EA offers free games as apology for Sim City woes

EA and Maxis have offered free games as an apology for the troubled release of the latest SimCity game on the same day that EA CEO John Riccitiello resigned from the helm.

"Our SimCity Mayors are incredibly important to the team at Maxis. We sincerely apologize for the difficulties at launch and hope to make it up to you with a free PC game download from Origin," EA staff said in a release on their website.

Despite the problems, SimCity sold over a million copies at launch, with 54% of those being digital downloads from EA's Origin service.

The following games will be made available to Australian players as of the 22nd of March:

  • Battlefield 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Bejeweled 3
  • Dead Space 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Mass Effect 3 (Standard Edition)
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (Standard Edition)
  • Need For Speed Most Wanted (Standard Edition)
  • Plants vs. Zombies
  • SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition

After a decade of waiting, SimCity fans were let down by the new release being plagued by always-on DRM, major bugs, server crashes and a lackluster response from EA's customers support.

The always-on DRM meant that the game, traditionally a single-player affair, could only be played so long as the user was connected to the internet, locking out many players who lacked a connection or couldn't rely on theirs to stay online.

Always-on DRM is usually used as a way to combat piracy, though EA initially maintained the game needed a server connection to handle the hefty calculations required to play the game, a claim that turned out to be false once players hacked the game and were able to play it offline. 

One of the initial drawcards for the new game was the sophistication of the traffic and citizen modelling, features which turned out to be bugged to the point of unplayable once the game was released.

The release day itself put a major dent in the game's reception as EA's servers failed to handle the number of players. The situation took over a week to resolve, with some features still disabled until the problem is completely fixed.