Published on March 28th, 2012 | by Dan17
EA Planning to Ruin SimCity with Always-On DRM
This method of “protection” is a travesty to a large amount of would-be customers and simply makes no sense for a game like SimCity. Sure, the game will have multiplayer aspects and online leaderboards, but at its core, SimCity is a single-player simulation game. You should be able to play it on the road, on a plane, at your grandmother’s house, anywhere.
Joystiq spoke with lead designer Stone Librande and were given this excuse for the persistent online connection:
Lead designer Stone Librande confirmed that SimCity would be an internet-dependent experience. Players will need to be online on Origin while playing, even if that wasn’t the point of purchase. The always-on connection becomes necessary with the game’s emphasis on multiplayer and regional impact, and the use of a global economy that all players can influence.
Even if the focus on a global economy is the reasoning, EA shouldn’t lock out an entire section of players in the process. And as we’ve seen with Ubisoft and its numerous debacles, DRM schemes like this almost never work as intended. RockPaperShotgun summarized it quite nicely:
When my internet is down, when EA’s servers are playing up/being maintained, when I’m on a train or plane, when I’m at my parents’ house with their almost useless wifi, when I’m a soldier stationed in a desert, when I am unable to afford a broadband internet connection, when I live in a region where internet coverage is spotty or non-existent, when I am on my laptop outdoors… on those occasions, and for those people, it’s a mindlessly exclusionary and game-breaking choice that services no one.
Luckily, there’s still time for EA to revisit their decision to implement this “feature,” and RockPaperShotgun wants to make EA change its course (much like they did with CD Projekt RED’s anti-piracy lawsuits). With a year or more before the game’s release, I certainly hope EA comes to realize what a consumer-hostile move this is and changes their mind. The last thing we need is another Ubisoft.
UPDATE: EA has clarified via Gamespy UK that a persistent internet connection will not be required to play the game, but will simply be required each time the game launches. This explanation shoots the “required for global economy” line in the foot and places such a requirement squarely in DRM territory. It’s sad to see it happen, considering that EA has no problem shutting down game servers as quickly as 18 months after the launch of a game. As further changes develop, we’ll keep you updated.