There’s been a lot of talk on the internet‘s this week about the launch of the new Sim City. Much of it revolves around the “always online” aspect to the game. For reference if you haven’t heard, in order to play Sim City, you have to log in through EA’s Origin system, which is their version of Steam. Like many online game launches, the servers have been overwhelmed this week due to a lot of people trying to play at the same time. There has been the expected amount of complaining about that.
Now, putting aside the whole issue of requiring the online connection for a single player game for the moment, the biggest complaints center around EA refusing refunds to customers who haven’t been able to play. Some people are blowing EA’s response a little out of proportion by suggesting that if you request a refund, you’ll get banned from Origin and all games you have on there. This is untrue, as they are only threatening a ban if you dispute the credit card charge, which in some ways isn’t unreasonable.
However, what is true seems to be that they are refusing to grant refunds. They’ve made an attempt to defuse the number of complaints by telling customers they can request refunds. By that, it seems, they mean you can request a refund but that doesn’t mean they’ll give you one. That’s still a pretty dickish move on EA’s part. Amazon has gone so far as to stop selling the game, since they were granting refund requests even though EA wasn’t.
EA is often regarded as the giant evil corporation in the gaming world. Some of that is overblown ranting, as in the misunderstanding about the account bans. But EA doesn’t really seem to be doing anything to change that opinion. Refusing refunds when the game doesn’t work is the move of a giant evil corporation.
Is the complaints about the always online nature of the game justified? Yes and no. To be sure, when you buy a game and it doesn’t work because of that feature, through no fault of your own, that’s a pretty strong argument against it. On the other hand, this event does tend to be the exception rather than the rule. I don’t think I have any games left that I play that are not either specifically online (like an MMO) or aren’t purchased through Steam. Leaving aside the issue of Origin vs Steam, this hasn’t really impacted my ability to play any of my games.
Now, I don’t know to what extent “always online” is carried in Sim City. For most Steam games, you can still play them even if you don’t have an internet connection at that particular moment. If Sim City works more like an MMO and you have to be online every second of the game, that might be different, as that’s just stupid. But I can’t speak to the specifics there.
At one point, I was looking forward to this game launch. I enjoyed Sim City as a kid. But I haven’t really played since Sim City 3000. I dabbled in Sim City 4 a little but not really very much. But even that’s been 10 years. A building game without worrying about warfare had some appeal. Especially as single player experience.
But now, I’ll be holding off. For a bit at least. Once all the issues are resolved, I’ll reconsider. I’m not a fan of EA but I don’t have a particular aversion to the online aspect as a rule. Though, I would much prefer Steam over Origin so that might give me pause.