SimCity is a level 5 disaster. Demand has overtaxed servers, keeping people from playing and causing multiple errors. Fans are displeased with the smaller city sizes, focus on region development and inability to make a megalopolis. There are a lot of hurt feelings, and you can’t blame the gamers who are upset. They just spent $59.99 on a broken game, they have a right to be mad. EA’s attempting to make things better by adding more servers and now by offering people a free game. On March 18, 2013, a mass email is going to be sent out giving people a PC game from Origin. But is that enough?
There are a lot of unknowns with this offer, as generous as it may end up being. We don’t know what kind of limitations there will be on this offer. I can’t honestly see EA giving people a second, $60 game for free as a means of apology, though it would be lovely if they did. I see this offer more as a start. As nice as it is, I think EA needs to extend a bigger olive branch.
Though SimCity service has improved today, and will likely get better as EA and Maxis perform more updates or more people leave in disgust, this experience has done even more damage to EA’s already bad reputation. It’s also set back the move for always online and multiplayer games. I’d say it’s even more detrimental than Blizzard’s Diablo III launch, because at least there people weren’t losing their characters and could eventually get online to play. No, I think EA needs to do more to make amends.
Here’s what EA should offer. People who aren’t satisfied with SimCity should be able to either exchange the game for another title on Origin, or receive a $60 credit to their Origin account. Yes, it would be a hassle on EA’s end to accommodate people who would take up this potential offer, but such an action would garner some goodwill and work towards restoring customer’s faith in the company.
Next, EA should have Maxis begin work on a patch that would enable offline gameplay and local saves. It should announce that such a patch is in progress as well. This is something SimCity players have been clamoring for and if they knew an update like this was in development, they may be more forgiving of current server issues and errors and put down their torches and pitchforks.
EA isn’t a stupid company, despite the decision to start including microtransactions in Dead Space 3 and this SimCity fiasco. The company is against the wall and the free game peace offering shows they’re in damage control mode. The best approach is for gamers to be patient, as difficult as is given the current situation. If you’re really incensed, keep contacting EA for a refund through Origin. If you’re not, back off for a bit. Wait and see what EA offers on March 18. Then, determine for yourself if the reparations offered are enough or see if the crusade for refunds and a patch must continue.