The Electronic Arts’ servers tasked with handling SimCity‘s always-online DRM requirements are running smoothly now, but this was not always the case. After the title launched back in March of this year, it took almost two weeks before the publisher was able to beef up their server count to a level that could properly handle the number of players who purchased the game. It was a disaster on every conceivable level, and it (justifiably) damaged EA’s already low reputation.
Speaking to GamesBeat, EA executive Frank Gibeau stated that the publisher has learned a number of lessons from the launch debacle, and it has led to some changes within company. Specifically, the decision to make The Sims 4 offline was a direct result of customer feedback over SimCity.
“In retrospect, our biggest takeaway is that we are lucky that SimCity has an enormous number of loyal fans. That first week after launch was really rough — an experience nobody wants to live through again.”
“Since then, we’ve sold more than 2 million units, and the number of people logging in and playing is holding steady. SimCity is a success. However, underestimating demand in the first month was a major miss…”
“In the last few months, we have started making changes to the business practices that gamers clearly don’t like. In the spring, we dropped our online pass program for consoles — both next-generation and current-generation. We listened to the feedback on SimCity and decided that The Sims 4 would be built as a single-player, offline experience… And there’s much more to come. The point is we are listening, and we are changing.”
Just how much EA is listening to fans is open to debate? The end of the Online Pass program is speculated to be less about listening to consumers and more of a result of Microsoft’s original plans for the Xbox One. Additionally, SimCity fans are still asking for an update to provide an offline mode for the game and so far those requests have gone unanswered.
As for The Sims 4, we will just have to wait and see if Maxis and Electronic Arts have really learned a lesson when the game launches on the PC and Mac sometime in 2014. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Has EA changed their ways, or is this a bunch of PR spin?