Dopey DRM: SimCity Servers Buckle Under Pressure

The problem with DRM schemes is they tend to punish honest paying customers with a level of inconvenience that's annoying at best, and crippling at worst. Every once in awhile we're reminded of this, such as the current server SNAFU that's affecting SimCity, an otherwise well-received game with favorable reviews.

Electronics Arts (EA) is a big proponent of DRM, and when you load SimCity, it has to first check in with the mother ship to make verify you're not a digital pirate. After that, it requires an always-on connection. Fair enough, but if you're going to go through the trouble of attempting to weed out unscrupulous users who may have obtained the game through illicit means, you better make sure your servers are up to the task. That's where things went wrong for EA.


Scores of gamers have had trouble just launching SimCity over the past couple days, and at one point, Amazon temporarily halted sales of the digital download. It's back up for sale, though there's a word of warning on Amazon's website about "many customers" having trouble connecting to SimCity servers with no ETA for a fix.

EA acknowledged the problem and says it's tossing more servers at the problem.

"This is, obviously, not the situation we wanted for our launch week and we want you to know that we are putting everything we have at resolving these issues," EA said in a statement earlier this week. "What we are doing is deploying more servers over the coming two days which will alleviate many of the ongoing issues. We are also paying close attention to all the bug reports we are receiving from our fans. We’ve already pushed several updates in the last few days. Our live ops team is working 24/7 to resolve issues and ensure that bug fixes roll into the game as quickly as possible."

It's too bad SimCity is having these troubles, because by most accounts, it's a fun game that's earning high marks, including a 10/10 score by Eurogamer Sweden. Unfortunately, persistent DRM without the proper infrastructure in place has led an otherwise decent title to receive a mere 1/5 stars on Amazon based on 1,175 customer reviews. Maybe DRM isn't the answer after all.