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back to article Remember when SimCity ABSOLUTELY HAD to be online? Not any more – fancy that!

Gamers will soon be able to play Maxis's SimCity offline – despite the company's earlier insistence that the game absolutely had to be connected to the internet to work. The turnaround was announced by Maxis studio manager Patrick Buechner in a blogpost on Sunday. He said Update 10 for the latest installment of the long-running …

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Holmes

"...it was hard to see why Maxis didn't simply lop off the "region play" and "social features" for a less complex, local-only variant..."

Oh, I don't know about that - it seemed fairly obvious to me from the outset...

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They have had a gradual downturn in the number of players and probably want to switch off a few servers. They know most people will just want to play it on their own, less traffic to the server more cost savings.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes but by saying that it COULD NOT BE PLAYED OFF LINE and being adamant it could never be they were lying through their teeth at their customers.

They'd make the best politicians in the world.....

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Angel

No no, you're wrong

They have a big budget to explain to people how very ethical they are. So they must be.

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Happy

"They have had a gradual downturn in the number of players"

...not to mention those players, like me, who tried to play the game, couldn't, and shelved it permanently in disgust. However I'm more than happy to give it another go with this patch. Now I can finally enjoy it. 'Bout time!

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Re: "They have had a gradual downturn in the number of players"

@ Blitterbug

Same here, tried playing for the first week or so, (after leaving it a couple of days so I could actually log in).

Managed a few sessions, then constantly started hitting issues with having to restore cities to a previous save point, thus loosing sometimes hours of game play. In the end gave up.

Once the off-line turns up, might have to give it another go.

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hmm

Now that the game is starting to head for the bargain bin of course they are going to do everything to keep the price up as long as they can. Oh well credit Maxis's greed with showing the industry how not to do DRM protection online only trojan horse games/systems. Who knows perhaps the Xbox One wouldn't have backed off their stupid online only idea if not for the Simcity epic launch fail.

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Re: hmm

Besides knowing what bastards EA are they are adding an offline mode because they are going to shut off the servers soon.

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Re: hmm

At least they are adding an offline mode...unlike other casualties of the great server switch off!

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Re: hmm

Naifs, the dog eating his own vomit! Et cetera. People may buy - or reinstall - this game only to learn that EA have invented some other, equally un-working, DRM crapware to infest it with!

Corporate stupidity and top-level pig-headedness simply demands it!

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So as this is EA whats the betting you will need to buy the new addon pack (if you can call new graphics for the buildings an addon) to get offline mode enabled....

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TRT
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effectively closing the borders...

The UKIP add-on pack?

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Anonymous Coward

I find it weird that

1) Idiots give something a 1 star rating because it has temporary foibles and can't be played. That's like slating a tin of beans because you can't locate the can opener. (Or your fingers are too fat to operate the ring pull)

2) Amazon would retract an item *because* of poor reviews.

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>you can't locate the can opener.

Big difference between a product not working because of the customer and a product not being fit for purpose and not being able to be used at all by anyone for days. Also Amazon yanked the product not for bad reviews but because at the time it was not fit for purpose. I don't find it weird that this epic fail (and green lighting MoH Warfighter, you know the COD killer hahaha) cost EA a crappy CEO eventually however.

Bootnote: Woot EA finally got an NBA Live game out the door (not that I care but was a long running joke on them).

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1) Probably those 'idiots' were expecting to buy a working, non artificially crippled piece of software. As has been proven by the hack writer (and now by Maxis), the game didn't need to be connected to the servers to run, and because they wrote in locks to disable it when it wasn't connected, it was a useless lump when their servers went down. That's a bad product.

2) Why wouldn't a retailer halt the sale of a defective item from their inventory? Any retailer is going to pay attention to hundreds of bad reviews by their customers and stop selling the item that is pissing them off. Only seems like good business habits to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Amazon gave me my money back without a quibble because they saw it as not fit for purpose when it came out.

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This post has been deleted by its author

My point is that only an idiot would 'review' something that he couldn't actually review. I wouldn't give a car a shit review because the chap delivered it to me without the keys.

According to the article, Amazon pulled the game due to the reviews - not because it was defective. Indeed before being pulled briefly Amazon simply stated that the game may not be workable for a few days. And that's all it was a FEW DAYS. Hundreds of thousand of people still managed to play alright.

Are you old enough to recall Half Life 2, one of the first steam activated have-to-be-connected to even install it games ? That was also a launch disaster. (Worse was I had to buy it despite it being promised to be shipped at launch because I bought a radeon) Just so happens Half Life 2 is one of the greatest games of all time.

It's not a shit game because I couldn't play it for 3 days.

My first DVD players and Bluray players were bricked until I got them firmware for new DRM on the disks. My Samsung TV was hopeless until their servers improved. My projector wouldn't dim properly until it was patched. Almost all the systems and software I buy, I expect to have to do something with them to get a decent experience. That's what early adoption is all about.

In the end it's a fucking game, not only that it's an incredibly complex piece of interconnected systems and code originating from 100's of developers trying to do their best. The fact that we all got fucked over by the management is nothing new. Giving it 1 star review because you are to immature to wait a few days longer and see how it pans out presumably because you deserve more because they OWE YOU is just so fucking pathetic.

The only thing more pathetic is the whole DRM / online thing in the first place and perhaps the implementation coming in a second place.

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DRM is usually defective by design

You do seem to buy an awful lot of beta quality crap. I will agree many products have flaws but very few are defective by design like Simcity's online only lies. Quality of product once/if you get it working is only one part of the customer experience. There are other examples of products that are intentionally gimped to maximize profits and inconvenience the customer and generally even if the product started out high quality they get docked heavily by customers for it.

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> because you deserve more because they OWE YOU is just so fucking pathetic.

FYI generally in a capitalist system when you give people or companies resources such as $60 they do owe you something. Sounds like you like giving corporations charity though and don't really mind what they give you in return. In that regard you are different than most people.

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1) At the time there was no way to know if they would be temporary problems, and even if they were, a 1 Star rating was appropriate for the game, I got it free with a CPU, played it twice, decided it was not as good as the old games, and un-installed it... if I had paid for it, I would have been pissed off and would have rated it 1 Star..

2) makes sense, if it had such a bad review, it would be bad idea to keep selling the product, damages your online reputation...

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Happy

(@ Zacherynuk)

I wouldn't give a car a shit review because the chap delivered it to me without the keys.

And if your car was sent to you without keys, with a one ton anchor welded to the frame and without wheels...*? would you still give a good review?

* I'll agree that I'm stretching the car analogy a little bit too much, so please allow me to simplify it a bit. Imagine instead that you purchased a bike and they send you instead a monocycle, with the wheel and the saddle missing. It would send a clear message to buyers, wouldn't it?

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> I wouldn't give a car a shit review because the chap delivered it to me without the keys.

I don't think anyone else here would either, but if they weren't able to give keys to any of the purchasers, that goes a bit further don't you think.

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My point is that only an idiot would 'review' something that he couldn't actually review.

I suggest you look up "fit for purpose" in retail law... They sold a product that *didn't work*, people are well within their rights to give a bad review on a product that doesn't work. Simple as that.

It's suppose to work *out of the box*, not three days after they take your money. Gamers need to stop letting companies get away with this "launch trouble" bollocks.

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Re: (@ Zacherynuk)

I guess I just see the world differently. No harm. I just don't expect things to work, they never do. But as long as I can see progress being made I get on with something else.

In the case of this game, it would seem that poor server connectivity (for whatever reason) was only the icing on the cake for what is an under achievement anyway.

I don't understand your analogy at all, sure some aspects of the game were changed from reviews copy to going gold - but not to the extend you imply. Fact is people reviewed an item they couldn't play. Doesn't matter why they couldn't play it or who's fault it was. It's like reviewing a restaurant 1 star because you were turned away. It's daft and selfish and doesn't reflect the food or atmosphere in the restaurant. The beef was about the DRM / Always Online aspect of the game not the game, So why review the game 1 star? Why not lodge a complaint / sign the petition as 35,000 other people did - isn't that the more mature way to go? Just my opinion, that's all.

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My point is that only an idiot would 'review' something that he couldn't actually review. I wouldn't give a car a shit review because the chap delivered it to me without the keys.

It's completely fair. Let's take your overblown example to show precisely how fair it is. The missing keys are not an oversight, they've been withheld because the engineers haven't been able to design keys that correctly deactivate the immobiliser, so they'll send those along when they've been sorted out. That might be next year, but don't worry, we can assure you that we are working on a fix as soon as possible.

In the mean time you're left with a car that is completely useless and they've already relieved you of your £30,000. Would you be happy with this situation? Of course not, indeed you would be mouthing off to all and sundry, saying "Don't buy this car, this is what will happen if you do". Which is precisely what all those reviewers were doing.

Sure, more money is involved, and a longer delay (but possibly a similar proportion of the product's useful life span). Those are simply differences of extent: where is the difference in principle between the car and the game?

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Re: DRM is usually defective by design

^I completely agree with everything you say. But a review is a review and - you simply cannot review something you can't review.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: DRM is usually defective by design

> But a review is a review and - you simply cannot review something you can't review.

Then you're mistaking what's being reviewed on these sites. You're arbitrarily limiting the "review" to things like gameplay, graphics, sound, etc., when what is generally being reviewed is what they paid for. Ie. "was I satisfied with my purchase?"

If a game only runs on 15% of computers, for example (specific hardware combinations or whatever), how is it helpful to prospective purchasers for all the reviews to say it works? It gives a far more accurate picture if 85% of the reviews are 1 star "doesn't work" reviews. "Teething troubles" can be identified by filtering on review date (are all the negatives at the start, or are they spread fairly evenly?).

How about this analogy: If you bought a hammer, and upon opening the packaging, found it was covered, end to end, with rusty razor blades, nails, and sharp spikes, such that it was completely unusable as a hammer on the grounds that you couldn't safely even touch it, would you feel justified giving that product a 1-star review? Or, since you were unable to use it as a hammer, would you withhold your review?

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Re: DRM is usually defective by design

> It's like reviewing a restaurant 1 star because you were turned away. It's daft and selfish and doesn't reflect the food or atmosphere in the restaurant.

How is it selfish to give a bad review to a restaurant that turns you away (especially for a bad reason like you are a minority for example)? Perhaps the reason companies like EA pull this is because especially in the US so many people are pro system and pro corporation that they are glad to erode their own consumer protections like the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose in common law. Also the they have better lawyers excuse doesn't mean they get to do what they want unless you let them. Unfortunately when half the population is more than willing to throw away their rights they can usually get away with it.

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@ Zacherynuk

If I buy a CD, I expect to be able to listen to it when I get home. If I buy a toaster, I expect to be able to toast bread with it when I get home. When I buy a t-shirt, I expect to be able to wear it when I get home.

So when I buy a game, I expect to be able to play it when I get home.

It's not a difficult concept and the rest of the (capitalist) world seems to understand that.

I am not ignoring the fact that an online video game is a more complex beast than a t-shirt or a CD (or a toaster). That's a given. HOWEVER, it is easy to avoid the potential pitfalls of 'always online' - make it not need to be always online*.

EA/Maxis chose to code in locks to prevent it working offline; that's their prerogative (however unwise). But no one was forcing them to do that and the game didn't really require it, so it is entirely their responsibility to ensure that the parts of their system required for their product to work are up and running and enabling the game to be played.

And remember, that it's not just one instance of the product that's defective. I wouldn't suggest people steer clear of a CD because mine skipped when I played it, nor would I equate a broken toaster element with a wide-spread issue that is likely to affect others and warn people off the brand. In this instance, however, the negative reviews are completely justified as they tell people that if they buy this product, they are almost certain to have the problems being described.

* - This is, understandably, impossible for a genuine MMO, but Sim City is far from an MMO - whatever EA and Maxis say.

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@ Zacherynuk (pt 2)

A simpler way to put this all is that EA/Maxis made the 'cloud' servers a required part of the game. That means that the availability of those servers is part of what you are being sold.

That's their choice so if those required servers don't work, the product is defective.

You can't have it both ways - if the servers form an integral part of the gameplay (as EA/Maxis had always claimed) then their operation is part of the product you are buying and their failure is a failure of the product you bought.

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@ the spectacularly refined chap

Bravo. I was searching for the correct way to extend that car analogy but gave up.

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Re: (@ Zacherynuk)

> It's like reviewing a restaurant 1 star because you were turned away. It's daft and selfish and doesn't reflect the food or atmosphere in the restaurant.

If a restaurant accepts a booking and takes payment and then on the night says "come back in a few days" then I don't care how good the food was for the people that they /did/ feed that night, nor even how good the food will be a (unknown) number of days after my wife's birthday.

It would be more informative if my hypothetical review were to state the basis for 1 star though although the star rating still serves a purpose as an avoid/caution warning.

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It's a bit redundant now but with all the technology in cars now it's no great stretch of the imagination to picture an 'always on' automobile'. Imagine if the new Audi Doody* came with a built in mobile that activated the immobiliser and set off the alarm every time it lost connection to the company servers. Would you factor that in to your review?

*Credit to Lee Mack

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Re: DRM is usually defective by design

"But a review is a review and - you simply cannot review something you can't review."

Here's how: "This game didn't play."

Here's a similar one for a book: "The pages were blank".

TV programme: "There was no picture or sound".

etc.

These are all perfectly valid reviews of a PRODUCT. A blank book is a product which you can review even if you can't read the story that was supposed to be there.

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Re: DRM is usually defective by design

Yes you can, if the product in question is cuffed to a service - while you have no means of objectively reviewing the product, you can and by all means should, review the service - and everything from company reputation, to current attitude are a valid factors in that review. Every time something came out of their corporate mouths it was proved wrong within days - inclusive of demonstration. As a consumer, you have every right to criticize and not accept lies that serve to deprive you of your hard earned money.

People in the last couple of decades have been trained to accept lack of quality - it doesn't make it right.

On a site note, I'd love to have you as my customer - how about you give me half a million quid, I'll sell you a house, it's missing a few windows here and there, there are no utilities connected but I'll gladly use your money to make it a fine home, eventually....

The moment you charge even a pence, for whatever, you create a legal obligation - if you can't afford, or aren't willing to fulfill it, you have no business offering it at all unless you opt to finance your project through crowd-sourcing - which is a whole different story and not an option for a publisher the size of EA - noone in their right mind would willingly donate any money to a company with multi-million profits to which you have contributed over the years already.

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Anonymous Coward

Your response is a bit wierd

So if the car didn't start, hadn't got an engine and would only open the doors if Ford allowed it you'd not give it a 1* review?

You are much more forgiving than me. Personally after forking out £40 for a game I'd kind of expected it to

a) Install (it didn't for the first three hours)

b) Work (it didn't)

So it may well have been a briliant game but unless you're allowed to play it it's difficult to give it anything other than a 1* review.

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Stop

@Anonymous Coward

I call shill, Amazon or EA.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Zacherynuk

I think your example of a toaster is good - except that THE TOASTER needs to be online to make toast

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@Zacherynuk

You may not give a car a bad review if it arrived without the keys, but You probably would give it a bad review if it came with an engine that was unable to start because there were too many other people in the world running a similar engine.

In my mind not being able to play a game because of a failure of a remote system shows up a fundamental failure of the games design.

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Re: DRM is usually defective by design

That's crazy. If I start selling statues (for example) on Amazon, and you pay a huge sum to buy some impressive bit of art, and I just ship you a block of stone saying, "It's in there somewhere" do you:

a) Say, "Oh well, I guess it's in there somewhere, I just can't get it" and not leave a review

b) Say, "What the heck? I'm leaving a review to complain!"

This isn't difficult. Nonetheless, somehow, some of you guys are making it difficult.

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"doesn't work, 1 star"

Seems like a reasonable review to me

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Anonymous Coward

DRM is great

I have to say that from a personal perspective all this DRM stuff has distinict advantages.

Here is an example;

Total War comes out, I buy a copy,

New improved versions of Total War come out, I bought them as well,

Total War comes out with "must have internet connection to activate", I don't buy it.

My bank manager really loves DRM, it save money from leaving my account.

Not so sure it's that good for the games industry.

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't technology marvellous

Isn't technology marvellous? Just last year you had to have whole data centres full of cloud computing power to play the game, and this year you can play it on your home micro with no assistance.

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Angel

Re: Isn't technology marvellous

Indeed, Zacherynuk and myself call that progress.

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Big Brother

The EA Car Sales System

In the near future EA moves into car sales, and applies it's Sim City logic.......

You must come to your local distributor every morning to collect your car, no you can't use it at home with out talking to our sales rep first.

Yes you bought a car for you to use, but you must share it's usage with any randomly selected number of other road users, and tow all their crap as well, even if you have a poor performance figure as a result. If your car has already gone in the morning, then you'll just have to wait until one comes free, some time.

When we at our sole discretion choose to no longer support cars, your vehicle will imediately disable and become useless, regardless of how much money you spent with us.

....er... what do you mean we are not complying with the Sale of Goods Act, Unfair Contract Terms directive, etc., , (all other consumer protection legislation), etc......,

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Devil

Re: The EA Car Sales System

But seeing, and interacting with other drivers is the most important reason for having a car! Why do you think we invented rush hour, and the traffic jam!

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Re: The EA Car Sales System

I thought it was so everyone in LA could show off their marksmanship?

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Re: The EA Car Sales System

I think you may have just described buses

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