news\ Jul 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

EA president: 'SimCity is a success'


Electronic Arts president Frank Gibeau believes SimCity is a "success," despite suffering from what many consider to be one of the worst video game launches in history. In addition to a number of bugs, SimCity was marred by server issues, preventing players from even logging into the game -- just one of the downfalls of a game's always online requirement.

"In retrospect, our biggest takeaway is that we are lucky that SimCity has an enormous number of loyal fans. That first week after launch was really rough — an experience nobody wants to live through again," Gibeau told Gamesbeat.

"Since then, we’ve sold more than 2 million units, and the number of people logging in and playing is holding steady. SimCity is a success. However, underestimating demand in the first month was a major miss. We hope that the game and the service we’ve provided since then meets the fans’ high standards."

It took a while, but the server issues were eventually fixed, though I can't speak about the sim logic and game bugs as I haven't touched the game in quite a while. Of course, SimCity will always be remembered for its botched launch, and Gibeau was asked how to prevent a similar thing from happening again.

"Look, launching online games isn’t easy — particularly the ones that attract millions of fans on day one," he defended. "Some of the biggest and best-run companies in our industry have stumbled on this. That’s not an excuse. It’s just evidence that serving AAA games online is hard.

"When service is disrupted, you move quickly to fix it and get the players back in their game. You learn from your mistakes and hope you don’t make the same ones twice. We analyze our operation to understand where it broke down, and we set new standards so it doesn’t happen again."

"But the fact remains: This is complicated. Every online game is different. As long as the games are getting bigger and better, and while the audiences are scaling rapidly, there’s going to be a high degree of risk in the first week of launch," Gibeau concluded. Again, I haven't played the game in quite a while, but for those who remain, are you enjoying it?

Earlier this month, three of SimCity's lead developers -- creative director Ocean Quigley, lead architect Andrew Willmott, and lead gameplay engineer Dan Moskowitz -- left Electronic Arts and Maxis and announced their own independent studio called Jellygrade. They are working on a new simulation game "about the dawn of life on Earth."




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