EA apologises over 'dumb' SimCity launch

Screenshot of SimCity Delays and crashes have dogged the launch of SimCity

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Electronics Arts has apologised for the shambolic launch of the latest version of town-planning title SimCity.

Gamers have reported long queues to play, bugs and other glitches since SimCity launched on 5 March.

The company said the way it had set up the launch had been "dumb" and that it "really feels bad" about the way gamers had suffered.

As compensation, all those who bought SimCity will be offered a free Electronics Arts PC game this month.

Since the game launched, the online computers that co-ordinate play have been regularly overwhelmed.

Many gamers reported waiting 30 minutes or more before they could start to construct a city and said the game was sluggish once they were playing. Others said it often crashed or was slow to respond to changes.

The troubles led online store Amazon to briefly suspend sales of the download version of the game.

In a blogpost, Lucy Bradshaw, general manager for SimCity, said the way Electronics Arts (EA) and Maxis, the studio that created the game, had set up the servers had contributed to the problems.

Unlike all other versions of SimCity, the latest requires gamers to remain online while they play, as each city they construct sits on a chunk of virtual territory shared with other players.

These regions share certain over-arching characteristics such as crime levels, resources and pollution.

However, said Ms Bradshaw, the way people played the finished game was very different to what EA and Maxis had seen during early, or beta, testing.

She wrote: "A lot more people logged on than we expected. More people played, and played in ways we never saw in the beta."

"OK, we agree that was dumb, but we are committed to fixing it," she added.

To clear the queues, EA had doubled the number of servers supporting the game, Ms Bradshaw said.

In addition, it had engineers working on fixes for the bugs.

This work, said Ms Bradshaw, had led the number of "disrupted experiences" to drop by 80%.

Features that had been turned off late last week to help lighten the load on servers would be restored soon, she added.

As compensation for the trouble, players would soon be offered a free PC game from EA's catalogue, said Ms Bradshaw.

Emails detailing how to claim the free game would be sent out on 18 March, she added.

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