UPDATE: new servers are beginning to come online in Europe. Maxis and EA have just activated the “Europe East 3” server. If you want to keep updated then follow the official SimCity Twitter account.
ORIGINAL STORY: Today sees Maxis and EA’s new SimCity launching in our country. The always-online city building simulator has had a very bumpy launch since the beginning of the week. When the game first released in the US, many paying customers were unable to connect to the servers that were buckling under the strain of launch day crowds. EA said, via the Origin Twitter account, that they were actively pursuing a course that would prevent similar server issues as the game released in other parts of the world. EA has since failed to do that and Australian and European gamers are experiencing the same server woes as the Americans.
General manager of Maxis, Lucy Bradshaw, said in a statement that “the rollout in North America has been challenging. It’s also now evident that players across Europe and Asia are experiencing the same frustration. Our priority now is to quickly and dramatically increase the number and stability of our servers and, with that, the number of players who can simultaneously access the game.”
This is a process that will be worked on throughout the weekend, and it’s going to be a fairly lengthy one. In an additional attempt to stabilise the existing SimCity servers, EA and Maxis have begun applying a hotfix that will start shutting down non-essential portions of the game.
According to a community post on the EA forums, the portions of the game that are being shut down are the leaderboards, achievements and region filters. According to the community manager, “Disabling these features will in no way affect your core gameplay experience.”
Further alterations to the game include the disabling of “cheetah speed”, which allows users to speed up time in order to make cities progress faster. Apparently that was causing lag issues on certain servers, so the fastest speed has been disabled and the maximum speed is now the ordinary “llama speed”.
Interestingly, online retailer Amazon has stopped selling digital copies of SimCity. Amazon’s customer services told website GiantBomb that the digital version of the game is “not currently available due to the issues on connecting to the SimCity servers.” It’s not certain whether Amazon chose to pull the digital version themselves, or if EA requested this in order to slow the amount of new users attempting to log in.
Since the game released in the US, EA has been getting frequent requests for a refund from disgruntled customers. The publisher has had to issue a statement reminding customers that it is against Origin policy to issue refunds. Obviously this isn’t the case for digital copies purchased from other online retailers like Amazon.
The bottom line is this: SimCity is broken at the moment. If you’re planning on picking it up today then expect to have issues when trying to log in. Who knows, you might end up being one of the lucky ones who experiences little to no connectivity issues. If that’s the case then enjoy! If not, then you’ll just have to sit tight until this teething period is finished, which is, actually, pretty damn unacceptable. Just know that you won’t be alone in your displeasure; take a look at the SimCity Facebook page if you need reminding of that.