New SimCity game stalled by server upgrades

The hotly anticipated internet computer game SimCity has been smacked with lacklustre reviews this week after servers quickly reached capacity, preventing virtual mayors from breaking ground on their new metropolises.

Electronic Arts scrambles to patch urban planning game

Electronic Arts' urban planning game SimCity reached capacity on its servers earlier this week preventing people around the world from playing the game. (Electronic Arts/Maxis/Associated Press)

The hotly anticipated internet computer game SimCity has been smacked with lacklustre reviews this week after servers quickly reached capacity, preventing virtual mayors from breaking ground on their new metropolises.

Several reports indicated Friday that Amazon had also temporarily suspended sales of the Electronic Arts' city-building game, citing complaints from users, but it now appears to be available for purchase.

The latest in a series of followups to the original 1989 game launched on Tuesday as part of a worldwide rollout, but setbacks have caused uproar in the tech world.

"It's pretty clear it's a completely messed-up launch," said video game and technology journalist Peter Nowak.

In a blog dated Thursday, SimCity senior producer Kip Katsarelis acknowledged that "server capacity is our biggest obstacle."

"Our plan is to continue to bring more servers online until we have enough to meet the demand, increase player capacity and let more people through the gates and into the game," said Katsarelis, adding that after the North American launch on Tuesday servers were full within hours.

It's not clear how many users are part of a server, but Nowak says requiring people play the game while connected to the internet is the root of the problem.

"Game companies are increasingly doing this to try and combat piracy," he said. "It's hurting innocent players far more than it's defeating bad actors."

Many people took to social media to express their frustration.

"Been playing about 2 hours of Tomb Raider while waiting for the #SimCity queue to let me in. Feel like I paid $80 for a broken clock," tweeted one gamer.

"The problem isn't your servers, it's the fact that you unnecessarily have hundreds of thousands of players that don't want to play online still using up server capacity," another person posted in response to Katsarelis's blog.

Award-winning game

SimCity was the winner of 23 PC Game Awards at the annual gamescon video games trade fair in Germany last August. Several of the game's features, however, have been remotely turned off by EA as they patch issues.

"There was a time when you could buy a game on day one and be confident that it would work, but that's not the case anymore," said Nowak. "Game companies are increasingly shipping incomplete games, thinking that they can patch them up, add to them or fix them with downloads later."

For the time being, EA's updates on SimCity upgrades are being communicated through its blog, company forums and Twitter account.

"I can't wait to play it, but unfortunately, I'm going to," Nowak said.