Amazon review score is just slightly above one star. Kotaku's review of the game cautioned fans to wait and see if the issues would be fixed before picking up the game. Polygon revised its generous 9.5 score to an 8 because of the connectivity troubles.
Fans have also created a Change.org petition to ask EA to remove the always-on features from SimCity.
EA responded to the problems with this statement:
"We are experiencing extremely high server volume and it's preventing some players from gaining access to the game. Our server team is working around the clock to resolve this issue so that we can get the rest of our fans into the game. We are aggressively undergoing maintenance on our servers to add the necessary capacity to meet the demand. Players may continue to play throughout the weekend but we want to note that performance will fluctuate during this time. We thank our fans for their continued patience."
Please share your SimCity experiences so far in the comments.