Welcome to EA games, a place where we hate customer service and release dates mean nothing. Or at least that’s what I assume EA tell newcomers.
Enter SimCity, a hotly anticipated game created by Maxis and published by Electronic Arts. Somewhere in the development of this game, EA decided to include DRM upon the release of SimCity. DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, and basically requires a product to be constantly connected to the internet at all times in order to work.
Electronic Arts is notorious for releasing nearly all of their games with this internet requirement (even games that don’t utilize online play in any way) only to have them fail consistently upon release. Needless to say, SimCity has not let anybody down in that regard. Three days later, and the game is still unplayable for some.
The EA client that runs the games, Origin, stated yesterday that they refused to issue refunds for their recently released product, stating that it does not offer refunds in general. After a firestorm of public outcry and frustration, retailers such as Amazon have stopped selling some of their copies of the game.
Today, a number of developments on the issue have cropped up.
The first major advancement was a petition that appeared on the Whitehouse website to require products with DRM to function at 100% upon the day of their release. This petition has received about 1,160 signatures on its first day out of the required 10,000.
Next up on the chopping block was the decision by EA to pull all marketing for the game. The decision came this afternoon as EA has received increasingly heated amounts of backlash regarding their decision to not offer refunds.
A few hours after the announcement to stop all promotions, Maxis released a public apology stating that they had an unprecedented amount of people logged on, and they weren’t ready to receive such as large number. Maxis announced that they have increased server space 120% since the release three days ago, and log on issues are down 80% as well.
On top of the apology, Maxis announced plans to offer victims of the games horrific release a free EA game by the 18th of March.
As this drags on, we will see just how devastating as effect this PR crisis has on the already very low consumer satisfaction of EA. I just hope that all those gamers out there will be able to play a great game before the weekends is over.